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Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
Back when I was living in Italy in 2019, I stumbled upon an insanely cheap flight from Pisa to Krakow. Since I was leaving Europe soon, I jumped at the chance to book a long weekend in Krakow and spend some time getting to know the city. I had exactly 3 days in Krakow, so naturally I began scouring the internet immediately to figure out the most efficient way to see the best of the city in only a long weekend.
At the end of my trip, I concluded that Krakow is the perfect destination for a 3 day visit. As the second largest city in Poland, it’s filled with centuries-old architecture, traditions seeped in history and a vibrant foodie scene just waiting to be explored. During your long weekend in Poland, you’ll visit the Main Square, the largest medieval town square in Europe, and explore the city’s best landmarks like the Wawel Castle Complex, St. Mary’s Basilica and the Jewish Quarter – Kazimierz. Be sure to indulge in all the traditional Polish dishes during your visit, like pierogies, zapiekanka and paczki, as well as sample local beer and wodka.
Keep reading for my ultimate itinerary for the best long weekend in Krakow (and your guide to Krakow solo travel!). Since I visited in the fall, you’ll also find some valuable tips for things to do in Krakow in October.
The Lazy Girl’s Guide to a Long Weekend in Krakow
🏡 Where to Stay in Krakow:
BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOTELS IN KRAKOW:
- The Havana Party Hostel Krakow (⭐️ 9.1/10)
- Greg & Tom Beer House Hostel (⭐️ 9.5/10)
- Draggo House (⭐️ 8.1/10)
MID-LEVEL HOTELS IN KRAKOW:
🕍 Things to Do During a Long Weekend in Krakow:
- Eat all the pierogies at the best restaurants in Krakow 🍽️
- Or learn how to make pierogies in a traditional Polish cooking class 👩🏽🍳
- Order a flavored vodka flight at Wodka Bar 🍸
- Make new friends on a hostel pub crawl 🍺
- Shop for Polish souvenirs in Krakow at the Cloth Hall 🛍️
- Wander around the Wawel Castle Complex 🏰 – one of the best Krakow Instagram spots 📸
- Take a walking tour of Old Town Krakow 🥾
- Take a day-trip to pay your respects at Auschwitz & Birkenau
- Explore Krakow’s historic synagogues in Kazimierz – the Jewish Quarter ✡️
- Try zapiekanka, or open-faced Polish pizza 🍕
- Tour St. Mary’s Basilica and the nearby Church of St. Barbara ⛪️
My Experience Staying at the Little Havana Party Hostel
On a recommendation from a friend, I booked three nights at The Little Havana Party Hostel and loved it from the second I arrived. My first impression was that it was a nightclub first and a hostel second, and I stand by that observation. The hostel’s lobby is located up a back staircase where they store kegs and cleaning supplies, almost as if the accommodation was an afterthought that they added once they got the bar set up.
Besides the non-traditional set up, the hostel was clean, spacious and reception was very friendly and helpful! Even though the party was raging all night, you couldn’t hear a peep from one floor up. They have some seriously soundproof walls.
Little Havana also includes free breakfast, a free beer each night, discounts around town, a free burger at their restaurant and is located right in the center of Old Town Krakow.
Stay Connected with a Poland eSIM
With Airalo’s eSIMs to destinations all over the world, it’s never been easier to stay connected with friends and loved ones back home (or clients, if you’re living the digital nomad life 🥳). Before your Krakow weekend trip, be sure to grab one of their convenient eSIMs for instant data connectivity in Poland:
All you have to do is download the app and activate your eSIM for instant connectivity anywhere in the world! Not only does reliable data make your trip a lot easier, but it also make every trip a lot safer – especially for solo female travelers.
Useful Polish Phrases for Your Long Weekend in Krakow
- Good morning: Dzień dobry (jen-dobray)*
- Please: Poproszę (pop-roh-say)
- Thank you: Dziękuję (jin-qui)
- Goodbye: Do widzenia (dough-veez-en-yah)
- Cheers: Na zdrowie (na zdrovyeh)
- Yes: Tak
- No: Nie (nye)
*Good morning is used as a greeting all day until it is actually nighttime.
