Tyniec in Krakow

Top 10 Best Day Trips from Kraków in 2024

Kraków is a beautiful city with so much to do! However, many people who visit Kraków also take day trips to the many beautiful places nearby. Thus, this list will be the 10 best day trips from Kraków. Some of the day trips from Kraków are to some of the most popular destinations in all of Poland, such as the solemn site of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration camp and the accompanying museum. Beyond that, there are also many nearby cities and natural wonders that are worth visiting if you have some spare time on your agenda in Kraków. 

The first thing I will note is that I defined a day trip as something that will require most of a normal travel day. So, each of these trips will take at least 5-6 hours of your time, and many will take more. This means there are options if you want to still wake up leisurely in the morning and have time to have a nice dinner in the evening as if you were taking a day trip from home. But some options will require a lot of energy. I only recommend taking more than one of these options if you are spending at least 5 days in Kraków

Additionally, I have divided the 10 best day trips from Kraków into categories. The first four are destinations that are either extremely popular, or extremely close, and are well-served by public transportation options from Kraków and have lots to do to fill up a day. The second category consists of beautiful locations, but maybe not quite as popular amongst international tourists as the first category. The final 2 entries on the list are day trips that are worth doing if you are willing to spend a lot of a full day visiting the location, due to farther travel time or a sheer number of activities to take part in.  

Overall, amongst these best day trips from Kraków, I hope you find one for you. Every visitor to Kraków should try to leave the city for a little bit, but if you do not want to, there are so many great things to do in this budget-friendly destination. But, leaving the city for a day only adds to the full experience of exploring Poland, which is why I recommend it. Good luck as you plan your trip to Kraków and Poland! 

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First a Note: Wieliczka Salt Mine

Most lists you will find online will have the fabulous Wieliczka Salt Mine as one of the best day trips from Kraków. However, by my definition of what a day trip is, Wieliczka Salt Mine is not a day trip! Visiting the mines is a 90-minute guided tour, which limits the amount of time you can spend underground exploring. Above ground, there is not much to see in the surrounding area. Additionally, as it only takes 30 minutes by public transit, and even less by car, to get to Wieliczka, you might only need 3 hours for this attraction!  

Since 3 hours leave plenty of time for lots of other activities in Kraków, I do not want to give the wrong impression that you must allot an entire day’s worth of time for this activity. While other activities on this list are also quite close to Kraków, there is considerably more to do at them, such as Auschwitz or Tyniec, which means you will spend more time in the area, and these destinations have a longer travel time than Wieliczka. So, please do visit this wonderful location when visiting Kraków, but it does not require the time and effort of a full-day trip. 

Most Popular of the Best Day Trips from Kraków

These four entries are some of the most popular destinations in Poland, or nearby Kraków! From a solemn museum to a beautiful abbey on a cliff, to the entertainment of the Polish Tatras and amusement parks, there is something for everyone in this section. All these day trips are well-served by both public transit and/or guided tours, making it easy to either plan the trip on your own or pay for a more structured experience. Read on to find out more!

1. Auschwitz-Birkenau

Location | Website 

Description: Auschwitz-Birkenau was the site of one of the largest tragedies in human history. Located about halfway between Kraków and the nearby large city of Katowice, while this area was built by German Nazi forces, it remains a symbol of the tragedy that Poland, and specifically Polish Jews, went through less than 100 years ago. Today, there is a solemn museum that details everything that happened at both the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, also supplying a comprehensive picture of everything that happened during the Holocaust.  

Perhaps the most emotional part is walking along the grounds of the camps, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a place where you realize that thousands of people were murdered here. It is a chilling and somber experience. Due to the tragedy and horror, many thousands of people come to Auschwitz-Birkenau every year to reflect on the tragedy. Kraków is a common starting point for people visiting Auschwitz, and most weekend tourists coming to Kraków for the first time often come solely to visit Auschwitz. You also should include it on your list of best day trips from Kraków when you visit.  

