From the sidewalk cafes and the cobblestone squares, to the dozens of churches and the historic Jewish quarter; everywhere you visit in Krakow has a story to be told. From the moment the flight to Krakow lands, it’s clear you’ve arrived in one of Europe’s most historical cities. If there’s one thing Krakow has, it’s a lot of soul. Marked by tragedy during the Nazi regime and rebuilt to become Poland’s fourth largest city, Krakow oozes character from the cracks of its war-torn walls to the tops of its church spires.
Krakow has become a major European tourist destination and it’s no wonder – travelers booking flights to Krakow have the option of touring some of the world’s oldest churches and museums or visiting one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe. Krakow was made even more appealing to tourists after the 1993 movie “Schindler’s List”, which depicted the plight of Polish Jews from Krakow to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Today, travelers of many religions board flights to Krakow to tour world-famous art museums, eat at kosher restaurants and partake in Poland’s cultural events.
Krakow experiences distinct seasons with transitional, temperate periods between fiercely cold winters and comfortable summers. Temperatures between the months of December and March can sink as low as 23 degrees, while the summer heat peaks at 75 degrees. Booking cheap flights to Krakow in the spring or fall will land you in a dry, continental climate with very little precipitation and average temperatures that hover around 57 degrees.
Peak Season: The best time to book Krakow flights and accommodations is during the summer months, when the sun is shining and people flock the city streets enjoying the summer warmth. The busiest time of year to visit the spiritual heart of Poland is between the months of May and September, though Holy Week, which falls anywhere between the last weeks of March and mid-April, sees a swell in tourists looking to participate in the Easter holiday festivities.
Off Season: The chilly lull that sets in after the winter holidays discourages visitors from checking out Krakow in the cold. However, this means Krakow cheap flights are plentiful in the months of February and March. If you’re after snow then you’ll find it in Krakow, usually snow-clad from mid-December to mid-March. It is a popular destination for skiers as it is within a short drive to several ski resorts. Autumn is an excellent time to find cheap flights to Krakow and discount accommodations, with the added bonus of seeing the turning leaves transform the city.
Summers is the peak time to visit Krakow, so expect long lines and big crowds. If you must visit in summer a great time is July as the month is full of lively festivals, from street theatre to jazz attracting thousands of locals and tourists. Spring and autumn are recommended as the best times to book flights to Krakow. Typically, the weather is good in spring and the autumn foliage is stunning. If you enjoy the snow and cold weather, then mid-December to mid-March is best. Plan to book your flights at least 3 to 4 months in advance to take advantage of the best deals.
Flying to Krakow from the United States requires that you make at least one stop, as no airlines offer direct flights. If you’re flying from New York, plan to spend a minimum of 9-10 hours in transit; from Miami, the trip takes between 11 and 12 hours. Flights from the West Coast take longer, so you can expect at least 13-14 hours of travel time from either L.A. or Seattle.
Krakow is home to one airport, the John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice. A limited number of carriers fly into Krakow, but a regular schedule of flights make it easy to get in any day of the week. Several major international carriers, including British Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa operate frequent flights into Krakow. Other airlines that serve the airport are Air Berlin, Austrian, Swiss, and Norwegian. The budget carriers Easyjet and Ryanair also serve Krakow.
Krakow experiences cool temperatures and frequent rainstorms for much of the year, so it’s important to pack a jacket or warm layers. During the summer months, which are most popular with tourists, temperatures often rise to the low 70s. Rainstorms are possible any time of year, so an umbrella or rain jacket is a must. No matter when you’re traveling, walking shoes are essential for navigating Krakow’s historic cobblestone streets. When it comes to the dress code, anything goes — Krakow teems with backpackers and international visitors, so you can expect to see a wide variety of clothing styles. Many bars and restaurants are casual, so formal evening wear is usually not necessary.
Flights to Krakow land at John Paul II International Airport (KRK) 7 miles west of the city center. The fastest way to get from the airport to the city center is to take the train located near the passenger terminal. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes. The airport is served by two regular bus lines and a night line; they take 35 minutes to reach the city. Taxis are also available outside the arrivals hall.
If you want to take a taxi from the airport after your flight to Krakow lands, save some money by phoning and reserving a cab ahead of time. If you forget, you can still catch one at the arrivals gate. Public transportation is very easy to manage, and cheap and efficient too. Trams and buses go all the way to the outskirts of city without draining your wallet. Don’t forget to validate your ticket by punching it at the orange validation boxes. Plain-clothed metro officials are known to charge hefty fines for unvalidated tickets.
Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland, with a vibrant history that dates back more than 1,000 years. Start your trip with a visit to the city’s expansive main square, or Rynek Glowny in Polish, which dates back to 1257. Voted the best public square in Europe by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) the square can keep you busy for hours with its many outdoor cafes, street performers and shops. Wander around the stunning Cloth Hall, climb the Town Hall tower, or tour St. Mary’s Basilica. Make sure your camera or phone batteries are fully charged — the main square is packed with photo opportunities.
Wawel Castle is another Krakow must-see. This picturesque castle sits atop Wawel hill, overlooking a bend in the Vistula River. Visit the castle’s many exhibitions, explore the ornate Wawel Cathedral, or simply enjoy the views of the city from the grounds. To avoid the crowds, book tickets in advance and try to get to the castle as soon as the gates open.
One of the best ways to explore Krakow is by bike. Book a guided tour, or rent a bike to explore on your own. Take a break from the cobblestone streets with a ride by the river, or pedal out beyond the Old Town borders to see how locals live. When you work up an appetite, stop by a bar mleczny, or milk bar, for a hearty traditional meal, or stop by any local bakery to try a slice of sernik babci, a classic Polish cheescake.
Krakow is a popular starting point for day trips to the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camps. These sobering sites provide an education and a firsthand look at the atrocities of World War II; for the full experience, hire a guide. To make the two-hour journey, take a train or bus from Krakow.
When your visit to Krakow comes to an end, you can choose from multiple airport transportation options. The easiest is the 17-minute train ride from the city center. Neobus and Tiger Express offer inexpensive shuttle rides, or you can hop on public bus lines 208, 252, or 902. Taxis also make the 7-mile journey, but traffic can cause significant delays.
Although the Krakow airport is small, it is well-connected by air to other cities in Europe. Cheapflights makes it easy to book flights to the U.S. on British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, LOT, and Airberlin. Norwegian and Brussels Airlines connect you to cities around Europe, and EL AL Israel Airlines provides direct flights to Tel Aviv in Israel. If you’re looking for cheap flights, look to Jet2, Ryanair, and Easyjet.