Jeremy in Krakow

5 Best Areas to Stay in Kraków (Chic & Budget Choices)

Kraków is a historic city worth visiting if you are planning a trip to Poland. But, what are the best areas to stay in Kraków? Kraków has many things to offer for tourists. From the beautiful UNESCO-protected Old Town to the Wawel Royal Castle, the home of Poland’s royal family for centuries, this former capital of Poland is the most visited in the city by both international tourists and domestic Polish tourists for a reason. There is also a vibrant food and drink scene to explore, as well as top-notch art and music festivals. Finally, many people choose to visit Kraków due to the day trips within reach, including Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mines. 

Thus, if you are planning to stay in Kraków for a weekend or an entire week, the best area to stay in Kraków depends on what activities you are most interested in. In general, the best areas to stay in Kraków are close to the city center, as this is where most of the action is, from attractions to dining to festivals. However, this area can be quite expensive, so if you are traveling with a family or on a budget, you might want to stay somewhere else.

On this list, you will find the 5 best areas to stay in Kraków. Each area is the best for different reasons, which will be explained in detail, with a summary table at the very end of this article. Read on to learn more!

Personal Note: While I have visited Kraków four times on my own, I have never stayed in a hotel, I have only stayed in hostels or apartments booked through websites such as Booking or Airbnb. Thus, the hotels recommended are based on what I have heard and online reviews, so please also do your own further research on what fits your needs and wants. 

Currency Note: At the time of writing, prices are current for May 2024, and may be subject to change based on future inflation and seasonal fluctuations. At the time of writing, 100 PLN is around 23.50 euros, or $25.50.

1. The Historic Old Town: Noisy and expensive, but exciting


Description: The Old Town of Kraków is one of the most visited landmarks in all of Poland, and even all of Europe. This is for a good reason. The beautiful buildings of the Old Town are hundreds of years old and have survived WWII, whereas other cities in Poland had their historic buildings devastated. People flock to the Old Town especially to explore the Market Square and all the activities that take place there, including the very popular Kraków Christmas Market in the winter. Thus, it is also a very popular place to stay when visiting Kraków. 

There are unsurprisingly many places to stay in the Kraków Old Town. From expensive 5-star hotels to boutique hotels to Airbnbs in historic tenement houses, there are a lot of options, and many people stay in this area when visiting. However, there are a few downsides to choosing to stay in the Old Town. Firstly, the Old Town remains very loud almost 24/7. Thousands of tourists are exploring during the day, and at night, Kraków’s boisterous nightlife comes out to play, ensuring the noise will not stop except for a few hours in the very early morning.

The market square of Krakow with horses
The market square of Krakow with horses. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

Staying in the Old Town will also almost always come with a hefty price tag unless you are staying in a hostel (which is still quite pricey nonetheless). However, staying in the Old Town allows you to be close to everything. You can walk to almost every major attraction in Kraków within 20 minutes. You can also get to the main train station and be off to the many amazing day trips, with the station only about 15 minutes away from the heart of the Old Town.

And, although it is loud, here you will get to experience the atmosphere that entices millions to visit every year. It may not be the most culturally authentic experience, but is certainly the most authentic experience for Kraków. So, consider the Old Town when considering a place to stay in Kraków.

Attractions & Dining: As mentioned, many of the best things to do in Kraków are a short distance away from the Old Town. The Old Town itself holds many of the attractions, from the two-towered St. Mary’s Church with its hourly trumpet dirges to the Prince Czartoryski Museum, with its masterpiece by an artist for who you would not expect to find his work in Poland (hint: he painted a famous woman), and the Rynek Underground Museum, where you can explore the original Kraków Market Square underneath the current one. Locations close to the Old Town include the National Museum in Kraków, the Kazimierz District, and of course, the Wawel Royal Castle along the Vistula River

What might be even better than the attractions is the food scene in the Old Town. Admittedly, the restaurants in the Old Town can sometimes be touristy and quite a bit more expensive than in other parts of the city. However, some of the best authentic Polish cuisine I have had was ordered and purchased in the Kraków Old Town. Not only that but there are different types of Polish cuisine to be had, from country-style food to highlander food. At night, you will be able to engage in the best nightlife in Poland, with many bars with good (but increasing) prices to choose from. 

