Krakow on a Budget, A Complete Guide (Free Things to do in Krakow)

Awesome Free Things to do in Krakow (Krakow on a Budget)

Are you travelling across Europe on a budget? Then Poland could be a pretty affordable destination. But with the prices of everything soaring up, every penny counts. The good news is that many European cities offer many free attractions and Krakow is no different.

In this article, I will list all the great things you can do in Krakow on a budget. From completely free things to do in Krakow to those that are surprisingly affordable and worth those few pennies. Let’s get started.

Krakow is a beautiful city to visit at any time of the year and on any budget. There are so many things to do in and around Krakow that you will be spoilt for choice. Although most activities will not break the bank anyway, there are many things you can do in Krakow on a very strict budget, simply saying for free.

Krakow is truly amazing to walk around. So much so, that you could spend a few hours there and not spend a penny and you wouldn’t feel like you missed out. In fact, I often go for a day and spend day strolling through the Kazimierz district or lounging by the river. Of course, I pop into one or two of the atmospheric coffee shops for some brew or grab the legendary zapiekanka on Plac Novy. But you could hardly call it extravagant!

It’s one of those cities that you can visit hundreds of times and you will never get bored, trust me!

So if you are searching for some amazing free things to do in Krakow, I have you covered. 

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

Rynek / Krakow Market Square

Krakow Market Square is the largest medieval market square in Europe and is a focal point of the town. It’s worth starting your exploration from this point. Exploring Market Square landmarks is one of the best free things to do in Krakow.

The Krakow Market Square is where you will find many stalls with traditional food, souvenirs and seasonal goods. It’s also where the annual Christmas Fair takes place and in the summer you might be able to see street artists, various cultural events and fairs. It’s the true heart of the town.

The square is lined with many cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch people pass by, but those are normally quite expensive and very touristy.

This is where you will find the iconic St Mary Basilica where the ‘hejnal’ (bugle call) is being played every hour.

St. Mary’s Basilica is one of the finest churches in Poland and was built in the 14th century in the gothic style. Inside the stunning space, you will find the most significant wooden altarpiece in Europe, created in the 15th century by the Nuremberg master Wit Stwosz. It is by far the most famous religious temple in Poland.

You can enter the Basilica free of charge through the main entrance through the porch (entrance “For prayer”). This is the entrance option for those participating in the mass or coming to pray. By using this entrance you will not have a chance to go to the chancel and see the Altar from up close.

To approach the altar you need to buy a ticket at the entrance to the chancel located on the right (the passage next to the fountain in St. Mary’s Square). The price of a ticket is PLN 10 (around $2.5). It’s worth it! The church can be visited on weekdays from 11.30 to 18.00.

You can also buy a ticket to visit the tower where the trumpet call resounds. The ticket costs 15PLN.

The Legend:

The trumpet call is a musical symbol of Krakow. It is played every hour around the clock into the four corners of the world.

If you listen to it carefully you will notice that the melody stops suddenly.

Since the Middle Ages, in the higher tower of St. Mary’s Church, a guard was watching day and night, looking out for fires or enemies approaching Krakow. His duties also included playing the bugle-call, as a signal to open and close city gates. In 1241 the Tatars approached the city and as the legend says, the guard on the tower started to sound the alarm. He managed to warn the city from an attack, but in half the beat a Tatar arrow pierced his throat. That is why the bugle-call melody ends so suddenly.

In the centre of Market Square, you will also find Sukiennince – an ancient Krakow Cloth Hall which used to serve as a textile market. Today it houses souvenir shops and a gallery of Polish art on the top floor.

Right next to Sukiennice you will notice a lonely Town Hall Tower (Wieża Ratuszowa), the only remains of the old town hall.

The Legend (actually the truth):

In the 15th century, its basement was home to two completely different spaces.

On one side, there was the most terrible place in Krakow – a prison and a torture chamber. The executioners’ working tools can still be seen in the nearby museum – the Jan Matejko House.

