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Where to Stay in Krakow in 2024 – 8 Best Areas

Explore Krakow's top neighborhoods for travelers. From the historic Stare Miasto to lively Kazimierz and tranquil Podgorze, find the ideal area for your stay, whether you seek culture, nightlife, or relaxation.
Where to Stay in Krakow

Krakow is nestled in the southern reaches of Poland, this city spans over a sprawling 300 square kilometers. It’s a place steeped in history, tracing its roots back to the 11th century. Once the beating heart of Poland as its capital until the 16th century, Krakow handed over its crown to Warsaw.

What fascinates me about Krakow is its resilience. Despite the horrors of 1940, it stands as the lone medieval city center that survived. In 1978, UNESCO recognized its remarkable endurance, alongside the Wieliczka salt mine and the Saltworks Castle in Bochnia, as a World Heritage Site.

Krakow’s natural setting is just as captivating. It’s encircled by dramatic limestone cliffs, valleys, and caves, all set against the backdrop of the majestic Tatra Mountains.

Today, Krakow is a magnet for tourists, many drawn to the haunting yet important Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It’s a sobering reminder of history that everyone should experience.

1. Stare Miasto, best area to stay in Krakow for first time

Main Market Square (view from St. Mary's Basilica)
Main Market Square (view from St. Mary's Basilica) / photo: wikipedia

Stare Miasto, the Old Town of Krakow, is a magical enclave wrapped in the embrace of Planty Park. Picture this: cobblestone streets, winding alleys, grand squares, dotted with churches, synagogues, and an array of museums. Not to mention the cozy hotels, inviting restaurants, and bustling cafés that add to its charm.

The heart of Old Town, Rynek Główny, is a bustling hub where locals and tourists alike converge. It’s like the city’s living room, always buzzing with energy.

Here’s what I love most: the Renaissance arcades of the MNK Sukiennice and the striking St. Mary’s Basilica (Bazylika Mariacka). Its asymmetrical towers and Gothic architecture are simply breathtaking.

If you’re into history, you’ll be spoilt for choice with around 20 museums to explore. Don’t miss St. Florian’s Gate or the Krakow Barbican, the gateway to the Old Town.

For shopping enthusiasts, Grodzka Street is your paradise. Brimming with department stores and designer brands, it’s also the perfect spot for dining and nightlife, with restaurants, bars, and clubs at every turn.

Getting around is a breeze with the Krakow city card, offering free transit and access to most museums. It’s a real lifesaver.

Accommodation in Stare Miasto ranges from quaint guesthouses to upscale hotels. But remember, prime location comes with a price tag. Yet, it’s worth every penny for the experience you get in this historical heart of Krakow.

Best Hotels in Stare Miasto

2. Kazimierz

Plac Wolnica
Plac Wolnica in Kazimierz / photo: wikipedia

Kazimierz is located near the Vistula River, under the shadow of Stare Miasto. Founded in 1335 as an independent city, it blossomed into a vibrant Jewish residential and commercial hub until the dark days of 1939, when the Nazis invaded.

It wasn’t until 1994, when Steven Spielberg showcased its historical significance in ‘Schindler’s List’, that Kazimierz began to recover from the war’s scars. The film brought attention and investment, prompting many Jewish people to return and reconnect with their roots. Today, Kazimierz is a beautifully restored blend of Jewish and Christian cultures, buzzing with an artsy, bohemian vibe.

As you wander through its streets, you’ll be captivated by street art, murals, synagogues, churches, and vintage Jewish shops. The area is also famous for its vibrant nightlife, packed with cozy cafés, lively bars, and restaurants.

Don’t miss the squares like Szeroka Street, the popular Plac Nowy and Wolnica Square. Each is framed by grand, old buildings with stunning architecture.

For those keen on history, Kazimierz doesn’t disappoint. Museums like the History – Ethnographic Museum in Krakow bring to life the area’s Jewish heritage.

