If you are wondering where to stay in Krakow, then you have come to the right place. Frequently, my friends turn to me for advice on the best area to stay in Krakow and how to navigate the city effortlessly. Well, actually the city is quite compact and that makes things easier. However, it’s worth noting that a few of its most charming, vibrant, and captivating neighborhoods genuinely merit consideration for your stay. Within this guide, you’ll gain firsthand insights from a local on the best areas to stay and how to best plan your trip.
In a country renowned for its rich culture and historical significance, Krakow stands out as a jewel that has remarkably preserved its timeless architecture and charm. As the second largest city in Poland, Kraków boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere coupled with a plethora of attractions that lure travellers. Despite its population of over one million, the city’s central layout and efficient transportation make it a breeze to explore. And the best part? Quality accommodation doesn’t have to come with a high price.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the top three neighborhoods that offer the most fulfilling experiences: the charming Old Town (Stare Miasto), the vibrant Jewish quarter of Kazimierz and the laid-back atmosphere of Podgorze, and then explore some of the less- well-known, yet surprisingly close to all attractions. While the city map may seem expansive, most of the major tourist attractions are concentrated around the old town, a hub for starting and ending your days. So if you’re preparing for an immersive escape to this culturally vibrant city, keep discovering the best places to stay, no matter the season.
What you will find in this guide to Where to Stay in Krakow:
Where to Stay in Krakow: TOP 3 Best Areas to Stay in Krakow
As a compact city with a comparably reasonable cost of living, the question of where to stay in Krakow almost answers itself: you can choose accommodations in the city’s very core, ranging from top-tier hotels to budget-friendly apartments and hostels, all at relatively affordable rates. The beating heart of Krakow is Stare Miasto – the captivating medieval old town – closely followed by the renowned and vibrant district of Kazimierz. Additionally, the vicinity just behind the old town, adjacent to the train station, unquestionably stands as one of the best areas to stay in Krakow, offering convenience for sightseeing and exploration.
These are the best areas to stay in Krakow:
Nestled in the heart of Krakow lies Stare Miasto – the “Old Town” – an iconic district pulsating with history and energy. Embracing the city’s most celebrated attractions, Stare Miasto stands as the quintessential choice for those yearning to be engulfed in Krakow’s profound heritage.
From the captivating Rynek Główny – the central square within the Old Town – to the enveloping architectural marvels, Stare Miasto not only embodies the historical essence but also serves as the vibrant core of the city. However, this convenience doesn’t come without a price: accommodation costs harmonize with its prime location, but the magnetic pull of residing in this idyllic and centrally located quarter is undeniable.
For those in search of an alternative and vibrant experience, Kazimierz beckons. Formerly the historic Jewish Quarter, this neighborhood has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving into a dynamic hub of creativity adorned with cafes, boutiques, galleries and bars. Kazimierz reveals an edgy and bohemian facet of Krakow, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the city’s artistic soul. Situated approximately a 20-minute stroll from Stare Miasto, the journey from the old town to Kazimierz unveils an ever-evolving, trendy landscape. To find serene havens that strike a balance between value and tranquility, consider exploring neighboring districts such as Podgorze and Ludwinow.
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☞ Best Hotels in Kazimierz
The district just north of the old town is called Kleparz, renowned for its status as a nineteenth-century district and the heart of Młoda Polska (Polish Art Nouveau). It’s a fantastic area to stay in Krakow if you’re looking for centrality, budget-friendliness, and a retreat from the tourist bustle. Kleparz offers an authentic glimpse into everyday life in Krakow, boasting charming cafes, shops, supermarkets, and restaurants that are cherished by both locals and tourists alike.
The district extends to the south-west, encompassing three other tranquil and highly desirable neighborhoods for lodging: Piasek Północ, Piasek Południe, and Nowy Świat. All of these are just a stone’s throw away from the old town and are immensely popular among both locals and tourists. Heading east, beyond the train station, you’ll find Grzegórzki, a residential district which, while predominantly unassuming in appearance, offers a generous selection of reasonably priced apartment accommodations within walking distance of the old town. Notably, this was the first area in Krakow where I resided, so it holds a special place in my heart! 🙂
Where to Stay in Krakow: The Best Neighborhoods
For those seeking quick recommendations, we’ve already highlighted the best areas to stay in Krakow. However, it’s truly beneficial to explore each of these neighborhoods individually to understand the factors that make them ideal places to stay. Discover the unique qualities, attractions, and advantages that contribute to these areas being popular choices. Whether you’re interested in excellent accommodations, value for your money, fine dining options, or vibrant nightlife, or if you prefer a serene and secluded retreat, each neighborhood has something to offer.
