Tunnel in Wieliczka salt mine, next to Krakow

Krakow in 3 Days: A Complete Must See Guide

The best way to spend 3 amazing days in Krakow, Poland! The 36 must-see spots of the city with photos and pins on Google Maps, so you don’t miss a thing.

Last updated: 07 Feb 2023

Located in the southern part of Poland, Krakow is a city with rich architecture, value-for-money food, and easily accessible.

You can walk in the scenic Old Town, visit the historic Jewish District, also known as Kazimierz, and have a day trip in the Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

If you are looking for a less popular but beautiful European destination to spend 3 days, then Krakow is for you.


How many days in Krakow is enough?

People walking on Planty, next to the Barbican of Krakow

We stayed for 3 days in Krakow, and I recommend you do the same. 

This way, you will be able to explore the Old Town, the Kazimierz, and also visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

If I had only two days, then I would skip the Kazimierz. 

However, you can skip the Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mine instead if you want a more slow-paced trip.


Is Krakow, Poland, worth visiting?

Krakow in 3 days: People walking on Florianska Street

Yes, Krakow is an excellent place for an affordable city break! 

It is one of the oldest and largest cities in Poland and was the country’s capital between 1038 and 1569 AD. 

In its center stands out Krakow Old Town, a scenic medieval district and the first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Moreover, making a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine is easy.


Where to Stay in Krakow for 3 days?

The main square of Old Town in Krakow

The best area to stay in Krakow is next to the Old Town, as all the major attractions are within walking distance. 

We stayed in Hotel Lavender, which was lovely, with friendly staff and tasty breakfast.

For a more luxurious stay, you can check out the magnificent Hotel Unicus Palace, located in the “heart” of the Old Town.

On the other hand, if hostels are your thing, go for Greg&Tom Beer House Hostel – their rates also include breakfast and dinner.


Now, let’s start our walk.

Krakow In 3 Days: Day 1

The recommended route for your first day


1. Barbican

Krakow in 3 days: The Barbican

Why: We begin our day with the northern part of the Old Town.

The first stop is the Barbican, a well-preserved fortified outpost once connected to the city walls.

Take a walk around it and notice where the street level was when it was built, as nowadays, half of the building is buried underground.

Map

2. Florianska Street

Krakow in 3 days: Street Vendor on Florianska Street

Why: Just behind the Barbican, you can find St. Florian’s Gate, the city’s famous Polish Gothic tower.

From here, you will start walking on Florianska Street, one of the most central streets of the Old Town.

You will see dozens of shops, restaurants, and street vendors around, selling hundreds of bagels daily.

Map St. Florian’s Gate and Florianska Street

3. Rynek Główny

Krakow in 3 days: Rynek Główny

Why: Following Florianska Street, you reach Rynek Główny, the central square of Krakow’s Old Town.

A significant commercial center for more than 800 years, today it’s one of the largest medieval squares in Europe.

Here you can admire, among others, the Adam Mickiewicz Monument, the Town Hall Tower, and of course, St. Mary’s Basilica.

Map

4. St. Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica interior

Why: The most famous monument in the 13th-century square is St. Mary’s Basilica, a unique Gothic church with a special altar.

Must-see from the inside, you can also climb the approximately 250 steps of its tower and enjoy a unique view of the square and the entire city.

Another highlight not to be missed here is the trumpeters playing live the Hejnał mariacki (aka Krakow Anthem).

You will see them – and hear them – every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day, in the highest bell tower, wherever you are on the square.

According to the legend, the Hejnał was played first by a medieval bugle player who sounded the alarm on spotting approaching Tatar hordes.

Map

5. Cloth Hall

Krakow in 3 days: Cloth Hall

Why: The Cloth Hall is one of the most recognizable structures in Krakow and the city’s commercial heart during medieval times.

The shops in its facilities have been differentiated from the past and now mainly sell souvenirs.

It is worth having a walk and enjoying the bustling vibe around.

Map

6. Rynek Underground Museum

Rynek Underground Museum

Why: The next interesting attraction is located a few meters below Krakow’s modern square.

It is the Rynek Underground Museum, and on its premises, you can tour the medieval town square’s original ruins and see photos from recent excavations.

Take an hour, walk around, and imagine what life was like here eight centuries ago.

