Dating back to the 7th century, Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and is an important hub of culture and education. Centered around an iconic old town which is steeped in mythical tales, soaring buildings decorate its huge market square, and there are charming cobbled streets to get lost in.
However, away from the stunning Gothic buildings of the Old Town, there is a lot more history to Krakow than just the ancient landmarks.
The former Jewish Quarter of this city stands as a testament to a dark period in Poland’s history, when Jewish inhabitants were rounded up and relocated to the city’s infamous ghetto. This was where the real-life events of Schindler’s List took place.
Aside from the troubling past, this area of town is now a bohemian place to explore, with cool cafes and bars to occupy your days and nights.
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Krakow’s Top Neighborhoods
Popular with just about everyone, Krakow fittingly has just about every kind of accommodation you could imagine. There is more than just a handful of hostels, with everything from budget and unfussy to design-led stays. There are also hotels and guesthouses – from the affordable to the 5-star. These make it easy for anyone to enjoy the history and architecture, leafy parks, and modern culture of this exciting city.
Exploring Krakow is a simple thanks to a multitude of buses and an impressive 27 tram lines, which means that getting from A to B is never too difficult.
The historical center of Krakow, Stare Miasto features the largest medieval town square in Europe. Here, you will find bars and cafes, as well as a concentration of the city’s major sights.
These include St Florian’s Church, which dates back to 1216, as well as the Barbican – a 15th century fortified gateway. You’ll also find the early Baroque style Wawel Castle, and the huge Krakow Cloth Hall with its gothic spires.
Meander through charming Florianska Street – one of the main streets in the center of the Old Town – until you find yourself in one of the many cobbled lanes of the area. Here, there are a lot of bars and eateries for those who get thirsty and hungry as they explore.
Needless to say, this part of Krakow is definitely going to benefit those who like to traverse a city on foot. Practically all the main sights of Krakow are packed into this area. And don’t worry, you won’t be wanting for accommodation; there is everything here – from budget hostels to 5-star hotels.
Where to Stay in Stare Miasto
- Hotel Unicus Palace – Set within a grand period building that’s been transformed into a luxurious 5-star accommodation, Hotel Unicus Palace is perfectly placed for exploring the surrounding restaurants, bars and historical landmarks. Looking to indulge in some much-anticipated leisure time? You’re in luck! Guests will have access to an on-site restaurant, a sun terrace, and a spa and wellness center that includes pampering facilities such as a glorious indoor pool, hammam, and hot tub.
- Hotel Imperial – Located within a renovated 14th-century tenement building, the centrally-located Hotel Imperial is perfect for leisure and business travelers alike. Guests can look forward to quiet rooms and excellent hospitality at this historic hotel. Each room comes with plush bathrobes, slippers, and free toiletries. While a dedicated in-room smart phone provides sightseeing information, you don’t even have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to – a lovely on-site Italian restaurant and hotel bar awaits.
- Hotel Wielopole – With its wide array of rooms, including family rooms, Hotel Wielopole has something for everyone. The hotel itself is set within an old building but its interior and 35 hotel rooms have all been renovated to meet modern standards. Each room comes with a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, and free Wi-Fi. If you’re looking to experience a taste of Poland closer to home, the hotel’s restaurant serves both Polish and international dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Established in the 14th century, Kazimierz is the former Jewish quarter of Krakow. The inhabitants of this historic area were forcibly moved to a ghetto during World War II. With that in mind, there are some sobering stories and history from the 20th century to learn about in Kazimierz. In fact, this was where Schindler’s List was filmed, even though the real-life events took place in neighboring Podgorze.
Today, apart from the history, Kazimierz is known for its bohemian flavor. There are a lot of cool establishments popping up around this district; think Israeli hummus and hipster cafes selling vegan food. With the cool kids comes a good nightlife, and you will find this area busy with partygoers even on weeknights.
Accommodation in the area is generally more affordable than Krakow’s Old Town. You’ll likely stay in cozy, historic buildings with a lot of charm and trendy, boutique style.
Where to Stay in Kazimierz
- PURO Kraków Kazimierz – Modern and stylish, the 4-star PURO Kraków Kazimierz is built for active, sociable and outdoorsy travelers. The hotel boasts a fitness center, two outdoor terraces, and free bike hire. With a focus on encouraging guests to mingle, a sociable event calendar includes everything from seasonal exercise classes to jazz nights, and guests will have access to a shared lounge, a vibey on-site bar and the Halicka Eatery & Bar with its unique contemporary dining concept.
- Hotel Columbus – With its 1930s-style façade, Hotel Columbus has a distinct colonial feel to it. Inside, the renovated interior has a warm and welcoming atmosphere with classic décor and 32 comfortable and modern twin, double and family rooms. Each room, decorated with plush wallpaper and carpets, comes with a minibar and exotic wooden décor. Some even have a balcony and Jacuzzi. At the end of a long day of exploring, there’s a pleasant garden and a hotel bar to relax in.
