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Krakow Off the Beaten Path

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Visitors to Krakow who look beyond the old town and Wawel Castle will be rewarded with less-crowded museums, tranquil sanctuaries, and deeply moving memorials. Here’s a round-up of some of the city’s lesser-known treasures.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

9 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

9 Places

Rakowicki Cemetery

Cemeteries

The Ghetto Heroes Square

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Church on the Rock (Kosciol na Skalce)

Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow

Art Museums

U Stasi

Restaurants

Ethnographic Museum

History Museums

Unitarg Hala Targowa

Gift & Speciality Shops

Fundacja Promocji Nowej Huty

Historical & Heritage Tours

Our Lady of Czestochowa / The Black Madonna

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Sasha H's City Tips

  • Eating out is not expensive in Krakow if you stick to Polish dishes and steer clear of the fast-food restaurants around the tourist haunts of the old town.
  • The Krakow Tourist Card offers free travel on all public transport, so take advantage of this to discover sights in the city that many people overlook.
  • Always dress respectfully when visiting monasteries and churches, which means long trousers for men, and shoulders, arms, and legs covered for women.
  • Rakowicki Cemetery
    Cemeteries
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Krakow’s biggest cemetery covers 42 hectares, and opened in 1803 as room ran out in the graveyards around the churches in the city center. Now carefully protected from further dilapidation, it is a lovely and tranquil place to wander among greenery scattered with marble statuary and ornate family tombs. Great names from Krakow’s illustrious past are buried here among the Polish nobility, including the 19th-century historical painter Jan Matejko, and actress Helena Modrzejewska. A neat corner of the cemetery is given over to the allied dead of World War II and there is also a monument to the Poles who suffered and died under Communist occupation after the war.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • A multi-lingual brochure pinpoints the graves of Polish celebrities and is available at the gate to the cemetery.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 265 things to do in Krakow
    • Well its a cemetary 19/02/2019
    • Amazing 08/02/2019
    • Rakowicki Cemetery
    Address:
    ul. Rakowicka 42
    Krakow 31-521
    Poland
    Other:
  • The Ghetto Heroes Square
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Plac Bohaterow Getta in Polish, Ghetto Heroes Square lies south of the River Vistula in Podgórze and is one of the saddest sights in the city. Over the years this vast piazza has had many incarnations, from market place to stabling, as a bus terminal, and as an execution site. During World War II it became the center of the ghetto when the Nazi occupiers of Krakow forced the Jewish community south out of Kazimierz. Briefly the spot where displaced families came together to socialize, Ghetto Heroes Square soon became the backdrop to mass deportations to Plaszów and Auschwitz-Birkenau. When the Krakow ghetto was liquidated in 1943, clothes and furniture belonging to its inhabitants were left strewn across the square; a somber fact reflected in the memorial of 70 huge bronze chairs scattered across it today; it was created by Polish architects Kazimierz Latak and Piotr Lewicki when the square was renovated in 2005.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Learn about World War II in Krakow at the Schindler Factory before visiting Ghetto Heroes Square, as there is little information here about the Holocaust or the memorial.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #23 of 265 things to do in Krakow
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Historical site 14/03/2019
    • Fascinating 10/03/2019
    • The Ghetto Heroes Square
    Address:
    Plac Bohaterow Getta
    Krakow
    Poland
    Other:
  • Church on the Rock (Kosciol na Skalce)
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Standing just south of the 'Stare Miasto' (Old Town) overlooking the River Vistula, and largely ignored by the hordes visiting Wawel Castle nearby, Skałka Sanctuary is one of Krakow’s leading religious complexes. Although its appearance today is one of mellow 18th-century Baroque gables and spires topped with copper domes, this has been a pilgrimage church since Bishop Stanislav of Krakow was executed here in 1079. He subsequently became the patron saint of both Krakow and Poland and is much revered to this day; a fragment of the rock he was beheaded upon is displayed on an altar in the main church. The crypt is also open to the public and famous Poles interred there include Symbolist painter Jacek Malczewski and Nobel Prize-wining poet Czesław Miłosz.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • May 8th each year sees Krakow’s biggest religious procession, when the murdered bishop’s relics are paraded from Skałka to Wawel Cathedral.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #62 of 265 things to do in Krakow
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pauline monastery and church 04/03/2019
    • Ancient church. 03/02/2019
    • Church on the Rock (Kosciol na Skalce)
    Address:
    ul. Skaleczna 15
    Skalka
    Krakow 31-065
    Poland
    Phone:
    +48 12 619 09 00
  • MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Opened in spring 2011, Poland’s first Museum of Contemporary Art shares a former enamel factory in Podgorzé with the Schindler Factory. For whatever reason it has not caught the public imagination in the way it should, as MOCAK has a fine permanent collection - including surreal photography, weird installations, and giant paintings by Polish artists such as Tymek Borowski, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Jaroslaw Kozlowski - as well as a constantly changing repertoire of temporary exhibitions, concentrating on conceptual art from across the world. The museum’s sleek, boxy exterior and clean display spaces are in sharp contrast to the ornate décor of Krakow’s better-known art galleries.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • For contemporary art devotees, MOCAK has an excellent selection of books in its store.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #33 of 265 things to do in Krakow
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Modern Art Museum that Pushes the Limits in a Good Way 16/03/2019
    • Lovely, spacious, modern exhibits 08/03/2019
    • MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow
    Address:
    ul. Lipowa 4
    Krakow 30-702
    Poland
    Phone:
    +48 12 263 40 01
    Price range:
    US$1 - US$1
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • U Stasi
    Restaurants (Polish, European, Eastern European)
    Sasha H Says:

    U Stasi is a Krakow bar mleczny (milk bar) — a hangover from the old days of Soviet occupation, first appearing on the streets of the city in 1948 to encourage its residents to drink milk rather than hard liqueur. Over the years these have morphed into the cheapest of cheap eateries, selling vast quantities of simple, warming dishes such as 'pierogi' (stuffed dumplings) and potato pancakes. Now constantly crowded with money-conscious locals, milk bars have enjoyed something of a renaissance - known as Krakow’s canniest way of eating out on a tight budget.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    Tips
    • The milk bar U Stasi is one of the best in Krakow and is found at Ulica Mikołajska 16 - just east of the Rynek Główny in the old town.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #240 of 1,558 restaurants in Krakow
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Somewhere simple and quiet on a busy day 06/12/2018
    • Lovely 12/09/2018
    • U Stasi
    Address:
    ul. Mikolajska 16
    Krakow 31-027
    Poland
    Phone:
    (012) 421 5084
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Ethnographic Museum
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Tucked away behind the Renaissance façade of Kazimierz’s former town hall, Krakow’s Ethnographic Museum has inexplicably yet to register on the itineraries of most visitors, but it certainly warrants a visit. From the beautifully crafted recreations of rural homes to the colorful traditional costumes and delicate woodcarvings, this museum is a visual feast of Polish secular and religious life through the ages. The undoubted highlight is the enchanting collection of ornate Nativity cribs — called ‘szopki’ in Polish — that are made in the style of Russian Orthodox churches, complete with many spires, and brightly painted in clashing shades of red, green, and gold.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Parts of the Ethnographic Museum exhibitions are free to visit on Sunday.
    • Polish Nativity cribs are often found on sale in Krakow’s main square of Rynek Główny in the days leading up to Christmas.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #22 of 265 things to do in Krakow
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very rich and interesting collection! 02/03/2019
    • Amazing insight into traditional rural life 20/02/2019
    • Ethnographic Museum
    Address:
    pl. Wolnica 1
    Krakow 31-060
    Poland
    Phone:
    +48 12 430 60 23
    Price range:
    US$1 - US$1
    Other:
  • Unitarg Hala Targowa
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Although a daily produce market is held on Plac Targowy Unitarg, stalls are at their best on Sundays, when the whole square is given over to antiques (many of dodgy provenance), knock-off leather accessories, stolen phones or cameras, war medals, and cheap DVDs. Crowds throng the stalls — many no more than blankets flung any old how on the ground — all hoping to turn up a prize icon, a painting by a great master, or some valuable Soviet memorabilia.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Hala Targowa flea market is the only market in Krakow where haggling over price is acceptable.
    • Get here mid-morning as stallholders start packing up at around 2pm.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 81 Shopping in Krakow
    • Meh 20/02/2019
    • Hidden gems await you! 13/01/2019
    • Unitarg Hala Targowa
    Address:
    ul. Grzegorzecka 3
    Krakow 31-532
    Poland
    Phone:
    +48 12 429 61 55
    Other:
  • Fundacja Promocji Nowej Huty
    Historical & Heritage Tours
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Light years away from the photogenic romance of Krakow’s old town, Nowa Hota is the stark result of a Soviet attempt to create a dream town for the newly acquired Communist subjects of Poland. Designed for Stalin in 1949, it is a suburb of geometric grid shapes, monumental architecture fetchingly coated in concrete, giant statues of Lenin, and vast parks. The central focus of Nowa Hota was the steelworks, which became the biggest in Poland, raining down pollution on the architectural gems of the old town. For many years the town had no church but one was eventually built in the 1960s; it was consecrated by the future Pope John-Paul II, a native of Krakow. As Soviet repression increased in the 1980s, this dysfunctional ‘garden city for the masses’ became a hotbed of Solidarity and since the fall of Communism, many streets have been renamed. Nowadays Nowa Hota is a commuter suburb of Krakow, a mere tram ride away but a legacy of an altogether harsher era.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Take tram numbers 4, 9, 15, or 22 from the city center for the 45-minute ride out to Nowa Hota.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #94 of 313 Tours in Krakow
    • eHNa trip of buildings and shelter 13/11/2018
    • Tram 73 14/10/2018
    • Fundacja Promocji Nowej Huty
    Phone:
    +48 791 605 879
    Price range:
    US$32 - US$32
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
    Other:
  • Our Lady of Czestochowa / The Black Madonna
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    While the gleaming white Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa isn’t exactly off the beaten track for the millions of Catholics who come each year to see the treasured Black Madonna icon, there’s another, newer attraction in this unassuming regional town that hasn’t quite yet hit the tourist trail. Follow the long, tree-lined boulevard that sweeps down from the monastery to the underground Iron Ore Mining Museum, where tours delve deep into the earth along old mining shafts and showcase the importance of iron to the city’s development.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you are intent on seeing the Black Madonna in the church at Jasna Góra monastery, arrive there early on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds.
    • Around 15km east of Częstochowa is Olsztyn Castle, which marks the beginning of the Eagle’s Nest Trail to Krakow. This chain of 25 medieval fortresses were built to defend Poland’s southern borders and some are today located in Ojców National Park, an area of great natural beauty known for its limestone gorges, columns, and caves.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 27 things to do in Czestochowa
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing 20/03/2019
    • Interesting visit 07/12/2018
    • Our Lady of Czestochowa / The Black Madonna
    Other:
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