Hours: Auschwitz-Birkenau has varied hours throughout the year, with shorter hours in the winter. They can be found in the following table: 

Month(s) Hours Free Hours 
January and November 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM 
February 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM 
March and October 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM 
April, May, and September 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM 
June, July, and August 7:30 AM – 7:00 PM 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM 
December 7:30 AM – 2:00 PM 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM 

Also, note that if you are opting for a guided tour, or arriving at a time when guided tours are mandatory (more on that later), there are specific times for tours in foreign languages. Polish and English tours run consistently every 10-15 minutes, but other languages are offered only 2-3 times per day, and some are offered only seasonally. Other languages available for tours are Czech, Slovak, Russian, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. More information can be found here

A final important note about the opening hours is that the hours listed above are “entry” hours. The site’s official closing time is 90 minutes after the last listed time. So, do not feel you have to rush through everything if you get a reservation later. I recommend getting your reservation 90 minutes before the listed last entry time to give you 3 full hours to see everything.  

Cost: Auschwitz is both free and not free. It depends on which hours you are visiting during the day! The free hours are listed in the table above. Do note you have to make a reservation to visit at any point in the day, so thus the spots are limited, and you should reserve a spot as soon as you are sure you want to go. If you choose to do a guided tour, tickets cost 85 PLN/75 PLN for foreign language tours, or cost 75/65 PLN if you can understand Polish.  

In this way, when you Google “Is Auschwitz is Free,” you will often get a result from the museum itself saying seeing the museum and grounds is free. But this is very misleading, and in my opinion, poor form from the museum. Do note that the museum is only free if you are visiting during these free hours, which have an extremely limited number of tickets. In my opinion, you are better off paying for the tickets, so that you can do the tour earlier in the day, especially in the summer months.  

Other Important Notes: Some sources say that children under 14 are not allowed, but the museum itself just says it is not recommended. So, you can bring your children, but there is a reason for this recommendation by the museum, so make sure your children are ready for the realities of what this museum exhibits. Also, make sure to act with decorum and respect while visiting. Do not be loud, do not go off the path, do not take pictures of everything, do not take phone calls, and dress respectfully as possible. Overall, use common sense when visiting.  

Also, note that photography is not allowed for commercial use. You can get permits for it, but you must contact the museum in advance and pay for a permit. Taking photos for personal memory is okay, but I would recommend not taking photos at all. Especially do not take selfies or pose in front of the gates as some influencers seem to do to great ridicule. Finally, when you book a ticket, you must supply information about an ID card or passport, which you must bring for admission to the site. Do not forget your passport!  

Transit Information: There are multiple options to get to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Trains leave from Kraków Main Station consistently throughout the day, stopping at Oświęcim Station. The station is only a 1.5 km (1 mile) walk from the museum, with a special shuttle bus between the two available in the summer, and closer to the location of the former death camps. A ticket for the slowest train will cost around 20 PLN, with the journey taking around 90 minutes. There are also faster and more expensive trains, but you do not need to take these. Make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid waiting in a line at the train station in Kraków.  

Other options include various bus services. This will be faster than the train, and cost a similar amount of money, with the journey lasting closer to 30 minutes. These tickets can be bought at the Kraków Bus Station, right next door to the central train station, or bought online in advance. The official carrier between the two destinations is Lajkonik Bus.  

Other than bus or train, you can choose to book one of the many tours available online, or from a tour operator in Kraków once you arrive. Do note this option is quite expensive, ranging in price from 300-400 PLN per person, which while all-inclusive, is still about twice as expensive as paying for a tour from Auschwitz itself, or 6 times more expensive if doing a self-guided ticket. A final possibility is to rent a car and drive, but there is a limited amount of parking, and this choice is least recommended.  

2. Tyniec

Location | Website 

Description: Tyniec is still technically a part of Kraków’s city limits, yet I place it as one of the best day trips from Kraków. Why? Firstly, the village itself is stunning and hosts a site of historical and cultural importance to Poland. Located along the east bank of the Vistula River, the main site in Tyniec is the Tyniec Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery that sits high on top of a cliff overlooking the Vistula. In existence as early as 1044 by one of the first kings of Poland, the Abbey has served as a solemn place of worship and residence of monks for almost 1000 years.  

Tyniec in Krakow
Tyniec is a part of Krakow. Taken by Janusz Maniak on Unsplash.

The monastery has been rebuilt and destroyed throughout history by various invading forces, but today’s version was built in the Gothic 15th-century style, but fully restored only in 1968. It is still a beautiful figure, looming over the river below from its perch on the cliff. At the Abbey, you can visit a museum describing the complex history of what has happened at the monastery, and you can take a guided tour of the Abbey itself (with prior arrangement). If you fancy, you can also stay overnight at the Abbey, in accommodation not dissimilar to what a monk would experience. 

