krakow day trips to auschwitz

8 Captivating Krakow Day Trips to See More of Poland in 2024

Explore the heart of Poland beyond Krakow with these top 8 day trips! From the UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mine to the poignant Auschwitz, delve into the history and culture of Poland that you won’t be able to get without leaving the city for a day!
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One of my favorite ways to get a better feel for a country or region while traveling is by taking a day trip (or two)! The thing is, no matter how great a capital city is, no country can be completely defined, or understood, by its capital (or even its second city!) alone.

But let’s be honest: not every trip has the luxury of being longer than a week in order to give every location its due. A day trip is usually the perfect option if you don’t have tons of time, or if you just want to explore more of a country without the logistics of hauling your bags from place to place.

krakow day trips to wroclaw
Wroclaw Old Town

If you’re in the middle of planning a day trip from Krakow right now, you’re in luck! In this post I’m going to go through the top 8 Krakow day trips. From charming medieval towns to revitalized industrial cities, I’ve curated the best selection of Krakow day trips that will be the perfect addition to your Polish adventure. 

So, get ready to take some notes and start planning! Let’s explore the best cities near Krakow to visit!

Trip map created with Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android

Delve into Poland

How to Get Around Southern Poland

When planning a Krakow day trip, you’ll need to figure out how you’re getting from Point A to Point B. And honestly, you’ll have quite a few options! Here I’ll outline the pros and cons of each.

Day Trips from Krakow by Train

When many people fantasize about traveling in Europe, one of the things they imagine is taking trains everywhere they go. And if that’s you, you’re not wrong to do so!

Although you can’t access every Krakow day trip on this list by train, Poland has a remarkably affordable and quick train network, and many of these options are completely doable by train!

If you’re looking to plan a train journey for your day trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine, Katowice, Tarnow, Ostrava or Wroclaw, you’ll need to book your tickets directly at the Polish Railways website as tickets for Polish trains aren’t available from Omio or Trainline (either of which I do recommend for other European train journeys!).

The only downside to travelling by train is that your trip might be marginally slower, and you’ll be bound by the timetable. Honestly, though, I can highly recommend traveling by train for your Krakow day trip!

Wrocław Główny, the main traincstation in Wroclaw

Day Trips from Krakow by Car

Renting a car is a great way to explore Poland! Automatic cars are widely available and rates are typically under $20 USD per day (or $100 USD for a week).

We always rent using Discover Cars, which aggregates rates from international and local companies, includes reviews of each company, and offers robust filter options for your search. I highly recommend it!

There aren’t many downsides to taking a Krakow day trip by car, honestly. I know some people don’t love the idea of driving themselves in a place they’ve never been, but I’ll say from experience that it’s not too stressful these days with Google Maps. Just make sure to get an eSIM before you arrive and you’ll have service immediately!

Day Trips from Krakow by Bus

If you’re interested in public transport options to places without rail links (like Zalipie) or if you want to take the planning and coordination out of your day trip from Krakow entirely, getting to your destination by coach bus might be for you!

Bus journeys from Krakow’s main bus station can be booked on Omio to any of the destinations on this list. Coach buses in Poland are cheap, relatively comfortable, and safe—the only downside is that they’re obviously going to be less spacious than a train and give you less agency than a car.

Your other option is to book a guided tour to any of these places, where transport to/from Krakow will be included. If you’re someone who really wants to have control over your day’s itinerary, obviously this option won’t be for you.

On the other hand, if you really like the idea of putting all the logistics in someone else’s hands, it might be a great option. I’ve linked options for these kinds of tours for many of the Krakow day trip destinations on this list!

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

The 8 Best Krakow Day Trips

1. Wieliczka Salt Mine (25 minutes by car; 50 minutes by train)

📍 9 miles SE of Krakow

I know what you’re thinking… a salt mine?? But yes, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most popular day trips from Krakow, in part because it’s one of the easiest ones to manage, given how close it is to the city center.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the appeal is mostly due to how impressive the sites underground really are.

350 steps underground you’ll find much more than just salt caves, including sculptures, and a chapel carved out of salt. There’s even an underground tavern and lake! 

The overall visit takes anywhere from 2-3 hours, so it’s a pretty easy commitment.

krakow day trips Wieliczka Salt Mine

Be sure to get tickets in advance, or if you’re looking to book a tour of salt mines Krakow, you can check out my top picks here:

Are the salt mines of Krakow worth visiting?

If you’re into caves and mining history, you have kids, or you just like seeing cool things, then yes, definitely.

It’s a really unique experience and definitely feels like a change in pace to everything else you can do in and around Krakow!

That being said, I personally wouldn’t prioritize it over Auschwitz, or seeing another city, but that’s just me. I don’t really like caves very much! 

