Updated: Jul 14
Ah, those nights in Kazimierz. Two weeks in Krakow Poland are behind me. I was supposed to spend a few days in this city, but with a companion like Mateusz, it was impossible to leave earlier. Every step is a story about the places you are passing. I think that today I can write that Krakow has no secrets from me. I know, of course, that not everyone can spend so much time here, that's why I have prepared for you the "Must see in Krakow", places that must be visited even during a weekend trip.
All of the following attractions worth seeing in Krakow can be found on this map.
Wawel Castle - the seat of the kings of Poland
No one is surprised, that I am starting here. The undisputed leader when it comes to monuments visited by tourists in Poland. Royal Castle is actually a limestone hill with, among others, castle and cathedral. The enormity of this place is impressive and it's not that I'm a dwarf. If you want to understand the pre-war history of Poland, you must come here. The seat of Polish kings and their necropolis is a flagship attraction of Krakow, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle is open to visitors. We will see there what the private and representative Royal Chambers with the famous tapestries of Zygmunt August looked like. Inside the building, there is also the Crown Treasury and the Armory.
In addition to the Castle, you must also visit the Cathedral. In its basement there are the Tombs of Kings and national heroes of our country. It is here that the most famous bell in Poland is located - the Zygmunt Bell, announcing the most important events in the history of our country. One suggestion right away: If you are a dwarf , after a few days of partying in Kazimierz, you may have a problem to get to the top of the Sigismun Tower. I felt out of breath after 40 stairs, fortunately Mateusz carried me in his backpack.
Dragon’s Den - meeting with the Wawel Dragon
It's actually a part of Wawel Castle, but we dwarfs have great respect for dragons, so I treat the place of residence of the most famous dragon in Poland as a separate attraction. Be warned, if you are claustrophobic, skip this point on your sightseeing program. Although the length of the cave corridors is almost 300 meters, the tourist route is only 80 meters long. A metal Wawel Dragon is waiting for us at the mouth of the pit. Believe me, nothing evokes such a mix of joy and terror on the faces of children as the fire coming out of his mouth every three minutes.
Main Market Square - the historic center of old town
The largest in Poland, one of the most beautiful in Europe. From the very beginning, the market plan was simple and functional. It was the most important public space, satisfying all the basic needs of residents related to the functioning of the city, commercial and finally religious life. Great place, with only one drawback ... pigeons. There are far too many of them, they are too self-confident and they don't care about the ethos of a dwarf traveler. During these two weeks of my stay, I was robbed of my bagel twice. Most of the meetings on the market square start at "Adam", as the inhabitants of Kraków call the Adam Mickiewicz monument. Destroyed in 1940 by the Germans, now we are dealing with a reconstruction using original elements. There are many churches worth visiting all over the old town. Even in the main market square, it is worth paying attention to the Church of St. Wojciech.
St. Mary's Church - absolute "must have"
It is basically the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most famous church in Krakow, which is equally influenced by the status of the basilica and the altar of Wit Stwosz, the renovation of which was completed in 2021. If we add that the vault of the church was decorated by the masters of Polish painting - Jan Matejko, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański, we get an absolute "must see" to visit not only in Krakow, but all over Poland. From the tower, called Hejnalica, you can hear the bugle call every hour. The tower can also be visited, but after my perturbations in the Wawel Cathedral - I gave up. St. Mary's Basilica is a really must have place to visit.
Sukiennice - the commercial heart of the historic city
In today's language, a shopping mall founded by Kazimierz the Great. Of course, before the reign of this ruler, this place was also a commercial place, but mainly stalls reigned here. The name itself (in English it’s something close to dress place) comes from the cloth that was sold here in ancient times. Today, the body of the building looks very noble, but in the begining it was surrounded by stalls with food and farm cattle. So, by the current standards, the place was not too hygienic. Currently, in Krakow's Sukiennice, there are two roofed rows of stalls selling souvenirs from Krakow and Poland as well as handicrafts. On the first floor of the Sukiennice, there is the Gallery of Polish Painting and Sculpture, and on the ground floor, the famous Noworolski cafe.
Kazimierz - a journey back in time and a unique atmosphere
If I were to indicate only one place in the royal city, it would absolutely be Kazimierz, which was officially incorporated into Krakow in the 19th century. Incredible climate. The former Jewish district, inhabited by up to 65,000 people of this origin. Today, many Jews live here and there are several synagogues, but at the same time we will meet Catholic temples worth visiting, such as the Corpus Christi Basilica or the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret. As a result of World War II, the place lost its original character. Currently, it is a fashionable meeting place with popular venues. It is this combination of historic architecture and Jewish shops with murals and full of young people restaurants and pubs, that makes a great impression on me. I could walk here for hours and then gather strength in one of the many pubs. I am a storyteller leprechaun, but I cannot express the atmosphere of this place in words. You just have to come here.
Planty - relaxing in nature
I envy the inhabitants of Krakow that they have a wonderful garden so close to the historic city center. Every time I was given a hard time sightseeing, and my head did not accept all the wonderful stories of Mateusz, I went here. The Planty Park was built in place of the old defensive walls. By the decision of the Senate of the City of Krakow, not only were the walls demolished, but also the surrounding areas were dried up and planted with trees. The dominant species are chestnut trees. Walking along the alleys and passing monuments of important people in the history, such as Władysław Jagiełło, Nicolaus Copernicus, I wonder if I, Gajdek, will have my monument one day.
Krakow is a great city, and my suggestions are only a fraction of what you can see here. I tried to focus on places around the main square, but of course a bit further we will find whether it is the Kościuszko Mound or the entire industrial district of Nowa Huta. However, if we have more time and the possibility of transport, it is worth visiting Wieliczka salt mine or Auschwitz Birkenau concetration camp. How diverse are attractions worth seeing, it is best shown in the route in the guideU route application created by my Krakow friend. Be sure to check it.
Once upone a time in the Jewish Kazimierz – My friend Mateusz and a free collection of stories about a lost world and a district that was re-invented. This is a ready-made sightseeing route prepared by a local guide. You will feel like you are on a guided tour.