Visitors to Krakow are spoiled for choice. As capital of Poland for more than five hundred years and seat of the monarchy, the city already had a long and rich history centuries ago. Today, the city welomes millions of tourists every year who come to discover the beauty and charm that has made it famous. But when planning your own visit, where do you even start to read about all there is to see and do? No worries – we’ve got you covered with a list of all the places that are a standard part of any Krakow Tours.
Krakow Tours – Walking through 1000 years of history
Krakow sightseeing is mostly focused around Wawel Castle, the Old Town and the former Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. Walking around the the main square and hill where the castle sits takes you through centuries of events that shaped the city we see today, from a medieval moat and defensive fortifications to the founding of the main square and the grid street system to the 19th century when the city walls and moat were turned into a huge park that opened the city to new growth. Any good city guide will point out these landmarks and important stages of Krakow’s history as you make your way through its streets and squares.
But to truly transport yourself back in time, you need to make your way to Wawel Castle, the first permanent settlement in the area and the focus of local and later national power. The Cathedral and Royal tombs along with various exhibits inside the castle are obligatory stops on any visit. Families and kids should also be sure to pay a visit to the fire-breathing dragon of Wawel and his enchanted cave to learn the legend of the origins of the city.
A trip through Krakow’s Old Town has its own obligatory sites – the Florian Gate, the Barbican, the Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Church and the City Hall Tower. We would also add a visit to the university district to that list as well, with its 14th century buildings. Krakow’s churches are often compared with those of Rome as they span the period from the early Middle Ages to the present day. Several of them, most notably St. Mary’s Church in the main square, have recently been restored to their previous colourful glory and renovations have brightened the shine and refreshed the charm of ancient walls and stained glass windows.
Every Krakow Guide knows that a visit to Kazimierz is on the minds of most visitors. It’s just a ten minute walk from the main square but for centuries was actually a separate and distinct city from Krakow with its own main square and Jewish Quarter. Today, Kazimierz is famous for its picturesque backstreets and quiet corners, stunning Gothic churches and Synagogues from different eras. Visiting these sites along with one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe puts you closer to an atmosphere and culture that existed here for centuries.
Another side of Krakow – Nowa Huta Tour
Krakow’s more recent history is also full of fascinating twists and turns with both tragic and beautiful episodes. One of these has become very famous over the last few years and attracts tourists from all over the world. In the Podgorze district of Krakow, visitors can find a musuem in the former factor of Oscar Schindler that documents life in the city during the Nazi occupation. There are also multiple sites around Krakow related to the life of Karol Wojtyla, better known to the world as Pope John Paul II. Those looking for a real adventure away from the crowds can go to Nowa Huta, the socialist-realist planned city established by the postwar Communist regime and symbol of the resistance of ordinary people against totalitarian repression.
Guide to the unknown side of Krakow
A good local guide can show you around more than just the places that are popular with tourists and take you to hidden backstreets, local parks and places of historical interest off the beaten path. Krakow has a ridiculous number of places like this and there is something for every interest, hobby and style.
If you want to experience Krakow with the help and expertise of a licensed local Krakow guide, you can find out just how easy it is at Krakow Tours . See you here in Krakow!