Poland, specifically Kraków, has been on my bucket list forever! A few months ago, I found a cheap Ryanair flight flying Pisa to Kraków and, since I will sadly be leaving Europe soon, I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend in a new city. I had three full days in Kraków, so naturally I began researching and deciding on the most efficient way to see the best of the city in only a long weekend. Three incredible and exhausting days later, I present to you, the best things to do in Kraków in 72 hours!
some useful polish vocab
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)
No: Nie (nye)
*Good morning is used as a greeting all day until it is actually nighttime.
Poland takes the Polish zloty. Make sure to withdraw cash from bank ATMs and steer clear of currency conversion booths and Euronet ATMs.
where to stay
Kraków has no shortage of youth hostels, in fact, they’re on every corner. No matter if you prefer hostels, Airbnb or hotels, I would definitely suggest staying in Old Town. Poland is cheap compared to the rest of Europe, so you can find great deals on accommodation even in the heart of the city!
THE LITTLE HAVANA PARTY HOSTEL
A friend suggested this hostel to me, a recommendation based purely on the great time she had on their pub crawl. I loved The Little Havana Party Hostel 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 reception 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 untraditional 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 Kraków!
DINNER AT GOSPODA KOKO
I arrived in Kraków very late on my first night and, surprise surprise, I went to find pierogis immediately. Gospoda Koko is a short five minute walk from the hostel and is open until 3AM 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.
TAKE A POLISH COOKING CLASS
While scrolling through the activities on Viator, I stumbled upon a traditional Polish cooking class and had to book it immediately. The class had amazing reviews and after spending a morning cooking with Olgierd, I’m about to leave a 5-star review myself. Although the tour is a bit expensive at €65, you really get that intimate, small-group feel and Olgierd is an expert on all things pierogi!
The class starts off with a visit to the local market (Stary Kleparz) to shop for your pierogi-making ingredients. Olgierd gives everyone a list of ingredients and their Polish translations, as well as some useful everyday phrases. He helps with pronunciation, but allows you to do most of the ordering from the local vendors.
After the shopping is finished, the group heads back to Olgierd’s flat, hungry and ready to make some yummy Polish food. He is a fantastic teacher, always mimicking the steps himself and then allowing the group to try. We made traditional pierogis from homemade dough stuffed with potatoes, soft cheese and sautéed onion. After spending three days in Kraków and eating more pierogis than I’d like to admit, I can honestly say the pierogis we made during Olgierd’s cooking class were the best I had in the city by a landslide! The man is truly an artist.
SAMPLE SOME LOCAL BREWS
I love to get an idea of the local breweries in every new city, and Kraków 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. They have tons of local craft beers on tap and a cozy, beer-loving atmosphere. It’s a great place to kill an hour and get a buzz going!
DROP BY WODKA BAR FOR A VODKA TASTING
Even though I would normally never order vodka anywhere, a vodka tasting was high on my list of things to do in Kraków. Wodka Bar is a tiny little bar offering a wide variety of vodka flights at an incredible price. We paid 37 PLN for our flight with 6 different vodkas, that’s less than €9.
We ordered black currant, apricot, ginger, wild rose, chili chocolate and hazelnut. Pro tip: chili chocolate was by far the best.
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 pierogi restaurant in town. 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 pierogis did not disappoint. *My meal, fried pierogis stuffed with meat, was incredible and I almost cried when she brought sour cream to the table (it’s hard to find in Italy).
*A couple of my friends ordered the pierogis stuffed with cheese and potato. The pierogis themselves were great but they were covered in a sweet sauce that tasted like melted ice cream…they were almost more like a dessert than a meal.
BOOK A PUB CRAWL
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.
CLIMB THE TOWN HALL TOWER
In every new city, I like to get to the highest vantage point possible to take in the views. The Town Hall Tower seemed like the perfect opportunity to take in Old Town Square from a bird’s-eye view!
Entrance to climb the tower costs 10 PLN, or around €2.50.
BUY POLISH SOUVENIRS IN THE CLOTH HALL
The Cloth Hall, a long indoor market in the center of Old Town Square, is definitely worth a run through. The market is lined with stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs, including jewelry, pottery, clothing, shoes and more.
MARVEL AT THE WAWEL CASTLE COMPLEX
The Wawel Castle Complex, a short 10 minute walk from the center of Old Town, is one of Kraków’s most incredible sights. If you plan on touring the inside of the castle or the cathedral, I would suggest making a reservation in advance. The ticket line was wrapped around the building.
