The capital of Poland between 1038 and 1596, Krakow is one of the country’s largest cities known for its impressive historic architecture and cultural gems. Its medieval Old Town, the Historic Centre of Kraków, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, brimming with cobbled thoroughfares, architectural monuments, and priceless cultural gems. It’s also a pride of Poland and definitely a must-visit tourist destination in Europe. Visit this city for shopping and dining experiences too.
History buffs or not will enjoy exploring the innovative museums in Krakow, which combine modernity with tradition. They are important educational and cultural centers that will take you back to the city’s 7th-century past until the present day. No wonder it’s the most recognizable and most visited Polish city, receiving over eight million visitors each year.
It's impossible to list everything that makes this former Polish capital a beautiful masterpiece. But among them are the best museums in Krakow that are unlike anything you’ll find in the world. If you’re arriving from the airport and unable to check in to your hotel, use a reliable luggage service in Krakow. This way, you can visit more places and make the most of your adventure without dragging your bags around.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Formally opened on May 19th, 2011, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK) is one of the city’s newest museums. It features sculptures, photographs, paintings, and installation art by local and foreign artists.
The modern museum aims to collect and present Polish contemporary art from the second half of the 20th century. Its largest collection is the Potocka Gallery Collection, donated in 2011 and 2014. Today, it holds more than 5,000 works by many Polish and international artists.
The MOCAK is housed in a two-story building with a glass wall as its dominant feature. It’s an inviting and inspiring accent that helps the building’s energy efficiency in winter so visitors can enjoy the lovely exhibitions comfortably year-round. It is open from Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday to Sunday between 11 AM to 7 PM. On Fridays, visitors can visit from 11 AM to 8 PM.
Location: Lipowa 4, 30-702 Kraków, Poland
National Museum in Krakow
Established in October 1879, the National Museum in Krakow was the first national museum institution when the people of Poland were deprived of their own country and statehood. It was also the only large museum the public could access in Polish land until the end of World War 1.
A visit to the museum will take you to a wonderful world of art with the permanent collection of the late 19th and 20th centuries of Polish painting. The main building is also home to permanent galleries, including the Gallery of Decorative Arts and Arms and Uniforms in Poland. The National Museum is also home to a number of independent departments and several studios for textiles, frames, furniture, ancient art, painting, and museum workshops.
Krakow's National Museum is perfect for art fans interested in militaria collectibles, decorative designs, and Polish art. It is open from 10 AM to 6 PM from Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sundays.
Location: al. 3 Maja 1, 30-062 Kraków, Poland
Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum
Head to the city’s Jewish quarter, the Kazimierz district, and you’ll find one of the best Krakow museums you shouldn’t miss during your trip. The Ethnographic Museum first opened on February 19th, 1911, due to the relentless efforts of Seweryn Udziela. It features a collection of over 80,000 artifacts and interesting items, giving us a glance at the history of Polish folk culture in magnificent buildings blooming with art and vibrant folk interiors.
The museum has two locations: the Kazimierz Town Hall and a 14th-century gothic building called Esther’s House. The impressive old building, Town Hall, holds a permanent collection, while Esther’s House hosts educational workshops and temporary exhibits. The House is also home to the Ethnographic Museum’s administrative offices and library.
Locations: City Hall, 1 Wolnica Square; 46 Krakowska St., Krakow, Poland
Galicia Jewish Museum
If you want to learn about the Jewish past in Poland, this museum is the place to go. The Galicia Jewish Museum is a unique and innovative institution located in the city's Jewish district. It is dedicated to celebrating the Jewish culture of Polish Galicia and commemorating the Holocaust victims through an exciting array of temporary exhibitions, tours, and educational programs.
Hungry visitors can refuel at the Museum café, serving a range of cold and hot drinks, snacks, and catering options for groups. While resting, you can admire the architecture and post-industrial atmosphere with bright wood, metal, and glass while retaining many of the building’s original structure and elements. In addition to exhibits, this lovely museum is also a famous venue for social and cultural events, performers, concerts, and local artists. It is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM.
Location: ul. Dajwór 18, 31-052 Kraków, Poland
Archaeological Museum of Krakow
One of the city’s first cultural institutions and the oldest archaeological museum in Poland opened its doors in 1850. The Archaeological Museum in Krakow boasts an excellent collection of over half a million archaeological finds and artifacts from the Paleolithic era to the modern period.
This delightful museum features permanent and temporary exhibits, but the highlight is the Prehistory and Early Middle Ages of Little Poland. It introduces visitors to a Neanderthal man from 70,000 years ago to the townfolks of medieval Krakow from 700 years ago. The presentation covers twelve time periods and different development stages of the communities.
Other permanent exhibitions include the Gods of Ancient Egypt, the History of the Building Housing of the Archaeological Museum in Krakow, and the Peruvian Collections of Władysław Kluger. You can check them out during the exhibition hours from 9 AM to 5 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays, and 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.
Location: Poselska 3, 31-002 Kraków, Poland
The Krakow Stained Glass Museum
Krakow has been connected with stained-glass art for centuries, so it’s not surprising to find the country’s only stained-glass museum here. It is located on the premises of the iconic stained-glass studio S. G. Żeleński, offering visitors an opportunity to watch talented artists work and learn about the intricate process of creating monumental glass.
