The once capital of Poland offers a beautiful historic castle that towers over the city, cobbled streets of the old town, feel like a king or queen by walking the royal walk. Well, you can live like a king or queen in Krakow, in this budget friendly city. Or explore the harrowing events at Auschwitz, with these things to do in Krakow on a budget.
Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland and for many years was the capital, that’s before it was moved to Warsaw. The old town has the UNESCO World Heritage site statues, along with the neighbouring Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration camp.
During Nazi occupation of Poland, Krakow became the capital of the German General Government, from which the Nazis banished the Jews to the Jewish quarter (also known as Jewish ghetto). When the Jews were confined to the ghetto’s, there was some leniency, in which they were allowed to enter and exit freely, but later this changed when the German regime became more powerful and restrictions were tightened.
Many at this point died of illnesses or starvation, but the Jews that where alive between June to September 1942, were transported from the ghettos to their death at Belzec, Plaszow and Auschwitz concentration camp.
For many, Oskar Schindler is their hero. If you have not heard of him before, he saved many Jewish lives in Krakow. He employed them to work in his factory, which prevented them from being transported to the concentration camps and death camps.
A famous movie with Liam Neeson playing Oskar Schindler, tells the true story of his role in saving the lives of Jews during World War II. If you want to learn more? Then you must watch Schindler’s List and visit his factory in Krakow.
When to visit Krakow on a budget?
The key element of visiting Krakow on a budget, is when you travel.
As Krakow is a budget friendly city, so it really doesn’t matter when you visit. You’ll still be able to travel without breaking the bank balance.
But you’ll want to consider the climate to choose the best time to visit Krakow.
The summer months of July – August are the hottest. If you are planning a road trip and heading to the coast, the summer months are ideal.
If the hot weather gets too much for you, then you’re better of travelling during the spring or autumn May – June and September – October. The crowds would have reduced, but the weather will be warm.
Winters are long in Poland, with bitterly cold conditions, plus snow. There won’t be very many tourists visiting, unless you choose to visit during December, when the city comes to life with Christmas Markets.
When will you choose to visit Krakow?
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How many days do you need in Krakow?
In our opinion four days in Krakow is enough time to explore the city and take a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
However, if you’re a slow traveler and would like to spend a few extra days in Krakow, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised that accommodation, food, sightseeing and transport is relatively inexpensive. Allowing you to spend more time exploring the city, than worrying about your bank balance.
Is it safe to travel in Krakow?
Yes, Krakow is a safe place to visit. Of course, every place has some level of crime, if anything, tourist may encounter pickpocketing or theft. But in our experience as two female travelers, we didn’t encounter any safety issues.
Although we didn’t encounter any issues, it is always best to be cautious, we are aware of our surroundings, research before we travel and try not to put ourselves in a position which is unsafe.
As female traveler’s, we have some great tips on how to stay safe while travelling. By following these tips, you should feel safer to travel, be that as a solo traveler, or traveling as part of a family or group.
What is the currency in Krakow?
The currency in Krakow is the Polish Zloty.
Overseas travelers will need to convert their currency into the Zloty. It is recommended to take enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for overseas transactions.
Things to do in Krakow on a budget
Sightseeing can be a real budget killer, especially if you have to pay to enter the attraction.
We would recommend the following tips, on how to pick up free sightseeing tickets, or in some cases tickets at a fraction of the price.
- It is possible to get discounted tickets for top tourist attractions when you purchase the tickets in advance and online.
- Are there any travel cards available to purchase that allow discounted entry to certain places?
- Are there any multiple entry tickets for a number of attractions in the area?
- What tourist attractions are free, or have concessions for a certain day that is free. For example, every 4th Sunday is free entry.
To help you plan your trip to Krakow on a budget, we have detailed some of the things you could do in Krakow, along with information on any discounts you could pick up or free tourist attractions.
Things to do in Krakow for free
One of the easiest ways of visiting Krakow on a budget, is by exploring the free tourist attractions in the city. And there’s a few things to do for free. Here are the free things to do in Krakow:
The Old Town
Defensive walls and towers would have once surrounded this old medieval town, but sadly, over time, the fortifications around the old town were demolished. In its place where the moat would have once been, are the beautiful green trees and parks.