But Tyniec is more than just the Abbey. There are also many great walking trails in the area, offering stunning views of the Vistula and the surrounding fields. You can also take a foot ferry across the Vistula to get the most famous view of the Abbey. There are many hills to do this in the area. Otherwise, you can enjoy the charm of this small village, and maybe enjoy some good Polish cuisine. A trip could take up to 5-6 hours, making it one of the best day trips from Kraków.  

Hours: The village area can be visited at any time. The Abbey is open for tours at certain times, usually starting at the top of the hour, starting at 10 AM and until 4 PM, or 5 PM on Sundays. In the winter, the hours lessen a bit, check the official website linked above for complete schedule information. The Abbey Museum is open year-round but with slightly longer hours between May and October. During the summer months, the museum is open from 9:30 AM – 5 PM Monday to Friday, and 10 AM – 6 PM on weekends. From November until April, the museum is open from 9:30 AM – 5 PM Monday to Friday, and 10 AM to 4 PM on weekends.  

Cost: A guided tour of the Abbey costs 50/40 PLN in English, but only 30/20 PLN in Polish. For English tours, make sure to reach out at least a week in advance before visiting to make sure they have someone on site ready to help you out. With a guided tour, admission to the museum is free. If you just want to visit the museum, it costs 15/10 PLN.  

Transit Information: Two buses serve the village of Tyniec from Kraków. Bus 112 leaves from Os. Podwawelskie bus loop, just across the river from Wawel Castle, and can be reached via direct tram from the historic Old Town. Bus 203 leaves from Czerwone Maki P+R, which you can get to via tram from the central train station. The bus part of the journey alone will take at least an hour in each direction, and adding in the other parts will add an added 20-30 minutes, thus making the travel time long enough for a true day trip. Your other possibility is to drive, with a small amount of parking available at the Abbey.  

3. Zakopane

Location | Tourism Website 

Description: Zakopane is the crown jewel of the Tatra Mountains, making up the southern border of Poland with Slovakia, and the highest subrange of the Carpathian Mountains. Zakopane is both a top destination in the summer and the prime winter destination in all of Poland. It can also make for one of the best day trips from Kraków. However, this trip will be a much abridged one.

Morskie Oko
Morskie Oko. Taken by Poland Insiders writer Jeremy.

While I recommend at least 3 nights in Zakopane, which allows you to visit such gems of Poland like Morskie Oko, a day trip is still possible. A day trip to Zakopane will involve mostly staying in the city center, with maybe a short trip for a view included. Read on to find out 5 things you can do on a day trip to Zakopane from Kraków! 

Top 5 Things to Do:  

  • Krupówki: Perhaps the easiest thing to do on a day trip to Zakopane, Krupówki is the main pedestrian promenade in Zakopane. Here you will find dozens of restaurants, shops, souvenir stands, and tourist traps. It can get quite crowded and expensive, but there are some good restaurants to check out here. Just make sure to ALWAYS check Google reviews for a restaurant in Zakopane before eating (unless you want some unpleasant surprises, such as having to pay to use the bathroom despite paying for a meal).  
  • Gubałówka Funicular: For a stunning view of Zakopane and the Tatras, take the Gubałówka Funicular. Located just east of the center of Zakopane, in 5 minutes, you will have a stunning view of the city. There are also some restaurants and a bunch of tourist-trap booths that you can mostly ignore. At the bottom, there is a fun fair during the summer. 
  • Kasprowy Wierch Cable Car: For a slightly longer journey with an even more stunning view, consider taking Kasprowy Wierch Cable Car. With a short mini-bus ride from the city center, you will be starting your journey up the historic cable car to some of the highest points in Poland. Here, you will be treated to stunning mountain views and good Polish food. A great place for a walk, but make sure to make your reservation 24 hours in advance to skip the line! 
  • Oscypek Museum: Oscypek is a delicious cheese that is specially made in the Zakopane region. Made from sheep’s milk, it is strong but delicious. While oscypek is available in some less-authentic forms in many parts of the city, you can pay a good price for an entire block of this delicious cheese, and maybe pay to make your own (although the lessons are unfortunately only in Polish).  
  • Tatra Museum: For a historical overview of the unique Goral heritage and culture, visit both branches of the Tatra Museum. The first is in a historic building in the town center and tells the story of the Goral people with authentic exhibits. The second branch is dedicated to the famous Zakopane architecture style, a mix of funky wooden shapes. This branch is in a building of this style. Both are worth a visit for a day trip from Kraków.  

