Located on the banks of the romantic Wisla River (Vistula River), at the foot of Wawel Hill, Krakow is one of the largest ancient capitals of Poland. This is also a city with bold identity and rich cultural traditions of Central Europe with impressive churches, museums, quaint architecture dating back to the Middle Ages and beautiful urban landscapes. If you are getting a bit bored with famous tourist cities in Eastern Europe such as Vienna, Budapest, Prague, etc… you should make a trip to Krakow to “change the wind”! I stayed in Krakow for 2 days before going back to Warsaw. So, what to do and how to spend 2 days in Krakow, Poland perfectly? Let’s check out our suggested Krakow itinerary 2 days to find out the answer! Ah, this post also included a suggested day trip from Krakow if you plan to visit Krakow for 3 days.
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Krakow is probably the city that left the most impression on me since I came to Poland. This is where I first had the opportunity to travel when entering my first winter break. This trip to Krakow also brought me a lot of emotions.
When to visit Krakow?
You can visit Krakow at any time of the year, but for the most pleasant weather, enjoyable and fun experience, you should visit Krakow at a time of little rain and not too cold. You should arrange to come to this city around late spring – early summer (May, June) or late summer – early autumn (September, October).
Krakow itinerary 2 days: Getting to Krakow
Trains from Warsaw to Krakow run all day, every 30-40 minutes with a trip. Ticket price is 30PLN ($7.7)/person/way. The train is smooth and run quite fast, the distance between the two cities is about 300km, but it only takes 2 and a half hours to reach Krakow station.
Krakow itinerary 2 days — Day 1
Wawel Royal Castle
We stayed at a pretty cheap hotel near Wawel Castle, so on the first morning of day 1 we took advantage of get up early and to come here to take pictures and visit. Wawel Castle is located on Wawel Hill on the banks of the Vistula River, which is the largest and longest river in Poland. This complex of castles, churches, and watchtowers was built in the 13th – 14th centuries by the order of Emperor Casimir III (Casimir the Great), modeled on Italian style and gathered almost all European architectural styles in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque, and Gothic.
In 1978, Wawel Castle was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To explore Wawel Castle as much as possible, you need about half a day, and tickets should be purchased if you want to visit the special galleries inside the castle. Otherwise, you can just walk around outside the castle grounds.
You should not miss Dragon’s Den (Dragon Cave). Legend has it that once upon a time there was a wicked dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill. One day, a prince name Krakus came, plotted to kill the dragon and then stayed here, establishing Krakow. So, the name of Krakow derived from his name.
To access the Dragon’s Den you have to buy a separate ticket (if I remember correctly), is only open seasonally, and you have to go into a deep long cave. Going one circuit from the top to the foot of the hill, you will meet a bronze dragon statue, every few minutes, it will spitting fire once… It’s quite weird, you can also take pictures freely!
Full information on ticket prices and opening hours of Wawel Castle and Dragon’s Den can be viewed HERE.
Address: Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
Hours: Mon: Closed/Tue-Fri: 9AM–5PM/Sat-Sun: 10AM–5PM
Designated as world heritage site: 1978 (2nd session)
Built: 13th and 14th centuries
Area: 7,040 m2 (0.704 ha)
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour from Kraków
After visiting Wawel Castle, half a day was over. We continued to take the train to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, about 10km from Krakow city center. From Krakow you can get there by train, bus or minivan. I came to by train, the way back by bus.
Information on how to get from Krakow to Wieliczka can be found at the salt mine website here.
To visit the inside of the salt mine, you must buy a tour. If you are a student under the age of 26, you will get a discount, provide your valid ID and student card. Information on ticket types and prices can be found at THIS LINK.
The salt mine is located quite deep from the ground, so the temperature down there is also a bit different from the outside. On hot days, it will be cool there, and on the day we went, it was quite cold, so the air was much warmer.
Visiting this Wieliczka salt mine, I opened my eyes a lot. Until now, I only saw salt was built into white dunes and then dried in the sun, but this is the first time I know that salt can still be mined underground and inside mines like coal mines, ore mines like this.
All items in the salt mine are made from salt. A large hall that can hold hundreds of people is made entirely of salt. The chandeliers on the ceiling seemed to be crystal but turned out to be crystallized salt. On the walls are paintings made from salt, including the famous “L’ultima Cena” (The Last Supper) painting by great master Da Vinci… in the salt version!
In addition to serving tourists to visit, this hall is also used to organize events, weddings or concerts.
Souvenirs here are also quite diverse. But one thing in common is that they are all made from salt. The price is quite expensive, so I could not buy anything to take home.
Actually, after spending a few hours wandering around in the dark and damp underground, when the elevator reached the ground, I saw the sky above my head… breathed a sigh of relief!