Map

7. Collegium Maius

Collegium Maius

Why: Collegium Maius is the oldest building of the Jagiellonian University, making it pretty old if you consider that it was founded in 1364.

Its most famous student to date was Nicolaus Copernicus, who, of course, is also the “star” of the small museum on the site.

Its courtyard also deserves a special mention as it’s lovely, ideal for taking some photos.

If you love astronomy and architecture, make sure to stop by.

Map

8. Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Church of St. Francis of Assisi interior

Why: While the Old Town is full of churches, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi is the most interesting.

Its exterior looks plain, but inside, it’s full of colors, unique designs, and wonderful Art-Noveau stained glass windows.

I personally liked it more than the famous St. Mary’s Basilica, and admission is free! 

Map

9. Grodzka street

People walking on Grodzka Street

Why: Immediately after, our walk continues on Grodzka street.

This pedestrian street is part of the “Royal Route”, as the Polish kings used it to reach the Wawel Royal Castle.

It’s full of shops, restaurants, beautiful buildings, and churches, with Saints Peter and Paul Church being the most notable.

Map Grodzka Street and Saints Peter and Paul Church

10. Wawel Royal Castle

Krakow in 3 days: Wawel Royal Castle

Why: We continue walking on Grodzka Street and reach the famous Wawel Royal Castle.

Built by the order of King Casimir III the Great, it is the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world!

Nearby, the Wawel Cathedral, Representative Royal Chambers, and the Wawel Thief Tower are worth your visit.

Map

11. Smok Wawelski

Smok Wawelski as seen from Wawel Castle
The Smok Wawelski and the Vistula River as seen from the Wawel Castle.

Why: Just below Wawel Castle, in front of the Vistula River, is the statue of Smok Wawelski, the famous dragon of Polish folklore.

According to tradition, a dragon plagued the city founded by the legendary King Krak until the king’s sons finally killed it.

The statue is not particularly impressive, but small children appreciate it as fire comes out of its mouth every five minutes.

Also, the view of the surrounding area is magnificent, especially at sunset.

Map

12. Traditional Polish food

Traditional Polish food: a scoop of icecream on top of a hot apple pie

Why: No trip is complete without trying the local cuisine.

A 10-minute walk from Smok Wawelski, you can find Kuchnia u Doroty, the restaurant where we ate the most delicious Polish food of our trip.

Don’t forget to try the potato pancakes and the variety of three different pierogis.

And, of course, in the end, the hot homemade apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Map

13. Planty Park

Planty

Why: At the end of the first of three days in Krakow, you can return to your accommodation in the best way: by crossing Planty Park.

Its gardens surround the Old Town like a ring and are great for a walk.

Around, you will see many locals walking with their children and their dogs or running and cycling.

Map


Krakow In 3 Days: Day 2

The recommended route for your second day

The second day is dedicated to the area of ​​Kazimierz, where the Jewish Quarter is located.

Kazimierz was an independent city from its founding in the 14th century until the beginning of the 19th century.

Today, it is one of Krakow’s most important tourist attractions and an important center of local cultural life.

Looking at the map, you’ll find it next to Wawel Castle, less than a 15-minute walk away.

Here the main attraction is the area itself, so relax and walk as much as possible in its streets.


14. Coffee And Buns

A bun on a take-away plate

Why: Although the Hotel Lavender where we stayed included breakfast, there is always room for an extra shot of espresso – and a treat, of course.

In general, we enjoyed excellent coffee in Kraków and the rest of Poland.

So, it’s worth exploring the local coffee scene.

You can start by stopping by Kaffe Bageri Stockholm, right behind the Tempel Synagogue, where you can also have tasty sweet buns.

Another great spot to drink specialty coffee is Tociekawa: if you’re around, make sure to visit it.

Map

15. Schindler’s List Passage

Krakow in 3 days: Schindler's List Passage

Why: Before visiting Kazimierz, I strongly recommend watching the masterpiece movie Schindler’s List.

Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, it takes place in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

Schindler’s List Passage is the actual place where Steven Spielberg filmed an important scene from the film, while nearby, you will find a few cute vintage shops.

Map

16. Jewish Square

A man walking on Jewish Square

Why: Full of beautiful buildings, Jewish Square looks like it is stuck in time.

