Krakow Itinerary: The Perfect 3-5 Days in Krakow

Summary: I’m sharing an example Krakow itinerary for 3-5 days to help you plan your next trip to Poland!

Following my Krakow Itinerary in Old Town

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which just means I make a small commission if you purchase from them with no additional cost to you!

When I first visited Krakow, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, but here I am, writing my second Krakow travel post to inspire as many of you to give this charming city a spot on your next European itinerary!

Planning your trip from scratch? I recommend starting with my Ultimate Krakow Travel Guide, but keep this post handy for when you’re crafting your itinerary.

Best Time to Visit Krakow

If you’re thinking of traveling to Krakow soon, I highly recommend going in the winter! The city won’t be nearly as crowded as it can get in summer and Polish food is just so comforting when it’s cold out.

If you’re trying to avoid winter weather, the shoulder months are my second choice. This includes April, May, September and October. These are some of my favorite months to travel in general to avoid crowds and the heat of summer. Regardless of the time of year you visit, this Krakow itinerary will help you plan your trip of 3, 4, or 5 days.

How Much Time to Spend in Krakow

I mentioned in my last post that the perfect amount of time to explore Krakow is 5 days. This is how long I was there. Of course, I would have loved to stay longer, but I got to see just about everything on my list. That said, I know not everyone is going to carve out 5 days for Krakow, so I wanted to put together an itinerary that will work for you whether you’re in town for 3, 4, or 5 days.

3-5 Day Krakow Itinerary

Day 1: Wawel Castle and Cathedral

If you’re an early riser like me, or you’re just a victim of jet lag, you’ll likely wake up fairly early. I always recommend staying at a hotel that includes or offers breakfast in Poland, because these are usually some of the best breakfasts I’ve had. My favorite hotel in Krakow is Hotel Francuski and part of that reason is because of the extravagant breakfast spread! I’d suggest eating a big breakfast today, because you’ll likely be having a late lunch.

Around 8:30am, start walking to Wawel Castle. You can buy tickets to tour the castle starting at 9:00am and when buying tickets, you’ll pick the areas you want to tour a la carte style. I’d suggest at least touring the Lost Wawel, the State Rooms, and the Private Apartments. The Private Apartments are the only tours that are guided; the rest are self-paced.

Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland
Wawel Castle

If you do these three tours, you’ll probably finish around noon or 1:00pm. If you’ve still got energy, head over to the Wawel Cathedral ticket office and buy your ticket. This includes access to Sigismund Bell, the Royal Tombs, and the Wawel Museum. This is completely self-paced and will take between 1.5-2 hours to complete.

By this time, you’re probably starving! Head over to Enoteka Pergamin for a large and very affordable lunch.

After lunch, head back to Old Town Square and visit St. Mary’s Basilica. You can just walk in and look around or schedule a tour. Keep in mind that it closes at 6pm most days, so if you don’t make it today, you can always stop in on another day, too.

When you’re ready for dinner, I recommend Goscinna Chata and their Polish Platter! It’s got a little bit of everything and it’s made for two. We stumbled across this restaurant by chance and I’m so glad we did. They only serve food sourced locally and everything was absolutely delicious, down to the buckwheat cake for dessert!

Sampler platter at Goscinna Chata in Krakow Poland
Polish Platter at Goscinna Chata

Day 2: Auschwitz Tour and Sukiennice

After you had a chance to explore Krakow yesterday, use this day to explore some of history’s most famous (yet gruesome) concentration camps: Auschwitz and Birkenau.

I’d suggest setting up a tour before you arrive in Krakow. We had Hotel Francuski set a tour up for us, but companies like GetYourGuide also offer these tours.

First, they will drive you to Auschwitz and hand you over to your tour guide. You’ll go through the entire walking tour at Auschwitz and then your driver will transport you to Birkenau for the second and final tour.

Most tours will include a light lunch. We had a tomato and cheese sandwich with water. You might want to confirm with your tour operator whether or not you should bring food along with you. If you left early, you’ll likely make it back to your hotel around 2 or 3pm.