If you want to feel like royalty and step back in time, why not walk the royal route, which takes you through the Old Town and up to Wawel Castle. The official route that would have been taken on coronation days started at St Florian’s Church, down past the Barbican of Krakow, through the Florian Gates, into Flosianska Street before going through the main square of the Old Town and up to Wawel Castle and Cathedral.
Look out for all the beautiful medieval buildings and the architecture, as you take on the royal route.
The Old Town is a beautiful spot. With many shops, cafes and restaurants to find something to eat, or take the weight off your feet, before continuing on the royal route. While sitting back consuming some delicious Polish food, listen out for the trumpet call, heard on the our every hour, before it abruptly stops.
It is said that during the Mongol invasion, a trumpeter would sound the horn as a warning for any threats incoming. This would lead to the defensive gates being closed. However, one day the trumpeter started their call. Halfway through, he was shot in the throat and the warning stopped.
It is a very strange to hear the trumpet play, when suddenly it stops.
There are other noteworthy buildings you really must visit in the Old Town such as the Krakow Cloth Hall.
You’ll notice horses and carriages lining the streets in the Old Town of Krakow. These tours can take you around the Old Town, Royal Krakow and many more places, but at a hefty price. The starting price for a tour depending on which route you choose and how long is about 500 Zloty (£103.00 – $131.07).
This will definitely be a different way of seeing the city, but at an expense. If you are on a budget, we would recommend avoiding this and just walking the routes you want to take. But, if you do choose to take up this interesting way of exploring the city, make sure you include this in your budget.
Krakow Cloth Hall
During the 15th century, the Cloth Hall in the Old Town of Krakow was a major centre for international trade. The hall was a great source of imports from the east, such as spices, silk, leather and wax. While Krakow would export its locally sourced goods such as textiles, lead and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
The Cloth Hall is now home to small shops and markets selling souvenirs and much more.
It gets very busy, but well worth a visit. You never know, you could find that budget friendly souvenir you have been looking for.
Kazimierz and the Jewish quarter.
During the 1940s most of the Jewish population of Krakow was moved to Kazimierz, which became known as the Jewish Ghettos or Jewish Quarter.
As you explore the area, you’ll pass Synagogues, bath houses and monuments.
If you are not familiar with the area, not done your research, or the weather is bad, you can easily take a guided tour on a golf buggy. The tour guide takes you around the Jewish Quarter, highlighting the important places, stopping so you can explore and take pictures along the way.
We decided to do something different and take up the guided tour. The tour guide took us on a 30–45-minute journey around Kazimierz and the Jewish quarter costing 150 Zloty (£31.00 – $39.32), before dropping us back to our accommodation.
Was it worth taking the tour?
In our opinion it was a great way to have a rest from the wet weather we experience in Krakow, plus saved our legs from all the walking. The tour guide was nice, BUT it was in our experience not the greatest.
The tour guide doesn’t know much about Krakow history and just played a tape recording of the information as he drove us around the area and stopped at the specific locations. You could easily get this information off the internet and walk it yourself.
If you do choose to take up this tour, ensure you have set a budget for this. If you want to save money, then take a map and just walk the area yourself.
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Things to do in Krakow
We have included other things to do in Krakow, but you will need to pay an entrance fee. Take this into account when you are budgeting for a trip to Krakow. We have included discounts that you could pick up that could save you some money.
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
Opening times: 6am till dusk
Cost: Ground admission free, castle and exhibition priced separately. Exhibitions starts at 50 Zloty per person (£9.51 – $13.11). You can purchase tickets online or at the castle.
For centuries, the medieval castle has been the residence for the kings of Poland. When the capital moved to Warsaw, the castle fell into decline.
Long before the establishment of the castle on Wawel Hill, the area was an affluent residential district, which prompted a castle to be built for residing kings of Poland.
Many coronations and burials have taken place at Wawel Castle, even Pope John Paul II held mass in the crypt at the cathedral before he was ordained to the priesthood.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to explore the five sections of the castle, due to the weather restricting us on many of our activities. But out of the five sections, we would have loved to explore the Royal Private Apartments and the State Rooms. These two sections are said to be the most impressive.
Day trips from Krakow
There are a few trips out of Krakow that you really must do, but always make sure you include this in your budget.
