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Top 10 FREE Things To Do In Krakow, Poland (Tips & Guide)


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Chrystel Windham



Welcome to the charming city of Krakow, Poland! Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Krakow has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The city offers a plethora of attractions and activities to suit every interest, and what’s even better is that many of these are completely free!


Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, Krakow has something to offer. From exploring the medieval streets of the Main Market Square to wandering through the picturesque Wawel Castle, there is no shortage of things to do and see.


In this guide, we’ll take you through the top 10 free things to do in Krakow, giving you insider tips on how to make the most of your visit without breaking the bank. So let’s dive in and discover the hidden gems that this captivating city has to offer!


Visit the Main Market Square

No trip to Krakow is complete without spending time in the vibrant heart of the city: the Main Market Square (Rynek Główny). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only one of the largest medieval squares in Europe but also a hub of activity and a testament to Krakow’s rich history.


As you step into the Main Market Square, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking display of architectural wonders. The centerpiece of the square is the magnificent Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), a Renaissance-era structure that houses a bustling market where you can find local crafts, souvenirs, and delicious food. Take a leisurely stroll through the stalls, soak in the lively atmosphere, and perhaps pick up some unique keepsakes to commemorate your visit.


Another notable landmark in the square is the towering Gothic masterpiece, St. Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki). Step inside to admire its stunning interior and don’t forget to catch the bugle call that sounds from the top of the tower every hour, a tradition that has been upheld for centuries.


While exploring the square, be sure to pause and admire the Town Hall Tower (Wieża Ratuszowa) with its impressive clock. Climb to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the square and the surrounding cityscape.


Take a moment to relax in one of the many charming cafes that line the square. Grab a cup of traditional Polish coffee or indulge in a slice of delicious Polish cake while people-watching and enjoying the lively ambiance.


Visiting the Main Market Square during holiday seasons, such as Christmas or Easter, is an experience not to be missed. The square transforms into a magical wonderland, adorned with festive decorations and bustling market stalls. Immerse yourself in the festive cheer, sample traditional holiday treats, and browse the enchanting array of handmade crafts.


The Main Market Square truly embodies the spirit of Krakow and is a must-see attraction for all visitors. The best part? Simply taking in the sights, sounds, and flavors of this vibrant square won’t cost you a dime.


Explore Wawel Castle and Wawel Hill

Perched on a limestone hill overlooking the city, Wawel Castle is a true architectural gem and a symbol of the Polish heritage. The castle complex, which includes the Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral, is a must-visit attraction in Krakow.


Begin your journey at the foot of Wawel Hill, where you’ll find a picturesque courtyard surrounded by medieval walls and magnificent gates. As you make your way to the top, take in the panoramic views of the Vistula River and the city stretched out before you.


Step inside the Royal Castle to immerse yourself in centuries of Polish history. Explore the opulent State Rooms, adorned with intricate tapestries and precious artworks. Admire the grandeur of the Royal Armoury, where you can marvel at a stunning collection of medieval weaponry and armor. Don’t miss the chance to visit the crown jewels and royal treasury, housed in the castle’s exhibition rooms.


Next, make your way to the awe-inspiring Wawel Cathedral, a place of worship and the final resting place of Polish kings and queens. Be mesmerized by the intricate details of its Gothic architecture and step inside to discover stunning chapels, magnificent altars, and majestic tombs.


Take a moment to wander around Wawel Hill, exploring its beautifully manicured gardens and peaceful courtyards. The hillside also offers breathtaking views of the city, providing the perfect backdrop for memorable photos.


Entry to the Wawel Cathedral is free, but there is a charge for accessing certain areas of the Royal Castle. However, you can still soak in the beauty of the exterior and wander the grounds of Wawel Hill without spending a penny.


Wawel Castle and Wawel Hill are not only architectural marvels but also hold significant cultural and historical importance to the people of Krakow. Exploring these majestic sites will transport you back in time and offer a deeper understanding of Poland’s rich heritage.