Right next to it, barely separated by a wall, was the famous Świdnicka Cellar, where numerous types of beer and wine were served. With time, the place became a meeting place for the ‘dodgy kinds’, and the “evil and loose’ ladies were waiting here for visitors, offering their companionship and charms. The cellar has been called a rogue’s cave for centuries …

The tower is 70 meters high (it takes 110 stone steps to the top) and not exactly straight! It is sometimes called the Leaning Tower of Krakow because it is inclined from the vertical by 55 cm – although it is much less than the leaning tower in Pisa, but still! Two lions guard the entrance to the tower.

You can visit the tower for free on Mondays.The Legent (actually the truth)

 

If you like creepy stories consider booking this Creepy Krakow evening walking tour!

Krakow Old Town / Free Things to do in Krakow

After you are done exploring the market square, venture into the streets of Krakow’s Old Town. One of the best free things to do in Krakow is just getting lost along its ancient streets.

Two streets you cannot miss are Florianska and Grodzka.

Floriańska Street is the most famous street in Krakow. As you walk down Florianska Street you will reach the Brama Florianska and eventually the Barbican. Two extremely important landmarks in Krakow.

On Floriańska, you will also see many interesting architectural elements and buildings, lots of shops, restaurants, clubs and cafes. This street is always busy, no matter the time of the year or day.

The Grodzka Street will take you all the way to Wawel Castle. It is one of the oldest streets in Krakow where you will find many beautiful architectural monuments from various historical periods, including the Romanesque church of St. Andrew, built in the 13th century, and the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. These temples are surrounded by charming tenement houses, shops with original souvenirs, atmospheric cafes and bars, restaurants and even hotels.

Take a walk along the Pijarska, Kanonicza, Stolarska and Bracka streets as well, and discover the true charm of the city!

A great way to explore Krakow’s historic centre on foot is by following the Royal Route. It is the ceremonial route that was traversed by magnificent royal processions going to the Wawel hills during great celebrations when the city was Poland’s capital.

It leads through the entire old town to Wawel Castle. By following this route you will be able to reach the majority of the most important landmarks in Krakow. You can choose to walk it on your own or you can join an organized Krakow walking tour.

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

Wawel and The Royal Castle Grounds (What is free)

Krakow used to be the capital of Poland and what a glorious capital that was!

Wawel Castle was home to Polish rulers from the 14th to 17th century, and it was the place where the history of Poland was shaped. This extraordinary monument defines the identity of Poles and it is our national and cultural symbol (I am actually Polish if you haven’t noticed yet).

Wawel is the name of a limestone hill in the centre of Krakow with this magnificent castle standing atop. But Wawel hill is also home to the royal cathedral, numerous churches, gates, gardens and the dragon’s den! A bit about that later!

Although visiting the castle exhibitions is ticketed, you can visit parts of the grounds for free.

  • You can walk around most of the castle grounds for free while enjoying great views across the river.
  • The Arcaded Courtyard of the Wawel Royal Castle can be visited for free. Of course, apart from architecture, you won’t see many attractions here, but you don’t have to pay, and for an additional 5PLN, you can visit the cloisters on the first floor.
  • Another one of the completely free-to-visit places on Wawel Hill is the observation deck located on the top front facing the Vistula River. From there you can admire a view of the Vistula bend, boulevards or the Kościuszko Mound in the distance.
  • You can visit Cathedral for free during the mass and via the entrance for worshippers. But if you would like to visit the royal tombs, the tower with the Sigmund Bell and the Cathedral museum the ticket costs 22PLN.

If you are willing to pay to see the interiors of the Castle and the exhibitions (so worth it!) the ticket system is a bit complicated.

The Wawel Castle is divided into several exhibitions, all separately ticketed. The good thing is that you can choose the exhibition that interests you. To see the whole castle you would need a whole day so choose wisely and only get the tickets for the exhibitions you will visit.

All entrance tickets to specific sites and attractions can be purchased in advance online or at the on-site ticket offices.

You can also opt-in for the guided tour with tickets included in the tour price.

The prices for visiting the Royal Castle are as follows:

  • Representative Royal Chambers – 35 PLN
  • Privat Royal Chambers – 25PLN
  • Crown Treasury and Armory – 35 zlotys
  • Eastern Art and Turkish tents – PLN 20

Note: permanent exhibitions can be visited all year long.

