Last spring I got the wonderful opportunity to visit Krakow, Poland. While my mom and I hunted down our Polish ancestors (quite literally), we were able to also experience the lesser known hidden gem that is Krakow. As a city far less traveled to, I knew we were in for a real authentic experience. Here is how to spend 24 hours in Krakow from beginning to end, and in the best way possible!
Instead of buying the typical cheap and touristy souvenirs, I highly recommend hitting up some flea markets. You’ll want to hit these up early in the morning before breakfast, as they’re typically up and running by 6am.
I went to two in Krakow, and both did not disappoint. The first one I recommend is Plac Nowy which is located in the Kazimierz. There I was able to score some beautiful antique rings, and even one from the 19th century!
The second flea market I recommend is absolutely massive. It’s called Hala Targowa and it’s located not too far from the Jewish district. There are rows and rows of of WW2 memorabilia and Russian antiques. This is definitely the place to go shopping if you want something unique and you’re a history buff. Plac Nowy is on Saturday mornings and Hala Targowa is on Sunday mornings.
Charlotte is a charming little cafe just outside Old Town Square. Here they serve mostly French-Cafe food, alongside delicious baked goods. This is a great place to stop for some breakfast, and the interior is super cute and interesting. There is a neat winding staircase that leads to a second floor eating area. Charlotte is quite small though, so be prepared to get comfy with your neighbors!
Wawel Castle and Old Town Square
Wawel Castle Should be your first stop because it is just outside Old Town Square. This is a historic castle built in Krakow in the 14th century. Back in the day, the Poles had a strong relationship with Italy. If you tour this castle, you’ll see many Italian relics and design features. Wawel castle is very large with many wings to visit, so make sure you get a pass to see them all!
Old Town Square is the main square in Krakow, and it’s consistently rated as one of the best squares in Europe. It’s so lively, and everyone is always out enjoying themselves on a nice day. Just be aware of the touristy restaurants that can really over charge you. So basically, just stick to what I’ve laid out here!
Plac Nowy is located in the Jewish quarter, and they mostly serve modern food. It’s a great option for a light lunch or breakfast. The interior is super cute, and we had an overall great time here. This was a recommendation from the two people helping us with our genealogy, whom we got to meet at Plac Nowy and enjoy breakfast with.
One of my favorite things about Plac Nowy was that they had an inside/outside dining space. It’s always nice to get some fresh air, but still feel like you are inside and shaded by the sun.
If you were a fan of the movie Schindler’s List, then you’ve probably heard of Plaszow. I remember seeing this movie as a kid and feeling to many emotions. The crazy thing is, you can walk the entire perimeter where the forced labour camp was once located.
To be honest, it’s a really nice (but somber) walk on a sunny day. There is a path that takes you through the open fields where barracks once stood, and the prisoners worked. The old lodging house of the SS officers still remains. Most people actually mistake it for Amon Goth’s home, because it was used in Schindler’s list as such. But his house is just down the street (I learned a lot in Poland).
Definitely visit Plaszow if you are in to WW2 history. Make sure you have enough time to make the walk through the fields, because it leads you to a memorial at the end on a hill. The memorial is to honor the five countries of Plaszow’s victims.
Wodka Cafe Bar
While this place can get a little touristy, should it matter? I mean the more the merrier when throwing back shots of Polish vodka, right?
I loved this vodka bar. It gives you a chance to try so many different kinds of Polish vodka. Locals loved this place, and so did tourists. If you’re looking to sample some Polish vodka, do so here. Just be careful because you will get tipsy pretty quick. I recommend splitting a tasting flight with someone!
This place was recommended to us on a whim by the guide we used during our Auschwitz trip. It turned out to be seriously amazing. Zenit is located in the trendy Kazimierz, which is the old Jewish quarter. This place is lively and super hip.
The food is delicious, and the interior will make you bust out your camera. Zenit was definitely designed with a younger audience in mind. It’s effortless and classy. Enjoy some meat and potato dishes for dinner, and finish off with their delicious dessert and espresso.
Krakow doesn’t make the best ‘one day city’ like Prague does, and if you have more time I highly recommend taking a few days here. However, if you only have 24 hours, then these are the very best sights to see and places to stuff your face. Lucky for you, Eastern Europe is highly underrated and super cheap right now. So check out Krakow, Poland for your next adventure!
Would you ever visit Krakow? Leave me a comment below if you’ve been before! I love discussing this beautiful city.