Discover the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz)

A visit to Krakow would not be complete without exploring the vibrant and culturally significant Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz. Located just south of the Old Town, this historic neighborhood is a testament to the rich Jewish heritage of the city.


Kazimierz has a fascinating history and was once the center of Jewish life in Krakow. The area was established in the 14th century and flourished for centuries, with its own unique blend of Jewish, Polish, and Bohemian influences. Today, Kazimierz is a thriving neighborhood, brimming with charming streets, historic synagogues, eclectic art galleries, and trendy cafes.


Begin your journey at the heart of Kazimierz, the Old Synagogue (Stara Synagoga). Built in the 15th century, it is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Poland and serves as a museum dedicated to showcasing the history and traditions of Polish Jews. Explore the various exhibitions, featuring artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that offer insights into the Jewish community’s vibrant past.


As you wander through the streets of Kazimierz, you’ll come across remnants of the Jewish community’s rich history. Explore the Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery, where the grave of Rabbi Moses Isserles, a renowned Talmudic scholar, can be found. Visit the Isaac Synagogue, known for its beautiful interior decorations and striking stained glass windows.


One of the highlights of Kazimierz is the Plac Nowy, a bustling square that is home to the famous Jewish market. Sample traditional Jewish cuisine like the delicious Zapiekanka, a mouthwatering open-faced sandwich topped with a variety of delectable ingredients. Don’t forget to try the authentic Jewish pastries, such as the sweet rugelach or the savory pierogi.


Kazimierz has also become a hub for contemporary art and culture. Explore the numerous art galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK), housed in a former enamel factory, to discover thought-provoking exhibitions and contemporary installations.


Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Kazimierz by visiting during the annual Jewish Cultural Festival, which takes place every summer. The festival showcases traditional Jewish music, dance, and cuisine, giving visitors a chance to experience the vibrant culture firsthand.


Exploring Kazimierz will not only deepen your understanding of Krakow’s Jewish heritage but also expose you to a vibrant and modern neighborhood that pays homage to its past. Whether you’re captivated by history, art, or simply looking to experience a different side of Krakow, a visit to Kazimierz is an absolute must.


Stroll along the Vistula Riverbank

Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque Vistula River, the longest river in Poland, and discover the natural beauty and tranquility it offers. The Vistula Riverbank is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city center.


Start your riverbank journey at the picturesque Planty Park, where you can enjoy the lush greenery and beautiful flower beds. Follow the path that leads you towards the river, and you’ll be met with stunning panoramic views and a refreshing breeze.


As you walk along the Vistula Riverbank, you’ll encounter several charming parks, perfect for a picnic or a moment of relaxation. Take a break and sit on one of the benches, or spread out a blanket on the grassy riverbank and watch the boats pass by.


Art enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous sculptures and art installations that line the riverbank. These artistic displays add a touch of creativity and enhance the overall ambiance of the area.


For those looking for a bit more adventure, rent a bike or rollerblades and cruise along the designated paths. This allows you to cover more ground and take in the scenic views at a leisurely pace.


During the summer months, the riverbank comes alive with various events and festivals. From open-air concerts to food markets, there’s always something happening along the Vistula Riverbank. This is a great opportunity to mingle with locals, sample delicious street food, and soak in the lively atmosphere.


For a different perspective of Krakow, hop on one of the river cruises that operate on the Vistula River. These cruises allow you to see the city from a new angle and enjoy the iconic landmarks that line the riverbank, such as Wawel Castle and the Bernatek Footbridge.


Whether you’re in search of peace and tranquility or seeking some outdoor adventure, strolling along the Vistula Riverbank is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Krakow. Enjoy the scenic views, breathe in the fresh air, and let the serenity of the river calm your senses.


Visit the Krakow Barbican

Step back in time and explore the impressive Krakow Barbican, a medieval fortress that once served as a crucial defensive structure for the city. Located at the northern end of the Old Town, this fortified gateway is a fascinating historical landmark that should not be missed during your visit to Krakow.


