Dating back to the seventh century, Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland. It is the capital of the Małopolskie region, surrounded by beautiful nature and attractive cultural and educational offerings. With its thriving food scene, stunning Medieval Old Town, and tons of fascinating historical landmarks, you might not consider leaving Poland’s former capital. But trust us, participating in tours and day trips from Krakow is one of the most incredible experiences you’ll ever have in the country.
Venturing out of the city and visiting the countryside and neighboring places will reveal many aspects and features of Poland you won’t otherwise witness. You’ll discover many Polish historical and cultural spots, see other UNESCO World Heritage sites, and marvel at the wonders of nature, including national parks, rivers, mountains, and cliffs. Just remember to only bring your essentials and leave the rest at a luggage storage facility in Krakow for maximum flexibility and comfort on your day trip.
But if your time is limited for a few day trips, you can always plan a tour of the best museums in Krakow. You can choose from numerous specialty and natural history museums highlighting the city’s colorful past and history as the old capital of Poland and the former seat of Polish monarchs.
How to get out of Krakow
If you know how to get around Krakow, it would also be easy to understand how to travel out of the city. Sure, renting a car is probably your best bet for visiting nearby attractions and sightseeing outside the city center at your own pace. But you can also move around easily by relying on public transportation, thanks to Krakow’s reliable public transit system.
The city is well-connected, and many towns and cities can be reached by train from Krakow, including Wroclaw and Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. PKP InterCity operates the fastest trains, but you should book your tickets in advance because seat reservations are a must. The primary train station is at the center of town, including Kraków Główny, which lies north of the iconic Old Town and is a short walk from the Main Market Square.
You can also take a bus, but note that not all destinations will have daily services and timetables are subject to change for both the trains and buses. Queues are also common, so always leave extra time if you’re buying a ticket at a train station.
From Krakow to Zakopane
Roughly 62 miles (100km) from Krakow is a town called Zakopane, the country’s winter resort, nestled at the foot of the majestic Tatra mountains. It’s also regarded as Poland’s outdoor capital, providing visitors unlimited access to waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, alpine forests, wildlife, meadow-filled valleys, and more. Most Poles take a day trip from Krakow to Zakopane for a winter holiday, but it is worth a trip here at any time of the year.
Zakopane borders Tatra National Park, offering an array of adventures and fun activities. Trails at the park are abundant, many of which allow for a full-day hike. Then you can return to the town and soak in the relaxing environment at the well-equipped guest house. In addition to the beautiful scenery, Zakopane is known for its unique architecture known as Zakopane Style. It combines reinforced stone structures and wooden framing, typical of Goral cottages.
How to get to Zakopane
Driving to visit Zakopane may be the most convenient option for most people, but taking a bus also proves to be fun as you can enjoy the views on the way. You can catch a train, but you’ll eventually need to change to a bus, which can take longer.
From Krakow to Wieliczka Salt Mine
The advancement of ancient Poland is credited to the high profits from salt extraction, with the Wieliczka Salt Mine contributing to most of the production. The Wieliczka region was first dug up in a search for sources of salt in the 13th century, but it wasn’t until the 15th century that the underground levels went further deep.
After about seven centuries, the mine now has nine levels, reaching the deepest point of 327m. Specifically, it has about 245km of hallowed out corridors, 26 shafts, and nine million m³ of post-excavation voids. However, only 2% of the mine is available for visitors to explore. More than 45 million people have been to the mine to witness its unique geological structure and secondary crystallization salts. Along with the neighboring Bochnia salt mine, the Wieliczka mine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s oldest salt mines.
How to get to Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is located at Daniłowicza 10 32-020 Wieliczka. If you’re driving there, you can get to the attraction after traveling 10km southeast of Krakow City Centre. Two parking spaces are available, one at Dembowskiego 22 and another at Daniłowicza 10.
Alternatively, you can go by the suburban train from the Krakow Główny station to the Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia station or by bus line 304 from Dworzec Główny Zachód to Wieliczka Kopalnia Soli or Wieliczka Rynek.
From Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau
Undoubtedly, a journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau is one of the most famous Krakow day trips you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. A former Nazi concentration camp during World War II, Auschwitz-Birkenau opened in 1940 and was the most lethal of Nazi Germany’s extermination camps. Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people died here, about 90% of whom were Jews.
Today, Auschwitz-Birkenau serves as a memorial and museum, attracting millions of people who are welcome to explore the buildings and grounds of the camps. Entry to the museum is free, but there are entry restrictions during the high season between April and October. There are also guided tours, which can last for 2.5 hours to two-day study tours.
How to get to Auschwitz-Birkenau
There are several ways to get to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Krakow, including going to the camps as part of an organized tour. But if you’re traveling on a budget, taking public transport can be your best option. You can catch a bus for more flexibility or a shuttle bus, which leaves from the upper level of Dworzec MDA bus station in Krakow. There are thirteen shuttle buses daily from 6:20 AM to 4:15 PM, and the journey takes an hour and a half each way.
