48 Hours in Krakow: The Highlights

48 Hours Krakow Highlights weekend Krakow

Krakow is a truly beautiful city and perfect for a weekend break. I’ll admit that many claim it is over-hyped and it doesn’t have as many ‘attractions’ as other European cities (like Berlin or Amsterdam) but (being a history lover) I couldn’t imagine a European Tour without it. 48 Hours Krakow Highlights weekend Krakow. Krakow travel guide

Krakow 48 Hours Highlights

Krakow if full of beautiful architecture, awesome food and a heap of history. Although not Poland’s Capital City (that’s Warsaw – but you knew that) it is Poland’s Capital of Culture – and was the European Capital of Culture in the year 2000. Weekend Krakow

Join me for a quick tour of Krakow’s highlights – and I’ll let you in about a couple of awesome trips that you can take that use Krakow as a starting point. Weekend Krakow Krakow travel guide

RELATED: This is the fourth stop on my ‘Europe By Rail in 25 Days‘ Tour. Click the link to find out all about it!

In The City 48 Hours Krakow Highlights Krakow travel guide

1. Rynek Glowny (Market Square) Weekend Krakow

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

At 40,000m2 it is one of the biggest medieval squares in Europe, and THE central space in Krakow. Home to both the Cloth Hall (see below) and minutes from St Mary’s Basilica (picture below) it is a great place to start your day. Krakow travel guide

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

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2. Wawel Castle/cathedral Weekend Krakow  travel guide

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

Once the residence of the the Polish monarchy, it is now the premier art museum in Poland. Add in that there is a Cathedral and other structures on site to explore and you can easily while away a couple of hours photographing this gothic marvel.

RELATED: If you’re looking for another great elevated viewpoint, head to Kosciuszko Mound – it’s just to the west of the city and offers some incredible views!

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3. Kazimerz – Explore the Jewish Quarter

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

Kazimerz is a historically significant area of Krakow, separated from the old town by the Wisla river which is now a key attraction in Krakow. Following the decimation of the Nazi invasion, this part of town has witnessed a Renaissance of sorts, where the Jewish and Christian influences are ripe and their is a resurgence of youth, art and culture. Make sure you take a wander through the district – or better still – join in a walking tour. Krakow travel guide

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4. Cloth Hall Krakow travel guide

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

A defining characteristic of Krakow’s Main Square, this beautiful building is home to a bustling market. Arguably the oldest market in Europe – having been in business for 700 years!! – you are sure to find something to tickle your fancy at the stalls within.

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5. Eat Local Food 48 Hours Krakow Highlights

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

They say that Polish food is rich in proteins and even richer in starch – and this dish above is no exception! A goulash served in a bread bowl makes for one hearty meal; wash that down with the local brew and you’ve got a ‘traditional’ local meal. Krakow travel guide

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Further Afield 48 hours Krakow highlights

6. Auschwitz & Auschwitz-Birkenau Krakow travel guide

Europe History

A harrowing day trip to take, and one that will leave you with a heavy heart. I could not recommend a trip to Krakow without advising you to take a guided tour of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkineau. An educational day, its is hard to understand the extent of the atrocities committed here, even after visiting the sites. During our visit, my sadness extended to turning my camera to black and white mode. For although the sun shone and the grass was green, I felt that such a place did not deserve the vibrancy that color offers.

Read more about my thoughts on Auschwitz here: 4 sites that will turn your EuroTrip into the Ultimate History Lesson

Europe History

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7. Wieliczka Salt Mine & Underground Cathedral

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

A lighter, and altogether fascinating  day trip from Krakow is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, home to the worlds ‘lowest’ religiously dedicated site where they have an Underground Cathedral (Chapel of St Kinga) carved into the rocksalt. The structures themselves are a site to behold – with only intricately placed wooden beams holding the weight of the earth above you. It makes you wonder about the people who descended into the mines each day, the lack of natural light alone was enough for me for half a day! I can hardly imagine working in such constant darkness!

A true wonder of ‘modern’ engineering. Krakow travel guide

48 Hours Krakow Highlights

So there you have it – my top picks and highlights for 48 hours in Krakow! Let me know if I have included your favorite spots – and let me know if there are any that I’ve missed!