Currency in Poland
Poland takes the Polish zloty. As of June 2023, the conversion rate is roughly 1 USD to 4.12 PLN. Follow a couple basic safety practices when withdrawing cash from ATMs in Europe:
- Make sure your bank knows you’ll be traveling (and where) so your card isn’t declined
- Hide your PIN number when you type it in
- Only use ATM machines attached to a bank or another reputable establishment
Make sure to take out plenty of zloty when you arrive to spend on all the best Krakow things to do!
Night One of My Long Weekend in Krakow
On my first night in Krakow, I arrived at John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport after the sun had already set. To get to the city center and check into my accommodation, I booked a ticket on the Krakow Airport Bus for 4 PLN or $1. The buses depart hourly from the airport and take around 50 minutes to get to the city center. There are four lines depending on where in the city you’re going: the 208, the 252, the 308 and the 902 night bus. If you haven’t booked your flights to Krakow yet, search the best deals on Skyscanner into KRK.
Dinner at Gospoda Koko
I arrived for my weekend break in Krakow very late on Friday and, surprise surprise, I ventured out to find pierogies immediately. Gospoda Koko is a short, five minute walk from The Little Havana Party Hostel and is open until 3:00AM daily. They are a cash-only establishment, but you won’t mind when you see the prices. I ordered a beer, half a cabbage roll, and 5 pierogis for the equivalent of €4. Long story short, Gospoda Koko is the perfect restaurant for spending a long weekend in Krakow on a budget.
Day One of My Long Weekend In Krakow
Now that you’ve hopefully had a great night sleep (or a great night of partying instead), you’re ready to take on day #1 of your long weekend in Krakow Poland. Get ready for a pierogi cooking class, plenty of local alcohol and dinner at one of Krakow’s best restaurants – U Babci Maliny.
Take a Polish Cooking Class and Make Pierogi in Krakow
When it comes to traditional Polish food, there’s none more iconic than the Polish pierogi. I love taking cooking classes as a way to immerse myself in a new culture, so booking a Polish cooking class was first on my list during my Krakow long weekend.
The class started off with a visit to the local market (Stary Kleparz) to shop for our pierogi-making ingredients. Our tour guide/chef, Olgierd gave everyone a list of ingredients and their Polish translations, as well as some useful everyday phrases. He helped us with pronunciation, but allowed us to do most of the ordering from the local vendors.
After we finished shopping, the group headed back to Olgierd’s flat hungry and ready to make some yummy Polish food. He was a fantastic teacher and always mimicked the steps himself before allowing the group to try. We made traditional pierogies from homemade dough stuffed with potatoes, soft cheese and sautéed onion. After spending three days in Krakow and eating more pierogies than I’d like to admit, I can honestly say the pierogies we made during Olgierd’s cooking class were the best I had in the city by a landslide! The man is truly an artist.
Unfortunately, Olgierd’s class is no longer available, but you can book one of Viator’s top-rated pierogi making classes as an alternative – or save the recipe to make these delicious pierogies at home.
👩🏽🍳 Other Krakow Food Tours You May Enjoy…
Sample Some Local Brews
I love to get an idea of the local breweries in every new city and my long weekend in Krakow itinerary was no exception. After three hours of pierogi making (and one hour of pierogi-eating), my friends and I stopped by Pub Omerta in the Jewish Quarter for some cold brews. They have tons of local craft beers on tap and a cozy, beer-loving atmosphere. It’s a great place to relax for an hour with some tasty beers and great conversation.
Drop by Wodka Bar for a Vodka Tasting
Although it’s not my typical drink of choice, a vodka tasting definitely makes the list of the best things to do in Krakow Poland…and Wodka Bar is the place to make it happen.
Wodka Bar Krakow offers a wide variety of flavored vodka flights at an incredible price. We paid 37 PLN (in 2019 keep in mind) for a flight with six different vodka flavors. That’s less than €9! As a group, we decided on black currant, apricot, ginger, wild rose, chili chocolate and hazelnut. I thought the chili chocolate was by far the best, but that’s probably because it was the one that tasted the least like vodka.
