Krakow is known as the cultural capital of Poland. Stunning architecture and historical landmarks like the Royal Castle atop Wawel Hill make it a top sightseeing destination. It’s also home tobuzzing Polish bars, world cuisines and, of course, Polish vodka, with a huge range of different flavours worth trying.
It’s a small city, easily explored on foot. It’s around 25 minutes from the airport to the city centre, and you could always hire a party bus to kick off the fun early. If you’re looking for warmer weather, May to September time would be your best bet. The impressive Christmas markets, however, are worth braving the cold weather for.
If you are thinking of organising a stag do in Krakow then why not check out ourKrakow Stag Optionsor talk to one of our stag experts who will help organize everything from accommodation, airport transfers, bars crawls, VIP night clubs and every type of experience and activity you can think of to make your stag weekend the most memorable of your life!
When to Visit Krakow
Still considered low season, spring (March to May) is the time to bag a bargain on hotels and flights to Krakow. When the sun shines, the temperature can creep up to 18 degrees: perfect weather to sip beer at the Easter Market in Market Square, or join the May madness of Juwenalia: a week of bonkers parties across the city dedicated to university students (most are open to outsiders, so get involved!).
Krakow enjoys hot summers (June to August) with plenty of sunshine, broken up by the odd thunder storm. This is when the streets of the Old Town and Kazimierz are at their liveliest and outdoor stages across the city host a variety of live shows and music, all for free. The biggest street party is Wianki, where locals don flower wreaths and hop around tons of club nights. Beer gardens are the place to be, best enjoyed during the fried and steamed delights of the Pierogi Festival.
September to November sees a significant drop in temperature, so be prepared to bundle up. This is the best time to appreciate Krakow’s hearty, traditional food and drink in toasty warm taverns. If you’re in the market for a bit of a rave, the electronic Unsound Festival brings wild parties and superstar DJs.
The dark nights of winter (December to February) are made a little brighter in Krakow as the Christmas Market gets into full swing. Beers and bratwurst, gluhwein and grilled meat keep bellies full and spirits high. As the thermometer drops below freezing, there’s a chance of catching Krakow in a postcard-perfect dusting of snow.
Explore the City
In the shadow of the beautiful St Mary’s Basilica, Old Town is the beating heart of Krakow. Rynek Główny is the largest medieval market square in Europe and is filled with lively market stalls. This is where you’ll find all the popular restaurants,bars and clubs.
Krakow’s historic Jewish quarter is a vibrant area full of culture. There’s a mix of indie galleries, vintage shops and quirky bars that range from cocktail dens to shabby-chic spaces. Here you’ll find the city’salternative nightlife, like Opium Music Club and Alchemia.
Party on the beach
On a hot summer's day, take the stag party to Kryspinow. This artificial beach is set around a huge lake, just 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre. It has its own bar, swimming area, waterslide and volleyball and basketball courts - everything you need for a beach party. For food, there are grill bars and pizzerias, plus a log cabin restaurant, Skansken Smakow, for local specialities.
Visit the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, now transformed into a museum and memorial where you can still see the ruins of prison blocks and gas chambers.A guided tourwill take you through the horrors that this place once held. Fair warning - while it is worth seeing, this is an emotional experience not to be taken lightly so it might put a damper on the party mood.
Stag Nightlife in Krakow
The folk of Krakow are tough cookies. The city’s nightlife is designed for drinking vodka like it’s water and knocking back beers like there’s a national shortage.
Thanks to a thriving student population, alcohol prices in Krakow are low and drinks deals are plentiful.
There are more bars per square meter in Krakow’s Old Town than anywhere else on Earth, making it perfect for astag bar crawl. You’ll find everything from strip clubs, to traditional taverns, upmarket lounges and basement beer cellars as you rub shoulders with merry locals. It’s impossible to sample every illicit delight in one night, but you can get pretty close on an organised pub crawl with a local guide.
As the rest of the world embraces the speakeasy trend, Krakow is all about ‘Lost Bars’. In the low-lit basements of Kazimierz, you'll find hidden venues like wicked 1920s cabaret bars, serving up riqsue burlesque shows and killer cocktails. This area is also where you’ll find the biggest and loudest clubs in Krakow, where VIP areas are roped off and the dress code is strictly shirt and shoes. Casual ‘vodka and snack’ bars add a bit of local flavour to a night out, and vodka-tasting tours are a great excuse to knock back the shots in the name of culture.
A night out in Poland starts in earnest at 10pm and the clubs start to fill at midnight (most bars stay open till the morning). Grabbing some hearty pub grub for dinner is a sure fire way to acceptably extend the drinking hours.
CoCo Music Club
This lively club across from Slowacki Theatre has three bars, two dance floors, aVIP areaand a smoking room. It combines modern interior design with exposed brick walls to bring the atmosphere of a historical tenement building. The white cushioned sofas and framed mirrors add a touch of luxury. The music is a mix of funk, R&B, hip-hop and house music with regular dedicated club nights, always popular with stag groups.
This modern and stylish lounge is just a few steps away from the Main Square combining a restaurant, cocktail bar and music club into one. With elegant interiors, an all-season covered garden and dance floor, there’s a lot going on. The drinks menu includes an impressive 100 or so vodkas, and you can order modern twists on Italian and Polish cuisine in the restaurant
This minimalist club just off the main square is designed as a typical Cracovian cellar, with exposed rock, modern decor and illuminated boxes. There are two dance floors, three bars and a chillout room, with a state-of-the-art sound system luring international DJs who spin a mix of pop, house, R&B and EDM.
