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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Krakow

Eastern and Central Europe are my favorite regions on the continent. There's something about the countries there that intrigue me (they are also affordable!). This time around I was able to explore Krakow.

Krakow The Wandering Juan

Check out my post to find out the things you can do in this Polish city.

Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Krakow

Krakow The Wandering Juan

Krakow has a long and storied history that spans several centuries. After the reunification of Poland under King Wladyslaw I, Krakow became the country's capital in 1320. Succeeding kings' coronations took place in Wawel Castle and many of them were later buried in Wawel Cathedral. As the city grew in prominence, wealth, and influence, it became the country's center for trade, economics, politics, culture, and education. Fast forward to the 20th century, Krakow was under German control during World War II. The Nazis sent thousands of Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz. The Soviets later liberated the city but carried their own problems. 

I'll skip a few more decades...Krakow is now a modern city with vestiges of its past scattered all over the old town. There are many centuries old churches and buildings that are now famous tourist destinations. Even Auschwitz is now a museum that is a constant reminder of a dark past. You'll have plenty to see and do that fit into your budget and itinerary for Krakow.

Getting a Visa

Poland is part of the Schengen group of countries. This means that once you get a visa from any of the countries in the Schengen zone, you can enter any of them. I got visas from Austria, Czechia, and Poland. The process and requirements are similar. The embassy will ultimately decide whether to approve or refuse your application.

Read my post here: how to get a Schengen visa

How to Get to Krakow

By Air

Krakow has its own airport with connecting flights frmo different cities in Europe. Book flights early to get the lowest possible prices.

By Land

If you're already in Poland, it's easy to reach Krakow by bus or train. The country has an extensive rail network that makes it easy to travel by train. You can buy train tickets at the counter of the station of the city you're currently in. Traveling by bus from Czechia and Budapest are also options. My go-to option for bus rides is www.flixbus.com.

Getting around Krakow

Krakow's historic center and many of its attractions are within walking distance. I walked most of the time since I never had to use public transportation. I also used Bolt (a ride hailing app) when I had to travel longer distances in a short amount of time such as when I went to the center from the bus station and vice-versa. If you don't want to walk so much and still trying to do Krakow on a budget, there are trams and buses that take people from point A to B. A one-way trip costs anywhere between PLN 3.80 to PLN 6 depending on the destination and validity period. You can also buy 24-hours travel cards for PLN 15 (zone 1) or PLN 20 (zones 1 &2). You can also buy cards with longer durations depending on the length of your stay.

Things to do in Krakow

When planning your budget and itinerary for Krakow, you can easily fill a few days with things to do and attractions.

Old Town

Old Town The Wandering Juan

The Old Town has been around for centuries and used to be a trading hub of the city during ancient times. The neighborhood is home to many architectural gems and landmarks such as St. Florian's Gate, Church of St. Anne, the Cloth Hall, and St. Mary's Basilica. The are is quite lovely and a nice place to walk around in. There are many shops, cafes, and restaurants where you can buy souvenirs and grab a bite and/or get a drink.

Cloth Hall

Cloth Hall The Wandering Juan

The Cloth Hall is a relic of the city's vibrant and bustling trade that took place in the area centuries ago. Fast forward to today, you'll find souvenir shops in the hall. 

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica The Wandering Juan

This eye-catching, centuries old church is a prominent feature of the old town and is a noteworthy addition to your budget and itinerary for Krakow. As you look up, you'll see that one of the church towers has a gilded crown. Inside you'll find a beautiful altarpiece that is an important medieval art artifact. 

Entrance fee: PLN 15

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle The Wandering Juan

This castle complex perched on Wawel Hill is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It's a remnant of the time of kings and queens. The palace has a history dating back to the 11th century. Over the centuries, the complex expanded and switched hands depending on the conquering empire. The Austrians and the Nazis occupied the palace at some point in history. You'll find refurbished rooms, paintings, and elaborate tapestries in many of the rooms.

