Poland’s second largest city, Krakow, spreads over the Vistula River and offers a great range of top attractions. The city boast historic Old Town architecture, green forested parks, traditionally Jewish districts, castles and stunning bridges. To truly experience what Poland has to offer, however, consider venturing out for a few day trips from Krakow.
You’ll be able to explore mountain towns, national parks, religious and historic landmarks, and important cultural destinations. There are countless places to visit from Krakow that you can get to and from within a single day. As you plan your next trip, be sure to include a few of these incredible day trips from Krakow in your itinerary.
Map of day trips from Krakow
A little more than an hour’s drive north of Krakow is Ogrodzieniec Castle. Although this castle is now in ruin, it is a beautiful landmark with plenty of history. The castle was built in the 14th century, and it is perched atop a large hill to provide sweeping views over the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland.
It was largely destroyed in the 17th century during Swedish occupation, and it features in many legends and myths in Polish culture. You can tour the remains of Ogrodzieniec Castle, take in the views, and even see the remains of the torture chamber in the structure.
Getting to Ogrodzieniec Castle
- A number of buses run directly to Ogrodzieniec from Krakow MDA each day, and the journey usually takes around an hour. Once you arrive, it is a good idea to take a short taxi ride to the castle. Otherwise, it takes about 30 minutes to walk there.
- From the center of Krakow, it takes about an hour to drive to Ogrodzieniec. Just head northwest out of the city and hop on the DK94 until Olkusz. Here, take the DW79. Once you reach Ogrodzieniec, you’ll see signs pointing you to the castle. If you want to see more spectacular medieval castles, on your way back to Krakow, stop off at Ojcow National Park and visit its castle, or that of Pieskowa Skala.
Directly east of Krakow is Tarnow, a beautiful city well worth a day of exploration. The town square is the heart of the city, and it’s the place you’ll want to spend most of your time. The town square is medieval, with the layout and many of the buildings dating back to the 14th century.
The Town Hall is the landmark building in the square, and you can head inside to check out a staggering collection of Polish armor as well as beautiful paintings. Tarnow is also home to a number of historic Jewish sites as well as three traditional wooden churches, the oldest of which was constructed in the 15th century.
Getting to Tarnow
- To get to Tarnow from Krakow by public transport couldn’t be simpler; trains usually take less than an hour from one city to the other. From Krakow Plaszow, trains depart very regularly, and once you arrive, it is just a 15-minute walk to the city center.
- By car, it is just as easy; the A4 connects one city to the other. From the center of Krakow, head south out of the city center and hop on the A4 heading east to Tarnow. The journey takes about an hour. After visiting the city, you could combine your trip with a stop at the spectacular Wieliczka Salt Mine, which lies along the A4 on the way to Krakow.
Just under 16 km (10 miles) from Krakow is the village of Tyniec, which is best known for being home to the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec. The abbey is perched above the banks of the Vistula River, and it is now a religious site as well as a tourist destination.
The Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec was first founded in the 1040s, and it remains the oldest monastery in all of Poland. If you visit, you’ll be able to tour most of the rooms in the abbey, talk with some of the monks who still live and work there and enjoy amazing views over the Vistula from the abbey itself.
Getting to Benedictine Abbey
- Due to its proximity to Krakow, there are a number of ways to get to the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec. From the city center, for instance, it is just under half-an-hour away by public transport. You can either walk or take a tram to Most Grunwaldzki stop, where you then take bus 112 to Tyniec. Here, you’ll see signs to the Abbey.
- Some people opt instead to cycle to the Abbey; this is a particularly lovely way to get there, and it only takes 45 minutes. The journey takes you through the scenic Bielansko-Tyniecki Park. Simply cycle along the path that hugs the northern banks of the Vistula River and cross over once you see signs to the Abbey. On the way back you could stop by Krakow Zoo.
- If you have more time on your hands, you could take a scenic boat trip down the Vistula River to the Abbey. This takes around an hour and a half, and boats depart from right next to Wawel Royal Castle.