Daniel, on the other hand, really likes to check out caves when we travel, so this was totally up his alley. It’s really all dependent on your personal preference.

krakow day trips Wieliczka Salt Mine

How to get to Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow:

If you don’t have a car/don’t want to take a taxi, you have options with either the train or bus.

I recommend checking Google Maps directions to figure out your best route, as the most efficient way to get there will vary depending on where you’re staying or traveling from.

2. Auschwitz (90 minutes by car/bus)

📍41 miles west of Krakow

krakow day trips to auschwitz

Probably my number one recommendation for a day trip from Krakow is a Krakow to Auschwitz tour, the former death camp used during the Holocaust. I think visiting Auschwitz, and hearing the stories about life there while seeing the actual camp and museum, is really powerful. Definitely heavy, but worthwhile.

The camp has changed very little since WWII in the 1940s, so the experience of walking around the grounds and hearing about the horrors that took place is admittedly quite chilling, but frankly, I think there’s value to experiencing even a tiny fraction of the discomfort that the Holocaust created while learning about it.

krakow daytrip to auschwitz
auschwitz day trip from krakow

The museum, where you can see the many things stolen from the prisoners of Auschwitz, like their luggage, glasses, and in one of the most horrifying rooms, their hair, is particularly affecting. Walking along the tracks where people would arrive was also quite emotional for me.

I highly recommend doing the guided Krakow to Auschwitz tours, which provide critical context to everything you’ll encounter, and allow you to gain a better understanding of what you’re looking at.

If you want to book a guided tour with transport from Krakow, it’ll clock in a 7-8 hours, so it’s a full day—but very worth it if you’re ready to pay your respects and learn about an important part of history.

If you’re visiting on your own, make sure to book well in advance, arrive on time for your time slot, and ensure that you’ve planned to spend at least 3-4 hours there.

krakow day trips can you go to auschwitz from warsaw on a day trip?

How far is it from Auschwitz to Krakow?

When I visited Auschwitz, we chose to book a coach bus to get there and back, which I found to be incredibly convenient. I’ve linked some tour options below to make your journey easier!

However, if you’d rather do it yourself, here are your options for how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow: If you’ve rented a car during your trip, you can obviously drive yourself, and it will take under 2 hours and you can park at the Museum car park. 

Situated 41 miles west of Kraków in Oświęcim, Auschwitz is reachable by car in under two hours. Buses are probably the most convenient public transit option, because they arrive directly to the museum center. They depart from the MDA bus station.

Additionally, there are regular trains from Kraków that take about one hour and 50 minutes, but the station is a little over a mile from the museum, so I don’t personally recommend it.

Is there a dress code for Auschwitz?

Officially speaking, there’s no actual “dress code” for Auschwitz. However, the museum urges people to “dress in a manner befitting a place of this nature.”

If you’re not sure how to interpret that, I would suggest abiding by the general rules for European churches: nothing too short, cover your shoulders, etc.

It can definitely get hot in Poland in the summer, so if you’re visiting during a warmer month, be sure to plan accordingly with what you’ll wear.

krakow day trips to auschwitz

3. Katowice (60-90 minutes by train/bus)

📍 50 miles west of Krakow

krakow day trips to katowice

Katowice, one of the biggest cities near Krakow, is probably one of the most underrated cities in Poland, making it an excellent day trip from Krakow! Most people write it off completely, as a gray, industrial center that isn’t worth taking the time to explore.

Well, I’m here to tell you that that stereotype is dead wrong, and Katowice, to me, is basically the Liverpool of Poland.

Katowice is the capital of the Silesian region, and the mining center of Poland. It has also long been considered the industrial heart of the country.

It’s no surprise then, that one of the best draws of Katowice is the Silesian Museum, on the site of the former Katowice Coal Mine. The museum combines art and history exhibits, and is genuinely a great museum, which I highly recommend visiting.

Other worthwhile things to do in Katowice on a Krakow day trip are checking out the Silesian Insurgent Memorial, the show stopping the Spaceship Arena, the Market Square and Old Town, the Cultural Center, and the Historical Museum. This private walking tour of Katowice’s Old Town will hit most (if not all) of the above!

krakow day trips to katowice

How long do you need in Katowice?

I think you can see a decent amount of Katowice in one day, but you’ll definitely only be scratching the surface.

If you really want to get the full experience, and really get to see what Katowice has to offer, I recommend taking a few days out to devote to Katowice. This way you’ll have time to visit more than one museum, visit the Old Town without rushing, enjoy some leisurely cafes or bars, and make it out of the center to Nikiszowiec, or Giszowiec, two workers’ villages that are fascinating to walk around.

These areas were built at the start of the 20th century to house workers from nearby mines.

Nikiszowiec is particularly cool to walk around because the entire neighborhood is done with red bricks, and every building looks identical, except they’re not! The doors are all unique, which is said to be in order to make it easier for drunken workers coming home late from the pub to find their own homes! 

krakow day trips to katowice tram
krakow day trips to katowice

How to get to Katowice from Krakow?