And when it comes to accommodation, Kazimierz offers everything from simple guesthouses to luxurious hotels, catering to all tastes and budgets. This district is not just a place to visit; it’s an experience to be lived and felt.

Best Hotels in Kazimierz

3. Kleparz, best area to stay in Krakow on a budget

Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts
Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts / photo: wikipedia

Kleparz, just north of Krakow’s city center and at the start of the Royal Road (Droga Królewska), is a hidden gem. This area, which began as an independent village in the 12th century, was woven into the fabric of Krakow in 1791.

Following several fires, the 19th century transformed Kleparz into an affluent neighborhood. Picture elegant stone houses and mansions in Art Nouveau and Neoclassical styles – it’s like stepping into a historical novel.

What makes Kleparz particularly appealing is its student-friendly vibe. With major universities like the Cracow University of Technology and the the Cracow University of Economics nearby, it’s bustling with youthful energy.

Getting around is a breeze, thanks to excellent bus and train connections. But the best part? Many of Krakow’s attractions are just a stroll away. It’s perfect for those who love to explore on foot.

Be sure to visit Galeria Krakowska, a shopping paradise, and the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts. Don’t miss St. Florian’s Church, the Grunwald Monument, and the Stary Kleparz market – a favorite among both locals and visitors.

Accommodation in Kleparz mainly consists of private homes and guesthouses, with a few hotels sprinkled in. The prices are surprisingly affordable, making it an ideal spot for budget-conscious travelers. In Kleparz, you get the charm of Krakow without the hefty price tag.

Best Hotels in Kleparz

4. Grzegórzki, best area in Krakow for families and kids

Grzegórzki, once part of Krakow’s city center but now its own vibrant district with suburbs like Dabie, Olsza, and more, is a melting pot of university professors, artists, students, affluent Poles, and business folks. It’s a lively and diverse community that adds a unique character to the area.

Just a hop away from the city center, Grzegórzki strikes a perfect balance between residential calm and commercial buzz. It’s incredibly family-friendly, offering a plethora of attractions, bars, cafés, restaurants, and hotels. Whether you’re traveling with kids or solo, you’ll find something that suits your pace.

The connectivity is top-notch, with trains, buses, and trams crisscrossing the area. But what I really love is that it’s also a walker’s and cyclist’s paradise. Take a leisurely stroll in Park Strzelecki or bike along the Vistula boulevards – it’s blissful.

Cultural enthusiasts can explore treasures like the Mańkowski Palace, the Botanical Garden of the Jagiellonian University. Shopping aficionados aren’t left out either, with places like Hala Targowa and Unitarg offering a unique shopping experience.

Evening in Grzegórzki? It’s vibrant with a capital V. From international cuisine to student-friendly cocktail bars and traditional Polish ale-houses, there’s a nightspot for every taste.

Staying in Grzegórzki is a fantastic choice when in Krakow. There’s a wealth of activities and sights, plus a variety of accommodation options from hotels to guesthouses and apartments. It’s a neighborhood that truly encapsulates the spirit of Krakow.

Best Hotels in Grzegórzki

5. Podgorze, a cool place to stay in Krakow

Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square)
Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square) / photo: wikipedia

South of the Vistula River, opposite Kazimierz, lies the lush green haven of Podgorze. Known as one of Krakow’s greenest districts, it’s a breath of fresh air with its forests and limestone cliffs offering sweeping city views.

Podgorze’s story dates back over 10,000 years to the Stone Age, making it a place of ancient allure. It’s home to the city’s oldest monument, the Krakus Mound, a testament to the Iron Age.

The area has elegantly blended its natural beauty with modest industrial activity since the late 20th century. It’s a unique mix that adds to its charm.

Take a leisurely walk on the Father Bernatek’s Footbridge, visit the stunning St. Joseph’s Church, and explore the central Plac Bohaterów Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square). And don’t miss the Schindler’s Factory Museum – it’s a must-see.

For those who love the peace of nature but still want to be close to the city’s heart, Podgorze is ideal. It’s nestled near hiking trails yet close to vibrant restaurants, bars, and clubs.

