Kraków is easily Poland's best destination: a beautiful, old-fashioned city buzzing with enjoyable sights, tourists, college students, and some heavy history (nearby lies the Holocaust memorial and museum of Auschwitz-Berkenau). Even though the country's capital moved from here to Warsaw 400 years ago, Kraków remains Poland's cultural and intellectual center. Of all of the Eastern European cities laying claim to the boast "the next Prague," Kraków is for real. Someday, this gem of a city will be as swamped with tourists as any big-league destination. Enjoy it now, while it's still relatively quiet.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Main Market Square Stunning heart of Kraków and a people magnet any time of day.
▲▲ Planty Once a moat, now a scenic park encircling the city.
▲▲ St. Mary's Church Landmark church with extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece.
▲▲ Cloth Hall Fourteenth-century market hall with 21st-century souvenirs.
▲▲ St. Francis' Basilica Lovely Gothic church with some of Poland's best Art Nouveau.
▲▲ Wawel Cathedral Poland's splendid national church, with tons of tombs, a crypt, and a climbable tower.
▲▲ Wawel Castle Grounds Historic hilltop with views, castle, cathedral, courtyard with chakras, and a passel of museums.
▲▲ Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art Worthwhile collection of paintings by should-be-famous artists, upstairs in the Cloth Hall.
▲▲ Wyspiański Museum Art by the talented leader of the Młoda Polska (Polish Art Nouveau) movement.
▲▲ Old Cemetery Poignant Jewish burial site in Kazimierz, with graves from 1552 to 1800.
▲▲ Schindler's Factory Museum Historic building where Oskar Schindler saved more than 1,000 Jewish workers, now filled with engaging exhibit about Kraków's WWII experience.
▲ Czartoryski Museum Varied collection, with European paintings and Polish armor, handicrafts, and decorative arts.
▲ Rynek Underground Museum Super-modern exhibit on medieval Kraków filling excavated cellars beneath the Main Market Square.
▲ Jagiellonian University Museum: Collegium Maius Proud collection of historic university, surrounding a tranquil courtyard where medieval professors lived.
▲ New Cemetery Jewish graveyard with tombs from after 1800, partly restored after Nazi desecration.
▲ Ethnographic Museum Traditional rural Polish life on display.
▲ Pharmacy Under the Eagle Small Podgórze exhibit about the Holocaust in Kraków, including three evocative historic films.
▲ Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków Today's thought-provoking art, displayed in renovated old warehouses behind Schindler's Factory Museum.