Once the capital of Poland, Krakow may be best known for its castle and charming old town. But those who want a deeper introduction to Polish history can head to the city’s plethora of interesting, informative museums. Here are a few top picks.
Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska)
Wawel 3, Krakow, 31-001
As one of Krakow’s key historical buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wawel Cathedral is an essential part of visiting the city. While outwardly less impressive than St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny), it’s steeped in royal history, so included on almost every city tour.
Explore independently with an audio guide, on a full-day tour with a guide to chart its royal past, or on a private tour that also covers Krakow’s former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. Alternatively, if you’re stuck for time, take a shorter overview tour of Krakow’s landmarks, or combine two outings in one—perhaps booking a culinary-and-sightseeing tour that includes street-food tastings in between stops at Krakow’s principal sites. You can also view the cathedral and other Krakow must-sees on day trips from places such as Wroclaw or on multi-day Poland tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wawel Cathedral is a must for history aficionados and first-time visitors to Krakow.
Cathedral admission is free, although a small all-in-one fee applies for the Sigismund Bell, royal crypts, and museum.
Wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan to climb the bell tower.
How to Get There
Wawel Cathedral lies on Wawel Hill in Krakow’s Old Town. To reach it on foot from the Main Market Square, follow Grodska and Kanonicza—it’s about a 10-minute walk. The nearest tram stops are Wawel and Stradom, and the closest bus stops are Jubilat and Stradom.
When to Get There
Wawel Cathedral welcomes visitors Monday–Saturday morning to late afternoon and on Sunday after lunch to late afternoon between April and October; the church is open morning to afternoon between November and April. The cathedral museum operates by the same times but is closed on Sundays. To avoid the busiest times, aim to visit early on weekdays.
What to See at Wawel Cathedral
Top sights include the belfry’s 500-year-old Sigismund Bell—one of the world’s biggest. Climb the stairs to see it and make a wish—it’s said it will come true. Other must-sees include the cathedral museum’s royal regalia and weaponry and the 10 royal tombs in the crypts. The other highlight is St. Stanislaus’ tomb, which takes pride of place in the nave.
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- Wawel Royal Castle (Zamek Wawelski)
- Wawel Hill
- Archdiocesan Museum (Muzeum Archidiecezjalne w Krakowie)
- Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace (Polish National Museum in Krakow)
- Archaeological Museum of Krakow (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie)
- Krakow Pinball Museum
- Józef Czapski Pavilion (Pawilon Józefa Czapskiego)
- Tempel Synagogue (Synagoga Tempel)
- Stained Glass Workshop and Museum (Pracownia i Muzeum Witrazu)
- Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square)
- St. Adalbert Church (Kościól Św. Wojciecha)
- Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagielloński)
- St. Stanislaus Church (Skalka)
- Plac Nowy
- Planty Park