If you are in Krakow in November some parts of the castle can be visited for free! Also on Mondays, some exhibitions are free during the morning hours. To get in you need to arrive early at the ticket office and get your free passes. Make sure you arrive early, the are always entry limits at Wawel Castle.

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

Vistula River bank and Boulevards / Totally Free Things to do in Krakow

A completely free thing to do in Krakow is taking a stroll along the banks of the Vistula River.

Known as Krakow Boulevards, this area is very famous among the locals and you can find many people running, cycling, having picnics, and relaxing along the riverbank.

Walk down from Castle Hill and start by visiting the Dragon’s Den.

The Legend:

A long long time ago, during the reign of King Krak, the founder of the city of Kraków, a dragon appeared in Krakow and settled under Wawel Hill. A huge and scary creature terrorized the inhabitants of the city. They had to provide the beast with sacrifices in the form of cattle, but according to some accounts, the dragon ate only virgins.

The king decided to promise his daughter Wanda to the one who slayed the fierce dragon. So the Knights from all corners of the world began to come to Krakow, but none of them managed to defeat the dragon.

Then a young shoemaker Skuba appeared at the royal court in front of the King and promised that he would deal with the dangerous beast. Everyone laughed, treating the shoemaker’s words as a good joke. However, he did not get discouraged easily. The next day, he fetched a sheepskin, stuffed it with sulfur, and put it in front of the dragon’s cave. The dragon, attracted by the sight and smell of a tasty snack, quickly grabbed the sheep and ate it.

Then the sulfur began to burn his insights, the dragon breathed real fire. To quench his thirst, the dragon began to drink water from the Vistula River. He drank and drank and grew bigger and bigger until he burst.

And this is how the clever, inconspicuous shoemaker freed Krakow from the dangerous dragon. In return, he got the hand of a princess. The wedding lasted a week and Skuba gave his wife shoes made of dragonskin as a wedding gift. They lived happily ever after.

After visiting the dragon take a walk toward Hala Forum where you will find many great restaurants, food trucks and sun loungers in the warmer months. The views are also pretty spectacular. And you can also take a balloon ride!

As you will walk along the river, you will see the Pauline Church in Skałka, Wawel and the Norbertine monastery in Salwator. Pop into one of the barges moored by the river, where you can drink beer, eat a good meal and even dance.

You can take a river cruise, stay in the hostel on the water or simply enjoy a picnic on the grass. This area is also very beautiful in the winter!

Awesome Free Things to do in Krakow (Krakow on a Budget)

Visiting Kazimierz District / Best Thing to do in Krakow

Kazimierz is my favourite part of Krakow and for me, no visit to Krakow would be complete without a stop in Kazimierz, even if only for a couple of hours.

Kazimierz is the historic Jewish quarter of the city, which now houses many popular trendy cafes, bars and great restaurants. Kazimierz is an important place in Jewish history.

Jews were resettled there in the 15th century and it quickly became an important centre of Jewish culture in Poland. Slightly neglected in the 20th century, it has flourished in the last decade and attracts more and more tourists and locals looking for interesting sights, and museums but also hip cafes and great restaurants.

Somehow Kazimierz became the beating heart of Krakow and you can’t say you truly understand the city without visiting this quirky district.

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

While there, you can see Oskar Schlinder’s Factory Museum (free on Mondays), Synagogue Temple or Galicia Jewish Museum. But the best thing to do in Kazimierz is to discover its charming and quirky streets like Jozefa or Szeroka Streets. Every time I visit, I discover something new like an atmospheric bookstore I didn’t know was there or a cute little cafe serving 100 different types of coffees and teas!

You have to make your way to Plac Nowy where the most famous Zapiekanka’s are served!

Stay for the evening and visit Alchemia or Singer for a delicious meal and a good beer or glass of wine. Kazimierz is relaxed, hip, interesting and beautiful. My favourite part of Krakow!

It is easy to visit Kazimierz on a strict budget. Discovering its streets and architecture is one of the best free things to do in Krakow and even if you decide to get a cup of coffee, lunch or a glass of wine – it will not cost you an arm and a leg either.

A couple of museums are also free on Mondays – Oskar Schlinder’s Museum and Old Synagogue.

Fancy learning more about this magical district? You can book this Kazimierz tour with a local guide!

