Krakow is Poland’s second largest city and one of its oldest. With soaring Gothic structures, ample green space, many museums, and a bustling nightlife, Krakow is a must-see for every visitor to Poland. While Krakow is not known as a very expensive city for tourists, it’s always nice to have options for free activities. Here we’ve listed five things to do in Krakow that won’t break your traveling budget.
Covering ten acres, Krakow’s Rynek Glowny, or Main Square, has been the hub of the city since the thirteenth century and is the largest square in all of Europe’s medieval cities. This bustling area is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs and is known for its frequent open-air events, like concerts and plays. Nearby are the famous St. Mary’s Basilica, which houses a magnificent altar and is also free to enter, and St. Adalbert’s Church which dates back to 1000 CE.
We have all seen the “free walking tour” signs in many cities, and Krakow is no exception. While these tour guides do work for tips, if you really and truly do not have any money, you can still join the tour. That being said, the walking tours in Krakow are delightful. Daily tours are available with a variety of parts of the city being focused on, such as a general overview and a tour focused more on the Jewish aspects of the city. Additionally, tours highlighting Krakow’s Communist history, and one focusing on Oskar Schindler are also available.
Located on the bank of the Vistula River, Wawel Hill is home to Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Sts. Stanislaus and Wenceslaus. The castle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and the cathedral constructed and reconstructed from 1100 to 1400 CE. This area is the pride of Krakow and a very popular tourist destination. While entrance to the castle and cathedral does require a ticket, the tickets are free on Sundays from November to March.
Still one of the most fashionable addresses in Poland, Kanonicza Street is a showcase of beautiful Renaissance homes. Noblemen, canons, and the man who became Pope John Paul II have all lived here, and the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul and the Church of St. Andrew have been here for nearly one thousand years. Take a free stroll down this fancy avenue to see how the “other half” lives in Poland.
I struggled a bit with including this in the list. Not technically in Krakow, but fifty miles away, Auschwitz-Birkenau is still a very important part of Polish history, and the history of all mankind. Therefore, as a tourist to Krakow, I feel it’s a sobering duty to visit this place. The trip takes a full day, including travel by public bus, and the entrance into the camps is free, but there is a fee to hire a guide.
Poland is a beautiful country, and Krakow is a stunning city with a lengthy and fascinating heritage. With such a wealth of sights and activities, it’s no wonder that Krakow is fast becoming a very popular tourist destination, and one that doesn’t need to be expensive.