It’s actually both an interesting museum and a workshop, where many of Poland’s stained-glass windows are created. It participates in prestigious exhibits and even receives various medals and awards.
Visitors are welcome to see the permanent exhibition and temporary displays through guided tours and workshops. There are also art workshops and museum lessons for organized groups and schools. Be sure to call to organize a visit, which typically lasts 45 minutes.
Location: al. Krasińskiego 23, 31-111 Kraków, Poland
Rynek Underground Museum
Opened to the public in September 201, Rynek Underground Museum invites everyone to follow the traces of Krakow’s European identity through its permanent exhibit and programs. The underground museum takes guests four meters below the Main Square ('Rynek Główny') through the excavated vendors’ stalls during the Middle Ages. It boasts abundant traces of the site’s centuries of history, presenting the link between Krakow and medieval Europe’s chief centers of culture and trade.
Who would’ve thought that between Saint Mary’s Church and Cloth Hall, just a few meters underground, is a treasure trove of knowledge about the city’s rich past? It features Medieval artifacts, videos, and other recreations and photographs.
Rynek Underground Museum is a famous tourist attraction. It’s only limited to 300 people at a time, so book your visit in advance to avoid disappointment or long lines. It is open from 10 AM to 7 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursday s, 10 AM to 2 PM on Tuesdays, and 10 AM to 8 PM on Fridays and Sundays. Also, remember that it’s closed every second Monday of the month.
Location: Rynek Główny 1, 31-042 Kraków, Poland
The Princes Czartoryski Museum
Poland’s oldest museum, the Princes Czartoryski Museum, was founded by Princess Izabela Czartoryska in 1801. It is dedicated to keeping Krakow’s history alive and preserving the country’s heritage and Polish history. It is one of Poland’s most famous museums and the first in the world devoted to the nation’s history and presenting its heritage through historical exhibitions.
Czartoryski Museum focuses on the history of European painting between the 13th and 18th centuries and European and Islamic arts and crafts up to the 19th century. Its most valuable exhibits on display are Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th-century painting The Lady with an Ermine and Rembrandt van Rijn’s 1638 painting Landscape with the Good Samaritan.
In addition to the sweeping historic paintings of world-renowned artists, the masterpieces at the museum include applied arts, military items, crafts, sculptures, and other notable artworks compiled by legendary art collectors. Visitors can view them in the twenty-six exhibition halls on two levels of the new Palace of the Princes Czartoryski Museum. It is open from 10 AM to 6 PM from Tuesdays through Sundays.
Location: ul. Pijarska 15, 31-015 Kraków
Wawel Royal Castle
Combine sightseeing with your historical escapade at Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Hill. It is Poland’s most culturally and historically important site, which has become the symbol of Polish statehood and the home of kinds for centuries. Today, the castle is one of the premier art museums in the country, with ten curatorial departments taking care of the painting collections.
Come and pick the unique exhibitions you want to see. You can take a guided tour, head to the Sandomierska Tower, descend to the Dragon’s Den, or see the Royal Private Apartments. There are also special displays and temporary exhibitions, as well as live performances, music performances, and more.
Location: Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
Polish Aviation Museum
People interested in military and aviation should definitely visit the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow. It is nestled in the former site of the Kraków-Rakowice-Czyżyny Airport, which was one of Europe’s oldest permanent airfields. It boasts an outstanding collection of motors and aircraft strategically distributed throughout the old hangers and runways.
You’ll discover priceless aviation treasures as you visit the museum. These include anti-aircraft weaponry, fighter jets, gliders, helicopters, planes, and aircraft built for the Cold War, World War I, and World War II. Part of the temporary exhibition is the first Polish supersonic MiG-19PM aircraft, which has been in the museum for 44 years.
Location: al. Jana Pawła II 39, 31-864 Kraków, Poland
What are the best free museums in Krakow?
Are you visiting Krakow on a limited budget? If so, the city has plenty of free attractions and sights for everyone. The grandiose Krakow museums may seem intimidating and expensive, but if you know when to visit, you can get tickets for free.
A perfect example is Wawel Castle, which regularly offers free tickets on certain days and times. Always check the website and come early to enjoy free admission. Princes Czartoryski Museum is also free to visit on Tuesdays.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Krakow?
You don’t have to travel far from the downtown core to see the city’s top cultural attractions. A stone’s throw from the Main Square are numerous History Museums in Krakow, including the Rynek Underground, Schindler's Factory, The Krzysztofory Palace, the Old Synagogue, and many more. You can also explore the City Defense Walls and the Town Hall Tower in the middle of the central square.
Are there any cheap museums in Krakow?
Absolutely! With over 45 museums, art galleries, and historical buildings, Krakow has no shortage of budget-friendly cultural sights. For instance, a regular rate in the National Museum is under $4, but when reduced can go as low as about $2.18. For visitors who want to go to the Aviation Museum with their families, children up to six years old are free, and the family rate is still below $10.
Discover Krakow’s Colorful History!
Delve deeper into the city's rich medieval history by visiting the legendary Krakow museums, magnificent monuments, palaces, and churches. Start your adventure at the iconic Old Town, and make your way to historical institutions dotted throughout the city. You don’t have to spend a lot while exploring Krakow, as plenty of free and cheap attractions will complete your adventure.