10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities

When planning a trip to Poland’s second-biggest city, have a few extra days to your itinerary for several day trips from Krakow. The city makes it a great base to explore some of the best historical landmarks and cities in Poland you want to take advantage of. 

Some of the best places to visit near Krakow include historical towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mining towns, and charming villages. Thus, there is something for everyone.  

Where to go from Krakow by train? Almost everywhere. Most of the Krakow trips listed below are easily accessible by public transport. For some, consider joining organized tours for easy logistics or renting a car for more flexibility and comfort. All the details on how to get to a particular destination are written below each spot. 

Moreover, plenty of highly-rated excursions from Krakow make traveling easier if you feel uncomfortable driving in a foreign country or navigating public transport. 

Disclaimer

This post includes affiliate links to products, which earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps to fund my blog and bring more authentic articles to you 🙂  Learn more

Best day trips from Krakow

Nowa Huta neighborhood

While Nowa Huta is part of Krakow city, the area’s historical significance of being a Soviet utopian district is worth spending at least half of the day if you love Communist architecture and history. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 1

The former industrial hub has well-planned residential buildings and at least 250 bunkers underneath its vast area. It was a symbol of socialist brilliance where the functionality of the city was a prime goal to make residents who worked at its steel plant happy with wide streets, grand apartment buildings with big courtyards, and recreational areas. 

Today, Nowa Huta reinvents itself with new and old cafes, bars, and fascinating museums housed in former Soviet bunkers. The most significant landmarks here are the administrative building and the bomb shelter of the steel plant. 

You can only visit it via booking the tour, but unlike the ruined sanatorium town of Tskaltubo in Georgia or the Soviet Bunker in Tbilisi, seeing a well-preserved building of the 1960s with its almost fully intact interior and furniture gives you the feeling and idea of what it looked like back in the day, and fascinating bunker is absolutely worth it.  

Besides, Nowa Huta has more exciting spots to offer to those who want to venture this far from the city center, so I have a dedicated guide to all the best things you can do here to include it in your Krakow itinerary.

How to get to Nowa Huta

Located 8 km from the city center, the best way to get to the area is by tram number 4 or 10. The journey takes around 30 minutes, so you need to get a 40-minute tram ticket. If you are starting the Nowa Huta exploration with the Steel Plant administrative building, take tram No.4 to the final stop called Kombinat. Otherwise, hop off both trams at Central Square.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

Auschwitz-Birkenau doesn’t need any introduction. This former extermination and concentration camp run by Nazis during WWII is the most tragic place, where around 1.3 million (reported) people died, and the majority were Jews.

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 4

Enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to Auschwitz includes the Auschwitz Museum and Birkenau Memorial. The Auschwitz Museum has well-preserved brick barracks that once were used by the Polish military. Now, it is turned into a museum showcasing personal items confiscated from the prison arrivals, photos of inmates, a maquette of a gas chamber, etc. 

Birkenau is an even bigger space, which was later added to the Auschwitz camp to bring victims directly and to provide more barracks and crematoriums. Today, the Birkenau is partially destroyed as a result of camp liquidation to conceal the atrocities of the Third Reich. However, the barrack frames and fireplace chimneys do help you visualize the size of the camp. 

day trips from krakow

Whether you tour the camp on your own or with a museum-provided educator, you’ll hear/read devastating stories of its victims and how they were treated, making it one of the emotionally wrecking day trips from Krakow, which obviously is not for everyone. If you can handle it, I highly recommend putting aside one day for the visit. 

How to get from Kraków to Auschwitz

Auschwitz-Birkenau is around 70 km away from Krakow. While there are several ways to get there, which I explain in my detailed Auschwitz guide, joining an organized tour is the best option. Several companies offer day trips from Krakow to Auschwitz, and this is the one we used

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Together with Auschwitz, a visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine is the most popular Krakow day trip. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the oldest operating salt mines worldwide that worked from the 13th century until 2007. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 5

A guided visit includes walking through tunnels and admiring statues carved from salt rocks. The mine has nine levels, with the lowest at 327 meters below the ground. The total length of the mine corridors is around 250 km, but you only walk 3 km during the tour. 