Address: Daniłowicza 10, 32-020 Wieliczka, Poland
UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription: 1978
Area: 970 ha (2,400 acres)
2 days in Krakow — Day 2
Kazimierz Jewish Quarter
Like so many other cities in Eastern Europe, Krakow has its own a Jewish neighborhood dating back to World War II, and that’s Kazimierz. When we came, because it was the weekend, it was still quite early, so the place was very quiet. The streets was deserted, the shops were not open, only a small market opened.
Here, we had breakfast with a zapiekanka (Polish pizza) topped with mushrooms and cheese, served with ketchup. This dish looks like bread, eats like pizza, in general the taste was quite good, only the shape is like… pizza cosplay bread!
You can buy this dish at the shops in Plac Nowy square in the Jewish quarter.
This place is really bustling, vibrant at night. If you are a person who loves to gather and a partygoer, this place is a must visit-place in evening. There are many hostels and hotels around here to serve tourists.
After went around Kazimierz, we continued to take the bus to the Kościuszko Mound.
From the top of the Kościuszko Mound, you can see the whole city of Krakow right before your eyes. The scene was so poetic to see the whole city covered in white snow.
I don’t know what it will be like in the rest of the seasons, the path through the birch trees at the foot of the hill will be like, but in the fall, when the yellow leaves fall into a carpet, every footstep will echo the sound of dry leaves of the old season. It’s fun to listen to, but when I listen for a while, I suddenly found that sound so sad. A softly sadness.
From the top of the Kościuszko hill, looking down is Krakow stretching before my eyes. In the gentle autumn sunlight, the whole city looked so beautiful and peaceful.
Krakow’s central Grand Square (Rynek Glowny)
In major European cities, the central square will always be the most interesting place to have fun at night. Therefore, Krakow’s Main Square was the first place we went to visit at night after a long day exploring as well as had a dinner.
This area is surrounded by old buildings and crowded pubs. Bars and pubs are open from evening until 5am the next day. With an area of nearly 4 hectares, Krakow Square is one of the largest squares in Europe. In addition, this place was once voted as the best public space in Europe because of its bustling and vibrant atmosphere. That is also the factor that helps Krakow become one of the most popular off-the-beaten-track tourist cities in 2016.
In addition, in Main Square, there is Cloth Hall (Sukiennice in Polish) dating from the 14th century, known as “Europe’s oldest shopping mall”.
In the past, Krakow was once a busy trading place in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region, and Cloth Hall was built for the purpose of serving as a gathering place for traders. If you are interested in learning more about its history, you can refer to HERE.
The corridor outside Cloth Hall overlooks the very beautiful square. In the evening, there are many shops that set up tables and chairs here for guests to eat while watching the street. The price of the food is probably not much, but the price of the view is probably not cheap.
We left Krakow station at 5 pm and arrived at our room in Warsaw when the clock struck 8:30pm. Because we were too tired and lacked of sleep, so we had already fallen asleep before having dinner.
Total cost for this trip is about 600 PLN/person ($154.64). That’s because the two of us go out to eat a lot, so the cost is up to that, but other costs such as accommodation and admissions, I find it to be quite cheap. The weather in Krakow is not much different from Warsaw, but it was peaceful and the atmosphere also was more pleasant. The people of Krakow are very friendly, many times when I ask passersby to help me with places to eat and places to visit, they were always very enthusiastically guide to us. One day, I will definitely come back here and experience more of the ancient streets and delectable food in this city.
Krakow itinerary days — Recommended some day trips from Krakow
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
From Krakow, the daytrip to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is the most popular. You can buy a tour in advance via online, or buy a tour on the spot (at the hotel reception there will always be leaflets of travel agencies that organize this tour).
If visiting a Nazi concentration camp sounds… too hard-core, you can visit the town of Wadowice – the hometown of Pope John Paul II, the only pope to date to be a Polish.
These are all daytrips that we all want to do, but because of the time constraints, plus too much studying for the exam, the ticket fines… are so heavy make we can’t go in the end.
If you have more time in Krakow, you can refer to more daytrip suggestions + instructions on how to travel on your own or buy a tour from travelpassionate.com website. (However, for the salt mine, you don’t need to go all day, half a day is enough to see the whole thing, unless you want to visit the town of Wielizcka too).
Krakow itinerary 2 days: Where to stay for 2 days in Krakow?
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Radisson Blu Hotel Krakow (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Mercure Krakow Stare Miasto (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Metropolitan Boutique Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel Betmanowska Main Square Residence (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Sheraton Grand Krakow (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Check out more top hotels in Krakow on Agoda.com or Booking.com.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Krakow you can refer to
- Auschwitz Birkenau Museum Tour from Kraków
- Private Kraków International Airport (KRK) Transfers for Kraków
- Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour from Kraków
- Schindler’s Factory Guided Tour in Krakow
- Krakow Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
- Kazimierz Jewish Quarter Walking Tour in Kraków
- Krakow Food Tour on Foot
Check out Krakow travel guide here and Poland guide here.