The Krakow Barbican is one of the few remaining remnants of the city’s fortifications. Built in the 15th century, it was part of a complex network of defensive walls and gates that encircled Krakow. The Barbican’s unique architectural design, characterized by its circular shape and sturdy defensive towers, showcases the city’s rich history and strategic importance.


As you approach the Barbican, you’ll be greeted by its imposing presence and the sight of its impressive ramparts. Step inside to explore the interior chambers and learn about the Barbican’s fascinating history through informative displays and exhibits.


Atop the Barbican’s ramparts, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the historic Old Town and the lush greenery of the Planty Park. Take a moment to imagine what life would have been like for the soldiers who once guarded the city from this fortified structure.


The Barbican is also a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts, with its photogenic architecture and picturesque setting. Capture the beauty and charm of this medieval fortress from various angles, creating lasting memories of your time in Krakow.


Throughout the year, the Barbican hosts various events and exhibitions that showcase the city’s cultural heritage. From medieval reenactments to art exhibits, there’s always something happening within its walls. Check the schedule of events to see if there are any special happenings during your visit.


Entry to the Barbican is free, and it serves as a gateway to the beautiful area known as the Planty Park. You can continue your exploration of Krakow by taking a leisurely walk along the park’s tree-lined promenades, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of this green oasis.


Visiting the Krakow Barbican is a journey back in time, offering a glimpse into the city’s history and providing a unique perspective on its medieval defenses. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this architectural marvel and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Krakow.


Explore the Krakow Planty Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find tranquility in the beautiful Krakow Planty Park. Located in the heart of the city, this lush green oasis offers a serene retreat for both locals and visitors alike.


The Planty Park is a unique park that encircles the historic center of Krakow, following the path of the city’s medieval defensive walls. The park spans approximately 4 kilometers and is divided into several sections, each with its own distinct charm.


Take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths and indulge in the beauty of the park’s well-tended flowerbeds, trees, and manicured lawns. Admire the colorful blooms that decorate the park throughout the seasons, from vibrant tulips in spring to delicate roses in summer.


As you explore the park, you’ll come across numerous statues, sculptures, and fountains that add a touch of artistic flair to the surroundings. These artistic installations pay homage to famous figures from Polish history and provide intriguing photo opportunities.


Take a break on one of the many benches scattered throughout the park and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. The Planty Park is a popular spot for locals to relax, read a book, or enjoy a picnic with friends and family.


For those seeking some outdoor recreation, the park offers designated paths for jogging, cycling, and rollerblading. Rent a bike from one of the many rental stations in the city and enjoy a leisurely ride through the park’s scenic routes.


Throughout the year, the Planty Park hosts various cultural events and festivals, including outdoor concerts, art exhibitions, and theatrical performances. Keep an eye out for these special events during your visit to Krakow, as they offer a unique opportunity to experience the vibrant cultural scene of the city.


One of the highlights of the Planty Park is its proximity to several major landmarks, including the Barbican, the Main Market Square, and Wawel Castle. As you wander through the park, you’ll have the opportunity to admire these iconic sites from a different perspective.


With its serene ambiance, stunning green spaces, and convenient location, the Krakow Planty Park is the perfect place to unwind and recharge while exploring the city. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or an active outdoor experience, a visit to the Planty Park is a must during your time in Krakow.


Learn at the Historical Museum of Krakow

Delve into the fascinating history of Krakow at the Historical Museum of Krakow. This educational and immersive museum offers a comprehensive look into the city’s past, spanning from its medieval origins to modern times.


The Historical Museum of Krakow comprises multiple branches and sites throughout the city, including the Main Building, the Schindler Factory Museum, and the Eagle Pharmacy Museum. Each branch focuses on different aspects of Krakow’s history, providing a well-rounded and enriching experience for visitors.


