What to Know Before You Visit Krakow, Poland

If Poland is on your must-travel list, Krakow is probably on your itinerary! It’s one of Poland’s most famous towns, full of history and sites that date back over the past 1,000 years and beyond. Here are the most important things to know to plan the perfect trip.

Many sites are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

This is important to know for planning purposes. You can still have an amazing time in Krakow on a Monday or Tuesday, but you’ll want to check the opening dates and hours for the museums and sites you’ll want to see. This would also be a good time for a day trip to Auschwitz or excursion to the thermal baths near Zakopane instead.

Take it easy on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Also helpful: How to Plan a Trip (step by step!)

The Bugle Tower requires a separate ticket from the Basilica.

One of the top sites to visit is St. Mary’s Basilica and the Bugle Tower, which is part of the same building. Contrary to popular belief, a ticket to one does not give you access to the other! Tickets to both can be found in the office across the walkway from the church, but you will have to buy them from different employees at different prices (15 PLN for the Basilica; 20 PLN for the Bugle Tower as of summer 2023).

Also important to note is that Bugle Tower tickets are limited, timed, and sell out fast! We were maybe 10th in line as soon as the ti key office opened at 11:30am, and the earliest tower tickets available were for 3:05pm. It wasn’t a big deal to go back at the appointment time, but keep that in mind when you plan your trip! Tickets cannot be booked in advance, but you can find more information here.

St. Mary’s and the Bugle Tower are right on the Main Square.
Read next: Your Guide to Solo Travel in Krakow

The old city is entirely walkable.

The thing I love about cities that were made before cars and public transportation is the fact that they were literally set up and built for walkability. Krakow, and towns like it, can usually be explored at a leisurely pace in a day or two, and you can simply walk wherever you want to go. The old city of Krakow is only about half a mile long, and even less wide!

In Krakow there is also the Planty, which is a paved path all the way around the old city. It’s only two miles all the way around, and it’s perfect if you’re looking for a flat place to run or walk.

Krakow is such a walkable city!
Keep reading: The Best Foods You Have to Try in Poland

Walking tours are abundant.

Speaking of walking, there are so many walking tours for you in and around Krakow. Show up for a free walking tour of the old city, Jewish Quarter, and more, or ask your hotel to set you up with a private tour guide if there is something specific you want to see or learn more about.

A walking tour is the perfect way to get your bearings in the city.
Read on: The Ultimate Guide to Train Travel in Poland

There are a lot of stairs to be climbed.

All that said, be prepared for lots of stairs and uneven ground! Old cities in Europe are still paved with cobblestones, and very few historic buildings have an elevator. If you want to catch the view from the Bugle Tower or Town Hall Tower, just know that you will be taking the stairs!

The view from the top was always worth the climb for us!
The view from the top.
(Coming soon) Keep reading: The Best Restaurants in Krakow

There is a fire-breathing dragon behind Wawel Castle!

This is a symbol of the city, and a very popular photo spot! Wawel Dragon can be found overlooking the river, right behind Wawel Castle. He breathes fire at regular intervals, but if you want a photo of him without a few hundred other people, go early in the morning! We had him to ourselves in the 6:00am hour during our morning run.

Don’t miss your chance for a selfie with the dragon!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Poland

Krakow is more tourism-centric and international than Poznan, Wroclaw, Gdansk.

There are definitely tourism centers in several cities around Poland, but Krakow takes the cake in terms of international vibe and tourism practices. It’s a great place to both familiarize yourself with Poland as a first stop, or a grand finale to end your Polish adventure with extra bang for your buck!

Krakow is a major tourism center.
Read next: The Top 10 Things to Do in Krakow

Want more? Check out my dedicated Poland Page!

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