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What to Do in Krakow Old Town in One Day

This post shows you what to see in Krakow Old Town in one day. Krakow in the south of Poland is the country’s former royal capital, full of art and culture. Walking in Krakow Old Town is like stepping back in time.

What about the trumpeter playing from the top of the church tower – every hour and in all directions – to make sure everybody knows the time?

What about the Main Square, the largest medieval square in Europe, and what about the Jagellonian University, one of the world’s oldest universities?

Horse and carriage in Krakow Old Town

 

I made a walking itinerary in Krakow. Just follow my itinerary to explore Krakow Old Town in one day – or more days if you have time. Or see Krakow attractions without an itinerary, wandering around in the medieval center.

The Old Town definitely is the most interesting part of Krakow so try to find your Krakow hotel right in the Old Town. It might be difficult since most Krakow hotels are outside the historic core of the city.

We had good luck, we found a big, airy apartment with an inner court balcony and windows to both sides of the building to provide fresh air in the summer heat. Our apartment was in a medieval townhouse in a central location in the Old Town. Perfect! So we went to explore Krakow.

Itinerary: Krakow Old Town in One Day

 

My Krakow walking itinerary begins at the most famous Old Town gate, St. Florian’s Gate in the north and goes to the Main Square and south to the Wawel Hill. So like for most visitors, our first stop was the Main Square.

Krakow Old Town Main Square

Krakow Old Town Main Square

This is the place all of us want to see in Krakow. Each year three million guests from Poland and abroad visit Krakow Old Town and its main square.

The square is packed with people, always, and there are dozens of outdoor cafés, pubs and restaurants along the Square. So many that it’s hard to choose where to start.

 

There are street musicians in every corner, and like in Prague, most of them play classical music. So medieval and so beautiful!

Like centuries ago there is a small market, stalls selling flowers and street food. And there is the 16th century Cloth Hall standing in the middle. And like before, the trumpeter climbs to the church tower and plays, every hour.

Classical Music, in Every Corner

Concert in Krakow Old TownFeeling a bit tired after arriving in Krakow in the morning we stopped at one of the restaurants along the Main Square and ended up having a traditional Polish lunch. So heavy, but so good!

Many locals tried to sell us concert tickets and we bought tickets to a Royal Chamber Orchestra Concert in the tiny St. Adalbert’s Church the same night.

We were wondering if we would like it but it turned out to be an excellent concert and we enjoyed the orchestra so much. The St. Adalbert’s Church is very small and only takes a handful of people but if you go to Krakow, try to get tickets to this specific concert. It is good.

There is also another good concert, in St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church. You’ll find the place walking south from the Main Square along the Grodzka Street and tickets are sold outside the chuch.

Even if you’re not familiar with classical music you should go to a concert, in Krakow!

 

At night Grodzka Street becomes a dining street and you will find rows of good restaurants to have dinner after the concerts. Dine outdoors if the weather permits and watch the crowds walking. And the Krakow horses.

Krakow Old Town Streets

Horses and carriage, Krakow Old Town in one day

The medieval Krakow Old Town is big so if you get tired of walking you can take a horse carriage ride. Horses are nice to look at but we preferred to walk all the way, on the narrow streets of Krakow.

We even did the 4 km walk along the green belt that surrounds the Old Town. The ring is called Planty. You can see the green belt on the map.

The Planty leads to the Wawel Hill in the south and to the Jagellonian University in the west. It also leads you to Krakow train station and to a modern shopping mall at the north edge of the Old Town.

 

Walking south towards the Wawel Hill you can find nice small museums and art galleries in the old buildings. There are also many sites associated with Pope John Paul II who before being elected Pope was the Archbishop of Krakow.

 Wawel Hill

The Wawel Hill, Krakow Old Town in one day

Wawel Hill is a Polish national symbol, if any. The Royal Castle on Wawel Hill has been the residence of Polish kings, for centuries.

 

In the Royal Castle visit the staterooms, the Royal apartment and the Crown Treasury.

Outside the castle you can visit the Cathedral and the Cathedral Museum. From the hill you also get a great view of the river Wisla that makes a sharp turn at this point, and of course you have the views to the Old Town.

Jagellonian University

Professors and the Jagellonian University, Krakow

Walk back to the city and you will come to an old famous university, the Jagellonian University, spread over many blocks in the Krakow Old Town. The university is really old, it was established in the 14th century.

 

On a shady yard we found fine statues of former professors and a passage with a decorated roof took us to the inner court of the university’s oldest building, the Collegium Maius.

Collegium Maius Guided Tour

From the inner courtyard you can take a guided tour of the Collegium Maius. A guided tour is the only way to get in and you should in fact book your tour time in advance.

A hall, Collegium Maius

 

We didn’t make a booking and went on a Polish tour and didn’t understand a word. But that was ok, I always bring my guide book and of course we could see all the splendor! Collegium Maius is another must see in Krakow.

The guided tour takes you to many historic halls like the impressive Aula and another hall with a Renaissance ceiling and full of portraits of former kings and university rectors.

 

The Collegium Maius still has the astronomic instruments once used by Copernicus who was a student here and they also have Copernicus manuscripts. And they have the oldest existing globe that has the continent of America.

Krakow Food Market

Street market, Krakow Old Town in one day

 

Here are some more photos on Krakow Old Town and its food market, before taking the train to the airport to travel on.

Krakow to Airport

We took the train to the airport since a train is easier to find than the right bus stop. In Krakow the train doesn’t go all the way to the airport but there’s a shuttle bus to the terminals from the closest station.

Buying the right train tickets in the machine speaking Polish turned out to be a hard task for us, but there was an old man who came and helped us for a little coin. We gave the rest of our zlotys to this man that had a very good business idea, and so we left Krakow.

Now we had seen the top sights of Krakow Old Town in one day, you can see a lot in half a weekend. We were happy for what we had seen, knowing there’s much more to see in Krakow, the former historic capital of Poland.

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3 comments

  1. Beautiful pics and a lot of information! Although Krakow is not the only city in Poland 😉
    please come and visit Gdansk for example
    Bartek from Gdansk

  2. Thank you Bartek 🙂 I really enjoyed Krakow and I’m looking forward to see Gdansk. You have so beautiful cities in Poland!

  3. I believe Krakow is not only a great idea for a weekend. It’s definitely worth to spend some more time here to fully enjoy Rynek. Polish food caters for all tastes. Never in my life had I eaten such delicious food. When an opportunity to relocate to Poland occured, I decided to choose Krakow. I even took some Polish classes at Prolog: http://www.polishcourses.com. It’s always good to know new languages.

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