Transportation: If you are staying in the Old Town, I doubt you will need to use public transportation that much. Unless you want to go to some of the more underrated locations outside the city, such as Park Zakrzówek or Nowa Huta, you can walk almost anywhere from the Old Town. However, multiple tram lines make their way through and around the Old Town, with connections to anywhere in the city. Buses go anywhere else the trams do not. And, you are a short distance from the main Kraków train station, where there are both trains and buses to other places in Poland or a short train to the Kraków airport for your flight home. 

Places to Stay: There is an abundance of nice hotels and apartments to choose from when staying in the Kraków Old Town. One of the best and fanciest options is Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem, a 5-star hotel found at the north end of the Old Town. Here you can stay in style while also having some privacy, with a night stay costing around 600-700 PLN per night. Your most affordable stay will be in a hostel, such as the Little Havana Party Hostel, which is great if you are a young solo traveler trying to make friends, with nightly events and a social atmosphere. 

2. Kazimierz: Chic and well-connected


Description: If the noise of the Old Town does not sound appealing to you, but you still want to be in the center of Kraków, consider staying in Kazimierz. Kazimierz is the “trendy” part of Kraków. While there are plenty of tourists who make their way to Kazimierz, locals also hang out here. Kazimierz has a complicated history, but today stands as the modern Jewish quarter of Kraków. Kraków has had a Jewish population for many years, with this population living in the separate sister city of Kazimierz, just across the river where Podgórze is today. Today you will find Jewish museums, synagogues, and restaurants in this area. 

Beyond the Jewish connection, Kazimierz is also a beautiful district. Narrow streets with old buildings and ivy-covered buildings are a main feature of this area. The southern part of the district is bordered by the Vistula River, and you can walk and bike along the promenade here, or take a trip across the bridge to Podgórze. So, if you are looking for a slightly quieter (especially at night) but still busy district, Kazimierz is likely the best place to stay in Kraków for you. 

Plac Nowy is a small square in the center of Kazimierz
Plac Nowy is a small square in the center of Kazimierz which is a very popular part of Krakow. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

Attractions & Dining: As mentioned, Kazimierz has a distinct Jewish character due to history. Much of this is centered around ul. Szeroka, which is lined with Jewish restaurants, multiple synagogues, and the old Jewish cemetery. You can also find the Galicja Museum to learn more about Cracovian Jews. For non-Jewish history, visit Plac Nowy. Here you can get one of the icons of Polish cuisine, the zapiekanka. The circular building in the plaza sells only these delicious baguettes topped with mushrooms, marinara, and mozzarella, with other toppings optional. There are also many great restaurants near this area. 

Transportation: Kazimierz has trams running on the west and east edge of the district, with both lines running to either the central train station or the Old Town. These same trams can take you across the river to other city attractions. Beyond this, the Kazimierz district is very walkable for your own exploring. You can also walk to the Old Town in around 20-25 minutes, and to Wawel Royal Castle in about 15 minutes. 

Places to Stay: The most stylish place to stay in Kazimierz is perhaps the Golden Tulip. This 4-star hotel has top-notch amenities, a location right next to a tram stop, and an affordable price with an excellent breakfast to boot. A night here can cost as little as 400 PLN depending on which room you book. For an apartment experience with a view of the Vistula River, consider the GA Luxury Apartments. These are full apartments that have every amenity you wish for, allowing you to save money on food by being able to cook for yourself, and are also a great option for families. Rooms can cost around 300-400 PLN per night.

3. Nowy Świat/Piasek Południe: Quiet, but close to everything

Location #1 | Location # 2

Description: Are you looking for a quiet neighborhood without wanting to be far away from the center of everything? Either the neighborhood of Nowy Świat or Piasek Południe are good choices for your stay in Kraków. Both areas are located to the southwest of the Old Town, but you can walk to the Old Town within 10 minutes. I stayed in the Nowy Świat neighborhood last time I was in Kraków, and I was pleasantly surprised about how quiet it was. Here is a neighborhood where locals actually live and operate. Do not be surprised if your view from your Airbnb is a Polish man smoking a cigarette or two. 

