Credit

Courtesy of spooh/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Krakow

If you have extra time, St. Mary's Basilica (Kosciól Mariacki) is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Krakow
    View all Photos
    #1 in Krakow
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    A 42-mile trip west of Kraków, the brutal, crushing concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau are located in the city of Oswiecim. More than 1.1 million people died in these camps' barracks, hospitals, gas chambers and labor fields.

    Travelers say the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is one of Europe's best preserved concentration camps. These camps, many add, are an important piece of history, although you'll feel emotional during your tour. As such, this locale is not ideal for younger children. Plan on bringing water and wearing comfortable walking shoes since you'll cover a lot of ground here. Also, reserve your timed entry passes and guided tours on the property's booking page well in advance.

  • #2
    Main Market Square (Rynek Glówny)
    View all Photos
    #2 in Krakow
    Cafes, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Main Market Square (or Rynek Glówny, as it's known locally) is the world's largest medieval market square and the highlight of any trip to Kraków. It is the geographic center of the Old Town, the symbolic center of the city and, more than likely, the center of most of your trip plans.

    The square is mostly about atmosphere – it is alive and bustling with locals and travelers alike, coming and going. You'll also notice the unsymmetrical towers of St. Mary's Basilica nearby, which are a great escape from the square's activity. If you'd rather buy some souvenirs, peruse the stalls at Cloth Hall.

  • #3
    St. Mary's Basilica (Kosciól Mariacki)
    View all Photos
    #3 in Krakow
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sitting on the eastern corner of the Main Market Square, St. Mary's Basilica is a Gothic-style church that was originally built in the 13th century. It was destroyed by the Tatars and then rebuilt in the 14th century. It features two towers that have different styles, as well as different heights. But the basilica's highlight is a wooden altarpiece found on the wall near the visitor's entrance. It consists of a series of panels that depict biblical scenes such as the ascension of Jesus.

    Past visitors suggest arranging your visit to St. Mary's around the turn of the hour. That's when a trumpeter sounds his horn from the taller of the towers. Many also said you should try arriving at opening so you can see nuns unveiling the church's beautiful altar. Keep in mind, though, that visits here are only free for worshippers. Exploring the basilica will set you back 10 Polish zloty (less than $3), while climbing up the tower will cost an additional 15 Polish zloty ($4). You'll also be charged 5 Polish zloty (approximately $1.50) if you wish to take photos inside.

  • #4
    Wawel Cathedral
    View all Photos
    #4 in Krakow
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Wawel Cathedral – situated in the Wawel Hill neighborhood – is one of Poland's most important places of worship. For centuries, this church hosted Saint Stanislaus, who advocated for Polish independence. He is buried in the church's burial chambers alongside an array of Polish monarchs and other famous Poles. It is hardly surprising, then, that this part of the site is one of its most popular to visit.

    According to past travelers, the striking Wawel Cathedral is the unmistakable highlight of Wawel Hill and one of Kraków's can't-miss attractions. Though you'll have to pay an extra 12 Polish zloty ($3) to check out the property's Sigismund Bell, Royal Tombs and museum, many said the extra sights are worth seeing. Renting an audio guide for 7 Polish zloty (less than $2) is also recommended since there's a lot of history to take in.

Explore More of Krakow

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Lyn MettlerAugust 22, 2019

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

Holly JohnsonAugust 21, 2019

22 Top Sonoma Wineries to Visit

Sip world-class wines while enjoying vineyard and mountain views.

Gwen PratesiAugust 19, 2019

30 Beautiful Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019