Transit Information: There are any number of bus and train choices to get to Zakopane from Kraków, as Kraków is the gateway city to the Polish Tatras. For the bus, I would recommend using FlixBus, which in Poland runs reliable and affordable service almost anywhere, including between Zakopane and Kraków. I recommend taking an earlier bus, as while the journey should only take about 2 hours each way, the journey can stretch to almost 3 hours depending on the traffic. A bus ticket should cost no more than 30-50 PLN each way. Buses arrive directly in the city center, which is extremely convenient to get your day started quickly upon arrival.  

The other potential choice is to take a train. Trains can be booked onsite at the train station, or in advance (my recommendation) via the official PKP website. Train journeys can cost as low as 30 PLN each way, but the journey is very slow, taking between 3-4 hours, so I do not recommend it as the best mode of transport for a day trip. Renting a car is also a choice, but traffic to Zakopane is rough so make sure to get an early start. Also, find a parking lot where you can park for the entire day, and walk the rest of the time you are there, as parking can be very hard to find throughout the city.

4. Energylandia

Location | Website 

Description: Energylandia is Poland’s largest amusement park and one of the best in all of Europe! Located a short distance from Kraków, a full day can easily be spent here. Opening only 10 years ago, Energylandia has slowly grown into one of the premier theme parks in all of Europe and has even appeared in the top 10 most Googled attractions in Europe, alongside the likes of La Sagrada Familia and the Eiffel Tower! With thrilling roller coasters, including some of Europe’s highest, and a unique water-coaster hybrid, Energylandia has some of the most unique rides in the world. There is also a full water park, and activities catered for children.  

The park’s one downside is it is expensive, as all theme parks are. However, if you are interested in a thrilling experience, get to the park at opening, and stay until closing to maximize your time spent enjoying what there is to do! You can also bring your own food and water to avoid paying sometimes unsightly concession prices. But, in my opinion, this amusement park’s quality makes it worth the price, and one of the best day trips from Kraków.  

Hours: Energylandia is open seasonally. From April until the start of the summer (usually in mid-to-late June), the park is open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM. From then until the end of August, the park is open daily from 10 AM to 8 PM. During September, the park is also open from 10 AM – 6 PM daily. Finally, during October, the park is open only from Thursday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.  

Costs: There are two ticket prices for the park, the high season price (from June to August) and the low season price (the rest of the months the park is open). A standard ticket costs 199 PLN/179 PLN per day. Senior tickets and tickets for children shorter than 140 cm (around 4’7 for my fellow Americans) cost 149/129 PLN per day. Finally, if you have a child who happens to have a birthday on the day you plan to go, a ticket only costs 1 PLN! Children 3 and under are always free. Overall, this is an expensive activity, but the quality of this amusement park makes it worth it if you are a theme park enthusiast.  

Transit Information: The most cost-effective choice for getting to the park, found somewhat in the middle of nowhere, is via train. There is a direct train from Kraków, taking about 1 hour each way. You can get off at the Zator train station and take a local bus for about 10 minutes to get to the park or get off at the specific Zator Park Rozrywki, which is only a 5-minute walk from the park entrance (although there is no sidewalk yet, so consider this). The park also offers a direct bus service from Kraków for 45 PLN each way. There is also a massive parking lot, with a 20 PLN daily fee.

Underrated Destinations for Best Day Trips from Kraków

These next four options are amazing places to visit but are not as highly visited as the earlier four! This is either due to them not being as well-known among international tourists, or due to difficulties in transport to some of them without renting a car. In general, renting a car might make taking these best day trips from Kraków easier, and allow you to see more. But, still, all options can use public transport to get to them, but some may take more time. Read on to find out more!  

5. Ojcowski National Park

Location | Website 

Description: While Ojcowski National Park might be Poland’s smallest national park, it still packs a punch. Within its 21 sq km (8 sq mi), there is a lot to see and do. Firstly, you can take a walk through the thick forests of the parks, maybe spotting some of the 5500 animal species in the park along the way. There are also many rocky hills to climb up for views of the river valley below. However, the main attraction of the park is the unique rock formations found throughout the park, such as the White Hand Rock, Hercules’s Bludgeon, or Kraków’s Gate.  