With this in mind, let’s now delve deeper into Krakow’s best neighborhoods. We’ll begin with the historic Old Town and then traverse the previously mentioned popular districts. Additionally, we’ll uncover hidden gems that might be less familiar but are equally captivating.
Stare Miasto is the beating heart of Krakow. This ancient district, translating to “Old Town”, encapsulates the essence of the city in its charming streets and captivating landmarks. A visit to this historic center provides an authentic introduction to the city, making it a must-see for first-time visitors. While Krakow is known for its bustling energy, the Old Town offers a laid-back atmosphere during the day, which transforms into lively excitement as bars and clubs open their doors after sunset.
The epicenter of Stare Miasto is the Main Market Square with its enchanting St. Mary’s Basilica, surrounded by a rich array of architectural marvels spanning various styles, from Baroque to Gothic. The square bustles with activity, drawing both locals and tourists alike, and serves as the starting point for the Krakow Free Walking Tour—a must for newcomers seeking a deeper understanding of the city’s heritage. This area truly embodies Krakow’s essence, housing a blend of historic churches, elegant architecture, charming streets, and modern entertainment venues. Cobbled streets wind through twisting alleyways, leading you to squares adorned with churches and museums.
Discover the medieval gateway known as the Barbican and St. Florian’s Gate, both remnants of a bygone era. Take a leisurely stroll down Florianska Street and Grodzka Street, where a mix of department stores and local shops offer a captivating blend of old and new, along the renowned “Royal Road”, the historic path leading to the Wawel Castle and its Wawel Cathedral. Beyond walking, the Krakow City Card provides free access to the city’s public transport and museums, allowing for convenient exploration of this captivating area.
As evening falls, Stare Miasto’s dining scene comes alive. The area boasts a wide choice of restaurants, eateries, clubs, pubs, and bars, appreciated by both locals and tourists. Consider escaping the tourist-oriented eateries to experience the charm of unpretentious local diners. Taste some handmade pierogi or indulge in the delicious local cuisine at one of the historic restaurants, like Wierzynek, dating back to 1364. This establishment has hosted notable figures such as Fidel Castro and George Bush. Another option is Morskie Oko, renowned for its regional cuisine.
In the vibrant hearth of Krakow lies an enclave that weaves history, culture, and art into a tapestry of captivating experiences. Welcome to Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, where synagogues, boutiques, excellent restaurants, and a distinct urban energy converge. Unlike the old town’s well-trodden paths, Kazimierz offers an authentic, less touristy adventure for those seeking a genuine connection with the city.
Kazimierz’s allure is undeniable. It’s a place where echoes of the past resonate through its streets, shaping a rich narrative that spans centuries. Once a central residential and commercial hub for Poland’s Jewish community, the area’s vibrancy was subdued by the horrors of World War II and its aftermath. By the late 1980s, the district had succumbed to decay, its warehouses and homes standing as somber reminders of a bygone era.
However, history has a tenacious grip, and Kazimierz’s significance was rekindled when Steven Spielberg immortalized its story in Schindler’s List. The film not only reignited the area’s historical importance but also attracted a new wave of visitors, including Jews searching for their roots. With revitalization efforts gaining momentum, Kazimierz transformed into a cultural crossroads, where Jewish and Christian influences meld seamlessly with a thriving bohemian scene.
Amidst the cobbled streets and grand squares, modernity meets tradition. Admire the street art and murals that adorn facades, stroll through the grand synagogues and churches with their poignant cemeteries, and marvel at the meticulously restored storefronts that hark back to the district’s past. The heartbeat of Kazimierz thrives in the squares of ul. Szeroka, Plac Nowy, ul. Meiselsa, ul. Dietla, and Plac Wolnica, all surrounded by an architectural tapestry of shops, cafes, and bars. Museums and cultural attractions further enrich the experience. Local bars, hidden away in basements and terraces, offer the perfect opportunity for a pub crawl adventure.