Another upside of staying in this area is that the prices of hotels immediately drop. There are also a variety of Airbnbs and other homestays to choose from, and given the age of this neighborhood, you are not likely to find new buildings that have been built only for tourists and contribute negatively to local housing. In general, either of these areas is good if you want a quiet stay close to the center, and do not mind being a bit away from the center of everything. 

Henryk Jordan Park in Krakow
Henryk Jordan Park in Krakow. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

Attractions & Dining: One downside of these areas is that there are no attractions in these neighborhoods. However, there are some close ones. One such attraction is the National Museum of Kraków, with its collection of artwork and local historical artifacts. Just beyond the museum is Henryk Jordan Park, a British-style botanical garden that houses a popular ice skating rink in the wintertime. You also are not too far away from the Vistula River and the Wawel Royal Castle, as well as the Old Town. 

Beyond the attractions, dining is also an issue in this neighborhood. There are not many restaurants to choose from. However, the ones that do exist are much more local, have local prices, and still have good food. If you would prefer to cook, there are also major grocery stores in these areas, a downside of staying in either the Old Town or Kazimierz, which only have convenience stores and very small and crowded chain stores. 

Transportation: As mentioned, you can walk to many places from here in about 10-15 minutes. There is also a tram line running directly between the named areas, with a tram service to the Old Town, as well as the central train service. The western edge of the ring boulevard around the city center is also close by, with bus service to other attractions and tram lines, as well as the main bus station. So, transportation is not as convenient as in the Old Town, but still very convenient. 

Places to Stay: Some of the most expensive hotels in Kraków are found in the Nowy Świat part of this area, including the Sheraton Grand Kraków and Bachelda Luxury Hotel. However, there are some more typical options, such as the Novotel Kraków Centrum and ibis Kraków Centrum, which share a building and offer different price points for different travelers between 200 and 500 PLN per night. However, there are also many other great apartment hotels in this area, such as Cybulskiego Guest Rooms and Krupnicza 30 Apartments, with full apartments between 250 and 350 PLN per night.

4. Piasek Północ/Kleparz: Steps from the train station

Location #1 | Location #2

Description: Piasek Północ and Kleparz are two more neighborhoods to the west and north of the Old Town. Both are similar to the previous areas mentioned, as they are within walking distance of many of the best things to do, while also being much quieter. I stayed here on my winter visit to Kraków, and the neighborhood was very sleepy compared to the bustling Old Town, but it never took me long to get to where I needed to go. Staying in these areas also puts you within a short walk of the main train station, making these areas a convenient place to stay if you plan to use Kraków as a base to do further exploring in Poland. 

Beyond this, the prices in these areas get exponentially cheaper compared to the Old Town despite the close proximity. You will also get more of a local feel, as with the previous areas. There is also a very good dining scene in this area, with marketplaces and restaurants alike. So, if you do not like the options in the prior two areas, and are still looking for a quiet neighborhood in Kraków, either Piasek Północ or Kleparz are great options.

Piasek Północ is a quieter part of Krakow
Piasek Północ is a quieter part of Krakow. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

Attractions & Dining: As with the prior two areas, this area of Kraków is a mostly residential one. Thus, there are not many attractions for tourists in the direct vicinity. In fact, the district is not home to any tourist attractions. But, you are only a short walk from the Old Town and can get further transport to the main attractions from there. The main draw of this area is the dining. This district is full of restaurants that tourists in the Old Town seem not to find (so keep this area a secret!). There are many hidden gems to explore and find here with delicious Polish, and also international cuisine (including amazingly good burritos!)

 Additionally, there are two marketplaces to explore: Stary Kleparz and Nowy Kleparz. Despite Stary Kleparz being steps away from the northern edge of the Old Town, tourists do not always make it here. This is a nice place to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, honey, liquor, and other random things (including a wok if you want to recreate that famous song). If you want a guarantee of almost no tourists, go instead to Nowy Kleparz, which is quieter, but still has the same offerings. 

