Best Museums In Krakow

When planning your trip to Krakow, I am sure you wonder, what are the best places to visit, to learn about the city, and Poland. And Krakow is a place that is filled with cultural events, educational and historical places. Which one to choose, to get the best out of it? I put together a list of the best museums in Krakow, to make it easier for you.

Sukiennice – Cloth Hall

We are talking here about the landmark of Krakow, a meeting point for tourists and locals, an architectural wonder. Cloth Hall is a place, that for centuries served as a trading market, and it was known among merchants travelling Europe south to north and back centuries ago.

At the ground level, there is a marketplace, where you can buy souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, and art. The first floor is dedicated to the museum that houses some of the biggest treasures of Polish art.

The National Museum’s collection proudly exhibits exceptional works by celebrated Polish artists, among them the legendary Jan Matejko. Within this gallery, you have the opportunity to deeply engage with Poland’s cultural heritage as you explore a diverse array of paintings. Each artwork brings light to Polish culture, history, the living of each society group, and the moments of Polish glory. This museum is the place to visit, when you show an interest in arts.

How to get there?

The museum is located in (Sukiennice) Cloth Hall, middle of the Main Market. First floor.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

It takes about 60-90 minutes to visit the Gallery.

What’s the cost?

The entry ticket is 32 PLN full price and 19PLN with a discount (all student of the EU is eligible for the discounted tickets. Free entry on Tuesdays.

Czartoryski Museum

Czartoryski Museum and Library in old town of Krakow, Poland

The Princes Czartoryski Museum, is an institution with a rich history that spans centuries, making it one of the nation’s oldest and most esteemed museums. Its origins go back to 1796 when Princess Izabela Czartoryska, an art enthusiast, initiated the collection. However, the museum officially opened its doors to the public in 1878.

At the heart of the Czartoryski Museum’s collection is one of the most celebrated masterpieces of all time. It is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine.” This iconic portrait, created around 1489-1490, depicts Cecilia Gallerani, a young woman in the Milanese court, holding an ermine.

In addition to the Lady with an Ermine, the museum showcases remarkable works by the Dutch master Rembrandt. Pieces such as “Landscape with the Good Samaritan” and “St. Mary Magdalene,” contribute to the museum’s impressive collection of European art.

During World War II, the museum’s treasures, including the Lady with an Ermine, were looted by the Nazis. However, thanks to the museum staff and art historians, many of the stolen artworks returned after the war.

Beyond its renowned art collection, the museum itself is a cultural landmark, housed in the historic Arsenal building in Kraków. The architecture of the museum reflects the city’s rich history and adds to the overall experience of visitors exploring its halls and galleries. This museum is not only among the best museums in Krakow but also in Poland

How to get there?

The museum is in one of the tenants within the Old Town in Krakow, at Pijarska Street 15.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

You will need about 2-3 hours to fully explore all that the museum has to offer.

What’s the cost?

Entry ticket is 20 PLN full price and 15 PLN reduced ticket for eligible persons.

Wawel, The Royal Castle

The Wawel Museum, within the historic Wawel Castle, is a treasure of Poland’s past. The castle itself sits atop Wawel Hill and stands as a remarkable architectural monument, of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.

Once inside the museum, you are treated to many exhibits housed within the castle’s chambers, halls, and royal apartments. The regal decor provides a look into the lifestyle of Polish monarchs, showcasing amazing craftsmanship and artists of different periods. The collection includes royal jewels, furnishings, and artifacts associated with the country’s noble heritage.

The museum apart from the regular exhibition also offers a rotation of temporary exhibitions, often featuring works by world-renowned artists. You should check the official website for the current exhibits during your visit.

Beyond the museum, Wawel Castle offers additional historical gems. The Royal Tombs, located within the cathedral at the castle courtyard, is the place of the final rest of the Polish monarchs. The cathedral tower will challenge you to climb its heights, to admire the panoramics of Krakow and the Vistula River.

How to get there?

The castle is the heart of Krakow, located within the Old Town

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

You require about 3-4 hours for the castle, and additional 90 minutes for the Cathedral, Tower, and Tombs of Kings.

What’s the cost?

Entry tickets cost 40 PLN full price and 30 PLN reduced, students and elderly people can benefit from the lower rate, check if you are eligible before purchase.

