Has it just happened to you to visit Krakow with some spare time left during your stay? Definitely check the places that are worth visiting and close to this marvellous city! In fact, there are plenty of attractions and sights around Krakow to admire. Krakow is the capital city of Lesser Poland region. A number of castles, strongholds and charming towns are scattered around the hills, woodlands and valleys that define the area. Wondering what to sightsee around Krakow, not limiting yourself to the city’s borders? Discover the beauty of the surroundings of Krakow with this guide! Take your chance to see more than a standard visit to the city provides.
OJCOW NATIONAL PARK: OUTLANDISH LANDSCAPES…
Travelling 24 kilometres in the North-Western direction from Krakow will turn out extremely beneficial to you in terms of the tourist attractions awaiting you there. Once you enter Ojcow National Park, you will sightsee one of the most scenic views located near Krakow. The area is rich in tall limestone structures that have adopted distinctive shapes not to be seen anywhere else. The most recognisable ones include the Hercules Bludgeon, the White Hand Rock or Cracow Gate Rock.
Among the steep cliffs and broadleaf woods, there spreads the spectacular Pradnik river valley, effortless to traverse on foot. Numerous endemic species have their habitat there (the total number of them reaching approximately 5,500), being easy to spot.
Another thing you can do is exploring the most remarkable caves around Ojcow (they say it exceeds 400). This safe activity can still give you a real rush of adrenaline! The 240-metre-long King Lokietek Cave is the most legendary one, while the passage-like Dark Cave is where a Neanderthal family or a couple of them would live once.
The latter site has been determined as the oldest pre-historic settlement on the Polish soil, dated about 120,000 years BC.
The picturesque Chapel on the Water or Blessed Salomea’s Hermitage in Grodzisko are only a prelude to the real pride of Ojcow National Park.
These are the castles that used to form a famous defensive line of strongholds from the late medieval period, named “the Trail of Eagle’s Nests“. Do not miss a chance to visit the stunning ruins of 14th-century Casimir Castle in Ojcow…
… just like the well-preserved, heavily fortified Pieskowa Skala Castle, once restructured to represent a Renaissance shape with its interiors.
Looking for an untypical idea for an excursion from Krakow? Travel into an unexpectedly beautiful world, oozing both with nature and history, and head for Ojcow National Park with no hesitation! This is where you will sightsee the arguably best views around Krakow there exist!
… AND MORE CASTLES AROUND KRAKOW
Castles – we never seem to get tired of them while on holiday, and if you are a castle enthusiast, there are good news for you! Krakow’s Wawel is not the only gem of this kind located in the broadly defined area surrounding the city. Take a short trip to sightsee the finest castles around Krakow.
Such kind of best attractions and sights around Krakow includes the ruins of once-massive medieval Ogrodzieniec castle. The stronghold sits on a hill that is situated 62 kilometres North-West from there in Podzamcze village. The castle is located a short walk from the Minature Park. You can see the reconstructions of the 17 foremost castles of Krakow-Czestochowa Upland in the micro scale there. Travel 24 kilometres southwards to visit the recently renovated Rabsztyn Castle and see one of knights’ tournaments held there in summertime.
Hitting the road back to Krakow in the southwards direction will let you discover yet another fine medieval stronghold in the vicinity of Krakow, just 19 kilometres away from Rabsztyn: Tenczyn Castle, topping the village of Rudno.
On your way back to Krakow, you may stop at the charming village of Grodkowice where the architecturally pleasant Zelenski family manor stands, with a greatly maintained garden adjoined to the main building. Ardent bikers may consider paying a visit to Niepolomice, with its location 25 kilometres East to the centre of Krakow. If you liked the Wawel Castle, consider visiting the Royal Castle of Niepolomice.
Its elegant courtyard and interiors restored to their former beauty will greatly complement your experiences with regard to the finest castles of Krakow area.
THE BENEDICTINE ABBEY IN TYNIEC
When the weather is conducive, taking a refreshing bike trip from the Krakow boulevards to Tyniec may surely be a great idea. The international EuroVelo cycling trail will lead you straight from the foot of Wawel Hill to the district of Debniki. This trip will expose you to the view of a steep limestone cliff where the medieval Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec rests.
You will approach the place after having covered 12,33 kilometres before the mysterious charm of the monastery becomes at hand. The air of the medieval felt at the courtyards and chambers of the abbey will stay with you for a long time. Simultaneously, the panorama opening before your eyes from behind the massive defensive walls of the structure will make for one of the most romantic trips you can take from Krakow. Due to its vicinity to the most popular attractions of Krakow, the Tyniec Abbey is one of the top destinations for the visitors to this beautiful royal city.
If you happen to fall in love with the limestone-shaped landscapes, you may also explore the panoramic lagoon of Zakrzówek, located merely 4 kilometres South from the Main Market Square of Krakow. It stretches near the beautiful site of Twardowskiego Rocks landscape park.
The royal past of Krakow makes us often forget of something. It is the fact that the history, culture, cuisine and architecture of Krakow are also rooted in the countryside. Ever wondering what the life of a regular dweller of the Lesser Poland would look like back in the times of old? Discover the vivid and lively world of Malopolska folklore just in front of the Krakow’s footstep.
37 kilometres South of Krakow there exists the possibility to sightsee the wooden architecture of the hamlet of Lanckorona. After you decide to admire the charm of the cobbled streets of this little countryside gem near Krakow, do not miss a chance to visit the UNESCO-protected Kalwaria Zebrzydowska pilgrimage park, being only 3 kilometres away from the former attraction.
Never having enough of folklore? Merely 55 kilometres Westwards from Krakow there operates the Vistula Etnographic Park and Lipowiec Castle in the village of Wygiezlow. It provides the most representative examples of Krakow folklore that have been extensively collected.
You will take delight at the cosiness of rural interiors open to the public there for sure. At the same time, there will be a lot of fairy-tale atmosphere in the wooden world embedded inside the open-air park. The only more impressive site to admire the colourful folk traditions of the region may be come across in the village of Zalipie. This cosy village at the North-Eastern corner of Lesser Poland is famous for the rustic floral patterns its residents paint on buildings. You can see an example of this just at the top of this page!
TOWNS CLOSE TO KRAKOW
There are many small satellite towns of Krakow representing certain continuity to the royal, commercial or industrial traditions of the city. The famous town of Wieliczka, home to the UNESCO-protected Salt Mine, is located 20 minutes of ride South-East from the centre of Krakow.
If you decide to visit the Krakow salt mine, make sure to sightsee the town square, the Zupny Castle and the salt graduation tower placed in the city. The nearby Bochnia is also where it is worth spending some time – precisely, at the cobbled market square of this charming town, representing yet as rich saline industry traditions as Wieliczka does.
The beautifully lit basilicas, kamienica buildings and bell towers crammed in the city centre provide great conditions for a romantic stroll after you visit the underground wonders of both sister cities. Many visitors to Krakow willingly go to sightsee the town of Wadowice, with extensive memorabilia of pope John Paul II collected in this hometown of his.
Merely 50 kilometres Southwards from Krakow you can spend a nice afternoon in this cosy and well-preserved place. It is not only for being where one of the most important individuals to Polish history spent his most formative years.