The number of sights and trails for tourists in Krakow and the surroundings means that planning your trip can sometimes be a challenge. We hope that our Krakow Guide for beginners helps you make some choices and put together the perfect itinerary for you!
So where do you start Krakow sightseeing?
A good way to start is by visiting the iconic attractions of the city. Many of them are concentrated in an area that has been entered on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, Krakow’s Old Town and Kazimierz. It’s hard to imagine a stay in Krakow without a walk through it’s Old Town and a visit to Wawel Hill. The popular Royal Route through the heart of the Old Town takes visitors past sites like St. Florian’s Church, the Barbican and the Florian Gate, Florianska Street, St. Mary’s Church, the Cloth Hall, the Clock Tower, Grodzka Street, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Cathedral and Castle on Wawel Hill.
Let’s back up to the beginning of the Royal Route at St. Florian’s Church. This is where various Royal processions began and where distinguished visitors were welcomed in medieval Krakow. It’s also a good place to start your Krakow sightseeing since it was the point of departure towards the entrance to the city and the 14th century main gate of Krakow. After passing through the Florian Gate, you’ll find yourself at the top of Florianska Street, the main pedestrian thoroughfare in the city, which takes you straight to the Main Square and St. Mary’s Church, which are both obligatory stops on any visit to Krakow. Inside St. Mary’s, your eyes will be instantly drawn to the breathtaking altar carved by master craftsman Wit Stwosz, one of the most famous works of Gothic art in Europe. As we follow the Royal Route, we walk down Grodzka Street and past two churches, the massive Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Romanesque Church of St. Andrew. Just opposite the churches, join Kanonicza Street and follow it to Wawel Hill. The castle on Wawel Hill has multiple exhibits focusing on various aspects of its amazing history and artistic treasures. Remember that advance reservations are recommended.
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Expand your visit with a trip to the academic district and Collegium Maius as well as the Franciscan and Dominican Churches. Learn more about these and other sites here, and discover more their histories and have a look inside their amazing interiors and see just why they deserve some of your time during your trip. But a walk around the Old Town doesn’t take up too much time. It’s a very pedestrian-friendly city and you can walk from one end of the Old Town to the other in twenty minutes.
When you’ve walked along enough narrow streets and peeked inside enough churches to satisfy you, it’s time to move on to some museums. We recommend two places in particular, both in the Main Square – the Underground Museum and the Krzysztofory Palace. Both exhibits make fantastic use of multimedia resources and create fascinating reconstructions of the city from bygone eras. They’re also both great ideas for family fun together, offering engaging and accessible displays of interesting aspects of life in Krakow from centuries ago and taking us on trips through time!
You can’t leave Krakow without spening some on a walk through Kazimierz. It’s dual Judeo-Christian heritage it the most striking feature of this neighborhood and its unique heritage is unique in all Europe. You’ll find more information at http://guide-krakow.com, along with details of the Krakow guided tours through Kazimierz with experienced local guides.
What would you like to see?
This is a basic question that every Krakow guide should ask his guests as they make their way through the city. It’s also a good question to ask yourself when you start to plan your visit. Krakow and the surrounding area offer many interesting and unique attractions for every taste. Lovers of street art and urban spaces can follow a path that highlights Krakow’s best examples. Many visitors are fascinated by the history of Nowa Huta and its socialist-realist architecture. Or maybe your tastes run more towards the classic, the Baroque, the modern or any other number of styles? Krakow has all of those covered. Don’t forget that Krakow has much to offer the faithful and pilgrims who come here in the thousands.
Two of the largest sanctuaries – Divine Mercy and St. John Paul II – are highly significant for pilgrims from around the world.
The Museum of Municipal Engineering, the Archaeological Museum, amazing collections of art at the National Museum and Museum of Contemporary art, the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology – Krakow has something for everyone!
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Visitors who have more time or who have been to Krakow before are encouraged to get off the beaten path and discover some of Krakow’s lesser-known treasures. There are any number of easy day trips to amazing places in the immediate area around the city, like the beautiful Ojcow National Park.
No matter what you’re looking for, Krakow has more than enough to keep you busy and enjoying your stay right up until it’s time to go home – and start planning your return visit!