Underground Museum

The Underground Museum in Krakow, literally situated beneath the Main Market Square, stands as a testament to the city’s history. As you descend into the underground chambers, you get on a journey back in time, immersing yourself in the vibrant marketplaces of medieval Krakow.

The museum is a living, breathing experience. It boasts state-of-the-art multimedia displays that bring history to life, offering a unique perspective on Krakow’s evolution over the centuries.

One of the remarkable features of the Underground Museum is its reconstructed scenes, which vividly show the daily life of the city’s inhabitants. As you stroll through the underground passages, you find yourself meandering along the cobblestone streets, exploring market stalls with goods, and witnessing the craftsmen at work in their workshops.

Visitors to the Underground Museum not only gain insight into the city’s past but also appreciate the significance of preserving cultural heritage. The combination of educational exhibits and an interactive experience makes this museum a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

How to get there?

The Underground Museum entrance is by the Cloth Hall in the Old Market Square

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

You would need about 3 – 4 hours to explore the museum.

What’s the cost?

The single ticket is 32PLN, reduced to 28PLN, and guide tour tickets available at various rates.

Schindler’s Factory

Schindler’s Factory, located in the heart of Krakow, Poland, is an iconic historical site that bears witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II. The factory gained its recognition primarily through its association with Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of over a thousand Jewish workers employed in his enamelware and ammunition factory.

The factory, originally known as Deutsche Emailware Fabrik, underwent several changes in its structure and purpose over the years. During the war, Oskar Schindler, managed to employ Jewish workers, thereby sparing them from deportation to Nazi extermination camps. Schindler’s humanitarian efforts were later documented in the renowned film “Schindler’s List,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

After the war, the factory continued its industrial activities until 2002, when it faced the possibility of demolition. Recognizing its historical significance, the city of Krakow transformed it into a museum and dedicated it to recounting the experiences of Krakow’s residents during the German occupation from 1939 to 1945.

The museum, officially known as the “Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory Museum”, exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and personal testimonies.

Visitors to the Schindler’s Factory Museum can gain a profound understanding of the complexities of World War II and the Holocaust. The museum’s commitment to preserving the memory of the past ensures that the lessons learned from this tragic chapter in history are never forgotten and should never happen again.

How to get there?

The Schindler’s Factory is located about 20 minutes walk from the Kazimierz Quarters, on the other bank of the Vistula River.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

It takes about 1,5 hours to visit the museum.

What’s the cost?

The single-entry fee is 45 PLN, however, if you prefer an organized tour with a guide, the cost starts from 281 PLN.

Collegium Maius

Czartoryski Museum and Library in old town of Krakow, Poland

Collegium Maius stands as a testament to the rich history of Jagiellonian University, and it is a must-visit destination for history and education enthusiasts alike. This architectural gem, dating back to the late 14th century, serves not only as the university’s oldest building but also as a symbol of the intellectual legacy.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Collegium Maius is its connection to the ground-breaking work of Nicolaus Copernicus. On the ground floor, within the hallowed lecture halls, Copernicus, in the 1490s, engaged in intellectual pursuits that would shape the course of scientific history. It was here that he made sketches in his notebooks, laying the groundwork for the heliocentric model of the solar system.

The museum preserves not only the physical artifacts and manuscripts associated with Copernicus but also offers a comprehensive glimpse into the broader intellectual contributions of the university’s alumni.

For present and future students, Collegium Maius serves as an inspirational haven, a place where they can connect with the intellectual giants of the past.

How to get there?

The museum is located within the walls of the Old Town, just 3 minutes’ walk from the Main Market Square.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

It takes just under 1-hour to visit this museum.

What’s the cost?

The regular price ticket is 12PLN. Guided hour-long tours in English are offered Monday to Friday at 13:00, with additional 30-minute English tours available on most weekdays until 13:00

Auschwitz Birkenau

This is by far one of the best museums in Krakow, and the most popular destination for all visitors coming from different parts of the world. Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau is an emotionally charged and transformative experience that will leave a mark on the hearts and souls. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands as a somber memorial to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. Today it serves as a reminder of human cruelty and preserves the memory of those who suffered here.

The Auschwitz complex, located near the town of Oswiecim in Poland, consists of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Both places were integral parts of Nazi Germany’s systematic genocide during World War II. Auschwitz I was initially established as a concentration camp in 1940, evolving into a death camp. Auschwitz II-Birkenau, built in 1941, became the primary site for mass extermination, where the infamous gas chambers and crematoria bear silent witness to the Holocaust.

