As you can probably guess, considering the size and the age of the city of Krakow Poland, there is much to see and do during your visit here. And the variety of things to do is unbelievable. Regardless of what types of things you like to do, there is something in this huge city for you. Not only is Krakow one of Poland’s oldest cities, which provides for enough sightseeing activity for an entire week, but Krakow has also been affected by the multiple partitions that Poland experienced in the 18th century, which is surely evidenced throughout various parts of the city as well. But in addition to all of the historical sightseeing opportunities in the city there are plenty of other, more modern and contemporary sightseeing opportunities too. There are museums to visit, amazing architectural buildings to see, and unusual sights for you to simply view. There are specific attractions in Krakow, though, that many visitors go to see. Knowing about a few of these will give you ideas as to what you want to do when you visit Krakow so that you can plan accordingly.
Family Friendly Krakow Attractions to See
- The Wieliczka Salt Mine – Although not directly in Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is within visiting distance of the city, and well worth a visit. The mine has been around since the 13th century, which alone makes it well worth seeing. Few places to visit have this much history, and with so much history a tour of the mine comes with a story to tell. The depth of the mine is over 1000 feet and almost 200 miles long, and one of the most striking features is an underground lake. As an added visual bonus there are exhibits all through the mine, as well as statues made from rock salt. This is truly an amazing sight to see. If you do decide to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine it will be one of the highlights of your trip to Krakow.
- The Krakow Zoological Garden – The Krakow Zoo is a great place to visit for both young and old, with a number of unique animals that will delight any visitors to the zoo. The zoo dates back to 1929 when its doors were first opened and definitely has since grew. What once only consisted of just over 100 animals, has grown into a zoological wonder of almost 1500, and includes over 250 different species. This is a variety that you do not need to be a child to appreciate. And a trip to Krakow would not be the same without a trip to this wonderful zoo.
- Park Wodny – While toting kids along on a trip to Krakow it essential that you find at least one activity that is especially for them. Park Wodny is that place, and you may be surprised that you might have fun there as well. Park Wodny is a water park but not just any waterpark. This one of a kind version has all different types of chutes and slides running through the place, in addition to Jacuzzis and saunas for the lucky parents who bring their children here. You can even grab a bite to eat when you visit Park Wodny, without even leaving the property. This is an attraction that will truly make your child’s Krakow vacation.
Krakow Architectural Attractions to See
- The Wyspianski 2000 Pavilion – The Wyspianski 2000 Pavilion is a spectacular building and one to visit for a few different reasons. The building was not used from 1939 until 2000, ever since the Nazi invasion of the city, and has since been given a unique facelift. Added to the building when it was prepared in 2000 for opening, were stained glass windows turned down by the intended recipient of the gift, reportedly due to it being to risqué. Since the original recipient was intended to be the Wawel Cathedral, the stained glass windows have a bit of history, and it helps that they were designed by Stanislaw Wyspianski, the famous stained glass designer whom the building was named after. The pavilion itself is worth a visit, but the beautiful stained glass windows definitely add to it.
- Wawel Castle – Wawel Castle, or the Wawel Royal Castle as it is sometimes referred to, is a truly spectacular example of Gothic architecture that anyone should feel honored to see up close and personal. A trip to Wawel Castle will truly set the stage for an amazing Krakow vacation. The land that the castle sits on has a ton of history, starting as early as Paleolithic times, and the castle itself has been where it sits, although certain parts reconstructed over time, since at least the 16th century. This is one of the most visited Krakow attractions in the city, because it holds such a rich history and so much meaning.
- Sukiennice – This is truly a magnificent architectural display to see, which is the number one reason to visit Sukiennice, but you will be pleasantly surprised to find that there is much to see and do at Sukiennice too. The Renaissance era building is absolutely breathtaking, especially considering its long history. This is a stop that should definitely be on your itinerary, and be sure to prepare yourself because you will have the opportunity to do a little shopping there as well, which makes it an enjoyable attraction in more than one way.
- St. Florian’s Gate – Although not necessarily a building, St. Florian’s Gate is a splendid display of 14th century Gothic architecture. And few city gates other than St. Florian’s Gate are in such pristine and original condition. Although parts have been rebuilt, there are parts of the gate that have lasted for at least some of the gates history. The gate serves as the entryway to Old Town, which is another place that you must visit during your stay in Krakow, so it only makes sense to stop and really take in the sight that St. Florian’s Gate is to see.
Churches, Cathedrals, and Universities Worth Seeing
- Wawel Cathedral – There is no doubt that some of the most beautiful examples of architecture are churches, and Wawel Cathedral is one of those. If cathedrals are an attraction that you seek out on your vacations then you will have to put Wawel Cathedral on your list. The church is over 900 years old but you would never know by looking at its condition. Of course the ornateness of it and its magnificent presence do remind you of a time long ago. A visit to Wawel Cathedral will definitely be a trip back in history.
- St. Mary’s Basilica – St. Mary’s Basilica is another beautiful church to see. This imposing Gothic structure from the 13th century is a common stop for tourists in the city. Although not quite as ornate on the outside as Wawel Cathedral, St. Mary’s Basilica is definitely beautiful in its own way. If you can get the opportunity to see the inside you will be astonished at what you see there, because the ornateness of the inside is unbelievable. It would take hours to actually walk around the inside and see all of the scenes depicted in the carvings and paintings, but well worth a visit to see at least as much as you have time to see.
- Jagiellonian University – Universities tend to be housed in spectacular architectural examples as well, and so is Krakow’s Jagiellonian University. The university was established in 1364, and is the oldest university in all of Poland. This fact alone makes it worth seeing, but so does the fact that you can walk through the buildings’ halls and take in a very long, and turbulent history. Jagiellonian University has survived despite all that it has been through, and today it still teaches more than 50,000 students each year. Both great reasons to visit while you are in the city.
- Cracow University of Economics – The Cracow University of Economics is a newer university but still housed in pretty breathtaking buildings. Cracow is a rather large university, falling into the top three in Krakow, but what is really interesting is the school’s history. The university has had multiple names, and during World War II lost a number of professors to concentration camps or death by Nazi soldiers. Somehow the school persevered, though, and stands today as a monument to Krakow’s strength as a city. If architecture and history are your thing than this is definitely a stop to add to your itinerary.
The attractions in a city are what define it as a vacation destination, and the bigger the variety the better it is. Krakow has plenty of everything, the reason for the city’s tourist industry growing continuously. There is plenty more in Krakow to do and see, particularly in regards to the great outdoor spaces, the nightlife, the cuisine, and the history of the city. A trip to Krakow, for those that are interested in learning about this great city, should definitely include these types of activities. This is how you will come to understand the love that so many have for this very special city.