I recommend taking the train to Katowice from Krakow, as there are multiple departures per day and it’s the most comfortable way of getting from Krakow to Katowice. Book tickets for your day trip from Krakow to Katowice at intercity.pl/en/.

4. Tarnow (40 minutes by train; 90 minutes by car)

📍58 miles East of Krakow

Tarnow, which is an easy hour by train to the east of Krakow, is ideal for anyone looking for a quaint and easy Krakow day trip. The main draw of Tarnow is probably the Old Town, which was conceptualized as the ideal medieval town center. In fact, the entire town maintains its medieval urban planning design. There’s also some very unique wooden architecture to check out.

In more recent history, Tarnow is known for being one of the first occupied cities during WWII, and sadly, it was from Tarnow’s train station that the first train of prisoners departed for Auschwitz.

Tarnow is also one of the only places in the region where you can see a real effort to celebrate and preserve Romani culture—there’s even a permanent exhibition at the Ethnographic museum.

krakow day trips to tarnow (5)

Tarnow is definitely an option for those wanting to get a bit more off the beaten path, considering that it’s lesser known, and pretty niche. If you’re interest is piqued, this private tour from Krakow will kill two birds with one stone, brining you to both Tarnow and Zalipie (the next Krakow day trip option on this list).

5. Zalipie (1.5+ hours by car)

📍 62 miles NW of Krakow

You may have seen Zalipie before online, given that it’s one of the most picturesque places to visit in Eastern Europe! 

krakow day trips to zalipie
krakow day trips to zalipie

This tiny and remote village is best known for the adorably painted buildings all throughout. Mainly the exterior of the buildings are painted, but there are even some interiors you can explore.

The whole thing with the painted houses came about in the 19th century, before chimneys were commonplace in the village. Because of this, the hearth in each home would leave black soot all over the walls, inside and outside the house. 

krakow day trips to zalipie

To combat this, the women in the village would have to whitewash their walls, but, of course, they just kept getting dirty. Finally, one of the women decided to begin painting the now famous florals on top of the whitewash, to try to make the soot less obvious. And thus, the painted village of Zalipie was born!

Today, the village has more than 20 painted houses, and the trend has extended further along to things like fences, wells, and other village objects!

Not only that, but there are a few official buildings that you can go inside of, including the main Museum, which actually offers painting workshops as well! 

How to get to Zalipie from Krakow?

The painted village of Zalipie is 62 miles north-west of Krakow, and is best reached by car. It’s pretty off the beaten path, and while you could try taking a train or bus, and then calling a taxi, I don’t really recommend it.

What I do recommend is booking a tour to take you from Krakow and around the area. This way you’ll be with someone local who can give you all the insider information, and also, critically, translate from Polish to English for you if you don’t understand. 

6. Ostrava (2.5-3.5 hours by public transport or car)

📍 105 miles SW of Krakow

krakow day trips to ostrava

Ostrava is my top pick for day trip from Krakow if you’re the kind of traveler that wants to prioritize getting in as many countries as you can into one trip. Though this isn’t my preferred way of traveling, I know this can be appealing for those who have limited time off, or who are just getting started with traveling, so I wanted to mention it!

Ostrava is actually located across the Polish border in Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic). It’s considered Czechia’s third city (after Prague, and Brno), and much like so many other cities near Krakow, is a former industrial, mining town.

krakow day trips to ostrava

You can expect to see a lot of the Central European standard mix of industrial, communist, and art nouveau architecture. A lot of the industrial structures have been repurposed into cultural areas, with the biggest one, Dolni Vitkovice serving as the location for the largest musical festival in Czechia.

You can also visit several art museums, as well as a mining museum to get a feel for the history and culture of the area. Another cool draw is the area of Poruba, which is a 1950’s communist project that was built as workers housing in ornate styles. I love seeing these kinds of old neighborhoods, and this region is full of them!

In all honesty, I would probably pick another options from this list before I chose Ostrava, unless of course my priority was visiting Czechia, in which case this is perfect.

7. Wroclaw (3 hours by car; 3.5 hours by train)

📍 168 miles NW of Krakow

krakow day trips to wroclaw
krakow day trips to wroclaw

Wroclaw (pronounced Vrahtz-swav) is definitely one of the bigger commitments on this list as far as Krakow day trips go. It will take you at least six hours round trip to travel to Wroclaw for a day trip from Krakow, but Wroclaw is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been in Poland, so I knew I had to include it anyway. (Honestly, I recommend making Wroclaw its own stop on your trip and dedicating a few days to it if you can – check out my Wroclaw guide for more).