In close proximity, you will encounter the Remuh Synagogue, the historic Remah Cemetery, the Old Synagogue, and the Galicia Jewish Museum.

Walk around and take some photos: I am not sure, though, that I would pay to enter the synagogues again if I came back to the city as we weren’t impressed at all.

Map

17. Father Bernatek’s Bridge

Statues on Father Bernatek's Bridge

Why: To cross the Vistula River and get to the other side of the city, make sure you walk the Father Bernatek’s Bridge.

It is an uncommon pedestrian bridge with a unique design and is full of moving statues of acrobats.

It is also worth visiting at night if you are nearby, as its lighting is on and it looks even more lovely.

Map

18. Piedmont Market Square

Piedmont Market Square

Why: The next stop on your second of three days in Krakow should be Piedmont Market Square.

The square is a beautiful spot, off the beaten tourist track, where you can sit on the benches and enjoy the people passing by.

And if you are in the mood to eat something, check out Jamra: it’s just 2 minutes away and serves delicious and filling Syrian food.

Map

19. Ghetto Heroes Square

Ghetto Heroes Square

Why: Ghetto Heroes Square is one of the must-visit squares during your 3 days in Krakow.

During the second world war, it served as a meeting point and a deportation site for Jewish ghetto residents.

Today, 68 empty chairs are placed on the square as a memorial for the victims of Nazism who are no longer here.

Map

20. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory

People waiting to enter Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory
Image source: Fabryka Schindlera / Muzeum Krakowa Facepook page

Why: As in Schindler’s List Passage, I suggest watching the film Schindler’s List before visiting Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.

The museum will help you get a comprehensive picture of Poland during World War II and Schindler’s role in it.

Plenty of information is available; therefore, you can easily spend about two hours here.

Map


Krakow In 3 Days: Day 3

The recommended route for your third day


Before we arrived in Poland, as I was planning our trip, I was concerned about whether we would be able to visit Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine in one day.

I was reading guides and online reviews and thinking maybe we should only visit one of the two.

We ended up booking this combo tour, wanting to see as much as possible.

It turned out to be a wise decision.

Despite the roughly 11-hour visit, both destinations are unique, each for its reasons, and definitely not to be missed.

A minibus picked us up outside our hotel early in the morning and returned us in the evening.

During the journey, the tour guide informed us about the country’s history, while she did not stop making jokes about the local food in which almost everything is fried.

I highly recommend it.

21. Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krakow in 3 days: Auschwitz Birkenau

Why: Visiting the two Auschwitz concentration camps creates mixed feelings.

It’s not your typical travel destination, since we’re talking about the site of one of humanity’s greatest atrocities.

Nazi Germany operated it in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust.

It is estimated that of the 1.3 million people sent here, 1.1 million were murdered.

The experience is very emotional but also educational and eye-opening.

Everyone should go at least once: if we keep the memory, it will never happen again.

Map Memorial and Museum Auschwitz I and Memorial and Museum Auschwitz II-Birkenau

22. Wieliczka Salt Mine

Krakow in 3 days: Wieliczka Salt Mine

Why: The atmosphere of the visit to the salt mine of Wieliczka city is entirely different.

It demonstrates what people can achieve in the best possible way, in even the strangest places.

The salt mine operated continuously from the 13th century until 2007 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The tour of its premises takes place underground, with the total depth reaching 327 meters.

Its attractions include labyrinthine passages, an underground lake, four chapels, and many statues carved into the salt.

Map

Conclusion: what to add or skip

Kazimierz: The Jewish Square

The above itinerary should be enough for you to have 3 full days in Krakow and get a complete picture of the city.

However, if you find the itinerary too stressful, you can skip the Rynek Underground Museum (point 6) and the Smok Wawelski (point 11) on Day 1.

On the second day, you can skip Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory (point 20).

Finally, on Day 3, you can take a trip only to Auschwitz-Birkenau or Wieliczka Salt Mine. If I had to choose only one, I would go with Wieliczka Salt Mine.

On the contrary, if you love super tight schedules, add a visit to Park Bednarskiego.

It’s next to Piedmont Market Square (point 18), so doing it on your second day is better.

Make Your Trip Easier

Accommodation
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.

Flight
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights, as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.

Travel Insurance
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.

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