Are you visiting Krakow for the Christmas Market? Find out what you can expect and get some other tips on things to see in this famous city in Poland.
We are big fans of European Christmas markets and we try to visit one every December. We’ve particularly enjoyed markets in Prague, Zurich and Dresden.
The Christmas market in Krakow was one that we had been aiming to visit for a while. But we also wanted to take in the rest of what Krakow had to offer.
Our trip turned out to be highly enjoyable. By telling you about our experience hopefully you can get some ideas of what to see in the city.
So here are 12 things you can see in Krakow (and the surrounding area) in the build-up to Christmas.
1. Krakow Christmas Market
You’ll find the market in the city’s main square and it stretches out over a big area too. There are quite a variety of stalls displaying their festive wares. You can browse and buy decorations, clothing, souvenirs, cards, pottery and even metalwork.
Make sure you try some of the tasty food and the hot mulled wine that are on offer too. We particularly recommend the pork knuckle!
A giant Christmas tree overlooks the market and it really adds to the festive feeling.
2. Krakow Main Square
The square is surrounded by historic buildings such as the Cloth Hall, Town Hall Tower, Church of St. Adalbert and St. Mary’s Basilica.
Underneath the main square is the Rynek Underground Museum. It tells the story of the history of Kraków through interactive displays, videos, holograms and artefacts.
3. St. Mary’s Basilica
The church was built in the 14th century but its foundations are said to date back to the early 13th century. The interior is just as stunning as the outside too.
If you time your visit properly you’ll hear the hourly trumpet tune played from one of the two towers.
4. Cloth Hall
Krakow’s Cloth Hall is one of the city’s most famous attractions. The hall was once the place to purchase exotic imports from the east. Merchants would deal in wax, leather, spices, silk, textiles, lead, and salt.
Nowadays it’s home to traders selling souvenirs, clothing and craft-work. It’s a good spot for you to pick up a few mementos.
5. A trip on a horse and carriage
A horse and carriage ride from Krakow’s main square is definitely worth a go. Once you get on board the carriage the horses take you through the historic city centre. It’s really quite atmospheric in the evening!
6. St. Florian’s Gate
St. Florian’s Gate was built in the 14th century and marks the start of the shopping street of Florianska. These gothic towers are nearly 34 metres tall and were constructed with wild stone.
Quite a few art dealers congregate near the gate to sell their art-works.
7. Wawel Castle
Wawel Castle is one of largest castles in Poland. A variety of architectural styles can be found here. Specifically you’ll see examples from the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Krakow’s historic centre.
You can easily spend a few hours exploring the different parts of this giant castle.
8. Wawel Cathedral
Inside the Castle complex you’ll find Wawel Cathedral. It is more than 900 years old and is the location for coronations of Polish monarchs.
The crypt underneath the cathedral holds the tombs of Polish kings and some national icons too.
Kazimierz is the old Jewish Quarter and is another one of Krakow’s major tourist attractions. The district is steeped in history and you will see synagogues, a market, ghetto and Jewish cemeteries.
The Barbican is an outpost once connected to Krakow’s city walls. It’s one of the few remaining examples of fortifications that once encircled the old city.
If you walk around to the eastern wall you’ll find a tablet commemorating Marcin Oracewicz. During the Bar Confederation he defended Krakow against the Russians.
11. Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum
It’s a really sad experience finding out about the horrific mass murders that took place in both these camps during World War II.
There are many travel companies in Krakow which offer trips to the memorial.
12. Wieliczka Salt Mine
Take a half day trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine which is only a short distance away from Krakow. It produced table salt until 2007 and is one of the world’s oldest salt mines.
Now a tourist attraction visitors walk down hundreds of steps to see attractions such as statues, artwork and chapels carved out of the rock salt. It’s fascinating becuase most of these were produced by the miners themselves.
Final thoughts on Krakow
On the whole Krakow has an amazing Christmas market and a city to match it. You can easily spend five days there and yet still find more things to do. There are also great restaurants, bars and cafes to refuel in too.