If you’re wondering exactly where to stay in Krakow, wonder no more! This guide delves into the city of Polish kings to help you ferret out the finest corners of town. From the UNESCO core to the hip districts south of the river, it’s got the lowdown on all sorts of enticing areas. You’ll find that some put you right in the heart of the action. Others are better for sampling local cafés and partying with students. And then there are the parts of Krakow that beckon further afield, closer to the forests and lakes that surround the city. Let’s get started…
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This is a part of our ultimate guide to Krakow hotels.
What will I find in this guide to where to stay in Krakow?
Best for: Being close to the major sights and nightlife
The Old Town is the beating heart of Krakow. Honestly, there’s nowhere more central to stay. The whole district is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s home to the largest medieval square in Europe. There are enthralling art museums and handsome churches. Oh, and it’s said to host more bars and eateries per square metre than any other district on the continent.
The upshot? This is one heady, happening place to base yourself. Hotels wise, you’ll find some of the most luxurious stays in town, with underground pools and rooftop bars overlooking the Rynek (Krakow Main Square). Another plus is how close you’ll be to the nightlife and the main attractions. On the other hand, that brings huge crowds (in fact, some locals won’t even stray into the Old Town in the midsummer – it’s just too busy!).
TL;DR: If you’re not sure precisely where to stay in Krakow but want to be in the thick of things, this one’s the area to aim for!
Best for: Cafes, bars, nightlife and Jewish culture
Everyone loves Kazimierz. The strange thing: A lot of fly-in, fly-out city breakers will miss the district altogether, because it’s located a little to the south of the Old Town. That’s a real shame. It’s got a raw and authentic side to it. Laden with Jewish cafés and quirky beer halls, it’s a top place for some mezze lunch and a coffee. After dark, it’s also got some of the very best clubs around, some of which go on until sunrise.
Kazi (as it’s known to the locals) it also steeped in rich Jewish and urban heritage. The oldest synagogue in town awaits here. So too does a classic fish market turned flea bazaar, which you can discover on Plac Nowy on weekend mornings.
Anyone researching where to stay in Krakow will be pleased to find loads of historic hotels and quirky boutiques in this area. We particularly love the spanking new PURO hotel. It’s got an artisan bakery and a large green courtyard just on the edge of the neighborhood.
Best for: Something a little quirky, local eateries, nice views
Bohemian Podgorze sits on the south side of the Vistula River. It’s been a up-coming hub for creative types and foodies for some years now. You get there by walking over the bridges (one pedestrianised, the other for trams and cars, both pretty) from Kazimierz. The first things you’ll notice are the striking modern art museum on the riverfront. Then, stroll the cobbled backstreets to find pasta eateries and Vietnamese street food kitchens – it’s that sort of place.
You’ll want to focus your hotel search on the river area or what’s known as Stare Podgorze. That translates to Old Podgorze, and it really is laced with history (some of it dark – it was once the Nazi ghetto in WWII). The area now has a striking monument on Ghetto Heroes Square. That leads to the gorgeous St Joseph Church in the heart of the area. From there you can explore pretty Park Bednarskiego.
The extended Old Town (Old Town 2)
Best for: Quieter streets near the main sights of the Old Town
The historic heart of Krakow is encircled by the green gardens of the Planty Park. Beyond that is an area that’s roughly delineated by the busy avenue of aleja Adama Mickiewicza. The blocks there are often counted as part of the Old Town, but we prefer to put them down as a separate area because the streets are quieter and the vibe just a little more chilled.
Major hotspots worth knowing about here include: Long Karmelicka Street (host to lots of great hotels and AirBnb Krakow options), and the complex of cafés and vegan spots in Dolnych Młynów (a cool spot for dining and drinking. The great thing about being in the extended Old Town is that it strikes a good balance between price and proximity to the main sights.
Best for: Going off the beaten track and back in time to the Communist era
If you’re wondering where to stay in Krakow that’s a little off beat and different, Nowa Huta could be perfect. It’s the long arm extending out on the eastern portion of the city. Built from scratch in the 1940s and the 1950s by the Communist regime, the district was intended to be a perfect socialist utopia. These days, it’s a blast from the past. You’ll drink tea in retro cafés between colossal blocks of Soviet-style houses. You’ll see street names like Ronald Reagan Square and could even ride Trabant cars on tours of the old industrial sites.
The obvious downside to Nowa Huta is that there’s not so many great hotels in the area. In addition to that, you’re going to be further from the famous Krakow attractions, like the Main Square and the Wawel Castle. However, there are some particularly good aparthotels in the district, like the chic Lake Studio by Loft Affair. What’s more, Huta now has some great draws of its own, like the big Browar Twigg brewery (check it out for some of the best craft beers in the city).
Best for: Being close to everything but with cheaper rates and more local vibe
The district of Debniki has some wonderful hotels – the spacious self-catering rentals of Aparthotel Art Suites and the 4-star offering at the Q Hotel Plus Kraków come to mind. It’s also sat just over the river from the Wawel Castle and the Old Town, so you shouldn’t be more than a 15-minute walk to the best attractions. In addition to that, we love Debniki for its local vibe and quiet backstreets. The main avenue of Monte Cassino quickly turns into some tree-spotted blocks where unassuming cafés and bars coalesce. Oh, and you can access the lovely walking paths along the Vistula River at just a few steps.
Best for: Hipster scene, cafes, wine bars
Zabłocie has been a rising star among Krakow neighborhoods for a while now. The home of cutting-edge MOCAK (Krakow’s modern art museum) and the enthralling Krakow city museum (housed in the old factory of Oskar Schindler), it’s certainly got some draws up its sleeve. More recently, the district has sprouted cool wine bars and bistros. It’s close to the river, within walking distance of Kazimierz, and has some enticing Airbnbs and aparthotels to boot.
If you think you have any more tips on where to stay in Krakow, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!