- On the other hand, you may want to simply take a taxi if you’re a bit pressed for time. From the city center, it only takes 20 minutes to Tyniec and should cost around 60zl.
- Yet another way to enjoy the Abbey’s sights is to take a sightseeing cycle tour to Tyniec, passing through Wolski Forest on the way and stopping off at various historical and cultural landmarks as you go. Once you arrive, you’ll get to explore the church, visit the museum, and learn all about the Abbey from your guide. See trip reviews & prices.
East of Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, a former Nazi concentration camp from World War II. There are many tours that take visitors to the camp for a day from Krakow, and it is a must-see destination for those interested in WWII history.
Although it can be a sad and reflective visit, it is important to learn about this dark time in Europe’s history. Auschwitz-Birkenau is home to a large State Museum, and many of the structures remain in place. You can see where prisoners lived, worked and died in horrific ways under the Nazi regime.
Getting to Auschwitz-Birkenau
- There are a couple of ways to get to Auschwitz-Birkenau by public transport. By bus, it takes around an hour and 45 minutes to two hours. The buses regularly depart from Krakow main station and will drop you off right next to Auschwitz. Another option is to take an hour and a half train ride to Oswiecim station, which is two kilometers from Auschwitz. From here, you can either walk for half-an-hour or take a short taxi or bus ride to the somber site.
- By car, it only takes an hour to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau, although this does include tolls. After heading north out of Krakow city center, hop on the DK7 heading west before continuing on the A4 to just outside Chrzanow. Here, take the 933 to Oswiecim, where you’ll find signs directing you to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is a car park at the entrance for you to park at.
- Yet another option for visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau is to take a guided tour. This is very popular with a lot of people, as having an expert on hand really means you learn a lot about the concentration camp’s horrific past. In addition to this, your knowledgeable guide will teach you about the history of the Holocaust as well as WWII in a moving and unforgettable tour. See trip reviews & prices.
Czestochowa is a religious destination where many pilgrims come to worship. In particular, the monastery of Jasna Góra in Czestochowa is a holy place and a significant destination in the Roman Catholic Church. Jasna Góra Monastery is a shrine to the Virgin Mary, and it is also home to a number of important religious and historic relics.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa, for example, is said to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist during or just after Jesus’ lifetime. The monastery was founded in the 14th century, and today more than three million religious pilgrims visit Czestochowa each year.
Getting to Czestochowa
- From Krakow main station, there are a few direct trains to Czestochowa every day; they generally take about an hour and a half in total to reach the popular pilgrimage site. They don’t depart that regularly, however, so another alternative is to take the bus from the same station in Krakow. The bus journey takes about three hours. As such, it is a good idea to plan your trip to Czestochowa well in advance.
- To drive there takes around two hours, but this does at least mean you’re guaranteed a reliable form of transport there and back. After heading north out of the city center, hop on the DW794 and keep on it until you reach Staromiescie. Here, change onto the DK46, which will take you all the way to Czestochowa.
- To avoid all the hassle of driving or taking public transport, many people opt instead to take a guided tour. These not only take you around Czestochowa’s religious sites, but also to the 16th century Pieskowa Skala Castle, which lies along the historic and scenic Trail of the Eagles’ Nests. See trip reviews & prices.
Just 30 minutes north of Krakow is Ojcow National Park, a destination named after the town and castle ruins of Ojcow. The National Park is the smallest in Poland, but its proximity to Krakow makes it a popular day trip spot.
Two rivers run through the park, creating lush valleys amidst countless cliffs, ravines and caves. Incredible limestone rock formations are major attractions, and miles of hiking paths offer plenty of outdoor recreation options.
You can also see an abundance of wildlife, including beavers, badgers, bats and well over 100 varieties of birds. There are also several castles within the park’s borders, allowing visitors to explore the ruined Gothic castle of Ojcow as well as the preserved Renaissance castle at Pieskowa Skała.