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

One of my favourite ways to discover a town on a budget is by joining a free walking tour whenever I first arrive. I can learn the history of the town, discover places that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find on my own and often meet other travellers in the process. If I have any burning questions about the location or safety – I always ask those questions to the tour guide. I highly recommend it!

Please note that those tours are free to join but given the tour often offers extreme value it is customary to leave a tip at the end of the tour. I always research what is the typical tip for a free walking tour in my current location. 

Check out those Krakow Free Walking Tours!

Krakow Parks and Green Spaces / Free things to do in Krakow

Krakow is so wonderful to walk around. You will find out that Krakow is rich not only in tourist attractions and historical monuments but also in parks and green spaces.

There are some beautiful and famous parks in the city of Krakow, but if you venture slightly outside of the town you will be surprised to find forest paths, lakes, famous Krakow valleys and interesting treks. Enjoying parks and surrounding nature is one of the best free things to do in Krakow!

Here is the list of all free green spaces, parks and treks near Krakow – starting from the parks located in the town centre, and ending on those located slightly outside the city.

  • Planty – This iconic city park forms a closed ring surrounding the old town and is the most famous park in Krakow. Impossible to miss it!

Planty is the oldest park in Krakow, consisting of 8 gardens and located in the immediate vicinity of the largest and most beautiful monuments – Wawel, Florianska Barbican Gate and University. Great to seek some shade in the hot summer months and marvel at the colours in the autumn!

In the vicinity of the Krakow Planty, there are numerous restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a moment, have a coffee and enjoy the beauty of nature

Free Things to do in Krakow / Krakow on a budget
  • Krakow’s Blonia (Błonia) – this huge, continuous meadow is located right on the side of Jordana Park. It’s the perfect place for biking, rollerskating and running right in the middle of the city. On the corner of the park, you will find the National Museum.
  • Park Jordana – one of the largest and most popular parks in Krakow and definitely one of the most picturesque areas in the city. Jordana Park is a famous meeting point for the inhabitants of Krakow and a dedicated space for those seeking to spend time actively as you will find many basketball, volleyball and football fields, a tennis court and an outdoor gym.
  • Bednarski Park – located on the right-bank part of Krakow, dates back to the 19th century and is located near the Podgórze district.

It is an extensive and beautiful park, with beautiful wildlife, and about 100 different types of trees inside this park it also features some remains of the fortifications that once surrounded the city.

An oasis just outside the city centre. Definitely off the beaten track! I recommend taking a walk from this place to the famous Krakus Mound and Kazimierz district.

  • Wolski Forest is a large forest area located in the Bielany area of Krakow and it’s a place you could easily spend a whole day exploring.

It is a beautiful forest area with hiking and cycling paths of various difficulty levels but also charming gorges and recreational clearings.

A must-see Krakow attraction of this area is the Piłsudski Mound, the highest point in Krakow, from which you can see (weather permitting) the stunning panorama of Kraków, and even the Tatra Mountains unfolding in the distance.

You will also find the mysterious Camaldolese Monastery where bearded silent monks live as if taken from another era, with constant penance and mortification.

You can get to Las Wolski by taking a bus nb 134 from Krakow train station to Krakow Zoo, The journey takes about 1 hour.

  • Kosciuszko MoundFor the best views of the city, you cannot miss the peculiar man-made Kościuszko Mound. It was built in honour of Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish freedom fighter whose role in Polish uprisings and the American War of Independence made him a hero in both countries.

The hill contains soil from Polish and US battlefields. The paved winding path to the top is steep but worth it as it reveals one of the most beautiful panoramas of Krakow, the surrounding countryside and even the Tatra mountains on the horizon.

After conquering the hill, you can relax and have a beer or a coffee at one of the bars and cafes located in the Austrian-era fortress that surrounds the base of the mound.

Other must-do things and day trips from Krakow if your time and budget allow!

One of the must-do things in Krakow is to experience the poignant history at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a former concentration and extermination camp, now a museum and memorial. Although extremely Somber experience it is a must! The least we can do is to learn and give respect. It is easy to take a half-day trip from Krakow to Auschwitz either on your own or with an organised tour. 

Take a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, an underground world of stunning chambers and salt sculptures.