Dinner at Restauracja U Babci Maliny
I was especially excited for dinner that night since I had booked us a reservation at what the internet claimed was the best place to eat pierogies in Krakow (arguably the best restaurant in Krakow overall). The unique atmosphere of U Babci Maliny struck me as soon as I walked through the door. The restaurant gives you the impression that you’re dining in an antique shop, but the overall effect works well and creates a comfy, yet dignified dining space.
The pierogies did not disappoint. My meal, fried pierogies stuffed with meat, was incredible and I almost cried when she brought sour cream to the table (it’s really hard to find in Italy). I also ordered barszcz (or borscht) which is a type of beetroot soup served with dumplings or a hard boiled egg. It’s a very popular dish in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and is typically eaten on Christmas Eve in Poland.
A couple of my friends ordered the pierogies stuffed with cheese and potato. The pierogies themselves were great but be wary because they were covered in a sweet sauce that tasted like melted ice cream…they were almost more like a dessert than a meal.
Whether they were the best pierogies in Krakow…you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Book a Pub Crawl
Booking a pub crawl is one of the best things to do in Krakow at night. Or during the day…I don’t judge.
Since I literally booked my hostel for the pub crawl, I figured I better see what all of the fuss was about. €11 bought us an hour of free drinks at the hostel bar and entrance into four nightclubs around Old Town Square. The pub crawl guides were super fun and always made sure everyone in the group knew when we were leaving! We were a bit too sober, so make sure to take advantage of the hour of free drinks if you want to experience the best nightlife in the city during your Krakow weekend break.
Day Two of My Long Weekend in Krakow
Now that you’ve had an awesome one day in Krakow, it’s time for your second awesome day! Get ready to explore some of Krakow’s famous historic monuments like the Town Hall Tower, Wawel Castle Complex and St. Mary’s Basilica. Get lost in Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, to explore some of the city’s oldest synagogues and feast on delicious zapiekanka – Polish pizza.
Climb the Town Hall Tower
In every new city, I like to get to the highest vantage point possible to take in the views. In Krakow, the tallest structure in the city center is the Town Hall Tower standing at 70 meters (or 230 feet) in the middle of the Main Square – which happens to be one of the largest medieval squares in Europe.
After purchasing an entrance ticket for a modest 10 PLN ($2.50), visitors can climb the 110 steps to the top and enjoy sweeping views of Krakow’s cobblestone streets and breathtaking architecture. The tower was built during the 14th century as part of the Town Hall and, when the Town Hall was demolished in 1820, the Town Hall Tower miraculously survived.
Keep in mind, the steps to the top of the tower are very steep and narrow, so they’re not ideal for visitors with mobility issues or claustrophobia.
Buy Polish Souvenirs at the Cloth Hall
If you’re looking to fill your suitcase with Polish souvenirs during your Krakow weekend away, then look no further than The Cloth Hall. Located in the Main Market Square, the Cloth Hall started in the 13th century as Krakow’s main trade hub. Today, it’s home to the city’s best souvenir shops.
As you explore the many shops selling folk costumes, jewelry, pottery and other beautifully crafted objects, you’ll get a sense of the city’s local culture and ancient traditions. The Cloth Hall is some of the best shopping in Krakow and the perfect place to find a unique and meaningful souvenir to remember your long weekend in Krakow.
Marvel at the Wawel Castle Complex
A visit to Wawel Royal Castle Complex in Krakow is a must during any long weekend trip to Poland. Built on a limestone hill overlooking the Vistula River, the castle was once the residence of Poland’s rulers and the epicenter of political and cultural life in Poland for centuries.
Walking through the castle’s majestic red brick walls, visitors get a sense of the history and culture of the region. The complex is home to the Royal Castle, the Cathedral, the State Rooms, the Royal Gardens and the Dragon’s Den – a medieval cave system beneath the castle that legend says once housed a dragon.