Wroclaw isn’t exactly “off the beaten path” but it certainly isn’t as popular as Warsaw or Krakow, and so it does have a bit of an undiscovered feel to it. Much like so many cities near Krakow, you can see an incredible mix of architectural styles in Wroclaw. From Art Nouveau, Baroque, Modernist, Brutalist, and even Bauhaus. Plus, there’s even a whole alley dedicated to the famous Polish Neon.

krakow day trips wroclaw polish food

Wroclaw is also a great place to get Polish food, Restauracja Konspira—a kitschy restaurant designed to feel like a grandma’s home kitchen—lives in my head rent free, to be honest.

Wroclaw is also home to one of the best museums I’ve ever been to: the Centrum Historii Zajezdnia. Admittedly a bit out of the center, I still think this museum is worth the time and effort to get to.

Here are a few of my favorite tours of the Wroclaw Old Town to book for your visit:

Is it worth visiting Wrocław?

Yes, it’s most definitely worth visiting Wroclaw. Wroclaw remains one of my favorite places to visit in Poland, and I feel confident that anyone will have a nice time there.

I recommend trying to organize your trip so you have more than just one day to explore, because I’m pretty sure you’ll wish you had longer!

8. Bonus: Nowa Huta (35 minutes by tram or 20 by car)

📍 Eastern-most district of Krakow

I’ve listed Nowa Huta as a bonus option because it’s technically still in Krakow, despite being about 30 minutes away by tram. 

Nowa Huta was built with the intention to be a separate and distinct city next to Krakow, envisioned as a socialist realist workers paradise. Meaning “New Steel Mill” it was created to house workers for the nearby steel mill and be a stunning example of the state ideology.

They wanted to rival the artsy, bohemian energy of Krakow with the perfect example of communism just next door. It’s one of the most impressive examples of deliberate social engineering, and the urban planning gives off similar vibes to Paris or London in some ways. 

krakow day trips to nowa huta

Nowa Huta is rivaled only by Magnitogorsk in Russia as far as impressive and large socialist workers cities. Today, it’s one of the greenest, and most populous parts of Krakow, and is one of the best ways to travel back in time and see what a communist Poland might have been like. To get the full effect I highly recommend taking a tour about this fascinating time period!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How many days do you need in Krakow?

I like to recommend around 3-4 days in Krakow, which should give you enough time to properly explore the city, but also be able to get outside of it for at least a day if you want to.

If you, like me, prefer to take things at a slower pace, and try to see a more local, realistic vibe to a city, then definitely aim for 4 days, that way you can build plenty of people watching and wandering into your schedule.

krakow kazimierz things to do

Where to go outside of Krakow?

I hope that this post gave you some inspo for where to go outside of Krakow!

My top picks for Krakow day trips are Wroclaw, Katowice, and Auschwitz.

What is the pretty town near Kraków?

Zalipie is the prettiest town near Krakow, due to its traditional painted buildings. The flowers that cover every surface of this village are so picturesque and lovely.

things to do in warsaw poland where to stay in warsaw Old Town Square

Can you do a day trip from Kraków to Warsaw?

Actually yes, you can do a day trip from Krakow to Warsaw!

I chose not to include it on this particular list because I think Warsaw is a massive city that, frankly, would feel a bit overwhelming to try to tackle in just one day.

That being said, there is a regular train that only takes about 2 hours to get to Warsaw. They run all day, fairly regularly, so it’s not hard to plan! If you want to learn more about things to do in Warsaw, check out my Warsaw posts!

Is it worth going to Zakopane?

Nestled at the foot of the Tatra mountains, Zakopane is Poland’s most well-known mountain resort, and with good reason. You’ll see breathtaking views and pristine lakes year-round, and it’s great for winter sports or summer relaxing.

That being said, it can be pretty touristy and pricey, so if you’re looking for local authenticity… this one probably isn’t for you!

krakow day trips to zalipie

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Are you ready to explore the cities near Krakow?

I hope that this post about Krakow day trips has been helpful in planning your trip to Krakow! As I said before, Krakow is literally the perfect city to do a day trip from so you can see some places that, in my opinion, go far too underexplored by most Americans and Europeans.

The history of the region surrounding Krakow, and the many different places nearby that are waiting to be explored are some of my favorite places to visit! I hope that this post has given you some inspiration and made you more excited to plan your trip to Krakow.

If you have any feedback or want to share your experience with one day trips from Krakow, please leave me a comment! 

As always you can always find me on Instagram (tag me in your travel content!), Youtube, or Pinterest.

Happy traveling!

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things to do in wroclaw

14 Unique Things to Do in Wroclaw, Poland

Discover the vibrant allure of Wroclaw, uncovering its eclectic blend of youthful energy and historical charm. From the quaint Old Town to the neon-lit side galleries, I’m sharing my favorite spots to indulge in Polish cuisine, explore architectural wonders, and hunt for whimsical dwarves.

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