Entrance fee: PLN 36, fees depend on the exhibits you want to visit

You can check this site out for prices and more information: Wawel Castle

Wawel Cathedral

Wawel Cathedral The Wandering Juan

The cathedral is centuries old and used to be the location where many coronations took place. It is also the burial ground of many prominent Poles. The cathedral is full of religious art and artifacts.

Entrance fee: PLN 22

Ghetto Heroes Square

Ghetto Heroes Square The Wandering Juan

The bronze chairs you'll see in this square are memorials to the Jewish victims of the ghetto in Krakow. They would have their furniture scattered and thrown in a pile when they were forced to relocate. 

Schindler's Enamel Factory

Schindler's Enamel Factory The Wandering Juan

If you're familiar with the movie Schindler's List, you might want to include the Enamel Factory to your budget and itinerary for Krakow. The museum is not just about Oskar Schindler, but also the events and situations surrounding World War II and the Nazi Occupation of Poland. You'll see displays and exhibits related to the mentioned points in history. You can also learn more about Oskar Schindler.

Entrance fee: PLN 37

Other places you might want to include in your budget and itinerary for Krakow include:

  • Eagle Pharmacy Museum
  • Planty Park
  • Juliusz Slowacki Theatre
  • Krakow Pinball Museum
  • Rynek Underground Museum

When trying to do Krakow on a budget, you can mix paid and free attractions in the city. There are nice free churches and squares that can still provide you with a glimpse of the city's history.

Day Trips


Warsaw The Wandering Juan

It's possible to visit Warsaw as a day trip from Krakow. You can take the high-speed train to spend as much time as possible in Warsaw. Explore the old town and check out the Palace of Culture and Science for overlooking views of the city.


Auschwitz-Birkenau The Wandering Juan

A visit to Auschwitz can be an emotionally tiring experience as you try to picture in your mind the atrocities the Nazis committed on the Jews during their occupation of Poland. The memorial and museum will take you through the complex where heinous crimes took place. Our group went to different rooms with exhibits and displays. We also went to spots where the Nazis committed torture and executions. Exploring the complex was a learning experience that you should consider including in your budget and itinerary for Krakow.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine The Wandering Juan

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was a highlight during my stay in Poland. The mine is centuries old and contributed to the wealth of Poland during its heyday. Here you'll find many salt sculptures and statues.

It's possible to combine a day trip to Auschwitz and the salt mine to maximize your excursion. I booked an organized tour from GetYourGuide.

Where to Stay in Krakow

Krakow is an affordable destination with plenty of accommodation options. I usually stay in hostel dorms because they're the budget-friendly option and I'm out most of the day anyway. You can also find nice hotels in the city. I look for accommodation through Booking.com.

Budget for Krakow

Krakow (and Poland in general) is an affordable destination. You can spend more money on eating at nicer restaurants, checking out more attractions, and going on day trips during your visit. 

This is a rough expenses list, if ever you're planning to visit Krakow. Prices might change for a variety of factors such as seasonal trends, inflation, government policies, and others.

Everything's in PLN or zloty.

132 - 2 nights hostel dorm accommodation

216.01 - Food and drinks

145.70 - Bus to Budapest

25.43 - Transportation

44.09 - Miscellaneous

15 - St. Mary's Basilica entrance fee

37 - Schindler's Enamel Factory entrance fee

36 - Wawel Castle entrance fee

22 - Wawel Cathedral

287 - Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine day trip

960.23 - Total

I spent roughly PLN 320 or  €‎72.50 a day. You can definitely keep your spending lower than that figure. My biggest expense was the day trip to Auschwitz and the salt mine. You can do just one or the other during your trip, but that depends on your interests. It's possible to reduce your spending to €‎50 a day or roughly PLN 220. Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Krakow. Not only was the city affordable, but had some nice attractions and day trip options.

You might want to read my other posts about Europe:

Itinerary for Krakow

This is a sample itinerary for Krakow that can help you plan your trip.

Day 1

Explore the Old Town

Visit Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral

Day 2

Day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wielickza Salt Mine

Day 3

Explore the Jewish Quarter

Visit Schindler's Enamel Factory

This is only a rough itinerary you can use. You can add or remove places depending on your interests. It's possible to do just two days for your itinerary in Krakow.

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