Ojcowski National Park
A large rock formation in Ojcowski National Park. Taken by Aleksandr Lytvynov on Unsplash

There is also a museum dedicated to telling the park’s story. But the more iconic buildings of the park are the two castles. Ojcowski Castle is a set of ruins perched high on some rocks overlooking the river valley and offers some stunning views. In the northern part of the park, you will find Pieskowa Castle, which is a Rennaissance-period castle also found on top of a rock formation and is perhaps the most picturesque castle in all of Poland. The final unique place to visit is King Łokietek’s Cave, which you can get a walking tour of, and see evidence of ancient human civilization. So, the unique nature makes Ojcowski one of the best day trips from Kraków.  

Hours: The park is open 24/7, but it only makes sense to visit when there is good weather, and the sun is up. The museum appears to be open Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM, but it may be open later in the summer (information was hard to come by). Ojcowski Castle is open from 9 AM – 4:30 PM every day except Sundays when the castle is open from 9 AM – 5:30 PM. The cave is open for guided tours from 9 AM – 6:30 PM. Finally, Zamek Pieskowa is open from 9:30 AM – 5 PM Tuesday to Friday, 9:30 AM – 6 PM on weekends, and 9 AM – 2:30 PM on Mondays.  

Cost: I could find no specifics on how much visiting the park costs, but as with most national parks in Poland, there should be a small entry fee that you can buy at any ticket booth in the national park. You might also have to pay for parking in some parts of the park. There is also a fee to access the caves, castles, and the museum, but I could find no information on the exact fees.  

Transit Information: Getting to Ojcowski National Park can be a bit tricky. But there are direct buses to Ojcowski, with tickets bought at the Kraków Bus Station, and probably costing no more than 10 PLN in each direction (make sure to have cash on hand for the bus back). Or you can take Bus 310 run by the city or Kraków, which runs from the city center until Czajowice Władysława Łokietka bus stop, which is about a 20-minute walk from the park. Otherwise, you will need a car to explore the park, with parking and well-paved roads throughout the park. There is no train station anywhere close.

6. Tarnów 

Location | Tourist Website 

Description: Tarnów is a mid-sized city found about an hour east of Kraków. It is a beloved spot to visit amongst Polish domestic tourists but is not yet super popular with foreign tourists. However, there is a lot to love about Tarnów. It is a classic example of a Polish town full of Polish architecture, and there are lots of beautiful sites to see if you visit, making it one of the best day trips from Kraków. Read on to find out more about the top 5 things to do in Tarnów.  

Top 5 Things to Do: 

  • Tarnów Market Square: The Market Square in Tarnów has been around since the 12th century and is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved market squares and Old Town areas in all of Poland. It houses the traditional tenement-style buildings of classic Polish towns, built in the style of Baroque masters in other European cities. In general, it is a great place to visit to see some beautiful buildings and for good dining. 
  • Strzelecki Park: Strzelecki Park is a small green space in Tarnów but is still worth a visit. The main sight to see is the unique Mausoleum of Murat Pasha, which is a beautiful memorial to a famous Polish engineer and military hero. The Mausoleum looks like something out of Athens or Rome, not Poland, and is a nice place to sit on a bench and relax.  
  • Ethnographic Museum: This small museum supplies a nice overview of the culture and life of the people who have lived in the Tarnów area for many centuries. The exhibition especially focuses on the Roma people, who have settled in this area and is the only permanent exhibition on the Roma people of Poland. This museum also administers the museums found in Zalipie (read on to find more).  
  • Jewish Cemetary: Tarnów was not spared from the atrocities of the Holocaust. Tarnów had a rather large population of Jewish people who lived in the tenement houses in the Old Town of Tarnów. However, most of these Jews were murdered indiscriminately after being placed in the Tarnów Ghetto. Many are buried in the beautiful Jewish cemetery, where you can reflect on history.  
  • Ziemi Tarnowskie Museum: While there are a variety of small museums in Tarnów off the Market Square, this one focuses on art and artifacts from Tarnów. It is in one of the tenement buildings and thus is a great opportunity to see the inside of one of these beautiful buildings while admiring some art.  

