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Krakow Museums Old Town Wawel

25 Museums in Krakow you Just can’t Miss! (2023)

    Krakow is one of the most important cultural cities in Europe, so it is not surprising that there is a huge offer of museums and exhibitions that you can visit. In this guide to the best Krakow Museums you will find out which ones are worth visiting and some tips on how to easily visit them if you are traveling on a budget.

    Krakow Museums City Card: visit all the museums you want for free

    The first trick you should know is that you can enjoy all the museums you want, without worrying about the cost of the tickets.

    Most of the Krakow Museums are included in the Krakow City Card, which also allows you unlimited rides on the city’s public transport system (yes, free bus and tram), day and night!

    1. Rynek Underground Museum

    Located under the central square of Krakow, the museum houses the permanent exhibition “In the Footsteps of Krakow’s European Identity”, an excellent reproduction of how Krakow looked in medieval times, when it was one of the most important European cities for trade and culture.

    Through underground paths and tunnels, you will discover the archaeological finds of the old square of Krakow, the remains of old buildings and even an ancient aqueduct.

    In the Underground Museum, you can also visit an excellent reconstruction of the ancient medieval market that took place in the Main Square of Krakow. Stalls and craft shops are rebuilt with the help of holograms and interactive experiences that allow you to better understand how Krakow looked at the time.

    It is recommended to visit the Underground Museum by booking a guided tour, otherwise it could be a bit boring. However, admission to the museum is limited, so it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance.

    2. The Princes Czartoryski Museum

    Founded in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska, the Czartoryski Museum is the oldest museum in Krakow. It is located inside the Palace of the Museum of the Czartoryski Princes and with its 26 exhibition rooms represents the most precious collection in Poland.

    It contains works by Polish and Western European artists from the 13th to the 19th century, but also works of ancient Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman art.

    The two most important masterpieces of the collection are “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci and “Landscape with the Good Samaritan” by Rembrandt.

    3. MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art

    The MOCAK Krakow Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the Schindler’s Factory complex, in a neo-modern style building which houses both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

    It represents the main center of contemporary culture of the city with works by various Polish and international artists of the last twenty years, including F. Tomasz Bajer, Edward Dwurnik, Krištof Kintera, Ragnar Kjartansson, Jarosław Kozłowski, Robert Kuśmirowski, Lars Laumann, Bartek Materka, Maria Stangret, Beat Streuli, Krzysztof Wodiczko. The museum also has a library with a large collection of art books, a reading room and a small cafe.

    Part of the MOCAK Library is dedicated to the avant-garde and contemporary art critic Mieczysław Porębski, with a small reconstruction of his studio with an exhibition of works and books that reflect his artistic and scientific passions.

    4. Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology

    The Manggha is one of the most famous Krakow museums, and is one of the most important oriental art museums in Europe.

    The Manggha Museum in Krakow was established thanks to an initiative of the director Andrzej Wajda, who was awarded the Kyōto prize (an important Japanese prize for merits in art and science, similar to the Nobel Prize) and decided to donate the entire amount to the construction of a new museum in Krakow dedicated to Japanese art and technology.

    The building was designed by the famous Japanese architect Arata Isozaki in collaboration with local architects, and is an excellent example of contemporary architecture.

    The Manggha Museum in Krakow houses a rich collection of oriental art, largely donated in 1920 by the collector Feliks Jasieński, famous under the pseudonym “Manggha”, and exhibits paintings, woodcuts, ceramic artefacts, costumes, fabrics, weapons and others objects of Japanese art and culture.

    5. Oskar Schindler’s Factory

    The story of Oskar Schindler and his enamel factory, located in an old industrial district between Podgórze (the old Krakow Ghetto) and Kazimierz, was told in Steven Spielberg’s famous film “Schindler’s List“.

    Oskar Schindler was a German entrepreneur who, during the Nazi occupation of Krakow, managed to save the lives of many Jews by making them work in his factory.

    Today that factory has become a museum with a permanent exhibition that through objects, documents, recordings, photographs and reconstructions of places in the Ghetto, allows us to understand the history of Krakow during WWII and the Nazi occupation, showing the visitor the horrors lived by the Jews at that time.