Apart from the historical significance, Wieliczka Salt Mine is a stunning place worth adding to your Krakow day trips itinerary. With several chambers, chapels, and statues, it is mesmerizing to see and admire the craftsmanship of humanity. And passing by several underground lakes adds another dimension and charm to the place. 

Once done touring the mine, you can walk around the tiny town of Wieliczka to see beautiful buildings and monuments depicting the mining industry and heritage of the area. 

How to get from Krakow to Wieliczka Salt Mine

The distance between the city and the mine is only 13 km, which takes around 30 minutes by car without traffic. The mine is also connected to public transport, making it one of the most accessible day trips from Krakow by train. 

Several trains depart from Kraków Glowny to Wieliczka Rynek-Kopalnia train station each day. The journey takes, on average, 23 minutes, but there are faster ones that get you there in 15 minutes, too. Check the train schedule here

However, if you prefer to join an organized tour, I recommend booking this one provided by Discover Cracow.  

Tip: If you don’t have much time to spare for individual tips, you can combine day trips from Krakow to Auschwitz and salt mines by joining an organized tour. 

Katowice

If you are looking for interesting cities around Krakow, Katowice is an easy and underrated option for a day trip. The capital of the Silesia region, Kawotice, has always been known as the industrial heart of Poland with its vast amount of mines. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 8

The city is an excellent destination for culture lovers, offering fascinating museums, architecture, concert venues, street art, and exhibitions. There are plenty of things to do in Katowice, making it ideal for weekend trips from Krakow, but if you don’t have that much time, you can also visit its most important landmarks within a day. 

The Silesian Museum is a must-visit to learn more about Katowice’s history and mining heritage, as well as walk through its charming neighborhood of Nikiszowiec, featuring brick residential places initially built for the workers at the mine. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 9

And if you are a fan of modernist architecture, Spodek, the famous concert venue that looks like a UFO, is another city highlight. 

How to get from Krakow to Katowice

Katowice is 80 km away, making it one of the easiest day trips from Krakow by car or train. If you prefer to drive a car, expect around an hour from Krakow to Katowice, depending on traffic. 

The cities are also well-connected by train system with daily trains departing from 6 am. The fast trains will get you there in about 47 minutes. Check the train schedule here

Tarnow

In southeastern Poland, Tarnow is a mid-size city that has mostly kept the same layout since the Middle Ages. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 10

Tarnow’s main square is home to a beautiful town hall, fascinating museums showcasing the city’s history, and an exhibition about Gypsy in the country. Those interested in Jewish history can visit the Old Bathhouse, the synagogue bima, or the enormous Jewish cemetery. 

Historically, Tarnow is known for being one of the first occupied cities during WWII and being among the first to transport prisoners to Auschwitz concentration camps. 

When walking from the train station to the main square, notice the tallest basilica of the city before admiring the beautiful Art-Nouveau buildings lining up Krakowska Street. 

And if you are up for a short hike, Saint Martin’s Peak offers beautiful views of the city and the region. 

How to get from Krakow to Tarnow

Tarnow is around 80 km from Krakow and, like many other cities in Poland, is well connected to the train system. While you can get there by car, the train might be cheaper and faster. 

Daily trains depart from Krakow’s main train station to Tarnow from early morning, taking around 50-60 minutes to get there. 

Zalipie

This unique village in Poland was the most exciting Krakow day tour I was looking forward to. Zalipie, known for its gorgeously painted houses, is one of the less-known day trips from Krakow because of slightly challenging access via public transport. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 13

The tradition of embellishing the buildings started at the end of the 19th century when a local artist painted floral patterns on her house. Following her lead, other locals began decorating their houses and fences with colorful floral motives. 

The village has more than 20 decorated houses, along with wells, shrines, and fences. Zalipie is not an ethnographical village museum; it is a regular residential area, but there are a few houses turned into museums and a community center you can visit for a small fee. 