Accommodation options in Kazimierz cater to all tastes. From basic guesthouses to luxurious lodgings, the district’s diversity ensures that every traveler finds a comfortable abode. Notably, hotel prices are often more budget-friendly here than in the old town.
Just north of Krakow’s bustling city center, the unassuming neighborhood of Kleparz boasts a rich history that unfolds through its winding streets. From its humble origins as a village, Kleparz evolved into a town and eventually found its place within Krakow’s borders in 1791. But it’s not the grandiosity that defines this neighborhood, it’s the subtle elegance and unique character that draw locals and visitors alike. Kleparz is renowned for its Młoda Polska, or Polish Art Nouveau, architectural style. Amidst its streets, one discovers an array of guesthouses, quaint clothing boutiques, inviting bistros, and cosmopolitan eateries.
However, it’s the bustling markets that truly enliven this community. Stary Kleparz, the oldest market in Krakow, echoes centuries of trading history and is a vibrant hub of activity. From snack stalls to farm-fresh produce, this market captures the essence of everyday life. Established in the 14th century, Stary Kleparz market’s history is interwoven with Krakow’s past, serving as a lifeline during the days of communist Poland. Today, this market continues to flourish, offering a colorful tapestry of goods – from fresh produce and meats to household essentials and souvenirs. Its enduring appeal emanates from its authenticity and vibrant atmosphere.
Key landmarks stand as testimony to Kleparz’s heritage and significance. Jan Matejko Square, adorned with charming bars and cafes, the monument commemorating the Battle of Grunwald, the 1818-established Academy of Fine Arts, and the historic St. Florian Church, where Pope John Paul II once served as a priest, offer glimpses into the past. Kleparz’s strategic location near the Old Town presents a harmonious balance between tranquil respite and city exploration.
All of this holds true for the surrounding neighborhoods, particularly Piasek and Nowy Świat. The former is a tranquil district, cherished by both residents and visitors, yet it doesn’t exude a strong touristy vibe. It offers accommodations with excellent value for money, alongside a variety of restaurants and pubs that showcase diverse international cuisines. The area also boasts renowned art museums, a stained glass museum, and the Museum of Illusions Kraków. This last one is situated in the more refined and contemporary Nowy Świat district, which overlooks the Vistula River.
Tucked away on the southern bank of the Vistula, facing the renowned district of Kazimierz, lies the unassuming but captivating neighborhood of Podgorze. This area is an oasis of greenery within Krakow, boasting lush woods, rolling hills, and limestone cliffs that offer sweeping vistas of the city. Although once an independent city until 1795, it wasn’t until 1915 that it became an integral part of Krakow. Among its historical landmarks is the Krakus Mound, a relic from the Iron Age believed to be the resting place of the city’s founder.
For centuries, Podgorze thrived as a bustling industrial hub, hosting warehouses, quarries, and brickworks that fueled its growth. However, its darkest chapter unfolded during the wartime years. The Jewish community endured unimaginable suffering within the confines of the Podgorze Ghetto, where many faced torment, hunger, and death. The area still bears the somber memories of this period, with plaques, memorials, and even a steel chair installation in Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square) standing as poignant reminders.
In the wake of those dark days and years under communist rule, Podgorze gradually reclaimed its identity. Today, it’s a blend of serene parks, residential abodes, light industries, and modern amenities. New establishments like bars, cafes, shopping centers, and restaurants are sprouting up, along with a growing number of hotels catering to curious visitors eager to delve into its history and future.
Crossing the Bernatek footbridge from Kazimierz to Podgorze marks the beginning of a captivating journey. Following Brodzińskiego street leads to Rynek Podgórski and the impressive St. Joseph’s Church. A stroll along the main walkway guides you to Plac Bohaterów Getta, a moving tribute to the lives lost. The Schindler’s Factory Museum and The Eagle Pharmacy offer profound insights into the past, while glimpses of the old ghetto wall in Lwowska street and Limanowskiego street evoke a sobering atmosphere.
