Poland’s cultural capital
Krakow (Kraków) is one of the oldest cities in Poland and is the administrative capital of the Lesser Poland (Malopolskie) region.
Until 1596, Krakow was Poland’s former royal capital, today it is a leading centre of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life and a major tourist destination. Often referred to as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Krakow’s Old Town had the honour of being declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. If you’re interested in architecture, Krakow will not let you down. The city features all of the great European architectural styles.
Krakow has a riveting history with alternating themes of destruction and revival, which could rival the hit TV series, Game of Thrones. The highlight was becoming coming Poland’s capital city in 1038 and the part it played within Poland’s Golden Age. The low points include the sacking of the city by marauding Tatars, losing capital city status to Warsaw, the occupation by Nazi Germany and the post-war period of communism that followed.
The city is Poland’s cultural capital, it hosts a multitude of events and festivals each year. Outside of the festival calendar, there are multiple cultural experiences to be enjoyed including literature, the arts, film, dance, music, theatre and food.
The foodie scene in Krakow is incredible. It’s not just traditional Polish delights on offer, you’ll also find the full range of International cuisine within the city’s many restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options becoming the norm.
Churches, Museums & Parks
There are three things that Krakow has buckets full of, churches, museums and parks! Within the city, you’ll find around 40 parks, 28 museums and over 350 Roman Catholic churches.
The historic centre of Krakow has been featured on Unesco’s World Heritage List since 1978. Packed full of restaurants, museums, galleries and bars, the medieval layout of the Old Town has not changed for centuries. The heart and focal point of the historic centre of Krakow is its graceful main market square, the largest medieval town square of any European city.
Wawel Royal Castle and the limestone Wawel Hill are extremely important historical and cultural sites containing one of the most important collection of buildings in Poland. Wawel was once the seat of Polish rulers, the residence of kings and the focal point of many Polish historical events.
Official tourism statistics show that in 2019 Krakow was visited by over 14 million tourists including 3.3 million foreign travellers. See the Top 10 things to do in Krakow.
Notable points of interest outside the city include the Wieliczka salt mine, the Tatra Mountains to the south, the historic city of Częstochowa, the well-preserved former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, and Ojcowski National Park which includes the Renaissance Castle at Pieskowa Skała. The Energylandia theme park is just 30 mins from Krakow.
Leave Krakow for a day to visit the historic monuments Auschwitz and Birkenau. Auschwitz was one of the largest concentration camps built by the Nazis during the Second World War. The remains of the camps are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage and form the most important memorials of the Holocaust to act as proof of the terrors that took place during the war.
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Leave Krakow for a day to walk the Bachledka Treetop Trail in Slovakia, visit Zakopane and relax in the hot springs of the Chochołow Thermal Spa