In an ideal world, the perfect city break will be just a few hours away, easy to get around and with plenty of free things to do! With that in mind, we’ve compiled our top 10 free things to do in Poland’s fascinating capital city of Krakow. Add to that, the fact that Krakow is one of the cheapest cities in Europe - there's no reason not to visit soon.
Hang out in the main Market Square; Rynek Glowny
The Rynek Glowny – Warsaw’s main Market Square – is surrounded by many breathtaking historic buildings, such as St Adalbert’s Church and St Mary's Basilica and St Adalbert's Church. As well as being the perfect spot for photo opportunities, soaking up the impressive Gothic architecture and people watching, this is also a great spot for budget travellers. There are market stalls selling local produce and goods.
Catch ‘Krakowskie Noce’, aka Krakow Nights
Krakow is one of our unmissable travel destinations! And one unmissable festival has to be Krakow Nights, which is an annual event held each year between May to September. One night each month offers a free activity or performance, including the Night of Museums, where you can access the city’s museums free for an evening and the Night of Theatres where local theatres stage free performances. There is also the Night of Jazz with free jazz concerts, Cracovia Sacra Night where there are church music concerts and lastly, the Night of Poetry where poetry comes to life.
Take a free walking tour of Krakow
See for yourself why Krakow was chosen as a joint host of the European Capital of Culture in 2000. Twice daily there are free waking tours of the key sights in Krakow including Wawel Castle, the Jewish Quarter and St Florian's Gate and the Jewish Quarter. Choose from the Royal Krakow Tour which runs all year for 3 hours from 11am and the Jewish Krakow Tour which runs at 3pm in the summer and at 11.30am in the winter. The tour promises 1,000 years of medieval history and departs from in front of St Mart’s Church, come rain or shine. Tours are free, but donations are welcomes.
Visit the 19th Century Polish Painting Gallery
Entry into the 19th Century Polish Painting Museum is free every Sunday. The museum features works by local artists such as Jan Matejko who is renowned for his historical and political works and Jozef Chelmonski who painted landscape, and works includes ‘Partridge on the Snow’ and ‘Before Thunderstorm’. Entry is also free to Jan Matejko House where the local painter lived for over 20 years.
Take a stroll in the Planty
Send an enjoyable couple of hours walking Krakow’s old city walls through the Planty Park. The sprawling park covers 4km and sits on the site of the old city walls and is punctuated with tree lined boulevards and various architectural styles such as Art Nouveau and Romantic. The scenic Planty walkway circles the Old Town district and is good navigational aid.
Pick up a copy of the Krakow Post
Grab your copy of the Krakow Post – a monthly paper in English, which has heaps of information on what’s on in Krakow. Available for free throughout the city, the paper contains local news, events, festivals, new restaurants and bars and what’s on when.
Explore Krakow’s churches
Most of the many churches throughout Krakow offer free entry, such as The Church of St. Adalbert, which is 1,000 years old and constructed of stone. Explore St Barbara's Church which was founded in the 14th century, Church of St. Anne built on Polish baroque style and the Franciscan Church – St Francis of Assisi Church, which was the first brick-built building in the city.
Discover the Remuh Synagogue
This small, but culturally important, Remuh synagogue is constructed in a Renaissance style. Built around 1557 is takes its name from Moses Isserles who was a famous writer, also known as Rabbi Remu'h. This is a working synagogue with regular services for Jewish worshippers.
Admire the view
Head up to Wawel Castle in the Old Town and once atop the limestone mound, you’ll be afforded fantastic panoramic views of Krakow. You can also wander the castle grounds and the courtyard with the renaissance-style frescos and guttering, formed into dragon head shapes.
Discover the local markets
For local produce and traditional crafts, head to the Kazimierz in the Jewish quarter where you’ll find a plethora of market stalls. During the week tends to be local produce, whilst on Saturdays the market incorporates antiques and collectables and pre-loved clothing is added on Sundays.