    It is advisable to book a guided tour, which is the best way to fully understand the history and meaning of what you see during the visit.

    There are excellent guided tours that in addition to visiting the Schindler’s Factory allow you to visit other significant places in the Krakow Ghetto and also the Płaszów Concentration Camp, another place shown in the film “Schindler’s List”.

    Schindler’s Factory in Krakow

    6. Pharmacy Museum

    The museum extends over 5 floors of an ancient building and tells the history of pharmacy and pharmaceutical technology through a huge collection of old laboratory equipment, furniture, rare pharmaceutical tools, jars, barrels, medical books and documents.

    Part of the museum is dedicated to the story of Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a pharmacist who became famous for his resistance during the Nazi occupation of Krakow. His “Pharmacy Under the Eagle” remained the only pharmacy left open in the Krakow Ghetto, and he was the only non-Jewish Pole who continued to live and work there.

    7. Pharmacy Under the Eagle Museum

    Located within the old Krakow Ghetto, in the Podgórze district, this old pharmacy once known as the “Pharmacy Under the Eagle” is now one of the most famous museums in Krakow.

    Its history dates back to the period of the Nazi occupation of Krakow, when its owner at the time, the Polish Tadeusz Pankiewicz, decided to continue running his pharmacy, located within the Jewish ghetto, refusing to leave the neighborhood.

    It was the only pharmacy that remained open in the ghetto and quickly became a meeting point and a safe place for prisoners. In fact, his owner and staff saved countless lives by helping Jews hide and survive.

    Today the pharmacy has become a museum. Rebuilt and restored as it was at the time, it houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to remembering its history and that of the Krakow Ghetto, through objects, stories and multimedia exhibitions that tell the life of Jews in the Ghetto and how Pankiewicz tried to help them to resist.

    8. Stained Glass Museum

    More than a museum, it is a real glass workshop!

    Founded in 1902 by the Polish artist SG Żeleński, it became the place where many artists, such as Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański created their best works.

    Inside, a part is still occupied by small craftsmen, who allow you to admire the creation of their works. You can see how glass works and you can be told interesting explanations on the different methods that allow you to obtain the various shapes and colors of the glass.

    In the exhibition space, on the other hand, beautiful masterpieces from the late 20th century are exhibited, when the Art Noveau exploded in Krakow.

    The exhibition itinerary also includes a small explanation of the glass production process, accompanied by wonderful stories told by the guides.

    9. Polish Aviation Museum

    One of the best aviation museums in Eastern Europe. Located just outside the city on the site of the abandoned Rakowice-Czyżyny Airport, it boasts a large collection of historic aircraft, helicopters, gliders, engines and missiles through which it tells the history of aviation.

    The collection includes some of the most important historical aircraft of military and civil aviation, both from Poland and from many other countries in the world, including an interesting collection of aircraft used during the First and Second World Wars.

    The museum is located inside the Sukiennice, in the heart of Krakow’s Main Market Square, and is part of the National Museum of Krakow.

    It exhibits some works of 19th century Polish art, including paintings by Michalowsky, Gierymski and also by Jan Matejko, one of the most famous painters in Poland.

    The four exhibition rooms are divided by theme and historical period: the Bacciarelli room represents the classical style, the Michałowski room dedicated to romanticism, the Siemiradzki room to nature and Greco-Roman portraits and finally the Chełmoński room with works of realism.

    From the gallery it is also possible to access a magnificent terrace with a small café and a beautiful view of the Main Market Square.

    Krakow Museums Market Square

    11. Krakil Museum of illusions

    Illusion, science and art come together within this beautiful museum.

    This Krakow museum offers an excellent educational experience but also a lot of fun.

    The space is divided into well-organized rooms, where we find many activities that deceive the senses through tricks of light and perspective, scientific inventions and real works of art.

    The visit lasts about a couple of hours and along the way the museum staff will provide you with explanations and curiosities and will also allow you to get incredible photos with some of the strangest illusions present in the museum.