Transit Information: There is a consistent train service throughout the day between Kraków and Tarnów. Services are supplied both by SKA and via regional trains. The journey will take between 60-90 minutes each way depending on which train you take. The cheapest train will be a regional train, and you shouldn’t pay more than 15 PLN each way for a ticket. There are also many bus services available, and you should either be able to buy a ticket the same day at the Kraków Bus Station or use FlixBus or another online service. Finally, driving is also possible, with a drive taking around an hour, but with good public transport to Tarnów, you do not need a car.

7. Zalipie

Location | Tourist Website 

Description: Zalipie is one of the most unique cities in Poland. However, it is just a small village in the middle of nowhere in Poland. Why visit? In Zalipie, you will find a unique art style on the sides of houses. Colorful images of nature and other symbols adorn the walls, doors, frames, windows, and all aspects of some of the houses here. Zalipie feels rather like a movie set for a movie about peasants than a real-life place you can visit in the 21st century. It is easy to see why Zalipie is one of the best day trips from Kraków. Read on to find out some of the best things to do when you visit Zalipie.  

A colorful home and bike in Zalipie.
A colorful home and bike in Zalipie. Photo by Piotr Musioł on Unsplash

Top 3 Things to Do: 

  • Painted Houses of Zalipie: Once you complete the long trek to Zalipie, the best thing to do is to walk around the village and find as many beautiful houses as you can and take some pictures. Do remember that real people live in these houses, so avoid trespassing to get a closer picture! You should be able to get plenty close to the road without having to walk up to the front door.  
  • Dom Malarek w Zalipiu: While there are many beautiful buildings in Zalipie, this one is easily the best. Here, you will see some of the best examples of this art style, and some old ladies hard at work making art in this style. The best part is the staff speaks perfect English, so on a less busy day, they will be happy to answer any questions you have about this beautiful village! 
  • Branch of Tarnów Ethnographic Museum in Zalipie: This branch of the Ethnographic Museum of Tarnów (mentioned earlier) is solely dedicated to the art style found on the buildings. It is also a great place to buy souvenirs with the art style on them.  

Transit Information: Getting to Zalipie is extremely tricky. It is a small village in the middle of nowhere. Thus, the easiest way to get to Zalipie is either to rent a car or to take a guided tour that you should be able to find online from some service like Viator or Get Your Guide. A drive will take no more than 2 hours each way and is a beautiful drive through the countryside of Poland that will add to the experience of the day trip, and in my opinion, makes renting a car worth it for this experience. 

There is also a way to get to Zalipie via public transportation, but it is very complicated. First, you would need to take either a bus or train to Tarnów, as described in the earlier entry. Then, once there, you will need to buy a bus ticket at the bus station for the Euro Plawecki Trans Bus, which runs a direct service towards the village of Bieniaszowice, with stops at Zalipie along the way. Tickets will cost around 3-5 PLN each way. Make sure you have cash to pay for the return ticket! It is also important you keep track of the bus schedule found here, so you do not miss a return bus.  

This total journey will take around 3 hours each way. I would not recommend buying your train ticket or bus ticket back in advance, depending on how delayed your bus might be, or if you miss a specific bus from Zalipie and must wait extra hours. You should always be able to snag a ticket on a regional bus or train with no issue between Tarnów and Kraków, so there is no concern about being stuck in Tarnów.  

8. Rabka-Zdrój 

Location | Tourist Website 

Description: Zakopane is a bit of a longer day trip, and can get very crowded during the summer, sometimes unpleasantly so. If you are looking for an alternative about half the distance from Kraków, Rabka-Zdrój is a great choice. Rabka-Zdrój is a small town called the “town of four seasons,” because it is beautiful to visit year-round. With thick snow cover in the summer, beautiful green springs and summers perfect for hiking, and stunning fall colors in the autumn, Rabka-Zdrój has it all. As in the name, it is also a spa town, and thus you can find a nice place to relax here if you are looking to get away. Read on to learn more about Rabka-Zdrój. 

