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According to author Jonathan Carroll, Krakow is among his favorite locations on earth. This historic city is teeming with young people. Wonderfully striking together.

After spending a week in December exploring this historic city with Lee, I’m inclined to agree. The second largest city in Poland and one of the most popular cultural hubs is Krakow, situated on the banks of the Vistula River. Its Old City is surrounded by beautiful Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque buildings.

Krakow is a remarkable blend of modern vigor and old-world grace. The former royal capital of Poland has been transformed into a bustling student community with an active art scene and top-notch cuisine.

Krakow is a great city to visit any time of year, but I’d highly recommend going there in the winter. Krakow is a charming place to stay in December, and it made us feel incredibly festive.

The Benefits of Traveling to Krakow in the Winter

One of the loveliest seasons to visit Krakow is winter. Why?

  • One of the top Christmas markets in Eastern Europe is Krakow. The main historic square is taken over and is filled with artisanal items, gourmet food, entertainment, music, and more.
  • The meals are hearty and filling, ideal for a chilly day. Nothing can fill you up like a bowl of warm, hearty Polish soup.
  • Thanks to the city’s mulled wine and hot chocolate stalls, you won’t be far from a warm beverage.
  • If you are fortunate enough to witness the Old City’s old buildings with a layer of snow on top, it resembles a scene from a fairy tale.

Things We Loved

The Food: Learning about Polish food was so much fun! I already knew that I adored pierogi, but I also learned to appreciate full cabbage rolls, sour rye soup, lovely bread, and various other dishes. Due to its warmth, richness, and comfort, it’s a great wintertime food.

The Old City: It’s a pleasure to stroll through Krakow’s historic district. The medieval buildings are exquisitely well-preserved. Being able to hear the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages while walking down cobblestone streets that are lit up with Christmas lights is very beautiful.

Activities to Do in Krakow During the Winter

The Holiday Market

Lee and I also traveled to Krakow to visit the city’s Christmas market. It certainly did not disappoint. We read that it was one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

You’ll feel festive after browsing the stalls in the central area. The atmosphere is lively with live music on stage and the aroma of mouthwatering fried snacks and delicious mulled wine filling the air. (See this great list of foods to eat at the Christmas market.)

Beautiful handcrafted ornaments, toys, candles, jewelry, scarves, and other thoughtful presents are available. It’s a terrific place to find unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones, so be sure to have lots of cash.

Castle Wawel

Wawel Castle, one of the biggest in Poland, is perched high on a hill overlooking the ancient city. It was constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries for King Casimir III The Great. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and is the city’s most important historical and cultural site (and possibly the entire nation).

A stunning collection of paintings, sculptures, fabrics, prints, and other works of art are now on display at the castle, which has been transformed into an art museum. It can wander around and take in the external buildings while you visit the court. However, there is a cost if you wish to enter and take a tour.