    12. Krakow Pinball Museum

    This is a place that nostalgics of the roaring 80s should not miss! Hidden inside a gallery, the museum is a blast from the past dedicated to one of the most famous games of the 20th century: pinball.

    The museum offers a huge variety of pinballs, from the oldest to the most recent and technological, or themed like that of Spider Man, Indiana Jones or Star Wars, as well as a wide choice of other video games such as Pac-Man or Super Mario.

    With the entrance ticket you buy the possibility to play all video games unlimited, without further payments for tokens or coins. And while you play, you could also relax with a drink at the museum’s lounge bar.

    13. National Museum in Krakow

    The National Museum of Krakow was founded in 1879 and today has more than 700.000 works from national and international artists, including paintings, sculptures and precious objects.

    It is made up of various small thematic museums located throughout the city. The main museum is located in the western part of the city, in a large building called Gmach Głowny (Main Building) and houses the largest exhibition space with three permanent exhibitions:

    • the 20th century Polish Painting Gallery with works by great artists such as Witkacy, the drawings for polychrome stained glass by Stanislaw Wyspiansky and the works of the painter Olga Boznanska, famous throughout Europe;
    • the Artistic Handicraft Gallery which allows you to appreciate the decorative art of Polish and Western European artistic craftsmanship.
    • The Weapons and Uniforms Gallery, with a collection of the most precious Polish uniforms and weapons from the Middle Ages to the Second World War.

    Below we recommend some other important museums that are part of the Krakow National Museum. They can all be visited for free with the Krakow City Card.

    14. The Jan Matejko House

    The museum is located in Krakow Old Town, right inside the house where the famous Polish artist Jan Matejko lived.

    The exhibition, partly furnished with original furniture, traces the artist’s life as a father, traveler and collector. You will be able to see objects, letters and jewels that belonged to the painter and admire some of his best works of art.

    15. Wyspianki Museum (Szolayski House)

    This small Krakow museum is dedicated to the painter Stanisław Wyspiański, one of the most important artists of Krakow and all of Poland in the 19th and 20th centuries, who became famous for his commitment to various fields in art and literature.

    The rooms of the museum perfectly represent what the apartments were like at the time, having been largely preserved in their original conditions.

    The exhibition tells the life and work of the artist, including sculptures and handicrafts, stained glass projects, portraits and self-portraits. The most famous work on display is a model of the Royal Palace on the Wawel Hill, which envisaged a reconstruction to make it the main political, cultural and religious center of Poland.

    16. Mehoffer House

    The museum is dedicated to the Polish painter Jòzef Mehoffer, one of the main exponents of the “Young Poland” artistic movement, which arose as an opposition to positivism by promoting an artistic style inspired by Art Noveau, romanticism and symbolism.

    Inside, works and artifacts belonging to the artist are exhibited, as well as a beautiful private collection of paintings from the Far East.

    The house is also famous for its beautiful garden, abandoned after the Second World War, but reopened open to the public in 2004, after a meticulous renovation, and which now also houses a small cafe, the Meho Café, where you can relax.

    17. Czapski Museum and Pavilion

    This small Krakow museum is one of the branches of the National Museum of Krakow, where you can admire photographs, documents, compasses, prints and ancient geographical maps.

    A section of the museum is dedicated to the artist and army officer Czapski and his precious collections of coins, medals and banknotes.

    18. Ciolek Palace

    Located near the Wawel Castle, the Ciolek Palace was built in the early 16th century by Bishop Erazm Ciolek. Inside, there are two wonderful religious art galleries.

    On the ground floor, we find the works of Orthodox art from the old Polish Republic, while the rooms on the first floor display a fine collection of Polish art from the 12th to the 18th century.

    Among the works present, do not miss the famous “Beautiful Virgin Mary from Krużlowa” and the “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane” by Veit Stoss.

    19. Europeum

    This small and interesting Krakow art museum is housed in an old 16th century granary near the main square of Krakow. It houses a fine collection of Western European art, including Paolo Veneziano’s “Crucifixion” and Brueghel’s “Sermon of Saint John the Baptist”.