The castle grounds themselves are free to explore. I spent an hour or so wandering around and taking pictures of the beautiful architecture and gardens.
EXPLORE THE JEWISH QUARTER, KAZIMIERZ
Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter of Kraków, is not far from Old Town and is a great neighborhood to walk around and explore. This area is full of quaint shops, delicious restaurants and synagogues on every corner!
LUNCH AT SMACZEK ZAPIEKANKI E PIECA
In the center of Kazimierz, there’s a small market that sells zapiekanki, or Polish pizza. The pizza is essentially an open-faced sub sandwich, full of cheese, veggies, meat and sauce. I decided on 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.
STARA SYNAGOGA (THE OLD SYNAGOGUE)
Stara Synagoga was one of the first synagogues in all of Poland. Nowadays, it is open as a museum and no longer functions as a place of worship. A ticket to tour this historic monument will only set you back 10 PLN!
Another synagogue in Kazimierz, the interior of the Tempel Synagogue was extraordinary. The walls and ceiling were covered in elaborate gold and chandeliers hung from every corner. 10 PLN will grant you entrance into the synagogue and as much time as you need to explore!
WANDER THROUGH ST. MARY’S BASILICA
Trust me, I have toured a lot of churches in Europe, but the beauty of St. Mary’s Basilica stood out to me. The interior was like nothing I had ever seen…covered in pink, gold, red and blue paintings and designs. It was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the 10 PLN entrance fee! If you’re looking for things to do in Kraków, touring St. Mary’s Basilica should be at the top of your list.
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 much smaller than St. Mary’s, the artwork inside is unbelievable.
STOP BY KRAKOWSKI PACZKI FOR SOME TRADITIONAL POLISH DONUTS
Trying paczki should definitely be on your list of things to do in Kraków! Krakowski Paczki has a wide variety of traditional and untraditional paczki for incredibly cheap prices. I paid 7 PLN for this toffee covered, toffee filled beauty below and barely resisted going back for seconds.
DINNER AT POLAKOWSKI
After my post-donut nap, I headed out in search of more traditional Polish specialities. Olgierd, my pierogi guru, recommended Polakowski as one of his favorite restaurants in 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 like German schnitzel) and the whole meal was incredibly cheap!
SHOP FOR TRADITIONAL POTTERY
After dinner, I decided to shop around and pick myself up a Polish souvenir. I stumbled upon a traditional Polish pottery shop around the corner from the restaurant. Polish Tradition, located at Grodzka 35, sold the most beautiful painted pottery I’d ever seen.
Thankfully I was limited by suitcase space, so I couldn’t buy the entire store. I did leave with a beautiful set of salt and pepper shakers for 140 PLN.
Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau was one of the reasons I had decided to visit Kraków over Warsaw. Although it was an extremely heavy day, I was glad I had gotten to see the camps and pay my respects to those who lost their lives there.
Since I unfortunately planned too late to make a reservation through the official Auschwitz website, I booked a tour through Get Your Guide. For €21, it included round-trip transportation from Old Town (to both Auschwitz and Birkenau), a Holocaust documentary and informational movie on the ride to Auschwitz and a guidebook with a map for each location. If you have the guide book, you really don’t need a guided tour. All the information is listed in the book and it’s easier to read and walk through yourself than have to stick with a large tour group.
If you’re interested in booking this tour, you can find it here.
LUNCH AT BAR MLECZNY “POD TEMIDA”
Poland is full of historic milk bars or “bar mleczny.” Milk bars are 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.
On my last day in Kraków, I made my way to Pod Temida to try out one of these famous milk bars firsthand. The one I chose must have been very popular in the area because the line was almost out the door! However, the staff was 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
When I saw the massage prices in Kraków…I couldn’t resist a trip to the spa. Before hopping on my flight back to Italy, I made a pit stop at May Thai Massage in Old Town. I got a 90 minute classic Thai massage for only 150 PLN, that’s about €35! The spa was beautiful and my masseuse was incredibly talented.
Three days later, as I boarded my Ryanair flight to Pisa, I was sure I had seen and done the best things to do in Kraków. If you follow this itinerary, you’ll have time to see and experience the finest Kraków has to offer!
If you enjoyed my list of things to do in Kraków, check out my guides to Eastern Europe’s most-popular destinations! Like…
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