Top 5 Things to Do: 

  • Rabkoland Amusement Park: This small amusement park is super family-friendly and much cheaper than Energylandia. While not meant for thrill-seekers, it is still a nice way to pass the time and is one of the better amusement parks in Poland.  
  • Maciejowa Hill: The hills nearby to Rabka-Zdrój make for great hiking. One such is Maciejowa Hill, which has an easy uphill grade, and stunning views of the surrounding areas.  
  • Park Zdrojowy: Park Zdrojowy is a large park in the heart of Rabka-Zdrój. It is a great place to take a walk, have a picnic lunch, or enjoy some of the entertainment, such as the bike course, the multiple playgrounds, or gardens.  
  • Polczakowka Lookout Tower: For another stunning viewpoint in Rabka-Zdrój, first climb up the hill, and then climb the stairs to the top of this lookout tower. It provides some of the best views of Rabka-Zdrój from above and is an easy hike in the beautiful hills of the area.  
  • Muzeum Gorali i Zbojnikow: If you cannot make it to Zakopane, this museum still does a great job of talking about the Goral people. Located in a small wooden church, it is also super child-friendly, continuing the theme of child-friendliness in Rabka-Zdrój.  

Transit Information: The best way to get to Rabka-Zdrój is by bus. There are many local bus services, and you can buy a ticket the same day to get to and from Kraków and Rabka-Zdrój and pay no more than 10-15 PLN. Alternatively, you could also use FlixBus, which is quicker, but more expensive. A cheaper bus will take around 90 minutes each way, with FlixBus taking only an hour. Driving is also a great choice if you want to rent a car, as this will allow you to reach some of the surrounding trails much more easily. 

You could also take a train. However, the train service is very slow. As with Zakopane, the train is very slow, and it will take you almost 2.5 hours to get to the Chabowka station, which is still outside the city! There is no direct train service between the two services, but there is a bus from Chabowka to Rabka-Zdrój that only takes around 15 minutes. So, I do not recommend this choice, but if you want to, maybe just on the way there for the experience, it is possible.

Longer Trips for Best Day Trips from Kraków

These final two options, the cities of Sandomierz and Katowice, are cities that will require an earlier start to your day to make the most of your day trip. In the case of Sandomierz, this is because transit by either bus or train takes quite a bit longer than other destinations on this list. For Katowice, this is because of the size of the city, with lots of things to do, meaning you will need more time to fully explore the city. Read on to find out more! 

9. Sandomierz

Location | Tourist Website 

Description: Sandomierz, along with Kazimierz Dolny, one of the best day trips from Warsaw, make up two historic cities along the Vistula River with some of the most stunning historic centers in all of Poland. Sandomierz is a city of beautiful buildings, unique nature, city views, and history. It is one of the best cities to visit in all of Poland, and thus also one of the best day trips from Kraków. Read on to learn more about Sandomierz.  

A view of Sandomierz. Taken by Piotr Figlarz on Unsplash.

Top 5 Things to Do: 

  • Sandomierz Market Square: There is not much detail to give. The Sandomierz Old Town is one of the most beautiful sights in all of Poland, with colorful buildings, and a stunning town hall. You will want to spend a lot of time here during your time in Sandomierz.   
  • Underground Tourist Route: While the Rynek is beautiful, going below ground reveals much history, showing off former merchants’ cellars and storage areas. On a hot day, it also supplies a great respite from the sun.  
  • Sandomierz Castle: Perched on a hill above the Vistula River, Sandomierz Castle has a stunning structure on the outside and an interesting museum on the inside. The castle is small but still worth a visit.  
  • Queen Jadwiga’s Ravine: For a natural experience in Sandomierz, walk along Queen Jadwiga’s Ravine. Here, you will walk in what amounts to a small canyon, with visible views of the massive root systems of the mighty trees above your head.  
  • Vistula River/Cruise: The Vistula River is important to both Poland and Sandomierz’s history. You can take a short river cruise on the Vistula from Sandomierz, admiring the beautiful countryside and also seeing the city from below. It is a good way to pass an hour, and if you bring your own food, you can make it a lunch or dinner cruise.  

Transit Information: While Sandomierz is not super far away from Kraków, transit options there can be tricky. The easiest way to get there is by bus. FlixBus offers a connection between Kraków and Sandomierz for as low as 30 PLN in each direction. Other bus companies also offer service, albeit with more stops along the way, and you can buy the tickets at the Kraków Bus Station. A journey will take around 3 hours each way, hence why Sandomierz is in the longer day trip category of best day trips from Kraków.  

The only other possible possibility for a day trip that will not leave you completely stressed and exhausted is by car. Renting a car and driving will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes each way, with many scenic stops along the way. You could also take a train, but this would first require a train to Tarnów, and then transferring to a different train to Sandomierz. This can take up to 3.5 hours and will involve lots of stress due to the transfers (in case of delays). Additionally, the train station is 3 km (2 miles) from the center of Sandomierz, adding more time to your journey. I recommend the bus above all else for a trip to Sandomierz.  

