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One afternoon in Krakow - what to do?

Hi - I was wondering what you folks would recommend doing/seeing in Krakow in one afternoon. We arrive at Krakow Glowny at 2:30pm and will leave on a train at 10:30pm. (Long story...we're going from one wedding to another, so not much flexibility on dates). We are a family of 5 - 2 adults and 3 children aged 7,8,10. We are all big walkers, and enjoy architecture, art and food.

What can we do & see in that short period of time? Any suggestions?

Also, are there luggage lockers at the station?

Thanks!

Posted by
5637 posts

Start by walking around the main city square Rynek Glowny where there are many vendors and places to eat and drink.
Then walk to the Wawel Castle and explore it. See if da Vinci’s “Lady with Ermine” is still located there. It is a large complex, river nearby.
You will want to have dinner, perhaps back in the square.

Posted by
4686 posts

Suki's suggestions are great. Krakow is a lovely, charming town with a great main square.

If the kids were a tad older I might suggest a quick detour to the "Museum of Krakow under the Nazi occupation" at the old Oskar Schindler factory near Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter (which is itself worth a look). This is a terrific museum explaining what Krakow was like under the Nazis - something not much covered in history books. I'm not a "museum person" at all, but I thought this museum was terrific - interactive with multimedia displays, not stuffy and dry. Still might be too much for the kids, not sure. A possible rainy day diversion, anyway! You can take a tram most of the way there from the center of Krakow.

Posted by
217 posts

For sure, with kids, you will be able to fill the afternoon. Go to Wawel castle first, it’s wonderful and lots of medieval things will catch the kids eyes. Very good spot to have a snack or cake and tea. Walk down the hill and head to the square via some great old architecture of the old university. In th square, lots of shops, eating, an underground museum. Will be all good, we loved Krakow and hope to go back.

Posted by
1701 posts

Leonardo's "The Lady with Ermine" is back at the Czartoryski Museum near the city center after being displayed at Wawel Castle for a few years. It's one of Poland's National treasures. So's the museum for that matter - if you're interested.

Posted by
1418 posts

Robert, I am going to Kraków this summer and the Lady with Ermine is at the National Museum's Main Branch, also you need advance tickets as they only let a dozen or so people at a time in. Anyway, for one short afternoon I would just walk around town, see Wawal Castle and enjoy some pierogi.

Posted by
6147 posts

Check out the PDF guide: https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow

You'll have time to walk around all over since it's quite compact. Include the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, as well. Perhaps you can even rent some bikes and tool around on them if the kids would enjoy that (it's very flat, so easy to bike).

Posted by
2089 posts

You can easily fill a couple of hours wandering the main square--I was there in mid-May and there was always music, craft vendors (quality hand-made items) and lots of great food and beer--very cheap! Plenty of seating at long tables. Explore the side streets as well, lots to see there and if it's hot get a drink and sit for a while under the trees in the Planty that surrounds the square. Exploring the Wawel complex can also take a few hours, and if you still have energy left you can get to the Kazimierz district from Wawel in about 10 minutes. There's a really interesting ethnographic museum, too--worth it just to see the fabulous display of pysanky eggs. Krakow is one of my most favorite cities and just writing this makes me want to return soon.

Posted by
1705 posts

I can't chime in with Krakow ideas that I loved yet as we are not arriving until June but I CAN tell you that, if you fancy touring the Wawel Castle that people keep mentioning, buy your tickets before you leave. Tripadvisor's review thread is FULL of people who arrived without tickets and could not get in. Here's the thread: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274772-d276748-Reviews-or10-Wawel_Royal_Castle-Krakow_Lesser_Poland_Province_Southern_Poland.html

It's the only thing I pre-booked for Krakow. And you can't actually even buy the tickets online. I sent them an email and they emailed me back a confirmation that I take to the Reservation Office 20 minutes before my allotted tour time.

Posted by
18 posts

Definitely visit Wawel Castle and the main square (Rynek). The Cloth Hall in the square is great to visit and shop at.
Have dinner in the square as well - my favorites were Szara Ges (Grey Goose) for a more upscale meal or Havelka for the best pierogi and chicken noodle soup!

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much for all of your input!!!!!

I will buy our tickets to Wawel ahead of time. And will include the Jewish area as well. I think my oldest (10 yrs) may be interested in the museum, so I'll look into that as well. After your input, here's what I'm thinking. Please chime in if you have other suggestions.

2:30p - off the train, luggage in lockers, etc
- taxi/uber to Wawel (last ticket for palace is for 3:45pm)
- walk to Kazimierz area; maybe tour the museum (open until 8pm)
- walk to main square, have a meal
- back to train station by 9:30pm

Is this too crazy? I will definitely come back, there is far too much to enjoy!
- Bijal

Posted by
4686 posts

That is a little tight I think. I would just plan to do the things that are important first and put the things you could miss at the end in case you run out of time - obviously the meal at the end would be mandatory.

If you don't want a nice meal, you could experience a Polish "milk bar" - which is just a subsidized cafeteria where the food is cheap, left over from the days of communism (maybe even earlier). I got some Pierogis at one - really good, cost almost nothing. And a milk bar would obviously be quicker than a sit-down meal.

Posted by
4950 posts

There are plenty of nice restaurants in the Kazimierz area. But I agree thats a lot to pack in in a short afternoon. I think you could spend the whole time in the Wawel/market area. Note its about a 20 minute walk to Kazimierz.

Posted by
9 posts

The Archeology Museum just off the Rynek might be a lot of fun for kids. There’s a large room upstairs that has a room full of wax figures of the evolution of the human race in Poland. Figures are very life like, there’s also a wax cro-magnan man somewhere in an alcove on the 2nd floor. They also have a small corridor of interactive videos that show how all the old tools were made. The museum also has a nice garden.

Surprisingly there’s a collection of Egytian mummies downstairs, but the Egyptian collection may not be too interesting to kids. The rooms are very dark and mysterious.

As much as the Poles like kids, there’s not very much for them to do in the Old Town except maybe for the horse-drawn carriage ride. If you’re lucky there may some entertainers of interest in the square. There are also lots and lots of places for ice cream.

Posted by
242 posts

You received lots of good advice. Visit St. Mery's located at the Rynek. Walk the Old Town and go to a milk bar. We just went to one on Grodska St., I think it was Pod Termida and just loved it! That would be a very unique "cultural experience" and cheap but good food too. Just like a Polish babcia might make.

Wawel Castle is a wonderful stop. Trying to also visit "Lady with Ermine" might take too much of your precious time.

Use taxis to get around the longer distances as they are quite inexpensive. Your time is precious!

As far as Schindler's museum, your oldest might be tough enough to handle it. We took our eleven and fifteen year old daughters to Dachau and it ended up being their most memorable part of their European trip and one they chose for future school reports.

Save lots of room for great and inexpensive souvenirs.