Begin your journey at the Main Building, located in the historic Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) at the Main Market Square. Here, you’ll find a range of exhibits that explore various historical periods. Learn about the city’s medieval origins, its role in the Renaissance era, and its tumultuous history during World War II and the Communist era. The Main Building is also home to a vast collection of art and artifacts that offer insights into the cultural heritage of Krakow.


Another must-visit site is the Schindler Factory Museum, located in the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler. This immersive museum tells the story of Krakow under Nazi occupation, focusing on the experiences of the Jewish population. Through multimedia exhibits, personal testimonies, and interactive displays, visitors gain a deeper understanding of the tragic events that unfolded during this dark period of history.


The Eagle Pharmacy Museum, situated in the Podgórze neighborhood, offers a unique perspective on life in Krakow during the Holocaust. Housed in the original pharmacy building, the museum documents the heroic efforts of pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who provided aid and support to the Jewish residents of the Krakow Ghetto. The museum exhibits personal belongings, photographs, and narratives that shed light on this poignant chapter in history.


Visiting the Historical Museum of Krakow provides a valuable opportunity to learn about the city’s past and gain insights into its cultural and historical significance. It allows visitors to connect with the stories and experiences of those who came before, fostering a deeper appreciation for Krakow and its remarkable resilience.


It’s important to note that while entry fees may apply to certain branches and exhibitions, the knowledge and perspective gained from visiting the Historical Museum of Krakow are invaluable.


Experience the beauty of St. Mary’s Basilica

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of St. Mary’s Basilica, one of the most iconic landmarks in Krakow. This stunning Gothic masterpiece, located in the heart of the Main Market Square, is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and history lovers.


As you approach the basilica, you’ll be captivated by its awe-inspiring exterior. The intricate details of the facade, including the ornate spires and delicate stone carvings, are a testament to the craftsmanship of the medieval artisans who built it.


Step inside this architectural marvel and prepare to be enchanted by the sumptuous interior. The grand halls are adorned with beautiful stained glass windows that filter colored light into the space, creating a mesmerizing ambiance. Marvel at the intricate decorations, including the elaborately carved altarpieces and the stunning Gothic vaulted ceilings.


One of the highlights of a visit to St. Mary’s Basilica is witnessing the famous wooden altar by Veit Stoss, which depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary. This masterpiece of medieval sculpture is considered one of the finest examples of its kind in Europe.


Keep an ear out for the legendary bugle call that sounds from the top of the basilica’s highest tower every hour. This tradition has been carried out for centuries and serves as a reminder of an ancient warning signal in Krakow’s history.


For an even more enchanting experience, consider attending a concert or a classical music performance at St. Mary’s Basilica. The exceptional acoustics make it an ideal venue for live music, and the setting adds an extra layer of magic to the performance.


If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the narrow staircase to the top of one of the basilica’s towers. From here, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Main Market Square and the charming rooftops of Krakow. It’s a truly unforgettable sight.


Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or simply marvel at exquisite architecture, a visit to St. Mary’s Basilica is an absolute must. Take the time to appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty that has made this basilica one of Krakow’s most treasured gems.


Wander around the Podgórze Neighborhood

Discover the charm and rich history of the Podgórze neighborhood, located on the southern bank of the Vistula River. Once a separate town, Podgórze is now a district of Krakow and offers a unique and lesser-known side of the city to explore.


Start your journey in the heart of Podgórze at the historic Bohaterów Getta Square. This square holds significant historical importance as it was the center of the Jewish ghetto during World War II. Take a moment to reflect on the tragic past while standing by the haunting Ghetto Heroes Square memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.


From there, follow the path to the iconic Podgórze District Museum located in the Schindler Factory. Explore the interactive exhibits and learn about the experiences of the Jews and the life of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved over a thousand Jewish lives during the war. The museum’s thought-provoking displays and multimedia presentations offer a profound insight into the history of the area.


