The Ultimate Guide to Jazz Bars in Krakow

From underground basements to restaurants to lively coffee shops set to the sax, we take a look at the best jazz bars in Krakow.

There’s a long and rich tradition of jazz bars in Krakow. Ever since the inter-war days when swing would echo out from the basements of the Old Town, the genre has been a mainstay of the city. Later, visits by the likes of Dave Brubeck in the 50s took Polish jazz to all new heights. Led by the likes of Krzysztof Komeda and others, it became an integral part of Krakow’s cultural fabric.

These days, you won’t have to look too far to find a jazz bar. Krakow has plenty. Names like the Harris Piano Jazz Bar remain the most iconic. But there are also hidden venues where sax and trumpet bands grace the stages throughout the night.

This ultimate guide to jazz bars in Krakow has all the info you need. It lists the very best establishments in town. It runs through the history of the style in Poland. And it’s even got suggestions on hotels to stay in close to the jazz dives.

This article may contain affiliate links to hotels, services, and other extras that will earn us something if you click through and book. It’s what helps us keep offering great info on Krakow, so thanks for that!

This is just one part of our ultimate list of Krakow bars and cafes

What’s in this guide to Jazz Bars in Krakow?

Harris Piano Jazz Bar

Jazz Bar musician

Rarely has a Polish basement bar been as quintessential jazz as this!

Yep, Harris is nothing short of legendary on the Krakow – nay Polish – jazz scene. It was one of the pioneers of live music shows in the city since first opening its cellar doors in the late 1990s.

In the decades that followed, its tight-knit stage and intimate underground interior have hosted big names like the late Art Farmer, sax master Gary Bartz and percussion maestro Idris Muhammad to name just a few.

Poland’s own jazz greats have been regulars too. They’ve included violinist Michal Urbaniak to Scorpions-bassist Pawel Maciwoda. Patrons can expect a dimly-lit interior and a prime location on the edge of the Market Square. Oh, there’s also a line-up of cocktails that’s perfectly suited to the occasion.

Rynek Główny 28, +48 12 421 57 41

Insider tip: There’s nowhere better to bed down than on the Main Square if you’re aiming to spend evenings in the cocktail-clinking cellars of Harris Jazz Bar. In fact, it’s great for sightseeing and nightlife generally – it puts you right in the middle of Krakow’s UNESCO Old Town. Sleek and stunning Meyo Apartments are mere steps away from Harris Jazz, so you can easily make it (read: stumble) home after a night of Coltrane and cocktails. Meanwhile, the classic and sumptuous Apartamenty w Pałacu Pod Baranami are situated just above the jazz bar itself!

Piec Art Acoustic Jazz Club

Piec Art Acoustic Jazz Club offers something of a respite from the wilder clubs and chart tunes that dominate Szewska Street in the middle of the Old Town. It’s a quirky, narrow venue with a swish and stylish bar and seating that spills out onto the pavements during those jazz-friendly summer evenings.

The calendar of acts focuses – as the name suggests – primarily on acoustic gigs. Most set up and play in the small cellar underground. Expect the usual exposed brick walls, plenty of Polish beers and great cocktails to boot. It’s a truly fine option on the line-up of jazz bars in Krakow to say the least!

Szewska 12, +48 12 429 16 02

U Muniaka

Forever vying with Harris Piano Jazz Bar for the title of Krakow’s most prestigious underground venue, this no-frills spot lurks below the much-trodden stones of Florianska Street – one of the main arteries of the Old Town.

It’s been going since way back in 1991, which might be why there’s a palpable air of nostalgia bouncing between the apses of the medieval cellar where the music acts kick-off. Shows can start there any time after 8pm.

Jazz club U Muniaka was actually founded by a great of the Polish jazz scene: Janusz Muniak. He played with the likes of Trzaskowski back when the genre was really finding its feet and experimenting in the post-war era up to the 60s.

Alongside the music, there’s a menu of vodkas, tequilas, and cocktails, bolstered by bar snacks like nachos and olive plates. Just one word of warning here: Service has been said to be curt. But who cares about that when the line-up of shows comes littered with big-name jazz figures and a venue where some of Poland’s very best have played over the decades?