How to get from Krakow to Zalipie

Due to its remote location and scarce public transport, the best and most convenient way to get from Krakow to Zalipie is by car. Located around 108 km, it takes an average of 1:30 hours one way.  

However, with some planning beforehand, it is also doable by using a train and then a local minibus. Read my detailed post on Zalipie village and how to get there.

Alternatively, a few companies offer an organized tour if you want to avoid driving or navigating the transport. 

Wroclaw

Those looking for a less-crowded city with interesting attractions such as charming tiny dwarf statues scattered across the city, a beautiful market square featuring Gothic Old Town hall with an ornate astronomical clock, and gorgeous architecture, consider a day trip from Krakow to Wroclaw. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 16

Even though it is a slightly long journey, venturing this far to visit Wroclaw is entirely worth it. The city offers a handful of fascinating things to do, such as historical landmarks, small islands, and an impressive Centennial Hall, one more UNESCO World Heritage Site in Poland. 

And if you happen to be in Poland in winter, Wroclaw has one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets that also won a few awards in previous years. 

How to get from Krakow to Wroclaw

The distance from Krakow to Wroclaw is 274 km, and the journey takes at least 3 hours by car. Therefore, your best option is to take a train that runs several times a day starting very early in the morning. 

A fast train will get you there in 2:46 hours, but an average train journey is from 3 to 3:20 hours, depending on the type of train. Check the train schedule here

Warsaw

Like Wroclaw, a day trip from Krakow to Warsaw is relatively long but doable if you are up to start your journey early in the morning. 

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is the country’s most visited destination, alongside Krakow. While you can easily spend a few days seeing some of the iconic Warsaw attractions to deep dive into the city’s history, one day can also be fine if that’s what you have. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 17

Warsaw was completely destroyed during WWII and rebuilt afterward; therefore, today, it is one of the most modern cities with skyscrapers, but its old charm is preserved through the reconstructed Old Town. 

Wander the streets to explore and admire colorful houses, visit the Royal Castle, a former royal residence of Polish monarchs turned into a state museum, and walk through a fortress, Warsaw Barbican, to name a few. 

For panoramic skyline views, go to the top floor of the Palace of Culture and Science, a massive Soviet-era building. 

10 Best Day Trips from Krakow: Salt Mine, Auschwitz, & Cities 18

There are several interesting museums in Warsaw, including the POLIN Museum, to learn more about Jewish history and the tragedy of the Holocaust, the Neon Museum showcasing the beautiful neon signs that once graced the streets of the city, and the Museum of Life in the Polish People’s Republic, exhibiting household items used during the Communist era, etc. 

How to get from Krakow to Warsaw

Located nearly 300 km from Krakow, the trip will take you a minimum of 3:30 hours by car, making a train travel most convenient and fast between two cities. Several trains depart from Krakow Central train station to Warsaw early in the morning, with an average time of 2:20 to 2:40 hours. Check the train schedule here

Other options for Krakow day trips

While I have yet to do these day trips from Krakow myself, I still decided to give you the other options for your information and possibilities. 

Zakopane

Those who love snow-covered mountains should consider day trips from Krakow to Zakopane and Tatra Mountains. Zakopane is a favorite winter destination among locals who want a ski getaway over the weekend. Due to its popularity, regular buses run between the towns, making it easy to navigate public transport that takes around 2 hours to get there. 

Even if your trip doesn’t fall in winter, you can still enjoy the tranquil mountain resort town to get closer to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of busy Krakow. 

If you want to avoid public transport or car driving, a few companies offer Zakopane day trips from Krakow

Slovakia

Did you know you can take a few day trips from Krakow to Slovakia? The Poland-Slovakia border is only 108 km from Krakow, taking around 2 hours to get there. 

Obviously, the best way to explore Slovakia would be by renting a car and self-driving; however, depending on where you want to go, some companies also offer day trips from Krakow to Slovakia and its sights closer to the Polish border. 

One such spot is the Slovakia Treetop Walk in the folk village of Ždiar. Since it’s close to Zakopane, many companies combine a Tatra Mountain resort town visit with the Treetop Walk in Slovakia


More Poland Content


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.