Transportation: Transportation in these areas is very simple. The train station can be walked to in about 10 minutes, although there are also a few buses winding their way through the narrow streets of these areas. Alternatively, you can walk towards the Old Town, and get a tram almost anywhere you need to go. The main highlight of transportation is still the train and bus stations being nearby so that other Polish cities like Zakopane are within reach without an extra commute time. 

Places to Stay: This area is full of hostels, which offer both shared rooms and small private rooms, some with shared bathrooms and some with private bathrooms. Good examples of hostels in this area include Dizzy Daisy Downtown Hostel, Lemon Tree Hostel, and Amber Hostel, with private rooms running between 150-200 PLN. For a hotel experience, you can stay at Mercure Kraków Stare Miasto, just across the street from the train station for around 500 PLN per night. 

5. Stare Podgórze: A different perspective


Description: If you are looking for a different experience while staying in Kraków, cross the Vistula River to Stare Podgórze. This district of the city used to be its own city 200 years ago, but has since merged with Kraków, and is part of the broader historically significant and protected area of Kraków. 

Stare Podgórze is just a few tram stations from the center
Stare Podgórze is just a few tram stations from the center. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

Attractions & Dining: It is easy enough to access the main attractions of Kraków from Stare Podgórze, with Kazimierz right across the river and the Old Town within a short tram line. But, the benefit of staying here is that you have good access to other less-visited attractions. One attraction that is still popular and found in Kazimierz is Schindler’s Factory, which houses an amazing interactive museum at the site of the former factory. Make sure to get a reservation in advance if you plan to visit. Then, make your way to the Ghetto Square, which has a monument of empty chairs to commemorate the Jews rounded up in this area. 

If you want to get in touch with some more Jewish history, a short distance from the central part of Stare Podgórze is the former site of the Płaszów Labor Camp, which was also featured in Schindler’s List. Today, it is an open green space, full of monuments and plaques to remember a solemn location. It is also possible to visit the former quarry that was a part of the labor camp, although caution is advised. Finally, you can also take a hike up to the top of Krakus Mound, which was constructed over a thousand years ago and is the oldest man-made structure in Poland. 

The main downside of staying in the Podgórze neighborhood is the food scene. The center of the district unfortunately does not have many restaurants to choose from compared to almost any other neighborhood in Kraków. One notable exception is Hala Lipowa, a food court located next to the Schindler Museum, but this is an expensive and crowded place. So, for food, you are better off taking a walk across one of the beautiful bridges over the Vistula to Kazimierz to get some food. 

Transportation: The other downside of staying in Stare Podgórze is that it is not as centrally located and walkable. There are a few hills scattered through this district, and to get to the other parts of the city is either a 40-50-minute walk, or a 15-minute tram ride. You can take advantage of the Podgórze train station to get to attractions such as Auschwitz or Wieliczka, but it is not convenient as it is close to the main train station. But in general, there are many trams and buses to get you where you need to go, you will just not be able to walk as easily. 

Places to Stay: For a hotel with modern touches and a good price, consider Xerion Hotel. It is centrally located, reviewed as spotless, and offers a great breakfast, with prices going as low as 280 PLN per night, which is a steal for a 4-star hotel. The Qubus Hotel is another stylish hotel that also offers a swimming pool, sauna, and a short walk to the riverfront. Rooms here cost around 400+ PLN per night. 

Conclusions about the Best Areas to Stay in Kraków

So, there are many good choices amongst the best areas to stay in Kraków. From the exciting and central, but expensive Old Town, to the quieter but convenient areas of Nowy Świat, Piasek Południe, Piasek Północ, and Kleparz, there is an option for every budget in Kraków. For a full summation of each of the areas mentioned in this article, view the helpful table below, which ranks each area based on location, price, the number and quality of attractions, dining, transport, and a final overall ranking. I hope you found the area to stay in Kraków that best fits your travel plans!

Area Location Price Attractions Dining Transport Overall 
Old Town2nd5th1st1st1st1st
Nowy Świat/Piasek Południe4th2nd4th4th3rd4th
Piasek Północ/ Kleparz3rd1st5th3rd2nd3rd
Stare Podgórze5th3rd2nd5th5th5th
Ranking Table for Best Areas to Stay in Kraków

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