Despite its solemn history, Podgorze is not without its charms. Vast open spaces beckon outdoor enthusiasts to explore hiking and biking trails that lead to breathtaking countryside panoramas. As dusk descends, Podgorze’s eateries, bars, and clubs draw in locals seeking a more serene alternative to the bustling city. Podgorze’s understated charm and rich history make it an ideal destination for families seeking authenticity away from the tourist throngs. Its tranquil ambience, combined with its proximity to key attractions, beckons travelers to uncover the layers of a neighborhood that has withstood the tests of time.
Nestled to the east of Stare Miasto, Grzegorski stands as Krakow’s vibrant student hub. This expansive district beckons budget-conscious travelers with its array of affordable dining, bars and attractions. While its communist-era architecture might exude a tinge of monotony, the district harbors some of the city’s most distinct gems, hidden just beyond the surface. Grzegorski boasts seamless transport connections to the city center, facilitating easy exploration of the prime attractions on offer.
For an authentic experience, the Hala Targowa market springs to life every Sunday, hosting the city’s liveliest flea market where intriguing wares abound. Adjacent to this hubbub lies the renowned Blue Van (The Kiełbasa Van), dishing up delectable local street food that lures in locals and visitors alike. Once a fragment of Krakow’s core, Grzegórzki now forms an autonomous district comprising five distinct suburbs. It’s a captivating blend of historic edifices and contemporary apartments, interspersed with eateries, bars, and shopping centers.
Though favored by the well-to-do, Grzegórzki‘s charm transcends demographics, drawing in students, families, artists, and professionals. Park Strzelecki, one of Krakow’s beloved green spaces, thrives within Grzegórzki’s bounds, offering a serene retreat. Moreover, the district is graced by the Vistula Boulevards, the venerable Mańkowski Palace, an operatic venue, and numerous theaters. Museums, like the Celestat Museum with its captivating exhibitions on the Krakow Fowler Brotherhood and City Defenses, enrich the area’s cultural landscape.
Dating back to 1783, the Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow stands as Poland’s oldest. As you navigate the streets, you’ll encounter murals adorning walls and structures, such as the captivating Wyspiański Mosaic, paying homage to “Hermes leading people to Hades”. As dusk descends, Grzegorski’s diverse dining scene comes alive, catering to global palates with an array of international restaurants. Thirsty? The district doesn’t disappoint, boasting a selection of trendy student hangouts and cocktail bars. Lodging choices are abundant, ranging from cozy hostels and self-catering apartments to upscale hotels like Hilton and Ibis, ensuring visitors a comfortable stay.
Nestled on the outskirts of Kraków, Salwator beckons with its verdant charm and historical treasures, waiting to be discovered by those seeking a different side of the city. Once a well-kept secret, this district now opens its arms to visitors, revealing a serene escape that seamlessly blends nature, architecture, and local life. At the heart of Salwator’s allure stands the majestic Kościuszko Mound, an imposing testament to Poland’s past. As you ascend its gentle slopes, the bustling city center fades, replaced by a canopy of trees and the inviting tranquility of the journey itself. This ascent, framed by ancient churches, atmospheric cemeteries, and elegant villas, serves as a serene respite from the urban bustle.
Salwator’s landscape is a tribute to its history. St. Bronisława’s Hill, crowned by the Norbertine Monastery, exudes a sense of timelessness. Consecrated in the 12th century, the monastery was once a dominant force in the area, leaving its imprint on Salwator’s very fabric. Ul. Gontyna’s villas, a legacy of a 1910 design competition, whisper tales of the past, including a villa adorned with a wild-haired Medusa. The allure of Salwator extends beyond its architectural marvels. The Salwator Cemetery, with its statues and stone effigies, is a poetic resting place, and the Bielansko-Tyniecki Park offers a haven for nature lovers.
For a dose of history, Zwierzyniec House delves into Poland’s architectural heritage, while Dydo Poster Gallery captures the nation’s vibrant past through its visual history. Salwator’s local spirit thrives at Plac Na Stawach farmers market, where the finest local produce awaits. And while Kościuszko Mound stands as the district’s centerpiece, the district’s soul lies in its everyday life, witnessed through its relaxed atmosphere and welcoming locals.
Getting to Salwator is a breeze, just a leisurely walk from the main market square or a tram ride to the Salwator roundabout. Once here, the journey to Kościuszko Mound is a serene 1.6-kilometer walk, revealing the district’s charms step by step. In this district of quietude and history, Salwator offers a unique perspective on Kraków. Far from the bustling center, it embraces visitors with its natural beauty, rich heritage, and local authenticity.
