There are countless things to do in Krakow. and the city has a great reputation as the perfect place for a weekend European city break.
Your trip doesn’t have to break the bank though. Krakow is one of the most reasonably priced cities in Europe. Here’s our rundown of things to do in Krakow on a budget.
Visit Museums in Krakow for Free
There are loads of great museums in Krakow and all have a very affordable entry fee. However, if you’re visiting Krakow on a budget, you can also visit the majority of the museums for free- if you time it right.
All branches of the National Museum, which includes the National Museum building itself and the Rynek Underground, have free admission on a Tuesday.
The same can also be said for the Czartoryski Museum, which houses a Leonardo DaVinci painting- Lady with an Ermine. And yep, you can see that for free too on a Tuesday.
One of the most popular museums in Krakow is the Schindler Factory Museum. It offers visitors an insightful look at Krakow’s World War Two history, as well as Schindler himself.
Entry to the museum is free for visitors on a Monday Morning (except for the first Monday of the Month). The same can be said for visiting Krakow’s Wawel Castle. The castle museum and exhibitions are free to visitors on a Monday morning as well.
Czartoryski Museum, Krakow – Source: City Walks Poland
Visit Churches in Krakow
Wawel Cathedral- Source: City Walks Poland
One of the best things to do in Krakow on a budget is to visit the city’s wonderful array of churches. There are 120 churches around Krakow and the vast majority are free to visit. Even the ones like St.Mary’s basilica and Wawel Cathedral that charge admission, are free entry if you join a service.
Even if you end up paying admission to visit one of the city’s most famous churches, the cost won’t set you back too much.
Admission to St Mary’s Basilica is only 12zl (around €2.70) and the interior is quite something. Inside, you can see famed artist Stanislaw Wyspianksi’s stained glass windows, and the 15th-century wooden, Gothic altarpiece, carved by German artist Weit Stoss.
Join a Krakow Free Walking Tour
Krakow Old Town Free Walking Tour- Source: City Walks Poland
Definitely of the best ways to see Krakow on a budget is to join a Krakow Free Walking Tour. Free walking tours are popular all over Europe and offer guests an inexpensive insight into the history and culture of a city.
City Walks Krakow runs a daily free tour of Krakow Old Town & Castle, which is one of the best-rated tours in the city. As well as ticking off all the main sights of the city, guests get treated to the most famous stories in Poland’s history, as well as handy recommendations.
Guides on free tours make their money from tips, which means guests can leave whatever amount they feel comfortable paying and can avoid paying for costly paid tours.
You can also join a Jewish Quarter Krakow free tour with City Walks Krakow to the neighboring area of Kazimierz. A visit to the area is truly compelling. The tour offers a chance to understand the tragic history of the former, largest Jewish community in the world.
Along with Auschwitz, a visit to Kazimierz is integral to learning about Poland during World War Two.
Speaking of which…
Visit Auschwitz on a budget
A visit to Poland’s most notorious World War Two Nazi death camp is a must-do on the lists of many tourists in Krakow. However, a tour doesn’t have to cost a lot and can be achieved by backpackers in Poland on a tight budget.
Entry to Auschwitz concentration camp is actually free for all visitors. It’s recommended that you reserve your place online through the Auschwitz official website.
There is reading material available for visitors, but if you can stretch your budget to paying 25zl for an official tour, you will likely get much more from it. The day trip to Auschwitz from Krakow is a long one, with around 3 hours return travel and a 3-hour tour.
You will need to eat, and you can save even more money by taking your own food with you and eating it once you arrive, before or after your tour.
Otherwise, the only other thing you need to pay for is transport. Many opt for the convenience of an organized tour with transport from Krakow.
However, to do Auschwitz on a budget you can simply head to Krakow’s MDA bus station around 2 hours before your tour. The bus drops off in the town of Oswiecim, from where you can walk around 10 minutes to the camp. The bus will set you back around 25zl return.
Eat at a Krakow Milk Bar
Left-over from Poland’s Communist era, Milk Bars (Bar Mleczny) are extremely affordable Polish canteens that are great for trying Polish food on a budget.
There are several such places dotted all around Krakow Old town and they’re the perfect place for tourists on a budget to dine for cheap.
Party on a budget by joining a Krakow Pub Crawl
Source: Krakow Crawl
Krakow is very affordable when it comes to partying. There are tons of bars and clubs spread out around Krakow Old Town and Kazimierz in the Jewish Quarter.
A beer in Krakow usually costs around 12zl (€2.70) and vodka is sometimes even cheaper than water to buy. So it’s not hard to have a night out on a budget in Krakow.
However, you can go one further by joining a Krakow pub crawl.
Krakow Crawl costs 55zl when bought online but the price includes free entry to 5 clubs, free shots in every venue and a whole hour’s worth of drinks included.
As well as beer pong on top. That means if you want to dance the night away on a tight budget, you can make the most of the power hour and have a damn good night for the equivalent of €12. Not bad at all.
Climb Krakus Mound
Krakus Mound- Source: City Walks Poland
One of the oldest and most famous sights to see in Krakow is the city’s prehistoric mound. Named after the legendary King Krakus who supposedly gave his name to the city, the man-made structure is said to be the final resting place of Krakow’s first king.
The mound is free to climb and can be reached on foot, around 2km from Krakow Old Town. The walk will take you through the historic areas of Kazimierz and Podgórze, before ascending Krakow’s oldest monument.
Once at the top, you get a great view of the church spires and rooftops as you gaze back across the city.
Walk the Planty Park
Planty Park, Krakow- Source: City Walks Poland
Another of the best things to do in Krakow on a budget is to wander through the city’s parks.
Krakow has several picturesque parks, but the most famous is the Planty Park that surrounds Krakow Old Town.
Once, a medieval moat protecting the city, the Planty park was created in the early 19th century when the Austro-Hungarian empire took the city. Since then locals and tourists alike have circled Krakow Old Town, wandering through its tree-lined paths and passing by countless statues and impressive architecture along the way.
Perfect for taking in the sights of Krakow on a budget.
Swim in Lakes in Krakow
Lake Kryspinów in Krakow- Source: City Walks Poland
Most first-time visitors to Krakow don’t know it, but there are several lakes fairly close to the city center that are great for swimming.
One of the closest is Lake Bagry which is completely free to visit and only a short tram ride outside of the city. Better still hire a bike for the day and go exploring.
The Bagry has a beach bar, volleyball nets, and a beach. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing on a hot summer’s day.
If you end up paying for a tram or bike to get you there, you will have to fork out a little money, but still, as budget options go, it’s pretty damned cheap for a great day out in the sun.
Alternatively, you can also check out Zakrzówek or Kryspinów, which are arguably even better. Zakrówek however is involved in an ongoing legal battle to be open to the public and most visitors tend to go without permission. Kryspinów is a little further from Krakow center than Bagry and there is a 20zl entry fee.
However, it’s worth paying for if you can stretch your budget. The lake is far bigger than the Bagry, there are several more beaches to choose from and the facilities are all-around much better.
So you get what you pay for sometimes.
So there you have it, plenty to keep even the most frugal of travelers occupied for days while visiting Krakow on a budget.