Unfortunately, my visit to the Wawel Castle Complex during my long weekend in Krakow was poorly planned. I arrived around 11:00AM and, since the ticket line was wrapped around the building, I decided to just wander around the grounds instead of going inside. The castle grounds are free to explore.
If you don’t want to miss the stunning interiors and centuries-old masterpieces inside the castle, I suggest getting in line right when the ticket box opens in the morning. You can find opening times on the Wawel Castle official website.
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Explore the Jewish Quarter Kazimierz
Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter, is a must-visit during any long weekend in Krakow. Dating back to the 14th century, King Casimir III of Poland named the area after himself and built defensive walls around the new city. It’s home to some of the best restaurants, bars and shops in Krakow as well as many centuries-old synagogues. As you wander around the cobblestone streets, it’s easy to get lost in the rich history of Kazimierz.
Or, if you want to skip the aimless wandering and make the most of every second during your long weekend in Krakow, consider booking a Jewish Quarter walking tour.
Lunch at Zapiekanki BarOko
If you’re looking for an authentic experience in Krakow city, you have to try the local Kazimierz specialty zapiekanka, or Polish pizza. It’s essentially an open-faced sub sandwich, full of cheese, veggies, meat and sauce.
To find the best zapiekanka in the city, head to plac Nowy square in Kazimierz. In the center, you’ll find countless street vendors selling all types of zapiekanka for a very low price. I decided to order from Zapiekanki BarOko Krakow and walked away with the Niebo w Gebie – full of sausage, tomato, sheep cheese, spring onion, cheese, mushrooms and topped with spicy sauce. It was both fantastic, and incredibly messy.
If you’re looking for the best pizza in Krakow, BarOko is your answer!
Stara Synagoga (The Old Synagogue)
No visit to Kazimierz is complete without a stop at the Old Synagogue or Stara Synagoga. Built in the mid-15th century, the synagogue is the oldest example of Jewish religious architecture in Poland. It’s actually a rare example of a fortress synagogue, which was designed to shelter civilians from a siege.
Aside from free entrance on Mondays, tickets to Krakow’s Old Synagogue cost 18 PLN or around $4.50. The synagogue is open to the public Mondays 10:00–2:00PM and Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00–5:00PM.
If you’re wondering what to do in Krakow over a long weekend, make sure a visit to the Tempel Synagogue (Synagoga Tempel) makes the list. Built in 1862, this once-grand synagogue has been restored to its former glory after being used as a warehouse during the Nazi occupation of Krakow. It’s a remarkable example of Moorish Revival architecture and stands as a historic testament to the Jewish community in Kazimierz.
The synagogue is open to the public Sundays through Fridays from 10:00–6:00PM (except on Fridays when they close at 4:00PM) and entrance tickets cost 10 PLN ($2.50).
Wander Through St. Mary’s Basilica
Trust me, I have toured a lot of churches on trips in Europe, but the beauty of St. Mary’s Basilica really stood out amongst almost all the rest. The interior was like nothing I had ever seen…covered in pink, red and blue paintings and ornate gold details. St. Mary’s was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the 15 PLN ($3.50) entrance fee.
Located in the Krakow Market Square, this gothic basilica was built in the 14th century and is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city. Its two iconic towers soar over 80 meters in the air and can be seen from all around Krakow. Inside, St. Mary’s is adorned with stunning stained glass windows, the artworks of famous Polish artists and a remarkable wooden altarpiece crafted by Veit Stoss in the 15th century (St. Mary’s Alter).
If you’re ready to have the best weekend in Krakow, be sure you leave room on your itinerary for a visit to St. Mary’s Basilica.
And The Nearby Church of St. Barbara
I always love hearing the world “free” while traveling. If you’re planning on touring St. Mary’s Basilica, make sure to visit the nearby Church of St. Barbara. Entrance is free and, although it’s much smaller than St. Mary’s, the artwork inside is unbelievable.
This baroque-style church was constructed in the 14th century and is a wonderful example of Krakow’s traditional architecture. The Church of St. Barbara is definitely one of the best free things to do in Krakow Old Town!
