The Ultimate Traveler’s Guide to Krakow on a Budget

The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Krakow on a Budget

Step into Kraków—a pocket-sized cultural powerhouse, less wallet-heavy but rich in history and medieval eye-candy. 

Here’s your Krakow travel guide – on a budget. 

Travel Costs: Detailed Breakdown

Krakow is budget-friendly compared to many European cities. You can have an amazing adventure here without breaking the bank! Here’s a breakdown of average daily travel costs:

Suggested Budget per person

  • Low: €20-€40 (Think backpacker hostels and street food)
  • Middle: €40-€80 (Comfortable stay in mid-range hotels and casual dining)
  • High: €80+ (Luxury hotels, fancy restaurants, and frequent taxi rides)

Detailed Costs: Krakow Travel Guide


  • Low: Hostels or budget guesthouses: €10-€20 per night
  • Middle: Mid-range hotels or B&Bs: €30-€50 per night
  • High: Luxury hotels or upscale apartments: €80+ per night

Read: Best hostels in Krakow

Public Transportation:

  • Metro ticket cost: N/A (Krakow doesn’t have a metro system)
  • Single bus or tram ticket: PLN 4 (€1)
  • 24-hour pass: PLN 17 (€4.30)
  • Krakow Tourist Card (72 hours): PLN 130 (€32.50) – includes free public transport and entry to many museums

Entrance Fees:

  • Low (mostly Free): Wawel Royal Castle gardens, St. Mary’s Basilica, Vistula River Walk
  • Middle: Schindlers Factory Museum: PLN 21 (€5), Wawel Royal Castle State Rooms: PLN 25 (€6)
  • High: Wieliczka Salt Mine: PLN 79 (€18), Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum: PLN 80 (€20)


  • Low: Zapiekanka (Polish pizza on a baguette) – PLN 8-12 (€2-€3)
  • Middle: Mid-range restaurants: PLN 30-50 (€7.50-€12.50)
  • High: High-end restaurants: PLN 100+ (€25+)

Popular Food Staple: Pierogi (dumplings filled with various savory or sweet ingredients)

  • Low: PLN 10-15 (€2.50-€3.75) per serving
  • Middle: PLN 20-30 (€5-€7.50) per serving
  • High: PLN 40+ (€10+) per serving at fancy restaurants


  • Low: Take away or at a local bar standing: PLN 5-7 (€1.25-€1.75)
  • Middle: In a cafe: PLN 8-12 (€2-€3)
  • High: Specialty coffees or in very touristy areas: PLN 15+ (€3.75+) per drink

Beer & Wine:

  • Low: At a local bar or pub: PLN 8-12 (€2-€3) per beer, PLN 10-15 (€2.50-€3.75) per glass of wine
  • Middle: In a mid-range restaurant or trendy bar: PLN 15-20 (€3.75-€5) per beer, PLN 20-30 (€5-€7.50) per glass of wine
  • High: Craft beer or special vintage wine: PLN 25+ (€6+) per beer, PLN 40+ (€10+) per glass of wine

Exploring Kraków: Things to See & Do

Krakow is a city that’s brimming with history, charm, and pierogi (don’t worry, we’ll get to those later). Buckle up, budget travelers, because here’s your guide to exploring Krakow without breaking the bank:

Must Do: What to visit in Krakow

  1. Main Market Square (Rynek Główny): This central square is the heart of Krakow, surrounded by colorful buildings, buzzing with street performers, and home to the iconic Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). Don’t miss out on the the hourly bugle call from St. Mary’s Basilica and make sure to climb the town hall tower for panoramic views of the square and the city.
  2. Wawel Castle: Perched on a hill, this magnificent castle complex was once the seat of Polish royalty. Explore the opulent chambers, stunning cathedral, and Wawel Dragon’s Den (don’t worry, he’s just a legend… probably).
  3. St. Mary’s Basilica: Climb the tower of this Gothic church for breathtaking views of the city and listen to the trumpeter play the hejnał melody every hour.
  4. Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter): Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Krakow’s former Jewish district, with its synagogues, poignant memorials, and trendy cafes.
  5. Wieliczka Salt Mine: Descend into a subterranean wonderland of salt sculptures, chapels, and chambers carved by miners over centuries.
  6. Schindler’s Factory: Learn about the city’s complex wartime history at the factory where Oskar Schindler saved the lives of over 1,000 Jews.
  7. Lost Souls Alley: Squeeze through this narrow passageway rumored to be haunted by wandering spirits (or maybe just hungry tourists).
  8. Jagiellonian University: Explore the oldest university in Poland, boasting stunning architecture and a laid-back student atmosphere.
  9. Planty Park: Take a stroll or bike ride around this green ring encircling the Old Town, offering a peaceful escape from the city bustle.
  10. Zakopane Day Trip: Escape to the nearby Tatra Mountains for breathtaking scenery, hiking trails, and a chance to experience a different side of Poland.

Free things to do in Kraków

  1. Free Walking Tours: Get a historical and cultural overview of the city with free walking guided tours offered by various companies, often with the option to tip your guide at the end.
  2. Explore Neighborhoods: Wander through Kazimierz, wander along the Vistula River in Podgórze, or get lost in the charming streets of the Old Town, soaking up the unique atmosphere of each district.
  3. Church Hopping: Admire the architectural beauty and artistic treasures of Krakow’s many churches, like St. Peter and Paul’s Church or the Corpus Christi Church, most of which are free to enter.
  4. Picnic in the Park: Pack a picnic basket and head to Planty Park, or relax on the green banks of the Vistula River, enjoying the fresh air and people-watching.
  5. Festival Fun: If you’re lucky enough to visit during a festival, like the Hannukah Festival or the International Krakow Film Festival, soak up the atmosphere and cultural experiences.
  6. Browse the Flea Markets: Hunt for treasures at the St. Florian’s Market Square Flea Market on Sundays, or explore the Kazimierz Flea Market for unique souvenirs and antiques.


  1. National Museum: Housing an extensive collection of Polish art and artifacts, from prehistoric times to the 20th century.
  2. Czartoryski Museum: See masterpieces by European artists like da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Raphael.
  3. Schindler’s Factory: Learn about World War II and the Holocaust through Oskar Schindler’s story in this museum housed in the actual factory.
  4. Jagiellonian University Museum: Explore the fascinating history of pharmacy and medicine in this unique museum. Admire its beautiful courtyards and soak up the scholarly atmosphere. This university is Krakow’s pride and joy, and even educated the famous Pope John Paul II.
  5. Underground Museum: Descend below Rynek Główny to discover the archaeological remains of Krakow from the Middle Ages.
  6. MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art: Explore contemporary art installations and exhibitions in this modern museum.

Day Trips: Krakow Travel Guide Itinerary

Krakow may be a treasure trove of sights, but sometimes you crave a breath of fresh air or a different historical adventure. Luckily, Krakow boasts a stellar location with a variety of incredible day trips waiting to be explored!

  1. Wieliczka Salt Mine (14 km away): Journey beneath the earth’s surface and discover a wonderland carved from salt! Explore glittering chambers, a chapel carved from rock salt, and even an underground lake at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (69 km away): A profoundly moving experience awaits at the former concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. This chilling reminder of the Holocaust offers guided tours to shed light on this dark chapter in history. 
  3. Zakopane & The Tatra Mountains (110 km away): Craving a dose of nature? Escape to Zakopane, a charming mountain resort town nestled in the stunning Tatra Mountains. Hike through breathtaking landscapes, experience traditional highlander culture, or simply relax and soak up the fresh mountain air.
  4. Ojców National Park (27 km away): Step into a fairytale world of limestone cliffs, ancient castles, and mysterious caves within this picturesque national park. Hike or bike through scenic trails, explore the ruins of Pieskowa Skała Castle, or discover the legend of King Krak and the Wawel Dragon in the mysterious Czarnów Caves.
  5. Tyniec Abbey (Technically within Krakow city limits): For a peaceful retreat, head to the historic Benedictine abbey of Tyniec. Explore the beautifully preserved architecture, wander through serene gardens, and enjoy stunning views of the Vistula River.

