In 1978, Pope John Paul II was declared the first non-Italian and first-Slavic pope to hail from Krakow, Poland. On the same year, UNESCO declared the whole Old Town and Historic Center a World Heritage site. This ancient and the second largest Polish city is not new to global attention. Formerly Poland’s capital from the year 1038 to 1569, it was the country’s leading center of arts, culture, academics, and economy. It started as Wawel Hill’s Hamlet town that became Slavonic Europe’s busiest trading town in the year 965. The rise of Poland’s Second Republic and with new universities and cultural centers being built saw the city’s transformation into a major center for the academe and the arts with international standards. Today, it’s among the major European destinations when locals and tourists need a sabbatical. Check out our list below, for the best non-touristy things to do in Krakow, Poland.
Go on a guided walking tour of Krakow with a professional local guide and a small group of people starting off in the main market square at the St. Adalbert Church (Sw. Wojciech) at exactly 10 am. The three-hour tour allows you to explore the artsy Kazimierz neighborhood where most of the scenes from the movie “Schindler’s List” was filmed; Wolnica, formerly the Jewish Quarter; and Podgórze district where Oskar Schindler’s factory and the ruins of WWII ghetto are located. The tour ends at the factory’s museum with a 30-minute coffee break where you will have a small discussion of the local legends, customs, and Jewish quarter rebirth.
Small Group Jewish Quarter Walking Tour in Krakow
Duration: 3 hours
The mythical Wawel Dragon or Wawel Hill Dragon is an iconic figure in Polish folklore and is said to have lived in the Wawel Hill cave by the Vistula River bank, during the reign of King Krakus. To have a peek of the cave, you can join a tour group led by a local guide who is an expert in the terrain and can speak four languages. With this particular tour, your group rides a Segway as you go around the medieval town, passing the Barbican armory, the dungeons in Main Square, St. Mary’s Church, Royal Wawel Castle, and finishing at the Wista Riverside where the legendary cave is located.
90-Minute Guided Segway Tour of Kraków Old Town
Duration: 105 minute
By the entrance of the Wawel Cathedral on Wawel Hill is where the bones of the mythical Wawel Dragon hang. It is said that these relics predict the end of the world when they fall on the ground. Purchase a ticket online for this tour of the Wawel Cathedral with an audio guide. The ticket allows you entry to the cathedral, Sigismund Bell Tower, and the Royal Tombs without having to wait in line.
Wawel Cathedral Entry Ticket and Audio Guide Tour
See for yourself why St. Mary’s Basilica on the Main Market Square is Krakow’s iconic symbol. Admire the amazing Gothic structure and vaulted ceilings that contain Veit Stoss Altar, a carved wooden altar which is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Gothic European era. Purchase a voucher from the local supplier at 13 Wolnica Square or at 8 Szczepański Square so you can avoid the lines to the entrance of the Basilica. Show the printed document at the ticket office of the Museum, at least 90 minutes before closing time.
St Mary's Basilica Entrance Ticket
Duration: 1 day
Wawel Castle, aside from being a World Heritage Site of UNESCO and being the former residence of Polish Royalty, is said to house one of the Earth’s chakra points of which the energy source is the Wawel Stone. Though the church frowns upon this supernatural belief, the stone is safely hidden in an obscure corner under the St. Gerone’s Chapel between Wawel Cathedral and Krakow’s Royal Castle. Once you take a guided tour of the Wawel Castle, you won’t miss it because it is one of the highlights of the one-and-a-half-hour tour that includes a showcase of the art collection, the apartments, and chambers of Polish Kings, and the grand courtyards that you will be passing through.
Krakow - Wawel Sightseeing of the Royal Hill
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Collegium Maius or “Great College” in Latin, is a 14th-century building where Jagiellonian University Museum is located. The museum was restored to its original structure featuring the communal halls, library, lecture rooms, the treasury containing the Gothic maces of the rectors, the Jagiellonian Globe, and the exhibit of ancient paintings, medals, coins, furniture, collectibles, and scientific instruments. The ancient structure is located in the Old Town at the corner to St. Anne Street and Jagiellon Street. If you take this three-hour city tour with a guide, riding the electric car, you will visit the Old Town, Jewish Quarters, and the Ghetto remains ending with a side trip to Main Square and Schindler’s Factory.
Krakow: Tour by Electric Car & Optional Schindler’s Factory
Duration: 3 hour
Kosciuszko Mound, currently one of the unique Krakow local attractions, was built as a military memorial in the 1800s for their hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko. The military structure around it called Kosciuszko Fort 2, is the oldest remaining component of Krakow Fortress. Purchase a ticket for a group tour of the Mound so you can experience the panoramic view of the entire Krakow at the summit while taking a look at the exhibits and learning enchanting history lessons from the tour guide, on your way to the top.
Admission ticket to Kosciuszko Mound - Kopiec Kosciuszki
Duration: 2 hours
Enjoy eight hours of fun on this river-rafting tour with a professional tour guide, as you ride a traditional raft down the Dunajec River. The ticket includes a hotel pick-up service in Krakow that arrives at exactly 8 AM. From Krakow, you will pass a lovely 16th-century wooden church in Debno on your way to Dunajec. At the river, your guide will take you on a raft, cruising through the Sromowce Nizne, Pieniny Gorge, and Szczawnica while enjoying the scenic views of Mt. Sokolica and Trzy Korony. Bring a raincoat and be prepared for any weather changes.
Dunajec River Full-Day River Rafting Tour from Krakow
Duration: 8 hour
Here’s your chance to visit an authentic Polish glass factory where traditional handmade glass decorations are manufactured. This family-friendly tour includes a round-trip shared transfer, lunch, and the opportunity to participate in a workshop and create your own glass souvenir. The tour group departs from two meet up points – Galaxy Hotel in Gesia 22a at 2 pm or at the Main Post Office in Wielopole 2 at 2.10 pm. You’ll be taken to the largest glass bauble manufacturer in Bębło, to their production department and then to the factory shop. The tour is not recommended for those who require a wheelchair.
Glass & Baubles Visiting And Workshop Tour
Duration: 4 hours
The Rynek Underground Museum is a fascinating venue if you want to learn more about the city’s 700-year-old history through interactive displays and by viewing holograms and films. By purchasing this museum ticket passage online, your pre-booked ticket helps you avoid the long line and maximizes your time entering the museum, and this includes entry to the Krakow Town Hall, the Old Market, and Krzysztofory Palace. The underground museum features old artifacts, ancient skeletons as well as the hidden routes where the medieval chambers and old market stalls used to be.
Rynek Underground Museum ticket - English guide
Duration: 1 day
Amazing activities in an awesome city
The city alone is an amazing place to visit and it offers several unique activities that you can do to spice up your trip. You should book at least one of these tours when visiting Krakow, Poland, so you can take heartwarming memories back home with you.
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