The district of Grzegorzki runs from the east of Planty Park in the Old Town to the main train station. Not the most beautiful part of the city, the residential area of Grzegorzki is known as a student hub.
Take a walk from the Krakow University of Economics, soaking up sights like the 1950s Opera House and the 18th-century Botanic Gardens. Each Sunday, the Hala Targowa opens up for business; this is a flea market where you’ll experience a real slice of local life.
Grzegorzki is a family-friendly place to stay, lacking the sometimes rowdy crowds who can be found reveling in the Old Town. But it’s still central enough that the sights aren’t too far away.
The train station in the eastern part of Grzegorzki makes it a good spot for those arriving or leaving by train as well. Hotels in Grzegorzki range from small, family-run guesthouses to mid-range, self-catering apartments.
Where to Stay in Grzegorzki
- Galaxy Hotel – With a view of the Vistula, the European-style Galaxy Hotel is the perfect spot for some much-needed spa therapy. Stay here and you’ll have exclusive access to the health center with its steamy hot tub and saunas, magical indoor swimming pool, and fitness center, as well as an on-site restaurant waiting to whisk you off on a culinary journey. Staying with kids? Take advantage of the child-friendly facilities, including a toy room and climbing wall, as well as books, DVDs, and XBOX consoles.
- Hotel Batory – Bright, airy and modern, the quaint European-style Hotel Batory with its flower-filled windows is close enough to the action of the city center yet quiet enough for a relaxing city break should you seek it. Guests staying at this ivy-clad five-story hotel will have access to an on-site restaurant as well as a daily buffet breakfast. Other perks include complimentary on-site parking and a garden area that’s perfect for relaxing in after a day of exploring.
Much more relaxing than staying in the middle of the city, booking your accommodation in Kleparz is the perfect choice for those who want a less touristy experience when visiting Krakow.
Central Krakow, you will be happy to know, is still within walking distance of this district, neighboring the north of the Old Town itself. Kleparz is known as an upscale area and has upscale accommodation to match. Here you will find boutique style aparthotels and swish apartments, ideal for the independent traveler.
The small district of Kleparz is known for its culture. The main square, Stary Kleparz, is busy with local vendors and small shops, making it a calmer and more local affair than the famous central square.
Stary Kleparz is atmospheric, featuring a covered market that has been in operation for over 800 years. Browse the market stalls – the clothes stalls are especially good here – then grab some local food at a bistro and watch the world go by.
Where to Stay in Kleparz
- Mercure Krakow Stare Miasto – Inside its grand exterior, the 4-star Mercure Krakow Stare Miastro hotel offers bright and modern rooms, each with a private bathroom. Guests staying here can look forward to a delicious daily breakfast and free bike hire for getting around the city on two wheels. Back at the hotel, spend your time dining at the on-site restaurant, having a nightcap at the bar or working out at the fitness center – the choice is yours.
- Hotel Atrium – The four-story Hotel Atrium is the perfect base for foodies and families. With a focus on fresh and local ingredients, this modern hotel inside a historic building stocks fresh fruit and veg from the shop around the corner and serves a daily afternoon tea exclusively to their guests. Families traveling with kids are well catered for with a play corner, special children’s menus, babysitting services, and in-room coloring books and equipment, from potties and toilet covers to baby baths and breakfast sets.
Situated in the west of Krakow, Krowodrza was formerly a village but has since been incorporated as part of the city itself. Covering just under six square kilometers, this is a quiet, family-friendly area – a slower paced district as opposed to the more bustling town center.
This residential area has some grand, leafy sights; attractions that point back to its more out-of-town origins. These include the 16th-century Royal Palace of Lobzow and Jordan Park, established in 1889, with its winding pathways and picturesque pond.
Football fans can also enjoy watching a match at the Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium, home ground of Wisła Kraków – one of Poland’s oldest and most successful teams.
If you choose to stay on this side of Krakow, you can expect to find aparthotels and mid-range, affordable accommodation options. The center of Krakow is still easily reachable from here, being around a 15-minute tram ride away.
Where to Stay in Krowodrza
- Grottger Luxury Boutique Hotel City – Set within a beautifully restored art deco villa, the stylish design of the Grottger Luxury Boutique Hotel spreads to the interior with polished oakwood floors, tasteful wallpaper, plush blackout curtains, and marble bathrooms. At the end of a long day, sip on an aperitif at the hotel bar or unwind in the garden or terrace. Guests staying at this 4-star hotel will also enjoy complimentary parking within the hotel grounds.
- Hotel Polonez – Overlooking a beautiful green park, Hotel Polonez set within a historic dormitory-style building boasts a classic design with a warm and subtle color scheme. Not far from the main railway station, it’s easily accessible Guests staying at this 3-star hotel can walk across to Jordan Park with its English-style gardens, pond, sports grounds, and bike rentals. At the hotel, guests can enjoy access to a restaurant serving a daily Polish-style buffet breakfast as well as free on-site parking.
Zwierzyniec is located in the western part of Krakow, a little further from the center of town. The main draw to this area is Laswolski, a sprawling area of protected forest that is well worth exploring.