NEXT UP: 48 HOURS IN BUDAPEST: THE HIGHLIGHTS

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Krakow 48 Hours Highlights Weekend Things To Do  Krakow 48 Hours Highlights Weekend Things To Do

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79 thoughts on “48 Hours in Krakow: The Highlights

  1. Rachel Pearson says:

    I love pretty much everything you’ve done here! I always look for a high vantage point or tower that I can climb for panoramic views and search for local food (that goulash bread bow looks amazing). I have always wanted to visit Auschwitz and your photos in B&W are amazing

  2. Julie says:

    I just recently visited Krakow as part of a work trip, so while i was there for several days, my free time was in bits and pieces. I loved the city, found it welcoming, friendly, easy to get around and all around beautiful. I will mention that there are some fabulous free walking tours (i took 2!) that really brought the city to life for me. Next time I will hopefully have the free time for a visit to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines!

  3. Megan says:

    Looks like you fit a ton into 48 hours. I think the food or the underground cathedral would be my top picks. I’ll eat just about anything in a bread bow. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hugo Cura says:

    Beautiful city indeed! I haven’t been but my mother was there recently and really enjoyed it (along with the rest of Poland).

    Would love to check out the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Looks quite interesting!

    Cheers!

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Caroline – it takes about an hour. We did a combined trip with the salt mine in the morning and Auschwitz in the afternoon 🙂

  5. Kim-Ling says:

    Great list! My friend is going to Krakow next month, so I’ll share this post with her. I think I’d already told her to visit the castle/cathdral & square, but this will give her more ideas!

  6. Jenn says:

    I have always wanted to go to this salt mine – it looks so cool. Poland is on our list of places to visit and your photos and experiences that you shared here make it that much more appealing!

  7. Samantha says:

    Wow, what a beautiful place full of history! I would really like to visit Auschwitz, although my emotions would probably go into overdrive. I really liked how you put those photos in black and white. Lovely post!

  8. Lolo says:

    Ooh good to know you can go up the church tower for a great view over the main square!! I LOVEEE climbing towers for great views!! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  9. Anne says:

    I loved Krakow and almost didn’t got o Aushwitz as I knew it would be terrible. I am glad I did but I never known such a soulless place. It is as though the very ground has been stripped of its life – no birds singing, no signs of life. Unfortunately such atrocities continue around the world to this day

  10. Carly Moore says:

    I’d be all over that goulash in a bread bowl lol. I hope to visit Auschwitz when I visit the area, and I like the looks of that underground cathedral!

  11. Carol Colborn says:

    I love those yellow umbrellas on the square. I would love to see Auschwitz and the Underground Cathedral, too!

  12. Nancie Lee says:

    Krakow looks fascinating! I love historical places and this looks like a beautiful place to explore. Auschwitz would be sobering and sad to visit. I love that you took black and white photos. Very fitting. Goulash in a bowl looks so tempting. Would love to try it one day! Your photos are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Lotte says:

    I have been meaning to go to Krakow because a friend of mine lived in Poland and highly recommended it to me. Reading your itinerary has only confirmed that it must be a great place to visit.

    Though obviously a place like Auschwitz is emotionally very heavy, I personally feel it’s so important to visit places like this to remember (and hopefully learn from) the past and honor the victims of the atrocities:-(

  14. Ruth says:

    I would love to visit Krakow. I would not worry about the lack of highlights. Seems like there is a lot to do. I would be happy to walk the streets and soak the atmosphere.

  15. TravelGretl says:

    Looks like it’s got a lot of attractions actually! I’m not much of a citytripper but Auschwitz is a place I definitely want to visit some day – to feel that part of history. Hear from more people it’s pretty impressive.

  16. Travelwith2ofus says:

    To be honest I don’t know much about Poland. I know a little about Warsaw, but absolutely nothing about Krakow. It looks like a really interesting place. I love the architecture. The Market Square and the Cathedral are really beautiful.

