Top attractions in Krakow
What is a must-see during a trip to Krakow?
Rynek Główny (Main Market Square), this was the biggest square of medieval Europe (200×200 m), where today you can shop in the ancient Sukiennice (shopping stalls, 19th century Polish art gallery upstairs, cafés downstairs), hear the hejnał trumpeter play at the hour, view the Mickiewicz monument, climb to see the view from Wieża Ratuszowa (Town Hall tower), wander around the museums, and enjoy the wide range of restaurants.
Some of the mustsee include:
- St. Mary’s Church (Kościół Mariacki) with its very famous, huge wooden Gothic altar designed by Wit Stwosz (the wings are opened for viewing daily except Sundays/holidays at 11:50 am);
- Wawel Hill and its cathedral – the coronation venue of Polish monarchs from 1320 (Sigismund’s and Holy Cross/Świętokrzyska chapels, royal tombs, view from the Zygmundowska Tower), the Royal Castle – 5 popular exhibition tours: State Rooms, Private Apartments, Treasury, Oriental Art Exhibition, and Lost Wawel historical displays;
- Dragon’s Den (Smocza Jama) – a huge statue by the river that spews real flames, even at night;
- the old town streets (walks, cafés, restaurants, shopping): especially in the beautiful Kanonicza, Floriańska, Jagielońska streets;
- the Barbican and the other remains of fortifications and Planty (the green belt along the entire perimeter of the former fortifications);
- the Czartoryski Museum (Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine”, bounty from the victorious battle over the Turks in Vienna in 1683);
- the Collegium Maius of the Jagiellonian University founded in 1364 and featuring an ornate courtyard with an old clock, and an interesting museum with the first globe to include America;
- the Franciscan Church: gloomy atmosphere combined with breathtaking Art Nouveau stained-glass windows by Wyspiański;
- the old Jewish Kazimierz District – synagogues listed by popularity: Remuh with its interesting cemetery, Stara, Izaaka, Wysoka, Tempel, Poppera, Kupa, and Mizrachi, the remainder of 90 synagogues that existed before WW2 – and the many Kazimierz bars, pubs and clubs.
- Krakow is the best party destination in Poland.
- Horse-drawn carriage ride;
- other interesting churches in the centre of Kraków (of 123 churches in the city: Św. Piotra i Pawła / St. Peter and St.
Paul’s, Św. Andrzeja / St. Andrew’s, św. Krzyża / of Holy Cross, św. Trójcy / of Holy Trinity, św. Katarzyny / St. Catharine’s and Paulinów / of Pauline Order
- the Art Nouveau venue of Jama Michalika or the famous cabaret Pod Baranami;
- the best museums: National Museum, Dom Hipolytów (18th-19th century burgher house furnishings), Jan Matejko, S. Wyspiański and J. Mehoffer (famous Polish painters), Pharmacy, Ethnographic and Archeology museums;
- the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology;
- man-made mounds (Kościuszki, Pilskudskiego, Wandy, Kraka);
- the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec;
- the Norbertine monastery and Salwatora Church in Zwierzyniec;
- the Camaldolese Hermitage in Bielany;
- the Cistercian Abbey as well as the lovely wooden church in Mogila;
- the social realist district of Nowa Huta (new communist Kraków): startling architecture, Trabant rides and the famous
Arka Pana church;
- Podgórze district: Oskar Schindler’s factory, wartime ghetto museum;
- Plaszów: concentration camp monument;
- Twierdza Kraków