Preserved barracks stand as reminders of the inhumane conditions endured by prisoners. The rusted remains of the electrified fences and watchtowers evoke a horrible reality that happened within these walls. The museum maintains artifacts, personal belongings, and documents, providing a glimpse into the lives lost and the systematic dehumanization suffered by those imprisoned.

I strongly recommend a guided tour to navigate the site and gain a deeper understanding of the historical context.

As you walk through Auschwitz, it becomes evident that this is more than a museum. It is a sacred space dedicated to honoring the memory of the victims. It challenges each visitor to confront the darkest chapters of human history. The impact of such a visit extends far beyond the physical boundaries of the site, inspiring a commitment to tolerance, and the preservation of human dignity.

How to get there?

Auschwitz is about 70 km far from Krakow, a bit over 1 hour by car. There is a direct train leaving from Krakow Central Station to Auschwitz, and it takes about 1.5 hours to get to the Camp.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

The sightseeing takes 4 to 6 hours if you want to visit all the places and exhibitions. However, considering the time needed to get there and back from Krakow, plus the emotional load of the experience, I recommend reserving the whole day.

What’s the cost?

Visiting The Camp is free to all. There is an option to join a group of people and have an organized tour with an educator (fee applies) Book a tour here.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Museum

The Wieliczka Salt Mine Museum is located in the inactive part of one of the world’s oldest salt mines. The mine itself dates to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest continuously operating salt mines in the world.

The museum housed within the mine offers a fascinating journey through time, presenting not only the history of salt mining but also showcasing the evolution of mining techniques over the centuries. The exhibits provide a detailed look into the work put into extracting salt, highlighting the ingenuity of miners who developed innovative methods to overcome the challenges.

Beyond the exploration of salt mining, the museum delves into the broader history of the salt industry. Visitors can gain insights into the economic significance of salt, its role as a preservative, and its impact on trade and commerce throughout history. The collection of approximately 20,000 exhibits includes tools, artifacts, and historical documents that offer a comprehensive overview of the salt industry’s multifaceted influence on society.

In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, the Wieliczka Salt Mine and its accompanying museum were inscribed on the first International List of Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 1978.

How to get there?

It is about a 45-minute drive by car, a bit over one hour with public transport, bus line 304 from the Main Railway Station in Krakow.

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

If you add visiting Castle Zupy to your tour, block at least half of your day for this attraction.

What’s the cost?

Tickets start from 62 PLN, many attractions are offered, including staying over the night at the salt mine (additional fee)

Polish Aviation Museum

plane in Aviation Museum exhibition in Krakow

Established in 1963, the museum stands as a testament to Poland’s rich aviation history. It is situated at the historic old airport, a site that has witnessed the evolution of aviation since the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the museum provides a captivating journey through time.

The location adds a layer of history, as the airfield was a take-off point for aviation pioneers. Partially preserved historical airport structures, offer a connection to the past, allowing visitors to explore the evolution of aviation infrastructure.

While the extensive collection of old aircraft captures the essence of different eras in aviation, it’s the interactive activities that truly set this museum apart. Catering to aviation enthusiasts of all ages, the museum ensures an engaging and educational experience.

Visitors can actively participate in various programs and demonstrations. From flight simulations that recreate the experiences of legendary pilots to hands-on workshops on the mechanics of aircraft.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts temporary displays and special events, keeping it fresh. This approach ensures that there’s always something new to discover, making it an ideal destination for all.

How to get there?

It is about 25 minutes by city bus

How much time do you need for sightseeing?

You need about 1 hour to visit the exhibitions, and additional time if you get involved with interactive events.

What’s the cost?

Tickets start from 27 PLN, discount for privileged groups applies.

The Best Museums in Krakow and Much More

These are the best museums in Krakow that will give the best glimpse into Poland’s history, culture, tragic events of the past, and great personas and technical development. Of course, there are dozens of other museums, and I would love to hear from you about which you like best. Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you need any help with planning your trip to Poland.

But keep in mind, that Krakow has so much more to offer than history and museums. This is a vibrant city, full of students, with a strong workforce, and filled with art and fun.

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My name is Karolina, I was born and raised in Poland. I love my homeland. Even though I’ve been to 50+ countries in the world I’ve never hesitated to make Poland my base!

My mission is to show you the beauty of Poland and help you plan your trip!

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