In terms of accommodation, Podgorze offers everything from cozy guesthouses to luxurious hotels. It’s a district that perfectly balances natural tranquility with urban convenience.

Best Hotels in Podgorze

6. Ludwinow – Debniki, another place to stay on a budget to Krakow

Nestled south of Krakow’s Old Town and alongside the picturesque Vistula River, Ludwinow is a charming blend of residential and business spaces. What I find most appealing is its affordability, offering some of the city’s most budget-friendly accommodations.

But Ludwinow’s allure extends beyond just cost-effectiveness. Staying here gives you a real taste of local life. A standout spot is Forum Przestrzenie, a revamped communist-era hotel turned cultural hotspot. It hosts an array of cinema, music, and art events that are sure to enrich your experience.

The riverside in this area is a favorite hangout, especially on sunny days. I highly recommend spending some time there, soaking in the scenic beauty, even if you don’t end up staying in Ludwinow.

For theatre and ballet enthusiasts, the ICE Krakow Congress Centre is a must-visit. It’s a hub for exhibitions, performances, professional conferences, and concerts, offering a taste of the city’s cultural pulse.

Choosing to stay in Ludwinow means not only enjoying affordable accommodation but also experiencing the neighborhood’s tranquil evenings. It’s a peaceful retreat after a day of exploring Krakow’s bustling streets.

Best Hotels in Ludwinow – Debniki

7. Nowy Świat, a quiet place near to Stare Miasto

Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum
Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum / photo: wikipedia

Nowy Swiat is nestled on the western flank of Stare Miasto and hugging the banks of the Vistula River. Since 1994, this area has been celebrated as a historical monument, and it’s easy to see why. Lush and serene, it’s dotted with luxurious hotels, shopping centers, quaint cafés, and exquisite restaurants.

The vibrant Zwierzyniecka Street, stretching from Nowy Swiat to Stare Miasto, is a commercial hub bustling with central offices and major banks. It’s the pulse of Krakow’s business world.

Nowy Swiat is also a cultural hotspot. It boasts the magnificent Kraków Philharmonic Hall, the Paweł Orłowski Art Gallery, the Muzeum Witrażu and the historic Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum

For a night out, options abound. Stroll along the river trail, dine in a gourmet restaurant, or sip a cocktail al fresco. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation and sophistication.

Accommodation-wise, Nowy Swiat caters to all. From cozy guesthouses to five-star luxury hotels, you’re spoilt for choice in this picturesque corner of Krakow.

Best Hotels in Nowy Swiat

8. Nowa Huta

Plac Centralny, Nowa Huta
Plac Centralny, Nowa Huta / photo: wikipedia

Nowa Huta, or “The New Steel Mill”, is a unique slice of history located in the eastern part of Krakow. Born in the 1950s under the influence of communist Russia, it’s a testament to Poland’s industrial era. Designed to house a massive steel production unit, it played a pivotal role in the country’s economic revival, employing over 45,000 people.

To accommodate its workforce, Nowa Huta was built from the ground up, with apartment blocks, shopping centers, roads, and sewage systems. Fast forward 30 years post-communism, and it’s transformed into a pleasant, residential area brimming with commerce, apartments, houses, hotels, and parks.

One of its hidden gems is the underground Nowa Huta Museum, opened in 2019. Utilizing underground passages and shelters for its exhibits, it offers a unique glimpse into the area’s past.

Strolling through Nowa Huta is a journey through time. Wander towards the Central Square, along Roz Avenue, and through the open spaces of Wisniowy Sad Park. Don’t miss the Ludowy Folk Theatre.

For evening entertainment, I suggest visiting a local Polish bar or restaurant. It’s the perfect way to savor the local cuisine and try some regional beer.

Accommodation in Nowa Huta caters to all budgets, offering a range of options at affordable prices. It’s a neighborhood that beautifully blends its industrial heritage with modern living.

Best Hotels in Nowa Huta

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