Head south to Zakopane, a popular mountain resort town nestled in the stunning Tatra Mountains. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes, go hiking, and experience the local culture and traditional architecture.

Take a Vistula River cruise. This delightful cruise offers panoramic views of Krakow from a unique perspective. You get to see the cityscape, historic landmarks, and bridges in a different light.

Off the beaten path Krakow on a Budget

If you have a little more time in Krakow, I recommend you visit some off-the-beaten-path destinations. It’s worth stepping out of the well-known areas to discover the often fascinating faces of the city. Here are some of them:

Podgorze District

Podgorze used to be a separate city proudly called the Free Royal City of Podgórze. At the beginning of the 20th century it was added as part of the Krakow municipality, but only in recent years has it been revived and rejuvenated and become one of the favourite districts of the inhabitants of Krakow.

It is intimate, full of mystery, at times rough around the edges, and definitely a unique place worth visiting in Krakow.

Walking around this charming district is one of the best free things to do in Krakow.

The best way to visit Podgorze is by heading first towards the Father Bernatek Footbridge connecting Podgorze with Kazimierz. Stop here for a moment to see the view of the Vistula River and the historic buildings on both sides.

Right behind the bridge, on the narrow Kazimierza Brodzińskiego Street, you will find several charming cafes and restaurants where you can stop for coffee and dessert. Many visitors stop here but I recommend you carry on.

Free Things to do in Krakow / Krakow on a budget
Free Things to do in Krakow / Krakow on a budget

Follow atmospheric Mostowa Street towards the Podgorze market square. The market square is surrounded by old historic tenement houses, with a beautifully ornamented church of St. Joseph with an 80-meter tower crowning the square like a mantelpiece.

From there take a walk towards Tatrzańska Street, where the famous Rainbow Staircase is located. Instagrammers hotspot.

The Rainbow Stairs will lead you up to Lasota Square, located right at the gates of Bednarski Park. Raw but beautiful green space in Krakow. Go see the little church of St. Benedict while you’re there.

Head to the Ghetto Heroes Square, which witnessed the formation of the Krakow ghetto and the subsequent stages of its liquidation. These terrible events are now honoured by a sculpture by Piotr Lewicki and Kazimierz Łatak, which consists of a dozen iron chairs located in the square. They symbolize the possessions left by the inhabitants of the ghetto after being displaced and moved to concentration camps.

Oskar Schindler’s ‘Enamel’ factory museum is also located in Podgorze and right next to it is the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. Both museums can be visited for free on Mondays.

Free Things to do in Krakow / Krakow on a budget

Nowa Huta District

Another fascinating and free thing to do in Krakow is a visit to the district of Nowa Huta. Founded in 1949 it was designed by the Soviets as the utopian ideal city – the architecture, symmetry and greenery are so unique that you will feel like you stepped into a different place and time!

Nowa Huta was created on the foundation of a predetermined architectural concept but also a socialist ideology. This district is really like no other place.

The fall of the political system also worsened the situation in Nowa Huta itself. This was true for many industrial areas in Poland after 1989, including my town of Katowice.

For many years the inhabitants of Krakow often called Nowa Huta the most dangerous district of the city, and many people believe that there is nothing but shabby, grey blocks of flats.

It’s changed now. Nowa Huta was rediscovered as a fascinating, architecturally unique and quirky district that is gaining popularity. Visiting Nowa Huta has become a tourist attraction, both for Polish visitors and for foreign visitors who seek to learn more about the history of Communist Poland.

Places really worth stopping by are Ronald Reagan’s Central Square and departing from there, The Avenue of Roses, one of the greatest attractions of the district. The architecture around this area is fascinating.

Pop into a couple of restaurants that kept the atmosphere of the era, like Stylowa Restaurant or Centralny Milk Bar. If you want to know how the restaurants felt in the ’60s or ’70s in Poland, go there!

Once you are ready to relax be sure to check out the Nowa Huta Lagoon. Yes, you heard it right! This artificial water reservoir was created in the 60s has been a favourite place of rest for the residents of the district. These days you can even get to know Nowa Huta from a kayak and discover its unique wild face.