Where to Stay on a Budget

While the Old Town might make you swoon with its charm and central location, it also comes with a price tag that could make your wallet weep. But fret not, fellow budget adventurers! Krakow offers a variety of fantastic neighborhoods that won’t leave you scrounging for pierogi money at the end of your trip.

Read: Best hostels in Krakow

Krakow Travel advice: accommodation

Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter): This neighborhood is Krakow’s resident hipster haven, with a lively nightlife scene that pulsates well into the night. Think trendy bars, quirky cafes, and enough restaurants to satisfy any craving. By day, explore the fascinating remnants of Kazimierz’s Jewish heritage, but be warned: peace and quiet are not on this neighborhood’s menu.

Stradom: Stradom is Kazimierz’s more relaxed sibling, offering a charming mix of historical sites and student vibes. Explore the beautiful Church of St. Peter and Paul, wander through the peaceful green spaces of Planty Park, or grab a coffee at a cozy cafe. It’s the perfect spot for those who want to be close to the action but also enjoy some tranquility after a day of exploring.

Podgórze: Get ready for a dose of cool in Podgórze, a former working-class district that’s undergoing a trendy metamorphosis. Explore the iconic Oskar Schindler Factory, discover hidden gems of street art along the Vistula River, or delve into the world of contemporary art at the MOCAK Museum. With its unique blend of history, artistic flair, and affordable options, Podgórze is a great choice for budget-conscious travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.

Grzegórzki: Calling all modern minimalists! Grzegórzki is an up-and-coming district with a sleek, modern vibe and plenty of green spaces like Park Grzegórzecki, perfect for unwinding after a day of conquering Krakow. While slightly further from the Old Town, Grzegórzecki offers excellent public transportation connections and budget-friendly digs with a contemporary feel.

Eating and Drinking

Alright, adventurers, Krakow awaits! But before you conquer the city, let’s conquer your grumbling stomach and keep your wallet happy. Krakow is a haven for budget-friendly eats, so ditch the overpriced tourist traps and get ready to experience a culinary adventure without breaking the bank.

Water: Krakow boasts perfectly safe tap water. Fill up your reusable water bottle and stay hydrated while exploring. No need to waste your precious pierogi money on bottled water!

Affordable Eats: Krakow Travel Guide

  • Milk Bars (Bar Mleczny): These are Polish cafeterias serving up classic, hearty meals at unbelievably low prices. Think creamy zupy (soups) like żurek (sauer rye soup with sausage) or rosół (chicken soup with noodles), placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes) with sour cream and applesauce, and kotlety schabowe (breaded pork schnitzels) with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Pro tip: Look for the words “bar mleczny” on signs or storefronts.
  • Zapiekanki Stalls: These are open-faced toasted baguettes loaded with various toppings, like pieczarki (mushrooms), ser (cheese), kiełbasa (sausage), and even krewetka (shrimp). They’re Krakow’s answer to street food, perfect for a quick and satisfying bite on the go. Head to Plac Wolnica or Nowy Kleparz Market for some of the best.

Pro Tip: Tourist traps often have inflated prices, so venture a little further away from the Main Market Square for hidden gems with more wallet-friendly options. Explore Kazimierz, Stradom, or Podgórze for a more local experience and better deals.

Market Munchies:

  • Stary Kleparz Market: This historic market is a foodie paradise, offering fresh produce from local farms, regional delicacies like oscypki (smoked sheep’s milk cheese), and a variety of food stalls serving everything from pierogi (dumplings) to langos (deep-fried dough).
  • Hala Targowa: Another great option, especially for finding fresh ingredients for a picnic or a home-cooked meal. Be sure to try the pierogi here – they often come straight from local grandmas!
  • Nowy Kleparz Market: This smaller market is known for its selection of local produce like apples, cabbage, and fresh herbs, perfect for picking up ingredients for a budget-friendly meal.

