From icy subterranean chapels to hidden Art Nouveau cafés, Krakow’s historical sights are vibrant reminders of its past. Book a Krakow hotel and use this guide to discover the city’s story.


    Coffee at Jama Michalika

    The Art Nouveau interior of this bohemian café has seen Krakow’s actors, literary greats and cabaret artists drink coffee and absinthe since 1908. Come for a drink or a plate of bigos stew and discover the back room hideout. Its walls are decorated with caricatures of these cultural firebrands.

    Location: Floriańska 45, 31-019 Kraków, Poland

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 9am to 10pm, Friday–Saturday from 9am to 11pm

    Phone: +48 12 422 15 61

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    • Nightlife

    photo by Petrus78PL (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    A night at Hotel Copernicus

    Once a residence of Wawel Cathedral’s canons, the Hotel Copernicus is now a luxury Krakow hotel. Splash out at the Coat of Arms Suite with its 14th-century wooden beamed ceiling and 17th-century frescos. Luxuriate in the spa deep in the Gothic cellars.

    Location: Kanonicza 16, 31-001 Kraków, Poland

    Phone: +48 12 424 34 00

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    photo by Cancre (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Walk up Kanonicza

    Krakow’s oldest thoroughfare is part of the Royal Way leading to Wawel Castle. The well- preserved street has witnessed centuries of Polish royalty parading on its cobbles and is lined with noble Renaissance houses. At the top, visit royal sarcophagi in the cathedral crypt.

    Location: Kanonicza, 31-001 Kraków, Poland

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    Bugle call at St Mary’s Basilica

    After poring over the sculpted altarpiece at St Mary’s Basilica, church of choice of the city’s burghers, climb the tower. Catch the bugler call on the hour every hour from the four corners of the tower, broadcast live on Polish national radio.

    Location: plac Mariacki 5, 31-042 Kraków, Poland

    Phone: +48 12 422 05 21

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    Exhibitions at Auschwitz

    The horrors of the Holocaust are almost tangible at the Auschwitz death camps, 75km west of Krakow. These camps were built by the Nazis as the final destination of European Jews. Guided tours take you to the gas chambers and execution yard. A permanent exhibition with documentary photographs and historic exhibits provides a sombre testimony to the tragedy.

    Location: Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej 11, 32-600 Oświęcim, Poland

    Open: Opens daily at 7.30am. Closing time varies between 2pm in winter and 7pm in summer.

    Phone: +48 33 844 80 99

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    Shopping for amber at Cloth Hall

    Believed to be one of the world’s oldest markets, the colonnaded Cloth Hall, in the main market square of Rynek Glowny, has hosted traders since the 14th century. Browse the stalls at this historic landmark of Krakow for glowing amber jewellery and handicrafts. Take a break at the Noworolski Kawiarnia café, Lenin’s favourite.

    Location: Rynek Główny 1/3, 31-042 Kraków, Poland

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 10am to 6pm, closed on Mondays

    Phone: +48 12 433 54 00

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    Exhibition at the life-saving Eagle Pharmacy

    Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s Pharmacy, a meeting point and life-saving resource for Jews of the ghetto in the 1940s, is now a museum exhibiting letters and film from the ghetto era. Opposite, ponder the moving installation of 70 chairs positioned around the square, symbolising families being rounded up by the Nazis.

    Location: plac Bohaterów Getta 18, 33-332 Kraków, Poland

    Open: November–March: Monday from 10am to 2pm, Tuesday–Sunday from 10am to 6pm. April–October: Monday from 9am to 4pm, Tuesday–Sunday from 9am to 8pm. Closed every first Tuesday of the month in summer.

    Phone: +48 12 656 56 25

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    photo by Zetpe0202 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Underground chapel at Wieliczka Salt Mine

    The corridors of Krakow’s oldest salt mine stretch 300km and descend to a depth of 327 metres. A tour takes in highlights like the huge St Kinga’s Chapel. The chandeliers, altar and statues were made from salt by miners.

    Location: Daniłowicza 10, 32-020 Wieliczka, Poland

    Open: Hours vary by season. Usually, daily from 8am to 6pm.

    Phone: +48 12 278 73 02

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    • Unusual

    Trabant tour of Nowa Huta

    This eastern district, the last bastion of communist Krakow, is the site of the New Steel Works built by Stalin in 1947. Take a special tour in an East German Trabant car. Or go on foot to discover the former Lenin Steelworks and Plac Centralny, the central square, with its baroque architecture.

    Location: Nowa Huta, Kraków, Poland

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    Papal homage at Archdiocesan Museum

    Poland’s John Paul II, pope from 1978-2005, lived at these apartments, since converted into a museum. Sacral art dating back to the 13th century is on show. So too are his skis from when he was bishop of Krakow.

    Location: Kanonicza 19, 31-002 Kraków, Poland

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 10am to 4pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10am to 3pm, closed on Mondays

    Phone: +48 12 421 89 63

    • History

    photo by Pawel Swiegoda (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

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