It is also worth popping into the Museum of the People’s Republic of Poland located in the socialist realist architecture of the former Światowid cinema building. The Museum of the People’s Republic of Poland offers interesting exhibitions and numerous attractions, events and presentations.

Fancy a communist adventure? Take a crazy communist tour in a vintage Trabant car!

Free museum days in Krakow

There are many museums, sights and attractions in Krakow that offer free entry on specific days of the week. Plan your trip accordingly.

Here is the complete list of free museum days in Krakow:

Mondays

Schindler’s Factory Museum permanent exhibition

Address: Podgorze, Lipowa Sreet 4 / Opening times: Mondays: 10.00 – 14.00 (Closed on the first Monday of the month). Remaining days 10:00-18:00

Early booking is necessary – the number of tickets is limited – book online here.

Old Synagogue

Address: Kazimierz, Szeroka Street 24 / Opening times: Mondays 10.00 – 14.00. Remaining days 10:00 – 17:00

Wawel Castle

Free on Monday mornings between 09.30 – 13.00. Grounds entry is free every day.

You have to buy 0PLN tickets before entering (Free access only to individuals on selected exposures)

Town Hall Tower (Wieza Rtuszowa)

Rynek – Market Square / Opening times: Mondays 11:00 – 15:00. Remaining days: 11:00 – 18:00

Tuesdays

Rynek Underground Museum

Market Square underground / Opening times: Tuesdays: 10:00 – 14:00 (closed every first Tuesday of every month), Monday, Wednesday-Thursday: 10.00-19.00, Friday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Advance ticket reservation is required – book here

Museum of Photography 

Address: Strzelnica – Królowej Jadwigi Street 220 / Free admission on Tuesday (11: 00-18: 00) to the permanent exhibition Portrait at MuFo Strzelnica / Opening times: Tuesday-Friday: 11.00-18.00, Saturday-Sunday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Monday: the branch is closed

Polish Aviation Museum

Address: Al. Jana Pawła II 39 / Opening hours 09:00 – 17:00, Tuesday 09:00 – 17:00 free of charge, Monday: closed

Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

Address: ul. M. Konopnickiej 26 / Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00

Museum of Nowa Huta

(Former Światowid cinema) os. Center E 1 / Opening Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 10:00 – 17:00, Saturday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

Wednesdays

Pharmacy “Under the Eagle”

Address: pl. Heroes of the Ghetto 18 / Opening hours: Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Museum of Podgórze

Address: Limanowskiego 51 / Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

University Museum Collegium Maius

Opening hours: March 1 – October 31 15.00 – 18.00 (last admission 17.20) / November 1 – March 31 14.00 – 16.00 (last admission 15.20)

Thursdays

MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art Free admission on Tuesday: last admission at 18:00

Address: Podgorze, Lipowa Street 4 / Opening times: Tuesday – Thursday, Saturday – Sunday, hours. 11-19, Friday at 11-20, Monday – closed

Always Free

Amber Museum

Address: Świętego Jana, Krakow Old Town / Opening hours: 10:00 – 21:00

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Cheap restaurants you will love in Krakow

Poland more and more is becoming a foodie haven and although pierogi are still the thing, more often you will come across quirky, excellent, world-class restaurants serving any type of cuisine you might fancy. And if you are ‘in the know’, you will also be able to do it without spending too much money!

Here is the list of some of the best restaurants in Krakow that will delight your tastebuds and treat your wallet gently:

Polish cuisine/traditional restaurants

Kuchnia u Doroty

This traditional restaurant is very popular among locals. Open from 10.00-20.00 every day specializes in serving typical homemade dinners, portions are large and prices are very reasonable. No frills polish food if that is what you are looking for.

W Starej Kuchni Restaurant

This restaurant is located in a historic tenement house and serves traditional Polish cuisine. It attracts customers with its unusual atmosphere. It is full of copper utensils, and pots. One of the rooms has been transformed into an old antique shop. In the center of the restaurant, there is an oven in which bread is baked and dishes are prepared.

Pierogarnia Krakowiacy

A must for fans of Polish dumplings (pierogi). You will find all kinds of pierogi here – traditional savoury or sweet as well as filled with duck or spinach. A beautifully styled interior and well-chosen music will make you feel really comfortable there.