    20. Nowa Huta Museum and Nuclear Bunkers from the Soviet Era

    The Nowa Huta district is one of the lesser known attractions in Krakow, but it is a real gem of socialist architecture and is the only place where you can admire what life was like in Poland during socialism.

    The Nowa Huta Museum is located in the historic building of the former “Kino Światowid” cinema, and is dedicated to the history of the Communist People’s Republic of Poland.

    The museum displays photographs and objects that tell the life and culture of Socialist Poland and the history of the Nowa Huta neighborhood.

    Also in the undergrounds of Nowa Huta you can visit the exhibition “Nuclear Threat: Shelters of Nowa Huta“, born as part of the Nowa Huta Underground project, which allows you to visit the structures designed as a refuge in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.

    An exciting experience is to visit Nowa Huta with one of the tours from Krakow organized by passionate local guides: your guide will take you in a vintage car from Krakow to Nowa Huta, and will show you the most hidden gems of this incredible neighborhood and its underground bunkers.

    21. Ethnographic Museum in Krakow

    In our opinion this is one of the most interesting museums in Krakow. The Ethnographic Museum is located in the heart of Kazimierz, in what was once the old town hall. In the Middle Ages, the Kazimierz district was in fact a separate town.

    This museum is not very popular with tourists, but it is a good place to learn more about local culture and folklore. With today’s globalization, many customs and habits of peoples have disappeared.

    The museum offers insight into Polish folk culture, featuring the recreation of 19th-century peasant interiors, handcrafted tools, costumes and much more. If you want to see how Poland looked up to the early 1900s, then this is the place.

    22. Wawel Hill Museums in Krakow

    Wawel Hill is the heart of Krakow’s culture: here was the Royal Palace and Royal Cathedral where Polish kings were crowned.

    Today it is a very interesting complex of museums: the Wawel Cathedral houses the tombs of kings, heroes and poets, as well as museums and exhibitions of religious art.

    Wawel Castle hosts several exhibitions and museums, with collections of tapestries, weapons, treasures and jewels, as well as the chance to visit the opulent interiors of the state rooms.

    To visit the museums of the Wawel Hill it is necessary to purchase a different ticket for each museum, so it is often convenient to book a guided tour with a licensed guide.

    Krakow Museums Wawel Castle

    23. Szymanowski Museum

    This beautiful museum is located in Zakopane, a town located a couple of hours drive from Krakow, at the foot of the magnificent Tatra Mountains.

    The museum is housed in the Villa Atma, an old wooden building in the traditional style of Zakopane, which was the house where the famous pianist and composer Karol Szymanowski lived.

    In this museum you can see an exhibition of photographs, sheet music and pianos, which allow you to learn about the artist’s history and perceive his passion for music. In the summer, outdoor concerts are often organized in the garden.

    It is worth visiting on a day trip to Zakopane: here you can find some great solutions from Krakow.

    24. Auschwitz Museum

    No visit to Krakow is complete without visiting the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, located about 80 km from Krakow.

    The place that became a symbol of Nazi horror is today the most important museum in the world on the history of the Holocaust, and is a museum inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage lists.

    To visit the Auschwitz Museum you can book a guided tour from Krakow (includes transport, official guide in your preferred language and visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps) or you can plan the trip on your own (but remember that you will necessarily have to book your visit well in advance!). Here you will find all the info you need on how to visit Auschwitz.

    25. Wieliczka Salt Mines

    This is undoubtedly one of the strangest and most fascinating museums in the world: a veritable underground art gallery with sculptures, cathedrals and statues made entirely of salt.

    The Wieliczka Salt Mines are one of the main attractions of Krakow, and are located just a few kilometers outside the city. They are among the oldest salt mines in the world and it is thanks to them that Krakow in the Middle Ages was one of the richest and most flourishing cities in Europe.

    This underground labyrinth of hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, which winds hundreds of meters deep, has been transformed over centuries of passionate miners’ work into a wonderful underground world: huge halls, cathedrals, underground lakes, sumptuous stairways and even a restaurant .

    Today it can be visited in total safety and is one of the must-see things in Krakow. You can find all the information you need to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines here.

    Useful Tips for Your Trip to Krakow

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