  17. Kerri says:

    I really want to go here. Just recently spent some time with a couple of Polish people and loved their stories. I love eating goulash and would love to eat it out of the bread – that’s cool – but wouldn’t be able to eat all of the bread!! So want to get to Auschwitz. I’ve been to a couple of the German concentration camps but this one has still evaded me.

  18. Toni says:

    It does look like a great choice for a weekend getaway. We also love cities that are full of history and things that are a little different so that underground cathedral has me intrigued.

  19. Jennifer Melroy says:

    I would love to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It looks like a cool salt mind to visit even if you aren’t religious. I would also love to just wander around the city and see what I can find.

  20. Wandering Carol says:

    I don’t think I did justice to Krakow when I was there – I need to spend more there! I did visit Wawel Castle. Did you know there is supposed to be an energy spot there in one of the courtyards, one of the earth’s chakras – if you look closely you can spot people going there to soak up the special energy. It’s so cool.

  21. Mar Pages says:

    I have never seen a bread bowl that large! I honestly never knew Krakow had so much to offer. I mean a market thats 700 years old, not exactly something thats easily found. 48 hours seems hardly enough 🙂

    • Vicki says:

      I know Mar! My 48 hour guides need a bit of planning and co-ordination – but they can be done! Better if you have more time and take things slower!

  22. Anda says:

    I’ve heard Krakow looked beautiful, but I didn’t make it there yet. I have a nice who studied there. Looks like you covered a lot in 48 hours, maybe I should stop in Krakow on my way to Stockholm this summer. I love the city’s beautiful architecture.

  23. Kathrin says:

    I really regret that I didn’t visit Krakow on my Backpacking trip last summer. I only visited Warsaw. I heard so many good things about Krakow from other travelers. I have to go back!

  24. Vanessa says:

    We are going to be so, so close to Krakow this summer as we’re going to be in Prague and we really wanted to make a quick trip – this would have been the perfect guide- but alas we just couldn’t fit in our schedule. I would love to take the time and return to the region and take a long visit.

  25. sabrina barbante says:

    I never was in Krakow, but I was lucky enough to go to Warsaw last spring and found it amazing. My boyfriend visited Krakow and told me it’s so different than the capital and I can see it by your post too! Local beer is great! tried it in Warsaw of course!

  26. Rea says:

    Visiting Poland has been on my mind for so long now… It has such a rich history and some really beautiful spots to visit. After reading your post and seeing the pictures I feel like I wanna go there tomorrow 🙂 I’m not too sure about visiting Auschwitz though, I thing it would be too hard for me 🙁

  27. Veronika says:

    Krakow is the most beautiful Polish city! So much nicer than the capital…I really love the square, it has historical atmosphere. Nice tips – I will use them when re-visiting the city again.

  28. anto says:

    I absolutely love Krakow, have been there three times and would happily go again. Poland is a beautiful place and very underestimated!

  29. Rob Taylor says:

    I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Poland, and this makes me think that’s accurate. The salt mine sounds very cool. I’ve also always been very torn about visiting a concentration camp, but perhaps it would be a valuable visit when our kids are older.

    • Vicki says:

      Auschwitz is certainly a very somber place, but I think it is important to visit – but definitely when the kids are old enough to understand.

  30. Vlad says:

    Thanks for linking with #TheWeeklyPostcard, I’m going to Krakow this summer and actually spending 48 hours so your post has definitely been useful. Saving it for later 😀

  31. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    So less has been written about this wonderful country, that it sparks a curiosity in me whenever I hear the name Poland. The castles and the streets carry so much history and so many mysteries. The food looks very appetizing. The monochrome disturbed me, it held a negative vibe to it. The 48 hours must have been enriching.

  32. Annie says:

    Great post 🙂 I have just recently came back from my trip to Poland and I loved it. I have been to Krakow and I do agree that it is truly a great city. I loved how beautiful all the building are and the atmosphere of it is so amazing. I have also been to Warsaw for few days and even though it is so much different and more modern than Krakow, I loved it too. I went there to visit my friends and they have taken me to their favorite restaurant – the Akademia. We had an amazing traditional Polish dinner and it was so delicious:) I really hope that I will get to visit this amazing country again 🙂

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