Milk Bar Pod Temida / Milk Bar Tomasza / Bar Mleczny Targowy

You have to go to a milk bar if you want to eat good, scandalously cheap traditional Polish food. Milk bars are something of a cultural heritage. During the communist era, it was a cafeteria which provided government-subsidized traditional Polish cuisine at a low cost. For many years a symbol of what we wanted to forget about now a heartwarming blast from the past. You will never truly understand polish cuisine culture without visiting at least one milk bar. Have fun!

Bistro 27

Typical Polish food without sophisticated items on the menu, but the ones that are included there are really made to a high standard. Pork chop, chicken fillet in golden breadcrumbs or traditional broth are items worth reaching for when visiting this place.

Gastro bars and Legendary Hangouts

Alchemia and Alchemia od Kuchni

An iconic place on the gastronomical map of Krakow. Consists of 2 parts – the restaurant part serves delicious breakfasts and lunches, and the bar part becomes the social hub in the evening. And it’s located in wonderful Kazimierz!

Ranny ptaszek 

The best for breakfast. Family-run, cosy place serving delicious food and coffee. Also in Kazimierz.

Hamsa

An Israeli food in the centre of Kazimierz. Mega atmospheric interior and friendly service.

Cafe Camelot

An eclectic cafe right next to the market square, in a place called the alley of unfaithful Thomas. It will transport you in time and although it has existed for a long time, it is still one of the most unique places in the city.

Kolanko 

A restaurant located at ul. Józefa 17, is an extremely atmospheric place, also serveing vegetarian dishes which are prepared there in an extremely interesting and, most importantly, appetizing way. All the other food is also delicious!

Singer

Another legendary gastro bar in Kazimierz where, instead of tables, there are hundred-year-old sewing machines, and the interior is lit by warm candlelight. This is almost a living legend of Kazimierz.

Hevre 

My newest discovery although well-established place in Krakow. The restaurant is located in a former prayer house, old paintings have been preserved on the walls, and the atmosphere perfectly reflects the atmosphere of this part of Krakow. Delicious burgers!

International cuisine

Olio –Best Neapolitan-style pizza in Krakow (book a table or be prepared to stand in a line, worth it!)

Dolabella Due – another great pizza place. And live music too!

Hummus Amamamusi – Everything hummus! Do I need to say more?

Ku Ku Taiwanese Food & Bubble tea – Taiwanese restaurant. Though the place looks unpretentious, it hides an absolute culinary gem. 

Vegab – Vegan kebabs! Great prices. Massive servings. Not just for vegans.

Salta Resto – Argentinian steak-style resto-bar. 

Minoas Greek tavern – Greek taverna-style restaurant in the centre of Krakow.

 

Food truck and street food

Kielbaska z Nyski (sausage!)

One of the most famous street food in Krakow. Every evening (except Sundays and holidays), a blue Nysa car is parked near Hala Targowa, and in front of it, sausages known throughout Poland are baked.

Judah 

Food truck park in the heart of Kazimierz. Whether you are starving or just peckish you will find exactly what you need

Plaz Izaaka

Another excellent food truck park located in Kazimierz.

Hype park 

A place to be in the summer. Food tracks but also beer gardens and concerts in the evenings.

Something Different

Hala Forum

The old Forum Hotel stood for years on the other side of the river and scared people, until one day someone took up this place and created the most iconic place in Krakow.

In Forum Przestrzenie you can enjoy the view of the river and Wawel castle while lying on a deckchair, in a wicker basket, on benches or inside. Very good selection of craft beers from all over the world. Inside, you will find a mini food hall with a few restaurants serving international cuisine. Right outside you can also take a balloon ride. For real!

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow
My sister dreaming about cauliflowers!
Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

How to travel around Krakow on a budget

Krakow is extremely walkable and I hardly ever take public transport, if ever. Mind you, I am an extreme walker!

The best way to move around Krakow on a budget is to use public transport. Krakow has excellent transport links and you can use the Jakdojade.pl app which will plan the journey for you and will allow you to get a ticket in real time.  This is a great app! You just need to allow it to recognise your location, then enter your destination and it will give you all possible ways of getting there. 

Scooters and bikes can be also found at literally every corner. This in recent years has become very popular of moving around in Poland. 

