Krakow is an all-round winner when it comes to city breaks, thanks to its fascinating history, amazing nightlife and intriguing neighbourhoods. But if you’ve got a spare day or half-day on your city break itinerary, then why not venture a little further afield and see what else the surrounding parts of Poland have to offer?
Here are the top day trips from Krakow:
Just an hour’s drive out of the city will bring you to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It opened in 1940 and was one of the largest German Nazi concentration camps during World War II and the Holocaust. More than one million men, women and children lost their lives here. There are two sites to see – Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and during a guided tour, you’ll gain a much better understanding of what really happened here during history’s ‘darkest time’.
You’ll get to see most of the grounds and buildings during your tour, including officials’ offices, rows upon rows of wooden prisoner barracks (some of them in ruin), and the chilling gas chambers.
As a guide, expect to spend around three to four hours here to explore both sites fully. It’s a truly moving experience, and one that may be tough for some visitors, but it’s one that you’re guaranteed never to forget.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
This UNESCO World Heritage site needs to be seen to be believed. Just imagine heading 135 metres below the ground into the oldest salt mine in the world and seeing grand halls, staircases, chapels, and even intricate chandeliers made entirely of rock salt!
On a guided tour, you’ll get to learn about the miners who worked in the mine and the amazing salt extraction machinery and techniques that they used. The mine was in use for more than 700 years, so there’s lots of history and heritage to learn about along the way. Plus, it’s only a 30-minute drive south of Krakow, making it ideal to tag on to a morning’s sightseeing in the city!
Tatra Mountain National Park
If you want to experience some of Poland’s green spaces while on a city break to Krakow, make a beeline for the Tatra Mountains. This one’s a little further afield and takes around three hours in the car from Krakow. But if you head out nice and early, you’ll have the whole day to explore this rich alpine landscape at your leisure.
You can give all sorts of activities a try when you get here, including hiking, cycling, skiing or even mountain climbing. Follow cobbled walkways through the park and see traditional wooden, chalet-style houses dotted throughout. Keep your eyes peeled as you may also spot a number of native species, from wolves to wildcats and bears to marmots!
Ski fan? This stunning alpine town has your name written all over it. It’s handily on the edge of the Tatra Mountain National Park, so you could visit on your return journey to the city. Its cobbled streets are lined with intricate wooden shops selling all kinds of local souvenirs. Oscypek is a smoked cheese made from salted sheep’s milk exclusively in the surrounding Tatra Mountains and is a must-try if you’re in the area!
There are galleries and museums that you can visit and learn how this resort went from a tiny Polish village to one of the most popular mountain resorts north of the Alps!
Feel inspired to book a Krakow city break?
Posted: 26th Oct 2021. Updated: 28th Jun 2023.