Looking to visit Krakow on a budget? I’ve got you covered! Krakow is a very cheap city compared to other European destinations, so you can visit the city without breaking the bank! I have put together the top 10 things that I got up to during my visit, including attractions, food and money saving tips.
So here a quick guide to visit Krakow on a budget:
1. Visit Auschwitz Museums
It’s strange to say, but going on a day visit to the Auschwitz museums are perhaps the best things to do in Krakow. As difficult as it can be, it’s important to be informed about the terrible atrocities that took place during WW2. Going to visit the site really helps you delve deeper into the history, and is also a memorial to the millions of people who lost their lives here.
The site is just 50km from the centre of Krakow. You can take a bus which will take you direct to the Auschwitz I site, and you can easily walk over to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Read more on how to get to the museum here.
Price: FREE! Due to the high number of visitors, you must book a free entry card, with a date and time that you are planning to visit. The entry cards can be reserved on visit.auschwitz.org.
2. Explore the Wieliczka Salt Mine
This salt mine on the outskirts of Krakow has to be on your itinerary. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites boasts an amazing mine, hundred of metres below ground, decorated with charming chandeliers, sensational statues and an underground lake. And if that’s not enough, the tour guides encourage you to lick the salty mine walls, as it’s believed to be good for your health.
Take the Tourist Route: this is the most popular route, perfect to admire landscapes that can’t be found on the surface, learn about the history of the mine, including old mining tools and machines for salt extraction. The route lasts for about 3 hours, covering 3.5km and reaching depths of 135m.
To get here, take the train from Krakow Główny station and get off at the Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia station. You can walk from the station to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in a few minutes! When I visited, the train was not running to due a public holiday, so I took an Uber, costing just 44pln (£8.82).
Price: 93pln (£18.65) which includes your entry and tour around the mine. It’s definitely worth the price to see this outstanding other-world right beneath your feet.
3. Take a free walking tour of Krakow
Is visiting a European city complete without doing a free walking tour? Free Walkactive Tour have a total of six free guided walking tours of Krakow, all exploring a different part of the city. Tours are based on tips, so feel free to pay whatever you like, but it’s not compulsory to pay at all, perfect to visit Krakow on a budget.
4. Check Out Krakow’s Bold Street Art
Like many city across the world, Krakow is quickly becoming home to outstanding creative street artist, on both a local and international scale. While some murals were created during festivals such as ArtBoom, others grace the city’s streets illegally, making it only more interesting and meaningful and perfect for those looking to visit Krakow on a budget.
The City of Krakow actuively encourages street art. It’s home to initiatives such as ‘101 Murals for Krakow’, initiated by local street artists who created a number of impressive works that brought together stunning multi-format paintings into the city’s urban landscape.
One of the most popular works in the city is the enormous ‘Ding Dong Dumb’ mural. It is perhaps Kraków’s most impressive and controversial mural, painted by well-known Bolognese artist Blu in 2011. The mural is an ode to the relationship between Polish culture and its relationship with the Catholic Church. The fact that it is located in the area of the former Jewish Ghetto only makes it more thought-provoking.
You can even take a free walking tour of all the amazing street art, perfect to visit Krakow on a budget.
5. Stroll Around the Old Town
As simple as it may be, taking a leisurely stroll through the historic old town of Krakow is certainly enough to embrace the vibe and soak in the Polish culture. The old town is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and it’s not hard to see why.
There are plenty of artisan cafes to get your coffee fix, buzzing bars to grab a pint, cobbled streets and amazing architecture. The old town also is home to one to the largest medieval market squares in Europe, a perfect spot to visit Krakow on a budget.
6. Visit the Unique Kazimierz Neighbourhood
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Krakow, the historic Jewish district of Krakow is a great place to spend your day. Although heavily bombed in WW2, the rich Jewish culture has thrived here for hundreds of years and is still very much present to this day.
Located south of the Old Town, the neighbourhood is home to colourful street art, great coffee, numerous art galleries, museums and amazing food. The area is home to one of the biggest events in the city; the Jewish Culture Festival, happening every summer since 1988. The neighbourhood was also the main filming location for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List film.
Apart from along Szeroka Street, everything in Kazimierz is local, making it the perfect spot for a coffee and lunch. If you love Middle Eastern food, I would recommend grabbing a bułka falafel or kebab at Sami Am Am. The Syrian restaurant in the Kazimierz Neighbourhood is a perfect spot for lunch, with incredible food and friendly staff. A bułka falafel or kebab cost just 10pln (around £2) and definitely filled me up for the afternoon and gave me the energy to continue exploring.
7. Listen to St. Mary’s Church
There are a hundreds of churches in Krakow alone (yes, being Catholic is big here), but probably the most impressive lies in Krakow’s Old Town. St Mary’s Church is one of the most grand structures in the city and has a very interesting history.
You should definitely listen out for the live church trumpet performance, which happens every evening. At the top of the tower, you can see a man playing the trumpet in 13th Century style. This is a tribute to a guard who was shot by arrow whilst playing the trumpet. The playing of the trumpet comes to an abrupt end half way through a note, to symbolise the death of the guard.
8. Take the walk up Wawel Hill
One of Krakow’s most famous attractions is Wawel Hill, located on the banks of Vistula. The hill is home to the city’s most prominent buildings, including Medieval fortification and was once home to the Polish monarchy.
However, it’s impossible to miss Wawel Castle, a mix of Renaissance, Baroque and medieval style architecture. The castle, like nearly everything else in this amazing city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed castle. The exteriors, including the castle gardens, are FREE to visit! The grounds are open from 6am, so if you’re an early bird chasing the sunrise, this is a perfect spot for it! The castle is also featured on the old town walking tour. The Wawel Cathedral within the premises is also free and worth a visit.
9. Visit museums on their FREE days
Like most European cities, you can visit museums in Krakow for FREE on certain days. There are loads of museums that offer this in the city and it’s definitely something to take advantage of in order to visit Krakow on a budget. Here is a list of some of the FREE days for Krakow museums:
- Schindlers Factory Museum – a museum depicting the events of a German factory owner in Krakow, who saved the lives of over a thousand Jews from the Nazis. Free every Monday (except the first Monday of the month).
- Czartoryski Museum – dedicated to ancient Polish art. Free to visit on Sundays.
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK) – an established art gallery, boasting the best of contemporary art in the city. Free on Tuesdays.
- National Museum of Krakow – a museum to bear testimony to national and human value of Polish art and achievements.
- Rynek Underground Museum – explore Krakow city underground, metres below Market Square. Free on Tuesdays (except the first Tuesday of the month).
10. Finally, get the perfect Instagram pic at the Rainbow Stairs
Known as probably the most Instagrammable place in Krakow, a visit to the Rainbow stairs cannot be missed. Located on Tatrzańska Street in the Podgórze neighbourhood, it’s hard to miss the 55 colourfully painted stairs, or the abundance of hipsters.
The stairs are on the city’s youngest landmarks, the stairs were first pained in 2013, during the Fresh Zone contest. The artists wanted to give life the ‘forgotten steps’, covering them in vibrant colours and meaningful quotes on each step, like “nigdy die dorosnij!”, translating to “never grow up!”
That ends my top 10 list of how to visit Krakow on a budget! Do you know of any more Krakow attractions, bargains or money-saving tips? Share in the comments below!
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