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Plan Your Trip to Krakow: Best of Krakow Tourism

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Explore Krakow

With its historic streets, delicious food, and buzzy nightlife, Krakow might well be one of Europe’s best hidden gems. For a refresher course on medieval history, explore the charming UNESCO-listed Old Town, which has the largest medieval market square in Europe (Rynek Glówny) along with the gothic St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle. Then fast-forward into modern times with local shops, bars, and a high-energy nightlife in Kazimierz, the city’s historic Jewish quarter. Krakow dining is another surprise, offering everything from hearty street food (pierogies, kielbasa, and so much more) to fine dining and international cuisine. Save time for UNESCO sites farther afield—Auschwitz can be a powerful day trip, while the Wieliczka Salt Mines is an astounding labyrinth of passages and shafts filled with rock-salt statues and underground chapels.
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How to do Krakow in 1 day

Horse-drawn carriages, a grand castle, and lively neighbourhoods
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8 places to take in Jewish life in Krakow

In Krakow, every tour operator seems to offer a lesson on Jewish history. But on a recent trip, I went in search of the Jewish culture that remains today and was happy to discover there’s plenty of it across the city. Here are some of my favourite experiences to check out.
Joe B, Berlin, Germany
  • Kazmierz The Former Jewish District
    When I was searching for Krakow’s Jewish heritage, my first stop was the neighbourhood of Kazimierz. Once the heart of Jewish life in Krakow, it’s thriving again. Centuries-old synagogues still stand on its cobblestone streets, joined by hip cafes and vintage shops. The neighbourhood is home to the Jewish Culture Festival—which some people call the “Jewish Woodstock”—a blend of traditional and modern Jewish culture that draws tens of thousands of people every summer.
  • Old Synagogue
    Standing in front of the Old Synagogue’s humble red brick exterior made me catch my breath. This is a place that’s seen it all, triumphs and tragedies, since its construction in the 15th century. Poland’s oldest synagogue has been transformed into a museum memorializing those lost during the Holocaust, welcoming you into its restored interior with high-arched ceilings and a wrought-iron canopy surrounding the bima, the raised platform where the Torah is read aloud.
  • Cheder
    These days it seems like every community has a hip coffee shop. This one in Kazimierz is different because it’s inspired by the concept of a cheder––an elementary school where students learn about Judaism. It's a cosy hangout with lectures, discussions, and film screenings on Jewish issues. I camped out for hours in an old folding chair, noshing on a sabich––a classic Israeli street food with flavours from across the Jewish culinary canon.
  • Schindler's Factory Museum
    The legacy of Oskar Schindler, immortalized by Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, is kept alive in this factory-turned-museum. The photographs, documents, and artifacts you’ll see focus on the lives of the local population during the Holocaust and the story of Oskar Schindler himself, a German industrialist credited with saving more than 1,000 Jewish workers. He employed them in his enamelware and ammunition factory, thus protecting them from deportation by the Nazis.
  • Klezmer Hois
    Some knock this eatery in Kazimierz for being too kitschy. But after spending a day learning about some darker chapters of Jewish history, I was happy to retreat to a happy, homey place that looks like it was designed by a committee of grandmothers. I devoured the cholent, a stew of meat and vegetables usually made for the sabbath, with glee while a klezmer band filled the dimly lit room with the music of my ancestors.
  • Galicia Jewish Museum
    Galicia was a region in Central and Eastern Europe that stretched across much of modern-day Poland and Ukraine, home to a sizable Jewish population. Through a series of striking exhibits, this museum transports you back in time to the high point of life in the Polish Jewish shtetl, or village. The museum also serves as a cultural and educational centre, hosting various events related to Jewish life.
  • The Ghetto Heroes Square
    Filled with sculptures of empty chairs, Ghetto Heroes Square stands as a haunting memorial to those lost during the Holocaust. The name refers to the Krakow Ghetto, an enclosed area where the city’s Jews were forcibly relocated before they were deported to concentration camps. For me, it was a place to reflect on the void left by a community that once made up a quarter of Krakow’s population.
  • Remuh Synagogue (Synagoga Remuh)
    Walking between centuries-old gravestones that lean like tired travellers is what touched me most about my visit to Kazmierz's second-oldest synagogue. Despite being damaged by the Nazis, who used tombstones to pave roads, the cemetery beside this small synagogue retains a sense of solemn beauty and remains a place of pilgrimage for religious Jews. Built during the 16th century, the synagogue is still in use today.