Eat like a local
Polish cuisine is simple and hearty with a lot of meat. Why not try out some traditional dishes? Pierogi are doughy dumplings traditionally filled with potato. Zapiekanka, the Polish drunk food, is half a baguette covered with mushrooms and cheese.
Traditional Polish cuisine
There are plenty of places to sample the local cuisine. Morskie Oko has costumed waitresses and a rustic interior, with grilled game on the menu. If you want to try pickled herring in different flavours, Ambasada Sledzia is worth a try. Or head to one of the Polish milk bars, leftover from its communist days.
C K Browar
This Old Town cellar is Kraków's oldest brew-pub, with its own mini brewery, Austrian restaurant and club. Located just a five-minute walk from the Main Market Square, the restaurant serves a variety of meats from venison and wild boar to beef, with beer poured straight from the tanks to your glass. It has a Bavarian beer hall feel and its design reminiscent of an old Austrian fort.
Plac Nowy 1
This stylish restaurant in Kazimierz offers modern takes on classic Polish dishes, as well as American and Italian cuisines. Its spacious interior has natural lighting, brick walls and plants make it a great place to enjoy one of their craft beers. It even has a sushi and tapas restaurant, a club and bowling in the basement.
Places to Stay
If you want to be close to all the action and make the most of your time, check out the apartments available in the Old Town area. There are a variety of apartments for different sized groups. Hotels are available but are quite a bit further out of city centre.
Getting Around Krakow
Krakow is a compact city and most places are within walking distance, but if you’re in a hurry or it’s brass monkeys out, there are loads of ways to get around.
Trams are a super-cheap way to move between the Old Town, Kaziemirz, Podgorze and Nowa Huta. Tickets can be bought from machines at tram stops, which all have instructions in English. It’s3 zloty for up to half an hour, or5 zloty for up to 50 minutes. You have to validate your ticket as soon as you get on the tram, even if you buy it onboard. Penalties for travelling with an unvalidated ticket are harsh and officials have little sympathy for tourists.
The bus and tram systems are well-integrated, and a Krakow Tourist Card gives you free travel on both (with the added bonus of never having to worry about validating your ticket). Tickets are the same for trams and buses and it’s all based on time rather than number of stops. TheMPK bus and tram servicegoes everywhere and a 24-hour pass costs around 7.50 zloty (£1.50).
It’s around25 zloty for a five-mile taxi journey, so a fairly cheap option for groups. Taxis are available across Krakow at all hours of the day. Uber works in Krakow. If you’re hailing a taxi off the street make sure it has a company name and phone number advertised and that you can see the meter to avoid any dodgy scams.
Staying Safe in Krakow
Krakow’s police are used to the rowdiness of football hooliganism and take no prisoners when it comes to crowd control. The dedicated anti-hooligan squad is armed, so if anything starts kicking off it’s best to steer well clear.
Violent crime is low in Krakow, and walking around the streets at night is mostly hassle-free. One thing to watch out for is the honey-trap scam. You may think those two blonde bombshells want to take you to a “little bar” to get to know you better, but their employer mostly wants to get to know your wallet. A couple of eye-wateringly expensive cocktails later (to the tune of hundreds of zloty) and you’ll be escorted by buzz-cut bouncers to a cash machine to make sure you settle the bill.
Public drunkenness is illegal, and if the police see you stumbling home singing at the top of your lungs or having a little disco nap in a doorway you might end up staying the night in a ‘dry out’ cell (aka the Hangover Hilton).
Always wait for the green man. In Krakow you’ll see locals waiting patiently at every traffic light, even if the road is clear - there’s a hefty fine for those caught jaywalking. Traffic is notoriously ruthless in Poland so always pay attention to road safety, especially after a few piwos.
Learn a little of the language. Greeting shopkeepers and bartenders with a friendly“dzien dobry” (djen dobry - good morning/afternoon)will reward you with a smile. Same goes for“dziekuja” (djen kuya - thank you)and“na zdrowie” ( nasdrovya - cheers).
Embrace thepierogiand forget the greasy kebab. Krakow’s streets are full of all-night pierogi shops, so you can load up on meat and cheese dumplings at the end of the night to soak up all the beer and vodka.
More things not to miss in Krakow
SukienniceThe spectacular Medieval Cloth Hall overlooking the Market Square in the centre of Krakow is the city’s most iconic building. Today it houses the Sukiennice Museum and some of the city’s nicest shopping areas.
Krakow Film FestivalDedicated to documentary, animation and shorts, this is one of Europe’s longest running film festivals and it’s held in May. There are events all over the city, and open-air screenings next to Wawel Castle.
Krakow’s Longest BarStara Zajezdnia is a converted tram depot and not only is it Krakow’s biggest brewery and beer house, it’s also got the city’s longest bar. A beer garden’s great for summer evening and they’re particularly proud of the collection of malt whiskies.www.starazajezdniakrakow.pl
ZakaponeThis is Poland’s best known and loved winter resort with great skiing and far fewer crowds and queues than its Western European counterparts. There are regular bus services between Krakow and Zakapone so it’s possible to just go ski or snowboard for the day.
KazimierzBohemian and just verging on the edge of cool and trendy, Kazamierz was one of Krakow’s ancient Jewish quarters until the invasion of Nazi Germany in 1941. Cleared of its residents and cleansed of its culture, the district didn’t really begin to recover until recently. Schindler’s List was filmed in here in 1993 and inspired a rebirth that hasn’t stopped since. This is where you’ll find the city’s avant-garde galleries and museums, alternative clubs, bars, cafés and restaurants and a big concentration of Krakow’s young, successful and edgy.