Nestled in central Krakow, Ludwinów stands as an inviting district, away from the crowds of tourists, in a quieter area much appreciated by locals. Resting alongside the serene banks of the Vistula River, it presents captivating vistas of the iconic Wawel Castle, located just across the river. The district’s strategic location not only provides easy access to the city’s vibrant hub but also offers a tranquil escape from the bustling crowds.
Ludwinów‘s character flourishes within the Debniki district, and its transformation over the past decade has been nothing short of remarkable. The neighborhood has undergone significant development, and is now a popular place to reside in central Krakow. The area is now full of good restaurants and cafes, while the main hub popular with students and young people is Forum Przestrzenie. This alternative bar is tucked within the historic walls of a former communist venue, the Soviet-style Forum Hotel. It promises a blend of hip ambiance, good beer, reasonably priced drinks and an extensive calendar of events. It is a popular place for a light lunch, breakfast, or snack.
This neighborhood also boasts some distinctive and budget-friendly accommodation options, including the riverside The Boat Hostel & Chill and the captivating New Port Hotel na Wiśle, scenically located right on the tranquil waters of the Vistula. Sitting just south of the old town area and hugging the Vistula’s shores, Ludwinów is a tapestry of hostels, apartments, and boutique hotels. A picturesque scene unfolds during sunny days, as locals and visitors alike gather along the riverbanks. Whether lounging on deck chairs, savoring meals at charming cafes, or strolling along the towpath, Ludwinów offers idyllic respites for all.
Culture enthusiasts will find their haven at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art. This cultural treasure trove is one of the best museums in Krakow and showcases exquisite Japanese and Korean artistry, inviting exploration into the realms of calligraphy and creativity. Also in the area, there is the bizarre Pinball Museum, entirely dedicated to the famous game, a gem for fans of the genre.
FAQs about Where to Stay in Krakow
Which is the Best Area to Stay in Krakow?
Stare Miasto (the Krakow Old Town) is undoubtedly the best area to stay in Krakow. It is the medieval historic center – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the true heart of the city. Here you are on the doorstep of all the attractions and it’s within walking distance of the train station, with easy connections to the airport. Despite the premium location, the rates are still quite affordable.
Is Kazimierz a Good Area to Stay in Krakow?
Sure! Kazimierz is another popular area to stay in Krakow, offering a wide choice of hotels, apartments and restaurants in a district known for its cultural attractions and nightlife. The neighborhood is just a few minutes walk from the Old Town. Those traveling on a tight budget might also want to check out the surrounding districts, from which the city center can easily be reached on foot or by public transport. The Krakow Card allows unlimited free rides on buses and trams, as well as free admission to all the main museums of the city.
Is Krakow Safe to Walk at Night?
Yes, Krakow is safe enough to walk at night, even for girls. Even though some areas might be a bit creepy, generally the crime rate is quite low compared to other big European cities. However, it’s best to avoid the more secluded and poorly lit areas, and avoid drunks and bums around the Barbican and stations.
How Many Days Do I Need To Visit Krakow?
You should spend at least 3-4 days in Krakow, in order to visit the most significant districts, the most beautiful attractions and some of its most interesting museums. It is worth taking it easy and enjoying the surroundings, walks along the Vistula, a bike ride to the Tyniec Abbey, a visit to the working-class neighborhood of Nowa Huta. Also, especially if it’s your first time in Krakow, you should allow one extra day to visit Auschwitz and another one to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
If you are in a hurry you could visit the Old Town highlights even in a single day, especially by participating in one of the convenient Free Walking Tours that are held daily. There is also a Kazimierz Free Tour in the afternoon, which would allow you to have a look at both the most important and beautiful districts of Krakow.
Useful Tips for Your Trip to Krakow
Planning your trip to Krakow? These are our in-depth guides with everything you need to know to plan an amazing trip to Krakow:
- KRAKOW TRAVEL GUIDE: Discover the top things to do and see in Krakow and explore the captivating attractions in the vicinity. This guide is your gateway to a remarkable Krakow experience.
- KRAKOW TRAVEL TIPS: Our collection of best tips and tricks will equip you with everything necessary for planning your trip effectively. From logistics to cultural insights, we’ve got your back.