From Krakow to Ojców National Park
Poland is home to several national parks, and the Ojców National Park is undoubtedly one of the most notable. Despite being the smallest in the country, with a total area of 2,145 hectares, it houses 12,000 species of fauna and 950 different kinds of flora. At the Ojców National Park, you can learn and see the forest’s biodiversity for yourself.
Besides the thriving life in the forest, there’s more to the Ojców National Park that visitors will love. One of which is its geological structure, with its 150 million years old Jurassic limestone bed, 700 caves, and a variety of valleys, steep canyons, and other stone formations. Architectural landmarks such as the Renaissance castle at Pieskowa Skała and the ruins of the gothic castle in Ojcow can also be found there.
How to get to Ojców National Park
The Ojców National Park can be found in the southern part of the Krakow-Częstochowa Upland. To get there from Krakow, drive or take a taxi 30 kilometers north for about 35 minutes. You can also take the bus line 210 from Rondo Ofiar Katynia to Czajowice or Muzeum Narodowe to Ojców Złota Góra, then get a taxi to the park from there.
From Krakow to Dunajec River Gorge
The Dunajec River Gorge is located in the Pieniny National Park and is renowned for its geological and geomorphological features. It stretches from the north of Slovakia to the south of Poland, forming part of the border between the said countries.
The Dunajec River Gorge has layers of limestone and dolomite rock and cliffs reaching up to 300 meters high. It’s also famous for its high biodiversity concentration with the myriad of flora and flora despite the limited area.
The best way to enjoy the sights is by traveling on the water with the available guided tours. You can go by a traditional wooden raft, wooden canoe, or modern pontoon. It lasts for two to three hours, covering about 18km from the village of Sromowce Nizne to the town of Szczawnica. You can also go kayaking downstream and hike or cycle on the well-maintained, unpaved path through the gorge.
How to get to Dunajec River Gorge
From Krakow, drive south for approximately 120km for about two hours to get to the Dunajec River Gorge. You can also take a 2 hours and 30 minutes train from Krakow Glowny to Nowy Targ before taking a taxi to the destination. For bus routes, get a ride at the Jubilat stop until Szaflary Wieś or Nowy Targ, then go by taxi.
From Krakow to Babia Gora National Park
Suppose you’re up for an incredible hiking day trip from Krakow. In that case, Babia Gora National Park offers a mountainous escape from the city’s buzz. Along with Tatry National Park, Babia Gora National Park is UNESCO listed as a World Biosphere Reserve. It boasts about 700 flowering plant species and over 200 species of mosses, roughly 200 lichen species, and about 100 algae species. So if you love plant life and flowers, exploring the park isn’t a bad idea.
Babia Gora National Park is a favorite weekend trekking spot, with hiking trails and Babia Gora's rugged peaks often crowded in summer. Outdoor enthusiasts can climb Babia Gora year-round, but between August and October offers excellent views and good weather. There are also many moderate hikes for beginners where they can still find spectacular viewpoints and take in the beautiful scenery.
How to get to Babia Gora National Park
There are a few private tours with a local tour guide that can organize transportation for you. But if you want to go on your own, hire a car, which will take you about an hour and a half to two hours. Alternatively, you may catch a train from the city to Sucha Beskidzka. Then get a taxi for the remaining seventeen miles to the National Park.
From Krakow to Tarnow
Also dubbed as the “Pearl of the Renaissance” of Poland is Tarnow, the country’s most well-preserved European Old Town. If you’re into renaissance architecture, you’re sure to have a fantastic time in the city.
Make sure to stop by the historic Tarnów Town Hall in Stary Rynek, the Old Town Square. It’s a 15th-century Gothic building now functioning as a museum for silver and glass relics of Tarnow’s noble rulers.
Other famous places to go to in Tarnow include the mausoleum of General Józef Bem, the Jewish Cemetery, Mikvah or Jewish Bath House, the Old Synagogue, Zalipie village, Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the iconic statue of Pope John Paul II. Besides these, there are other monuments, castle ruins, museums, and galleries to explore.
How to get to Tarnow
Tarnow is the neighboring city of Krakow, located about 90km east. If you drive or take a taxi to get there, it will take you about an hour. Alternative routes include taking a train from the Krakow Glowny to Tarnow and a bus from Kraków Mda to Tarnów, Do Huty 04 P&R.
Plan Exhilarating Krakow Day Trips!
Whether you have a month, a week, or just three days in Krakow, be sure to include exciting day trips in your itinerary. Apart from the famous towns and quaint villages, discover off-the-beaten-path destinations and take your time exploring other lesser-known places from the former royal capital. As you do so, you’ll realize that traveling to Poland is much more wonderful than you expected.