How to get to Krakow by public transprt

Krakow has its own John Paul II International Airport (Often called Balice). A number of international budget airlines fly to Krakow so it is quite straightforward to get to Krakow by air. 

There are also direct trains to Krakow from Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Kyiv. 

The best, fastest and cheapest way to get to Krakow from the airport is by train. The train station is located right at the airport, just follow the signs. The train will take you to the Krakow Glowny station which is just 10 minute walk from Old Town. I always recommend buying train tickets in advance, especially in Krakow. You can use the jakdojade.pl app or official Intercity website. 

The ticket costs around 15PLN  and the train leaves every half an hour.

If you are travelling from another part of Poland like Warsaw, Gdansk, Zakopane or Katowice you can opt for a very comfortable intercity bus like Flixbus or take an Intercity train. 

Read this post if you want to find out how to travel in Poland by public transport. 

Krakow on a Budget Complete Guide / Free things to do in Krakow

Where to stay in Krakow on a budget

As Krakow is becoming a backpackers’ destination there are more and more excellent hostels that can be found all over the city. Staying in a hostel is by far the best way to save money on accommodation when travelling to Krakow.

The best and most iconic hostels in Krakow are

If you prefer private accommodation or a hotel room opt for districts like Kazimierz or Podgorze like Apartamenty Delecta. They are still walking distance from the Old Town but will be much cheaper and often super cute and interesting. Or if you are travelling with someone you can share an apartment in the centre like Art Apartment, Apartamenty Rudi or Cracow Apartaments II.

 

I hope you enjoyed this Krakow budget guide, and as you can see there are many great free things to do in Krakow. 

I could probably go on for ages and continue writing but I had to stop myself at some point so if you have any questions or think I haven’t covered something – hit me up in the comment below!

Until then, enjoy Krakow, happy travelling and stay free!

 

Exploring more of Poland?

Are you thinking of visiting Katowice and wondering if there are any interesting things to do there? Wonder no more and head to my Katowice travel guide!

And if you planning your winter escape in Zakopane don’t miss this article listing all the great things to do in Zakopane in Winter!

Don’t miss visiting the iconic city of Krakow which is a must-visit for every traveler to Poland!

For off-the-beaten-path attractions in Poland, be sure to visit the charming town of Bielsko Biala!

And if you are planning your first solo trip, visit this post where I provide all the tips and hacks for solo travellers and backpackers.

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

My favourite Travel Resources 

 

  • For most of my accommodation, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellations and access to tons of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
  • Make sure you download Google Maps and, for each new destination, download an offline map of your location and surrounding area. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to navigate around the town.
  • Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey-planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.

  • For busses, I mainly use Busbud or Omio and Flixbus to travel in Europe. 

  • 123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey-planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport  – you will use this app for sure!

  •  The travel insurance I use is Heymondo, and their plan suits me perfectly. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.

    I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money. And it also covers COVID-19.

    Heymondo offers my readers 5% off so go ahead, and click on this link and your quote.

  • I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and Wise work fantastically. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts. 
  • I booked most of my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations. 

For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!

2 thoughts on “Krakow on a Budget, A Complete Guide (Free Things to do in Krakow)”

  1. Hey Pati!

    Krakow is quite affordable for most types of travelers. Especially in comparison to Western Europe, not to mention Scandinavia. Since it is one of Poland’s biggest cities, prices in Poland Krakow such as living and travel are slightly higher than in the rest of the country. You’ve suggested a few good tips to keep budget down.

    1. patisjourneywithin

      Thank you, Mateusz. I agree! Although Krakow is cheaper than many other European cities, it can also get a bit pricy. It’s good to have some affordable or cheaper options. I’m glad you found this article helpful 🙂

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Pati's Journey Within

Hi, I’m Pati. A traveller, photographer (aspiring), dreamer and hopeless believer in magic. I caught the travel bug in my forties – and not planning to look back any time soon. I travel solo and on a budget and I try to spend as much time and effort as possible to truly immerse myself in the country I am visiting.

Whether you are like me and decided to change your life around a new dream or just wandering (because not all who wander are lost) – I am here to tell you that everything is possible. 

 

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