Dinner at Polakowski Restauracja
After a long, but exciting day of sightseeing, I needed some traditional Krakow food STAT. Olgierd, my pierogi guru, recommended Polakowski as one of the best restaurants in Krakow Old Town.
The restaurant had a self-serve style, so I headed to the counter and ordered a Tyskie (Polish beer), Kotlet schabowy z czosnkiem (breaded pork chop with garlic) and mashed potatoes. The food was delicious, it tasted similar to traditional German schnitzel, and the whole meal was incredibly affordable.
Polakowski was definitely one of the best meals I had during my long weekend in Krakow, so I urge you try it out while you’re in town.
Stop by Krakowski Paczki for Some Traditional Polish Donuts
What’s a Polish dinner without a Polish dessert?
After a hearty meal at Polakowski, I was wandering around the Krakow city center when I stumbled upon a streetside donut stand – Krakowski Paczki. They sell a wide variety of traditional and less-traditional paczki for incredibly cheap prices. I paid 7 PLN (less than $2) for this toffee covered, toffee filled beauty below and barely resisted going back for seconds.
Don’t miss out on gobbling down plenty of paczki during your long weekend in Krakow!
Shop for Traditional Pottery
Polish pottery is a durable and beautiful type of stoneware that dates back as early as the middle ages. It originated in the Silesia region of Poland, where farmers used to make pottery for their own use during the winter months. As time went on, the pottery got more intricate and decorative. Nowadays, it’s well-known as one of the best things to buy in Krakow.
While wandering around Old Town, I passed tons of Krakow pottery shops selling this traditional Polish stoneware. After enjoying my toffee paczki, I decided to shop around and pick some up as a souvenir to remember my long weekend to Krakow.
I stumbled into Polish Tradition at Grodzka 35, and perused through aisles of the most beautiful pottery I’d ever seen. Unfortunately, my suitcase space limited me from buying any of the bigger items, but I did pick up a beautiful pair of salt and pepper shakers for 140 PLN ($34). If you’re looking for things to buy in Krakow, Polish pottery is your answer.
Day Three of My Long Weekend In Krakow
After two full days of exploring Krakow and immersing myself in Poland’s rich history, I was a little sad to wake up on day #3 – knowing it would be my last day in Krakow before returning to Florence.
There was another reason for my somber mood, I would be spending most of the day touring Auschwitz-Birkenau and learning about the horrors that took place there.
If you have extra time during your long weekend in Krakow, or if you’re planning to stay in the city longer, you could try to fit in a visit to the Galicia Jewish Museum, the Ghetto Heroes Square, the Rynek Underground Museum, the Wieliczka Salt Mine or Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory in Podgorze, a former Jewish ghetto.
🚩 Other Krakow Tours You May Enjoy…
Tour Auschwitz – Birkenau
Visiting Auschwitz Concentration Camp was one of the reasons I had decided to spend my long weekend in Krakow instead of Warsaw. Although it was an extremely heavy day, I was glad I had gotten to see the concentration camp and pay my respects to those who lost their lives there.
Auschwitz-Birkenau stands as a stark reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. If you decide to visit during your weekend in Krakow (which I highly recommend doing), you’ll start the tour by walking through the main gates where the message “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “work sets you free” has stood since 1940 when the camp was first opened. You’ll learn about the horrific conditions the prisoners were subjected to as well as tour the barracks, gas chamber and crematorium. Although the entire tour was filled with tragedy, I personally found the rooms filled with shoes and hair from the prisoners the hardest to bear.
The prisoners of Auschwitz were liberated by the Soviets in 1945 and, in 1979, Auschwitz-Birkenau was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since I unfortunately planned too late to make a reservation through the official Auschwitz website, I booked a day trip tour online. $22 included round-trip transportation from Old Town to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a certified museum guide, a 3-hour visit to the memorial site and an informational E-book for each visitor.
Lunch at Bar Mleczny “Pod Temida”
After visiting Auscwitz-Birkenau, I had some time to kill in Krakow before catching my Ryanair flight home. I was feeling a bit peckish, so I stopped by one of Poland’s famous milk bars – Pod Temida.