Cost: 85 Zloty (£16.14 – $22.34)
Opening Times: December 8am-2pm, January, November 8am-3pm, February 8am-4pm, March, October 8am-5pm, April, May, September 8am-6pm, June-August 8am-7pm
This has to be the most emotional yet educational place to visit. While you are in Krakow, we would highly recommend taking a day trip to explore Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Initially, Auschwitz was a concentration camp for political prisoners. But as the war progressed and the Nazi Germans found new methods to kill innocent people, Auschwitz was soon to grow in size, with a number of camps within the area. The remaining two camps to explore are Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Extermination started in September 1941 at Auschwitz-Birkenau; it wasn’t long before trains of mainly Jewish were sent from western German occupied countries to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps within Poland and Europe. Many that arrived by train, were sent straight to the gas chambers.
If you were one of the lucky ones and were spared, you would have to live in poor living conditions, with little food provisions, sanitation and was sent to work. Many that were not sent to the gas chambers died later from starvation, illness and disease.
It is estimated that 1.1 million people died alone at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Following the liberation and final end to World War II, in 1947 Auschwitz-Birkenau became a UNESCO Worl Heritage Site.
The tour guide will take you around both the camps and provide details at every stage. There are a number of really emotional sections within both camps. The main points that really stick to our mind, are the people’s belongings, such as, glasses, suitcases and even hair on display. You are shown to the section, where prisoners were lined up and shot, the horrible living conditions prisoners would have endured and the gas chamber where prisoners would have been sent to death.
This is one place that really puts your life into perspective, just thinking how lucky we really are.
Tips on visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau
You must book your tickets in advance and online. Make sure you get there early, so you don’t miss a thing. Your tour guide won’t wait for you.
If you have taken a bag with you, you can’t take it into the camps. Leave it at the bag stop for under 10 Zloty (£1.90 – $2.62). It is safe to leave it there, you’ll be given a ticket, to pick up your bag after your tour.
There’s a free bus between both camps, as Auschwitz and Birkenau are about 5-minute drive from each. Once your tour ends, you can explore Birkenau camp at your own leisure and we would highly recommend doing so.
To get from Krakow to Auschwitz, we would highly recommend purchasing your ticket for the bus from Get Your Guides. We purchased our tickets online, which was easy to do and a smooth process with no issues. We took the bus from Krakow Glowny train station, which took us straight to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Where to stay in Krakow on a budget
Accommodation can be one of the biggest things that eat into your budget.
We spent 4 nights in Krakow and booked a stay in and Airbnb close to Krakow Glowny Train Station, which was the best location. AND, very budget friendly, at a cost of £25.00 (131.49 Zloty – $34.47) a night.
If you want to stay on a budget and spend as little as possible on accommodation, then Airbnb is the place to book.
If you are not sure about staying in an Airbnb, then you next best option is a hostel. Hostels are the most affordable way to keep to a tight budget and have somewhere to sleep. You can book a bed in a dorm room for about £22.00 per night (115.71 Zloty – $30.33).
Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travelers. But many hostels will have the basic facilities, such as a dorm room, communal showers and toilets and some may include breakfast.
Hostels are not for everyone.
There are other options on staying in Krakow on a budget such as a hotel or B&B. Hotel and B&B prices start at about £50.00 per night. You’ll find there private and comfortable, with many offering breakfast with the booking.
To really keep to a tight budget when visiting Krakow, you need to be flexible with your travel dates. As mentioned above, avoid travelling during school holidays, as prices will suddenly increase. If possible, avoid weekend travel. When searching for accommodation, you want to find something that’s in a good location, with good reviews and of course budget friendly.
You can book your accommodation by checking the below:
How to get around Krakow
Public transport is so inexpensive in Krakow, but to really save money and keep well within your budget, we would suggest walking as much as possible. The benefits of walking mean you can see all those hidden gems that you might have missed on public transport. Think of the health benefits and the environment, but most importantly, how much money you’ll save.
To help you plan your trip on a budget, we have details on the methods of getting around Krakow.
If you are arriving by air, the closest airport to Krakow is John Paul II International Airport. Located about 17 miles from Krakow town centre.