10. Katowice

Location | Tourist Website 

Description: Katowice (Kat-oh-vee-che) is in the center of Poland’s largest urban population. Although mostly an industrial center not known for tourism, it has seen an upsurge in recent interest, as the city has focused on improving its tourism capabilities. A city of its size has many interesting things to do, making it one of the best day trips from Kraków to spend a very long day at! Read more (and check out a future blog post) to learn more about Katowice.  

The Spodek arena in Katowice
The Spodek arena in Katowice. Taken by Szymon Fischer on Unsplash.

Top 5 Things to Do: 

  • Katowice Rynek: Like most cities in Poland, the Rynek is the center of activity in Poland. But Katowice’s Rynek is unique, in that it is a mix of older and newer buildings, just like the entire city. Here also you will find one of the better Christmas Markets in Poland.  
  • Ulica Mariacka: Ulica Mariacka is the most beautiful street in Katowice, passing many bars, restaurants, and shops along the way. As you reach the eastern end, you will find the beautiful church that is seen the whole time you are walking, the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Walk inside for a nice interior.  
  • Silesian Museum: Silesian’s importance to Poland and its economy is built on coal. The Silesian Museum is found on the site of a former coal mine, and now houses art, history exhibits, and more both above and belowground, and is one of the trendiest museums in Poland.  
  • Park Śląski: For a large outdoor experience, visit Park Śląski. This large, forested park has everything, from a small water park, and a skatepark, to even a disc golf park. There is also a fantastic planetarium found in the park’s center.  
  • Legendia Silesian Amusement Park: Found next to Park Śląski, Legendia is a smaller version of Energylandia, with lots of great rides, and a great setting along a small lake. Do not expect thrilling rides but it is a great place to pass some time and have some fun, especially for kids. 

Transit Information: Katowice, as a very important economic and population hub of Poland (serving as the largest population center in all of Poland), has many trains between Katowice and Kraków, ranging from very quick to very slow. However, there is a middle ground, with a regional train service running consistently throughout the day and only taking 1 hour at a very low price. Or you can take the many InterCity routes throughout the day. Buses will take about the same amount of time but cost a bit more due to tolls. Finally, driving takes only an hour as well, but due to the toll road, you must pay extra beyond renting a car to do so. So, take the train.  

Honorable Mentions:

These entries were initially going to be included in the list, but my research into them showed that in the case of both options, it is very hard to plan transit to both without having a car, and I only want to include locations where you can plan your journey both with our without a car, to match every budget, preference, and personality. But, both options below are unique experiences, but will either require a car or paying extra money for a guided tour. They are described briefly.  

Rafting on the Dunajec: The Dunajec River is a beautiful river that flows through beautiful landscapes of the Polish Tatras, especially through the Dunajec River Gorge. Since the 19th century, the indigenous Goral peoples of this part of Poland have arranged wooden raft trips through the gorge. Today, you can take part in one of these traditional experiences, or a more modern rafting or boating experience. However, it is very hard to get to the starting points of these excursions without either a car or paying for a guided tour, thus why it is not on the list proper.  

Błędów Desert: Yes, a desert in Poland! While not a desert by the official destination (it still gets lots of rain), this unique man-made desert was created due to heavy deforestation many centuries ago, when mounds of sand became exposed. Today, the dunes of Błędów Desert are an interesting place to take a walk, but also for the complete novelty of this area. Błędów Desert does not make the list proper because it is impossible to get to without a car, or a complicated bus ride, and is only worth a trip if you are REALLY interested in seeing it.

Conclusions about Best Day Trips from Kraków

This list holds the 10 best day trips from Kraków, plus a few more options to consider. From Auschwitz-Birkenau to beautiful mountain scenery, to historic, red-roofed Old Towns, the areas surrounding Kraków have it all. If you are visiting for more than a weekend, I recommend trying to take at least 1 full-day trip, if not 2. If you are only visiting for a weekend, I would prioritize Auschwitz-Birkenau over the others, as it is the shortest trip, and the most commercially accessible. Tyniec is a good secondary choice due to it being reachable by city bus. Otherwise, explore as your heart desires in beautiful Poland! 

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