Affordable Food:

  • Pierogi: You can’t experience Krakow without trying these delicious dumplings. They come in various flavors, from traditional fillings like sauerkraut and mushrooms to more adventurous options like spinach and ricotta cheese. You can find them at restaurants, markets, and even street vendors. Pro tip: Look for signs advertising “pierogi domowe” (homemade pierogi) – they’re usually the best!
  • Zapiekanka: As mentioned earlier, these are open-faced toasted baguettes loaded with various toppings. They’re a cheap and tasty option for a quick bite. Head to Plac Wolnica or Nowy Kleparz Market for some of the best.
  • Kebabs: Krakow has a thriving kebab scene, offering delicious and affordable options perfect for a late-night snack or a budget-friendly dinner. Look for vendors with fresh ingredients and rotating meat options like chicken, lamb, or beef.

Grocery Gems:

  • Lidl: This popular discount supermarket chain is a lifesaver for budget travelers. They offer a wide variety of groceries at rock-bottom prices, from bread and milk to pasta and canned goods.
  • Biedronka: Another popular budget-friendly grocery store chain. They offer a good selection of local and international products, including fresh produce, meat, and household items.
  • Aldi: A familiar face for some, Aldi offers quality groceries at competitive prices. You can find everything you need for a quick and easy meal, from frozen vegetables and rice to sausages and cheese.

Bonus Tip: Look for bakeries offering “pieczywo dnia wczorajszego” (yesterday’s bread) in the afternoon. It’s perfectly safe to eat, often comes at significantly reduced prices, and is great for toast or sandwiches.

How to Get Around

Krakow boasts a charming and walkable historic center, but for venturing further afield, a well-developed public transportation system awaits. Let’s ditch the luxury limos and navigate the city like a seasoned traveler, keeping your wallet happy and your exploration spirit soaring.

Understanding Kraków’s Public Transportation

Kraków Tram Network: The tram network reigns supreme, offering extensive coverage across the city with frequent departures (every 5-10 minutes during peak hours and every 15-20 minutes during off-peak hours).

  • Single tickets are valid for 70 minutes, allowing unlimited transfers between trams and buses within that timeframe.

Kraków Bus Network: Buses complement the tram network, reaching areas not easily accessible by trams, like the Wieliczka Salt Mine or the Nowa Huta district. While slightly slower than trams, they offer a different perspective of the city and a chance to experience local life. Ticket prices and validity are the same as for trams.

Tickets & Deals:

  • Single Tickets: 3.00 PLN (Polish Złoty) for a regular ticket, 4.00 PLN for a night ticket (valid from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM).
  • 24-Hour Ticket: 15.00 PLN, offering unlimited rides within 24 hours from validation.
  • 48-Hour Ticket: 24.00 PLN, offering unlimited rides within 48 hours from validation.
  • 72-Hour Ticket: 32.00 PLN, offering unlimited rides within 72 hours from validation.
  • Kraków City Card: This card combines free entry to many museums and attractions with unlimited public transport for 24, 48, or 72 hours. Carefully consider your planned activities and entrance fees to see if the card offers you savings. Prices vary depending on the chosen validity period, starting from 139 PLN for 24 hours.

Budget-Friendly Bonus Tips:

Walk Whenever Possible: Krakow’s Old Town is a pedestrian paradise, filled with charming streets, historical landmarks, and cafes. Lace up your walking shoes and explore at your own pace, soaking in the city’s atmosphere and discovering hidden gems along the way.

Group Travel: Traveling with a group? Consider splitting the cost of taxis, especially for longer journeys like airport transfers. Sharing the cost can be a budget-friendly option compared to individual fares.

Cheapest Way to Get To and From the Airport in Kraków

Kraków John Paul II International Airport (Balice): The most budget-friendly and convenient way to reach the city center is the SK7 train. It departs every 30 minutes from the airport train station and takes around 17 minutes to reach the Main Railway Station (Kraków Główny). Tickets can be purchased at the airport train station for 9 PLN (one-way) or 18 PLN (round-trip).