There’s a train service from the airport straight to Krakow Glowny station, which takes about 17 minutes and costing as little as 8 Zloty (£1.52 – $2.10). This is the cheapest and easiest way to get into Krakow from the airport.
There are taxis to Krakow from the airport at a cost of 80 Zloty (£15.21 – $20.97).
If you are travelling from within Europe, there are many budget friendly European airlines. We flew with Ryanair, which is relatively cheap. But as mentioned before, be flexible with your dates to get the best deal.
The main bus terminus is located at Krakow Glowny train station.
Buses include travel to the capital Warsaw and Wroctaw. While more local route will include destinations within Krakow and the surrounding area.
The main Krakow train transportation hub is Krakow Glowny station.
One of the most convenient ways to get around Krakow and the surrounding area. But there’s also domestic and international services which include, Gdansk, Lublin, Poznan, Torun, Warsaw, Wroctaw, Bratislava, Berlin, Budapest, Lviv and Prague.
Travelling by car is the most convenient way to get around Krakow and Poland on a budget. You don’t have to rely on a timetable to get you from A to B and it could work out to be a cheaper option compared to all the train tickets or bus tickets you’ll have to purchase. Plus, you have the option of visiting more with a road trip around Poland.
Yet, parking in Krakow can be limited and if you are not familiar with the town, it could be more hassle. Hiring a car could be more expensive than travelling via public transport. Bare this in mind if you were planning to drive in Poland.
Our most favored method of getting around Krakow is on foot. Not only is it free, it is great for the environment and good for your health.
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Tips on visiting Krakow on a budget
Do you ever wonder how people travel so often? Or how people travel the world full time? That’s simple! Travellers like us, plan, research, save and budget our holidays. Do you want to travel as much as possible or full time? All you have to do, is follow our simple tips on how to travel on a budget.
You’ll need to research where you want to go, when you want to travel, what you are prepared to spend on accommodation and how much you intend to spend per person per day for meals to establish your budget. Try some of these tips and techniques to be able to save more on your budget and travel more.
- Try travelling off season, as prices are often at their cheapest. By Booking off season, you could save more money compared to travelling during the summer months or school holidays.
- Book your flights in advance to pick up the best deals and book mid-week dates. Weekend travel tends to be more expensive.
- When shopping around for deals, search via incognito browser or clearing your browser history regularly. In our experience, we have shopped around for deals, before checking a week later and the price alters due to the tracking cookies from that website. If you search in incognito browser, you should have a more accurate deal.
- By registering with airlines for airmiles, you collect airmiles for every booking you make with them. As you collect the miles, you can apply the points to future trips, upgrades, or free flights.
- This links with the above, with certain credit card providers, they’ll offer points on airmiles for purchases you make on the card. The more you spend, the more points you could receive which in turn gives more savings on travel deals, upgrades, or free flights.
- Many attractions offer discounts for online ticket purchases, plan your holiday by visiting the attractions website and book tickets where appropriate.
- Check out what attractions are free, or what days are free entry, that way you could save more money, but also keeping within your budget.
- Are there any free classes in the area that you could be interested in? You could learn more about the culture, by taking up a class, but you would still have a Krakow adventure.
- Accommodation can sometimes be a real budget killer, staying in a hostel is cheaper and a great way to meet new people.
- If a hostel is not ideal for you, research what types of accommodations available. You could pick up a bargain by staying in a small B&B or hotel.
- Public transport can be inexpensive, especially if you can pick up a discounted public transport card. In our experience however, walking is the cheapest and best way to get around. It’s healthy for you, and environmentally friendly. But by walking you can stumble upon a hidden gem that you may have passed by on public transport.
- Prior to your trip, research the places to eat, check out their menu and price before you travel. Once you have found the places you want to eat, within your budget range, then include this in your itinerary. It’s also a good idea to have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend per person, per day, per meal. Our budget is £10.00 per person, per meal, per day, totaling £30.00 per person per day. If we can find a place that serves what we like for less, then we are saving money even before we travel, bonus.
- We would also recommend buying groceries from the local supermarket. The food is often cheaper and buying food can last for a number of days, meaning your money has gone further just on food.
Travelling really doesn’t have to be expensive, we have implemented these simple steps to allow us to still travel but have that adventure and so can you!
