When you're not into WWII...
Reputation: the jumping off point for the Auschwitz concentration camp, known locally as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. A popular destination for bachelor parties for English men.
Why you should go: it's a gorgeous city where you can walk everywhere. Krakow is one of those great places that people love visiting just for the atmosphere.
A quick note about accessibility in Krakow: everywhere you go there are cobbled streets and steps, so take it carefully if you’ve got a pushchair or use a mobility device.
Everything’s free unless stated.
Get lost in the old walled city
The wall is mostly gone now but Krakow's core is still within the footprint of the old city wall. It's a great place to get lost and discover cafes, shops and all sorts of nooks and crannies.
Check out the Barbican, a turreted brick bastion from the old wall, at the northern end of town.
Soak up the atmosphere of Rynek Glowny
Krakow's town square has been around since 1257 and is a great place to explore the historic Cloth Hall, grab a meal or enjoy a beer (simply take a seat and hold up the same number of fingers as you'd like beers. Remember, your thumb is 'one' so holding up your ring and middle fingers will result in three beers. I'm sure that won't be a problem...).
St Mary's Basilica anchors one corner. Here, a bugle call is made every hour to commemorate a 13th century soldier who was killed by an arrow part way through his bugling. Even today, the bugler stops at the point in the tune when the original soldier died. Hearing it is what reminded us that we are in a truly unique city.
You'll find some very good buskers in Rynek Glowny, and you may want to grab some flowers at the lovely little flower market.
Climb the hill to Wawel Castle
Welcome to the seat of Polish kings for over 500 years. Wawel Castle is a collection of castles and churches built over many years from the 16th century. You can explore the hill itself and the gorgeous Wawel Royal Cathedral of St Stanislaus BM and St Wenceslaus M for free.
An entry fee applies to the State Rooms and Royal Apartments and you'll need to join a tour.
Wawel Castle is an easy walk from Rynek Glowny (the town square).
Spend time in the salt mines
A tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines is a great way to spend a few hours. The salt mines operated for over 700 years and closed for production in 1964. Even now, no-one knows how many tunnels and passages were dug. Workers carved out all manner of unusual things included chambers, sculptures and a chapel complete with rock-salt chandeliers, all of which are included on the tour. Make sure you stop for a beer in the underground pub.
Note that the tour starts with a descent down 380 steps so be prepared for sore muscles the next day. There's a lift that takes people back up to the surface and can be used in both directions by visitors with disabilities.
The Mines can only be visited as part of a tour but the tours are good fun and can be booked at the Mines or from one of the many tourist offices in town. Tours booked in town include transport. If you prefer a longer stay, there's accommodation available 125m (410 feet) deep in the mines.
Take a break in the Planty
The Planty is a lovely green space which follows the foundations of the old city walls. Take a stroll, admire the statues or snooze under one of the many trees. It's always open and completely free, so enjoy.
Discover Polish vodka
Think you're not a vodka person? Think again. Polish vodka is outstanding, cheap and comes in more varieties than you can imagine. Some are smooth like a liqueur, others will be more familiar, and lots are in between. Vodka is sold all over Krakow so buy what appeals. We recommend a honey vodka - just not all in one sitting on a train to Prague. But that's another story...
If you do just one thing relating to WWII...
Visit the Schindler Factory. Industrialist Oskar Schindler saved the lives of over 1,200 Jews during WWII despite being a member of the Nazi Party. You've probably seen the movie. The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow now has a museum on the site of the factory which explores Krakow under Nazi occupation. The administration block of the factory still stands and forms part of the museum.
The Museum isn't recommended for visitors aged under 14 years. An entry fee applies. To get there from Rynek Glowny, jump on trams 3, 9, 11, 13 and 24. If you want to walk, it will take about an hour and takes you through Kazimierz, the old Jewish part of town.
To make sure this page loads quickly we're popped the photos on a separate page.
Contributor: Ann-Marie Nansett
Updated: 8 August 2016.