Last updated on February 14th, 2020
As the second largest city in Poland after the capital Warsaw, Krakow is the latest must see city destination for tourists. Established in the 7th Century, Krakow’s heritage is rich in culture, history and the arts. The city is said to be named after Krakus, a legendary ruler who built the city on top of a dragon-dwelling cave and many of Krakow’s districts are shrouded in legend and mystery.
When visiting Krakow for the first time, the Old Town is a must see neighbourhood. Named as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, the Old Town is notable for its beautiful and intricate architecture.
What’s the best area to experience the city for the first time, tourists, what’s the best district for nightlife, or where to stay on a budget ? Read on below to find out more best neighbourhoods to stay in Krakow Poland.
What is the Best Area to Stay in Krakow ?
Best for First Time (Sightseeing): City Centre (Old Town, Kazimierz)
Known to locals as Stare Miasto, the Old Town is the remnant of an old medieval fort, surrounded by a 3km wall to keep out the invading Tartars in the 13th Century. Built over two centuries, it is an architectural masterpiece and comprises 46 towers and seven different entrances.
The main square is the largest in Europe and the Royal Road carves its way through the town, so you can literally follow in the footsteps of past Polish Kings. Kazimierz is a district of the Old Town and has an important cultural past. Here is where the Jewish community settled and the Jewish Cultural Festival is now held here every year to commemorate the complex past of the Jews and Poles native to the neighbourhood.
Where to Stay in Krakow City Centre
- Best Luxury Hotels in Krakow
Balthazar Design Hotel • Hotel Unicus Palace
- Best Great Value – Top Rated Hotels
K4 APARTHOTEL KRAKÓW • The Loft Hotel Adults Only
- Best Cheap Hotels in Krakow
Hotel Pugetow • Hotel Legend
- Best Bed & Breakfast
Dom Gościnny AGH “Sienkiewiczówka” • Tango House Bed & Breakfast
- Best Budget Hostels
Mundo Hostel • Bison Hostel
Best Areas to Stay in Krakow
Best places to stay in Krakow for romantic trip ? Small Boutique Hotel or Luxury Hotel
Krakow is a great choice for couples looking for a romantic city break. There are plenty of accommodation choices and hotels on offer, no matter what you are looking for. Good choices are small boutique and luxury hotels. The Riverside Aparthotel has a relaxing waterside location and offers some of the best views of Wawel Royal Castle. The Belle Epoque Residence offers a more boutique experience as is located just meters from the main market square where you can shop, eat and relax.
If staying in the city centre is not for you, why not explore some of the less visited neighbourhoods of Krakow Poland. The Kleparz area has plenty of guesthouses to accommodate your needs and is just a stone’s throw away from a delightful market place where you can find local cuisine in traditional bistros and enjoy famous landmarks, such as the Battle of Gruwald monument. Debniki is also a great option for those looking to see some of the more local side of Poland during their stay. One of Krakow’s 18 districts, this smaller neighbourhood is best for those looking for a quiet stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Where to stay in Krakow for best nightlife ? Kazimierz
To make the most of Krakow’s nightlife during your stay, the Kazimierz area provides some of the best restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the city. If you are looking for a hipster dive bar to escape the tourist trap, Eszeweria mixes old world charm with a kooky vibe. Don Chichote is a great hangout for those who like to dance and drink, or if you are a beer connoisseur, why not try Omerta and try some of the best ales and beers in town.
Where to stay in Krakow on a budget ? Grzegórzki
When visiting Krakow on a budget, hotels in Grzegórzki offer plenty of accommodation options to make the most of your stay. The area is best known for its chilled out vibe and is a hangout for many of the city’s students. Close to the botanical gardens and with plenty of cycles routes, it is a cheaper option to stay and get around the city. Centrally located, you can be sure to not miss out on any of the attractions the city has to offer.
The 5 Best Neighbourhoods in Krakow for Tourists
The Old Town, or Stare Miasto as it is known in Polish, combines gothic architecture and old fashioned charm. There is plenty to see and do, with landmarks such as St Mary’s Basilica and the Church of St Anne.
The Old Town is steeped in myth and folklore and many of these sites were believed to offer religious and spiritual protection from invaders. But the Old Town is more than just a spectacle for sightseers. Why not sample some of Krakow’s famous beer and vodka as you make your way down the cobbled streets? There are plenty of unique pubs and bars tucked away and offer a great way to experience a different side to Stare Miasto.
There are lots of walking tours on offer too for those wanting to take things at a gentler place and the Rynek Underground Museum provides extensive background to the area’s history.
- Best Hotels (Great Value): Bachleda Luxury Hotel Krakow MGallery By Sofitel • Hotel Gródek
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: Hotel 32 Kraków Old Town • Hotel Columbus
2. Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter))
Kazimierz, also known as the Jewish quarter, is an area that has a somewhat chequered history. Polish and Jewish residence cohabited peaceably until the outbreak of World War II when in 1914, many Jews were forcibly removed. An independent city in it’s own right, Kazimierz has been the cultural centre of Krakow for centuries.
Even today, baroque and gothic cathedrals stand side by side with beautiful synagogues and the Jewish Cemetery is an important historical site and tourist attraction. Every June, a festival to celebrate the Jewish history of Kazimierz is held, where locals and tourists from across the world can mingle to listen to music, eat traditional food and find souvenirs.
- Best Hotels (Great Value): Privilege Suites (Aparthotel) • PURO Kraków Kazimierz
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: Hotel Eden • Hotel Kazimierz III
Kleparz is an area close to the Old Town and is best known for its market square which is filled with interesting and unusual stalls.
Traditionally, those living in the Kleparz neighbourhood were craftsmen and as such the residential homes were built using timber. This led to Kleparz burning down several times over the centuries and now it has been rebuilt in a more practical, art nouveau style. St Florian’s Church stands at the north end of the market square and marks the start of the Royal Road.
- Best Hotels (Great Value): Hotel Indigo Krakow – Old Town • Mercure Krakow Stare Miasto
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: Hotel Lavander • Hotel Atrium
Debniki is one of the smaller districts of Krakow and is primarily a residential area with a strong local sense of community. Often left off the list but many tourists, this is a shame as although not as charming as some of the other areas, Debniki does still offer beautiful views of Wawel Castle and lots of good hotel and accommodation options too.
The area is also great for those looking to visit Krakow on business thanks to the new Krakow Congress Centre and its easy access via main road.
- Best Hotels (Great Value): Q Hotel Plus Kraków • Riverside Aparthotel
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: Benefis Boutique Hotel • B&B Hotel Krakow Centrum
Krakow Central Train Station is, as its name suggests, the station most centrally located to the city. Recently modernised thanks to heavy investment, the station is state of the art and fully accessible for those with disabilities with unique SOS call boxes for assistance at any time.
From here you can find not just trains but buses, taxis and trams too. Tickets are available 24 hours a day and there are plenty of food, drink and shopping choices inside the station too, including the Galeria Krakowska. If you are planning to travel to Krakow via train, the Central Station is located close to the Old Town so all the sights of the city are within immediate easy reach.