Floriańska 3, +48 12 423 12 05

Insider tip: The great thing about choosing to stay in the vicinity of U Muniaka jazz bar is that you’re going to be on Florianska Street. It’s one of the main drags in the Old Town, which means you can fill your nights with vodka tasting, beer bars, and even hit up the other great jazz bars in Krakow. For a real feel of history, we’d recommend checking out Stylish apartments in the heart of Cracow. They live up to the name, with a cool intermingling of medieval features, vaulted ceilings, and uber-modern interior design. (the perfect sort of place to retire to after a night of brooding jazz, don’t you think?).

The Piano Rouge

Taking us back to the very heart of the Krakow Old Town is this perennial favourite on the city’s jazz scene. Doused in a Moulin Rougue-esque glow, the interior is opulently done out. You’ll find regal red carpets and flowing velvet curtains. It all adds up to something that nostalgically echoes the building’s 16th-century origins.

The prized Bechstein grand dominates the playing room, while diners (this one doubles as a fine-dining restaurant too) cluster around. They sit between the real-stone walls and the arches of the ancient stony cellar.

Music wise, you can expect an eclectic array of piano covers, classical and vocals, all mixed in with the occasional out-and-out jazz duet for the real aficionados.

Rynek Główny 46, +48 12 431 03 33

Insider tip: Bania Luka is a great place to carry on the party once you’ve been to see a jazz show in Krakow. It’s cheap and stays open pretty much all night long!

How much do the jazz bars in Krakow cost?

Like with most things in Poland, you shouldn’t have to pay through the nose for a great night of jazz in Krakow. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t some nights that will cost you a considerable sum. When big-name bands add Krakow to their tour list (and that’s quite common given the rich jazz heritage that the city enjoys), you can look to paying up to 100 PLN (around £20) for a ticket.

However, that’s most certainly not the norm. Most regular shows cost between 15-25 PLN (£3-5) per person. Some days the gigs are even free, though that’s more common in restaurant-style establishments like Piano Rouge. They typically don’t charge at the door but make their dosh on meals and drinks.

Talking of food and drinks, the cost of booze and food in the jazz bars in Krakow might be just a little higher than in other establishments across the city. Take the pizza and snack menu of Harris Piano Jazz Bar, where you’ll pay between 20-30 PLN (£6) for a main. Next to that is the more fine-dining style of Piano Rouge, which has gourmet cooking costing 50 PLN per dish and over.

The history of jazz in Krakow

If you’re looking for the home of jazz in Poland – you’ve found it in Krakow. The tale of the genre goes way back to before the tumult of the Second World War, when underground bars playing American swing entertained the masses of a newly crowned Second Polish Republic.

It was a period when Krakow was transforming itself from occupied city into Central Europe’s cultural hun. The universities were alive. Cafes, expos, and – crucially for jazz in Krakow – musical institutions were popping up all over.

Things really took off when the first proper jazz bars in Krakow were established in the 50s and 60s. That helped some of the great names of Polish jazz thrive. The likes of musicologist and composer Andrzej Trzaskowski – a native of Krakow – started pushing the boundaries of bop, hard bop, and swing during this period. He collaborated with Wojciech Karolak (who would later go on to work with Miles Davis, no less) on quintet shows and compositions.

After the fall of communism, jazz in Krakow was finally given true freedom to express itself. The wall came down in 1989 and it’s no surprise that, as musical influences began flowing in from the west, jazz bars started arriving by the bucket load. You couldn’t count them all on a single hand by the late 90s! That’s when Harris Piano Jazz bar first opened its doors. A few years earlier, the Polish saxophonist (and contemporary of Trzaskowski), Janusz Muniak, started his bar on Florianska Street.

Think we’ve missed something? Got a jazz bar in Krakow that should totally be on this list? Any ideas where people visiting can go to watch awesome live shows? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments. After all, this wouldn’t be the ultimate guide to jazz in Krakow if it wasn’t always changing with the times!

This article may contain affiliate links to hotels, services, and other extras that will earn us something if you click through and book. It’s what helps us keep offering great info on Krakow, so thanks for that!

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One comment

  1. Dear jazzfriends, thanx for the information about jazz live in Krakow. But can you give me names and contact to locations, where we can hear blues live in Krakow.
    Thanx before and keep swingin’
    Michae Wolter / IG jazz e.V.

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