Check out the below to help you budget for your trip to Krakow.
How much did we spend in Krakow?
With Krakow being a budget friendly place to visit, we took £200.00 (1051.91 Zloty – $275.74) on a 4-night trip and we came back with between £50-£100.00.
Of course, we budgeted and researched before travelling, but it just goes to show that it really is possible to stay well within a budget that you set, providing you are careful with the spending.
It’s always good practice to have extra money in the event of an emergency, which is exactly what we did. We will now use the money we didn’t spend in Krakow; to spend on another trip to Poland such as Warsaw.
Where to eat on a budget
Why spend money on eating out in Krakow, when you could make your own food. If you purchase the food from the local grocery store and make it, not only will it be healthy, but it is a good way to cut your budget in half.
We would recommend making sandwiches, pasta, salads, for your lunch and evening meals, while packing fruit and healthy snacks for on the go, while you are out exploring the things to do in Krakow. Most of these foods are cheap to buy, easy to make and pack, ready for your Krakow Adventures.
If you are travelling as a couple or family/group, you could set your food budget for less than £10.00 for the entire trip rather than £10.00+ per person per meal.
I’m on holiday, why would I want to make my own food, when I could eat out in restaurants or cafes? As Krakow is so budget friendly, it would still be easy to eat out on every meal and not break the bank. However, you need to decide what is more important. Spending all your savings on one adventure, or saving money, keeping to a tight budget, but still having an adventure and then having another travel adventure later in the year.
The best way to keep within your budget, is researching the places to eat before you go. Go online and check where you could eat and check their menus before you travel. This will give you a good idea on the prices for a main meal and drinks. If your price is above your budget, move onto the next place until you find somewhere that’s within your budget.
To help you plan your trip, why not download the FREE travel planner, that way you can plan and budget for your holiday.
Don’t forget you need to maintain your hydration. This will increase your food and drinks budget. To keep things to a minimum, drink more water. Water is free and easy to come by. We have a water pouch plus reusable water bottles that we fill to keep us hydrated.
Not everyone likes plain water, so add a little bit of fruit juice, again it is cheap and the best way to stay within your budget.
You can easily set a budget of £10.00 per person per meal just as we did.
Do you need ideas on where to eat in Krakow? Then check out these places:
The Old Town
There’re so many restaurants in the Old Town, to sit back, enjoy the view and eat the delicious Polish food.
We stopped at Vintage Restauracja & Winiarnia, just along the Main Square, with great views of the Cloth Hall and the horse and carriages. The food was delicious yet so inexpensive. We often had a two to three course meal for the same price as a main meal in the UK. Now that’s a bargain.
We ordered typical Polish food, such as Beetroot soup, pierogi (dumplings stuffed with a savoury or sweet filling) and so many more dishes. While in Poland, it is a must to eat Polish food.
The Galaria Krakowska is a shopping centre in the north of Krakow beside the main train station.
There’re a few fast-food outlets including McDonalds located in the shopping centre, alternatively some quaint little cafes and food outlets.
What to pack
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
Poland is seasonal, so depending on when you travel will depend on what you will need to pack.
It isn’t just the clothing you need to consider; you’ll need to pack the correct documents such as passport and visa if this is required.
Why not head over to our post on what to pack for a trip to Poland. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.
Are you planning to visit Poland during Christmas? Here are 7 reason to visit Poland during Christmas.
We have covered some exciting things to do in Krakow along with all our tips on how to visit on a budget. Poland has become one of our favourite places to visit in Europe, with so much history to uncover.
We don’t want you to miss out on visiting Krakow just because you feel it isn’t affordable. We have proven to you that it really is possible to travel on a budget. Krakow is a budget friendly place to visit in the first instance, but there’s still a few free things to do in Krakow to keep your budget to a minimum.
If you also buy your own food at the local supermarket rather than eating out in restaurants and cafes for every meal, you could save so much more money.
By staying in budget friendly accommodation and travelling during off peak season, you could easily save more money.
AND by saving more money, you could be travelling more.
We hope that you enjoy Krakow as much as we do and manage to stay on budget.
Have you visited Krakow? What was your favourite things to do in Krakow? Did you set a budget and keep to it? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
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