This is a beautiful place to take some time out in nature. It features hiking trails as well as the famous Pilsudki’s Mound, where you can get some amazing vistas of the city. One of the most well-known mounds in Krakow, this one was constructed in the 1930s and commemorates Polish independence. Also located within the park is Krakow Zoo. In fact, “Zwierzyniec” actually means zoo in Polish. It is home to 300 species of animals and makes for a fun day out.
There is a scattering of affordable accommodation, some of which is in the park itself along the Vistula River. This is a great area for those who want to stay close to nature yet be minutes from Krakow’s center by tram or bus.
Where to Stay in Zwierzyniec
- Niebieski Art Hotel & Spa – Nestled on the banks of the Vistula, the elegant Niebieski Art Hotel & Spa is a 5-star hotel for good reason. Spread across four floors and decorated with unique works of art by contemporary artists, the hotel has a focus on health and wellness. Indulge yourself at Vanilla SPA with its beauty and massage treatments, unwind in the sauna, or work up a sweat at the fitness center. End off with a drink on the river-facing terrace and a pizza at the on-site Italian restaurant.
- Novotel Kraków Centrum – There are so many reasons to stay at Novotel Kraków Centrum with its tasteful rooms spread across six floors of a historical tenement building. Swim all year round in the indoor swimming pool, relax in the sauna, pamper yourself with a massage, or simply hang out in your room – many offer views of the Vistula River. There’s also an elegant restaurant and bar with a kids’ menu, and a recreation center with foosball, table tennis and a pool table.
Just across the Vistula River from Kazimierz, the district of Podgorze was formerly an independent city before becoming part of Krakow in 1795. It has a dark history, however.
During World War II, the Nazis used this district as the ghetto for the displaced Jewish inhabitants of Krakow. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, an operation that saved the lives of many Jewish workers during the war, is located here. There’s also the Holocaust Memorial in Ghetto Heroes Square, once a regular meeting place for the Jewish Resistance.
Other sights in Podgorze include the imposing and beautifully ornate St. Joseph’s Church, built between 1905 and 1909. There’s also the Krakus Mound. Unlike Pilsudki’s Mound, this one is prehistoric in origin and is thought to be the tomb of King Krakus, the legendary founder of Krakow.
Accommodation in Podgorze is all about affordable mid-range hotels, as well as a few budget hostels and guesthouses. Traveling by tram or the local bus is easy, or you could simply stroll across the bridge into the center of the city.
Where to Stay in Podgorze
- Qubus Hotel Kraków – Perched on the edge of the Vistula, the 4-star Qubus Hotel Kraków offers amazing city and river views. Famous for its buffet breakfast – it’s award-winning! – that includes over 100 fresh options, including traditional Polish and international cuisine. When you’ve eaten all you can handle, head to the on-site fitness center with its gym, sauna, indoor pool, and Jacuzzi with a view of the Old Town, or hop on board one of the free seasonal riverboat cruises along the Vistula.
- Hotel Krakus – A great choice for families and business travelers, Hotel Krakus has a variety of rooms sleeping one to four guests. Each room comes with a TV, free Wi-Fi, and a private bathroom. For those who wish to venture out, the hotel has a 24-hour front desk where you can get tourist information at any hour, as well as a restaurant and well-stocked bar. An excellent breakfast with plenty of variety will set you up for the day.
Directly across the river from Wawel Castle, this tiny district was once a village in its own right. Today, it’s a seldom visited corner of the city. Set in a bend in the Vistula River, the isolated Debniki isn’t home to many tourist attractions and lacks the bars and clubs of the center of town, even though it’s so close. That might be because there are no footbridges connecting it to Stare Miasto.
However, Debniki is still a charming area to wander around. There is a beautiful collection of townhouses around the former village’s square, and a number of churches in the area, including the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostaka with its striking 1930s design. Nearby is the Manggha Centre, a modern museum of Japanese art and cultural artifacts.
The hotels in Debniki are mostly budget-friendly, with a few hostels to choose from for even more affordability. There are several mid-range hotels, too. Getting to the center of Krakow is simple and can be done by bus.
Where to Stay in Debniki
- Q Hotel Plus Kraków – The 4-star Q Hotel Plus Kraków located within a royal-style building offers a fresh, young and fun experience to travelers. It boasts modern and spacious rooms with all of the creature comforts you need, from free Wi-Fi and laptop-sized safes to air-conditioning. Some rooms even have river views. Guests can choose from a range of options at the hotel restaurant and lobby bar and tuck into a wonderful breakfast every morning – there’s plenty of variety to suit every palate.
- Hotel Kolna – With a focus on entertainment, you’ll never be bored at Hotel Kolna, located within a modern low-rise building. Take a swim in the hotel swimming pool, unwind in the sauna or solarium, hit the gym, or play a game of table tennis or billiards. If you’d prefer to get out and explore, there are kayaks and pedalos you can rent along a quiet waterway close to the Vistula River. Kids are catered for with a waterslide and a riverside playground for letting off steam.