As you wander through the streets of Podgórze, you’ll encounter charming cafes, trendy restaurants, and local shops. This neighborhood is known for its vibrant art scene, with numerous galleries and creative spaces showcasing contemporary works and exhibitions.


Make a stop at the serene Bednarski Park, which offers a perfect respite from the bustling city. Take a leisurely stroll along the tree-lined paths, enjoy a picnic on the grassy lawns, or simply sit and admire the peaceful ambiance.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Church of St. Joseph, a beautiful Baroque-style church located in Podgórze. Step inside to admire the ornate interior adorned with stunning frescoes and intricate wooden carvings.


Uncover more of Podgórze’s history by exploring the remnants of the Krakow Ghetto wall, particularly the famous Ghetto Wall section on Limanowskiego Street. This evocative site serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s past and holds great historical significance.


Podgórze is also home to the modern and innovative MOCAK (Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow). This cutting-edge museum showcases contemporary art from both Polish and international artists, providing a platform for thought-provoking exhibitions and artistic expression.


Wandering around the Podgórze neighborhood offers an opportunity to delve into the lesser-known side of Krakow’s history and culture. With its mix of historical landmarks, artistic spaces, and an authentic local vibe, Podgórze is a neighborhood worth exploring for a deeper understanding of Krakow’s past and present.


Enjoy the Street Performers at Market Square

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Main Market Square by enjoying the lively performances of street artists and musicians. This bustling square, located in the heart of Krakow, becomes a stage for talented performers who entertain visitors with their captivating acts.


As you meander through the Market Square, you’ll encounter an array of talented street performers showcasing their skills and artistry. From musicians playing traditional Polish tunes to mesmerizing street dancers and skilled acrobats, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


The Market Square provides a perfect backdrop for these talented artists, with its enchanting medieval architecture and bustling ambiance. Stop in your tracks and become mesmerized by the incredible talents on display. Marvel at the graceful movements of the dancers, tap your feet to the rhythm of the musicians, and be amazed by the thrilling tricks of the acrobats.


Not only does watching these street performers add an extra layer of excitement to your visit, but it also offers a unique opportunity to support local artists. Many of these performers rely on the generosity of onlookers, so don’t hesitate to show your appreciation by dropping a small donation into their collection boxes.


Street performances at the Market Square are not limited to musicians and dancers. You may also encounter talented street magicians, living statues, and other fascinating acts that will leave you spellbound and entertained.


Enjoying the street performers at the Market Square is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with the vibrant atmosphere, and create cherished memories of your visit to Krakow. Soak in the lively ambiance, join the applauding crowds, and let yourself be enchanted by the talents of these incredible artists.



Krakow, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, offers a plethora of attractions and activities that will captivate any visitor. Exploring the city doesn’t have to break the bank, as there are plenty of free things to do and see. From wandering the enchanting streets of the Main Market Square to immersing yourself in the historical sites of Wawel Castle and Kazimierz, there is no shortage of experiences to enjoy.


Take a leisurely stroll along the Vistula Riverbank, immerse yourself in the medieval charm of the Krakow Barbican, and relax in the tranquil beauty of the Planty Park. Expand your knowledge and understanding of Krakow’s history at the Historical Museum and experience the breathtaking beauty of St. Mary’s Basilica. And don’t forget to explore the lesser-known gems, like the Podgórze neighborhood, with its rich historical significance and vibrant art scene.


As you explore the city, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the lively performances of street artists and musicians at the Market Square. These talented performers bring an extra layer of enchantment to the already vibrant atmosphere of Krakow.


Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply seeking to immerse yourself in the local culture, Krakow has something to offer for every interest. By taking advantage of the free things to do in the city, you can have an unforgettable and budget-friendly experience.


So embark on your Krakow adventure, soak in the rich history, indulge in the stunning architecture, and embrace the vibrant energy of this beautiful city. Krakow awaits, ready to offer you an unforgettable experience that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come.