Birkenau Concentration Camp near Krakow, Poland
Auschwitz Concentration camp

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This tour is somber and it can take a lot out of you. That said, I think it’ll end up being one of the most important, enlightening, and interesting things you’ll do on your trip, so don’t skip it!

Because it’s somewhat exhausting, I’ve read about some people just wanting to take it easy the rest of the day and maybe take a nap. If that’s you, go on and do that!

Old Town Square in Krakow Poland at night
Krakow Christmas Market

If you’re feeling up to it, venture out in the late afternoon to Sukiennice (cloth hall). It’s in the center of the Main Square and it’s a great place to find souvenirs and gifts to bring back home with you.

For dinner tonight, I recommend trying U Babci Maliny. It’s technically a chain with two locations in Krakow, but they serve very authentic and reasonably-priced food. You’ll order at the counter, find a seat at the community tables, and wait for your number to be called.

Austin and I split a bowl of borscht and a plate of pierogi for about $10 and it was delicious. You’ll notice a lot of locals at this place which is always a good sign that the food is great.

Day 3: Krakow’s Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz)

It might be your last day in Krakow, so let’s make it a good one! We’re going to spend the day wandering the town and slowly making our way to the Jewish Quarter. I think it’s always important in a new place to just walk, get lost, and find things that you would have never been able to search for on the internet.

I’d suggest waking up early yet again and getting a hearty breakfast in before you leave.

Take whichever route you’re pulled to, but try to walk in the general Southeast direction, so you’ll eventually reach the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz). It’s a little different than Old Town, but it’s worth seeing, too!

Kazimierz in Krakow, Poland
Jewish Quarter

This was an area that celebrated Jewish culture until it’s people were forcibly relocated by the German military into the Krakow Ghetto before being sent to concentration camps.

Depending on what you prefer, you can schedule a tour of the area or just walk around yourself.

For today, I suggest getting lunch wherever you end up. Find a restaurant that looks great and draws you in. The Jewish Quarter has some very tasty-looking Jewish restaurants, so I’d probably choose one of those if I were you.

Jewish Quarter in Krakow Poland
Jewish Quarter

When you’re done with lunch, keep walking! Find a peaceful place to sit and take it all in. It’s important to slow down sometimes and reflect on how utterly amazing it is that you’re in another country and you have the privilege of exploring this city and culture.

Day 4: St. Mary’s Basilica and Krakow Main Square

If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t make it to St. Mary’s Basilica on Day 1. Let’s be real, the tours of Wawel Castle and Cathedral are incredible, but very tiring. Instead of touring the Basilica, we went back and took a long nap.

If you’ve been following this itinerary, you’ve probably been waking up early every day, so take this morning slow! Wake up naturally and slowly make your way down to breakfast or brunch to start the day.

When you’re ready, let’s make it over to St. Mary’s Basilica to tour one of the most famous churches in the city.

St Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland
St. Mary’s Basilica

You’ll notice a bunch of outdoor restaurants along the main square. Yes, they’re even open in the winter, but they’re covered and heated during the cold months. When you get hungry again, I’d suggest trying out one of these restaurants.

Let’s check out the nightlife tonight! I actually came across a Chicago bar which I wanted to try, but we don’t usually go out much at night when we travel because we like to wake up so early. There is no shortage of bars and clubs in Krakow, so take your pick and drink/dance the night away!

Day 5: Day Trip to Zakopane

If you’re lucky enough to be in Krakow for a 5th day, consider taking a day trip to Zakopane. When we visited, we rented a car and drove down to Zakopane to stay for 3 nights, but there are several different day trips you can take.

A lot of these day trips include things like thermal hot springs, local cheese tastings, and funicular rides that will take you up the Tatra Mountains for amazing views.

mountain view in Zakopane, Poland
Mountains in Zakopane

If you have free time in Zakopane, there are a bunch of things I’d recommend seeing and doing. Check out my Zakopane blog post for more details on those.

Read More About Poland

I hoped this post helped you outline your next trip to Krakow! While you’re here, I have a few more articles that will continue to guide you to having the best trip to Poland:

Leave a Comment