Getting to Ojcow National Park
- While it is possible to visit Ojcow National Park from Krakow by public transport, buses depart quite infrequently, so it is a good idea to check the schedule in advance. From the Nowy Klepartz bus stop in the city center, the journey takes about 40 minutes, and you want to get off at Kazimierz Castle. From here, you’ll find lots of paths snaking their way into the national park, and there are lots of signposts to guide your way.
- To get to Ojcow National Park by car also takes about 40 minutes. Once you’ve headed north out of the city center, take the DW794 to Skala, where you’ll see signs to the national park and parking at Kazimierz Castle. Once you arrive, you can explore the beautiful nature at your leisure. After you’ve had your fill, you could drive half-an-hour further to visit the spectacular ruins of Ogrodzieniec Castle.
- To pack as much into your day as possible, it is well worth taking a guided tour to Ojcow National Park. In addition to exploring its incredible landscapes, your expert guide will also take you to two impressive medieval castles, where you’ll learn more about the area’s fascinating history. See trip reviews & prices.
Head south of Krakow, and you’ll get to the mountain resort of Zakopane. This destination is a winter wonderland and one of the most popular ski destinations in all of Poland. In the heart of the Tatra Mountains, you can ski or snowboard during the winter months. Whatever the season, however, Zakopane is the ideal day trip getaway spot.
The city is well known for the beauty of its wooden villas, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these now house museums, while others have been converted into hotels, or remain in private hands. Hiking options are plentiful in the Tatra National Park, and the Krupówki promenade is a beautiful shopping destination.
Getting to Zakopane
- Lying two hours to the south of Krakow, Zakopane is easily reachable by public transport. From Krakow MDA – the main bus station – buses regularly leave for Zakopane, and the journey takes about two hours in total. On the way, you pass through some lovely scenery. Once you arrive at Zakopane Plac PKP, it’s then a 15-minute walk to the center of town.
- It takes a similar amount of time to drive to Zakopane. You’ll follow almost exactly the same route the bus takes. From the city center, head south across the Vistula River and take the 776, before continuing on the S7 for just under an hour. After this, take the DK47 for another 45 minutes; this will lead you right to Zakopane. You can either park the car and explore the center on foot, drive to some of the nearby viewpoints in the surrounding mountains, or go for a hike in the magnificent nature all around you.
- Another option for visiting Zakopane is to join a sightseeing tour. As well as taking you around the center of town, the tour also includes a ride on a funicular to the top of Mount Gubalowka and a trip to the Tatra Museum to learn more about the local history and culture. See trip reviews & prices.
One of the most popular day trips from Krakow is visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Don’t expect a rustic salt mine, because Wieliczka is unlike anything else on the planet. As you walk along saline corridors completely underground, you’ll be able to see entire churches and ballrooms carved from salt. It is even possible to spend the night in the salt mine, and the accommodation is more like an upscale resort than a camping experience.
Getting to Wieliczka Salt Mine
- From the center of Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine is just half-an-hour away by public transport, and it’s not too complicated to get there. Bus 304 departs regularly from Galeria Krakowska; the stop you want to get off at is called Wieliczka Kopalnia Soli. From here, you’ll see signs pointing you to the mine just a short distance away.
- Alternatively, you can take the train from Krakow main station to Wieliczka Rynek-Kopalnia – the stop you want to get off at. The train journey takes around 20 minutes. Once you arrive, it’s about a ten-minute walk to the mines, and you’ll certainly see signs telling you where to go.
- It is just as easy to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine by car, although it might actually take you longer than public transport, depending on the traffic. Head east out of the city center to the Botanical Gardens and follow the road next to it south across the Vistula River. Here, you want to head southeast on Wielicka, which you then have to follow until you see signs for the mines. After visiting the mines, it is well worth stopping by the scenic village of Tyniec, which is only a 20-minute drive away and lies on the outskirts of Krakow.
- One of the easiest ways to visit the salt mines is to take a guided tour. With a professional guide on hand, you’ll learn all about its fascinating history. They’ll take you around all the main sights, explaining everything as they go. See trip reviews & prices.