Poland is full of historic milk bars or “bar mleczny.” They’re basically cafeterias that serve delicious Polish food at crazy low prices. The layout is self-serve, so you order at the front, wait for your food and bring it to your table to eat. If you have the time in your itinerary, milk bars are one of the best things to see in Krakow Poland.
I clearly made the right call with Pod Temida, because the line was almost out the door. Thankfully, the staff were fast and the line passed very quickly. I decided to try out fried polish pancakes (or placki ziemniaczane) with pork goulash. They were very tasty and extremely cheap.
Go to the Spa
I killed some time over lunch, but not nearly enough, so, when I passed a Thai massage parlor on my way to the bus station…I couldn’t resist taking a look at the service menu.
At May Thai Massage in Old Town Krakow, I got a 90 minute Thai massage for only 150 PLN – that’s only $36! When my massage was completed, it was finally time for me to head to the airport and catch my flight back to Italy.
Wrapping up my long weekend in Krakow, I can say without a doubt that it was a truly unforgettable experience. From the awe-inspiring Wawel Castle to kneading pierogi dough with a Polish chef, Krakow is a true European gem that left me breathless.
Whether you’re a history buff, foodie or just craving a visit to a new city, Krakow has something for you. My only regret is that my time there was too brief! I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Krakow.
Long Weekend in Krakow FAQs:
A: Auschwitz is located about 40 miles from Krakow Old Town. I would recommend booking a guided tour with included transportation from Old Town if you’re hoping to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau during your long weekend in Krakow. Otherwise, you can rent a car and drive one hour to Auschwitz or buy a ticket for one of the many buses/trams that stop at the memorial site.
A: Yes, you can absolutely see and do a lot in Krakow in only a weekend. From experiencing the unique culture and vibrant nightlife in Old Town, to touring the historic Wawel Castle and learning how to make traditional pierogies, there is plenty to fit into two days in Krakow with the right itinerary.
That being said, if you have the option, I would recommend spending 3 or 4 days in Krakow instead of only a weekend.
A: Yes, you can absolutely see Krakow in 3 days. This itinerary is meant to guide your visit for 3 days (or a long weekend) in Krakow. If you have the time to spare, I would recommend spending 3 days in Krakow over 2 days in Krakow. Especially if you add in a half-day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, it’ll allow you to enjoy more of this magnificent Polish city.
A: Krakow is absolutely an English-friendly city. In addition to being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, the city is home to many English speakers. Most signs in the city are written both in Polish and English, and most locals in Old Town speak at least a little English – making it easier to communicate during your trip. Even if you don’t speak any Polish, navigating the city and understanding menus and instructions should be a breeze. As an added bonus, most museums and attractions offer audio guides in English.
A: Krakow is definitely an easily walkable city. The Old Town is relatively small and can be explored on foot within a few hours. In addition, most of the other tourist attractions – like the Wawel Castle and Kazimierz – are within easy walking distance from Old Town. The streets and pedestrian paths are well-marked and easy to navigate. Plus, the city is very safe, so I felt comfortable walking around, even if I didn’t know where I was going. I absolutely loved exploring Krakow on foot and highly recommend it as a great way to experience the city.
A: Krakow is relatively inexpensive compared to other popular cities in Europe. Most restaurants in the city offer reasonably priced meals and snacks, so it’s easy to find affordable food. Accommodation is also relatively affordable, especially if you decide to book a dorm bed in a hostel.
I even got a 90 minute massage for less than $40! I would definitely recommend Krakow as a great city for budget travelers.
A: A weekend in Krakow would likely cost you around $30-50/day, if you’re very conscious of your budget. If you stay in a hotel, a weekend trip to Krakow would probably cost you more like $100-150/day. The cost of your weekend trip will entirely depend on your personal preferences, but it is very possible to explore Krakow on a strict budget.
If you enjoyed my guide to a long weekend in Krakow, check out my guides to Eastern Europe’s most-popular destinations below.