Alternative Options: While more expensive, taxis are readily available at the airport and can be convenient for late arrivals, those with heavy luggage, or travelers seeking a door-to-door service. Expect to pay around 80-100 PLN for a ride to the city center, depending on traffic and time of day. Ride-sharing services like Uber or Bolt are also options, with prices fluctuating based on demand and distance.

Kraków Tram Network

Best Time to Visit Kraków

Deciding the perfect time to visit Krakow depends on your priorities and budget. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons, highlighting the pros and cons of each:

  • High Season (June-August):

Pros: Pleasant weather, festivals, extended daylight hours.
Cons: Crowded tourist spots, higher accommodation prices, potential for hot weather.

  • Shoulder Season (April-May, September-October):

Pros: Fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures, lower accommodation prices.
Cons: Some attractions may have shorter hours, the possibility of occasional rain showers.

  • Low Season (November-March):

Pros: The absolute cheapest prices, fewer crowds, unique winter experience.
Cons: Colder weather with possible snow, some attractions may have limited hours.

National Holidays & Peak Festivals:

  • Christmas and New Year (December-January): The city transforms into a winter wonderland, but prices and crowds rise significantly.
  • Epiphany (January 6th): Traditional parades and events might affect opening hours.
  • Easter Sunday and Monday (Varies): Major religious holidays with limited business hours and higher prices.
  • Labor Day (May 1st): Public holiday with potential closures and celebrations.
  • Easter (March/April): Expect increased prices and crowds during Easter week.
  • Constitution Day (May 3rd): Celebrations and potential closures in some areas.
  • Corpus Christi (June): A major Polish holiday with processions and celebrations, potentially affecting opening hours.
  • St. Dominic’s Fair (August): A popular fair with potential for higher prices and crowds.
  • All Saints’ Day (November 1st): Public holiday with potential closures and celebrations.
  • Independence Day (November 11th): Public holiday with parades and potential closures.

Essentials, Money & Safety Tips

Before you dive headfirst into pierogi paradise, let’s equip you with the essential gear and Krakow-specific safety tips to navigate the city like a seasoned pro.

Krakow Safety Tips:

  • Beware of Pickpockets in Crowds: As in any major city, pickpockets can operate in crowded areas like the Main Market Square, Kazimierz district, and public transport. Keep your valuables secure in a money belt worn under your clothes, and avoid carrying large sums of money.
  • Beware of Fake Taxi Drivers: Especially at night, unofficial taxi drivers might approach you, offering rides at seemingly lower prices. These rides can be unsafe and overpriced. Always stick to licensed taxis ordered through apps like Bolt or Uber, or hail them from official taxi ranks.

Things Not to Do in Krakow:

  • Don’t Flash Your Valuables: This is a general safety tip, but especially important in areas known for pickpocketing. Keep your phone, wallet, and expensive jewelry out of sight, especially in crowded areas like the aforementioned Main Market Square and Kazimierz district.
  • Don’t Skip Public Transportation Tickets: Ticket inspectors regularly check trams and buses. Avoid hefty fines (up to 240 PLN) by purchasing and validating your ticket before boarding. You can buy tickets from machines at tram stops or onboard buses (exact change required) or download the “Jakdojade” app to purchase tickets electronically.
  • Don’t Litter: Krakow takes pride in its cleanliness. Respect the city and dispose of your rubbish responsibly in designated bins. Not only is littering disrespectful, but it can also result in fines.
  • Don’t Feed Pigeons: While it might seem harmless, feeding pigeons in the Main Market Square contributes to their overpopulation, which can create sanitation issues and damage historical buildings. Admire these feathered friends from afar, but resist the urge to feed them.

Budget-Friendly Passes:

  • Kraków City Card (Karta Krakowska Miejska): This card combines free entry to many museums and attractions with unlimited public transport for 24, 48, or 72 hours. If you plan on visiting several museums and using public transport frequently, this card can save you money compared to buying individual tickets.
  • Free Walking Tours: Explore the city’s rich history and hidden gems with free walking tours. While tipping your guide is appreciated, it’s entirely optional, making it a budget-friendly way to get an insider’s perspective.

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