The Ultimate Guide to Krakow in January

Are you planning to visit Krakow in January? Check this guide to learn about all the aspects of visiting the city during the coldest month.

Krakow in January can be gloomy and dark, but it doesn’t mean you should avoid visiting the city in the first month of the year. It’s indeed the coldest time, but it also means you’ve got the highest chance of seeing snow. And trust us, the fresh layer of white powder adds charm to already beautiful Krakow.

This guide to Krakow in January will talk you through the ins and outs of visiting the city during the coldest month of the year. We’ll give you tips on what to wear to stay warm and tell you about the best things to do. We’ll also give you some insights on the weather and talk you through some downsides to travelling to Krakow in January. So, let’s begin…

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This is just one of our many guides to seasons and weather in Krakow

What’s in this guide to Krakow in January?

The weather in Krakow in January

Weather in Krakow in January

The short way to describe the weather in Krakow in January is that it’s cold. In fact, it is the coldest month of the year that this city experiences, so you should get your bauble hat ready. Yup, you can expect freezing temperatures throughout the month, with lows going as far as -20 C, at times. That’s when the cold winds from Siberia reach the city, although it’s not very common. On average, the temperatures hover around -3 C, while lows are close to -9 C and highs around 1 C.

January is also the snowiest month in Krakow, which is great news if you want to add skiing to your agenda. However, there was a time when January was pretty much covered with a white layer all month, but in the last couple of years, it’s often just sleek and rain instead. So don’t count on it too much because snow isn’t guaranteed in Krakow in January. However, you could just head two hours south to Zakopane, where you should see thick piles throughout most of the winter.

What to wear in Krakow in January

Bring all the layers if you’re planning to visit Krakow in January because it’s the coldest month of the year. And we mean it when we say it’s cold – the temperatures often drop well below zero, which means a winter coat is a must. Hats, scarves, and gloves will also be handy, especially if you go out in the evenings. We’d say that thermal layers could also be a lifesaver, not only to walk around the old town but also if you plan to do some skiing too.

Bringing the right footwear is very important too. We recommend winter boots with thermal isolation or hiking boots at last ankle high. You also should know that they use salt in Krakow as a grip on snowy days, which could ruin your shoes. It’s hard to avoid if you come to the city in January, so we’d stay clear from bringing those designer shoes if we were you.

Top things to do in Krakow in January

Zakopane in January

January in Krakow might be far from peak season, but the freezing weather doesn’t mean the city’s got nothing to offer. In fact, Krakow is bustling all year round, and there is plenty to do here, even if you visit during the coldest month of the year. So, here are a few ideas for things to do in Krakow in January…

Go ice skating

There is an ice-skating rink right outside Galeria Krakowska, the shopping mall next to the train station. It’s open throughout the winter, and January is the best time for it. You’re guaranteed that the rink will be solid and open throughout the month and that the ice quality is at its best. You also don’t need special equipment because you can rent the skates there. 

Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

January is as far from the summer as it gets, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s not the month of festivals. That said, there is one big event that takes place in the coldest month of the year, the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. It’s a big charitable event that takes place all over the country, and the final is usually celebrated with some big concerts in the main square. The main purpose is to raise money for children’s hospitals, but it’s also for people to celebrate. So enjoy and put some coins in one of the red boxes to get a little sticker!

Go skiing

January is the best time to hit the slopes in southern Poland, so if you’re in Krakow, why not test your skills skiing or snowboarding? You’re only two hours away from some of the best ski resorts in the country, and the good news is that skiing is cheaper here than it is in the Alps. You don’t need to be a pro either, there are plenty of great instructors that can teach you the basics on gentle slopes. You can easily hop on a bus to Zakopane or Bialka Tatrzanska, so there is no need to rent a car. Ah, and if you come just after new year’s but before the winter school break, you’re in luck. That’s when the slopes are the least busy, but the conditions are usually fantastic.

Here are some of the top ski resorts near Krakow:

Enjoy Krakow cafes

We’re not going to lie, the weather in Krakow in January isn’t for everyone. It’s cold and often gloomy, so you might want to spend a lot of your time indoors. Luckily there are oodles of fantastic cafes around the city to keep you warm. From cosy interiors to hipster, speciality roasts Krakow oozes a great café scene.

Where to stay in Krakow in January

Yes, January in Krakow is cold, so you need a cosy place to return to after a day of exploring the city. Luckily, there is no shortage of fantastic hotels and apartments in Krakow, and the good news is that they should be cheaper than in the summer. Yes, January isn’t the high season, so you might score some great bargains on accommodation. Here are a few of our favourite picks…

  • Hotel Stary – This is one of the most iconic hotels in Krakow. Great location for winter visits.
  • Hotel H15 Luxury Palace – A luxury hotel in the heart of Old Town. Warm up in the sauna after walking around cold Krakow.
  • Hotel Kossak – Lovely hotel overlooking Vistula River and Wawel Castle.

Downsides to travelling to Krakow in January

Krakow fog

There is a good reason why January isn’t considered the high season in Krakow, it’s because it’s very cold. It’s also one of the darkest months of the year in terms of daylight hours and cloud coverage, and the moody atmosphere isn’t for everyone. The hype over Christmas is over but the summer is still really far, so you might notice some negative expressions on people’s faces. Don’t worry, though, if you brave the cold, January is a wonderful time to be in Krakow.

The only other downside that we can think of is that Krakow struggles with pollution in winter, and January is the thick of it. You might notice some locals wearing masks outside and it’s not because of covid. We recommend checking the air quality online. If the air isn’t clean, it might be wise to spend longer indoors, rather than outdoors. There could be some flight disruptions because of fog too.

Is January a good time to visit Krakow?

January is the coldest month of the year in Krakow, so it might not be the best time to visit if you’re a heat lover. That said, if you can brave the weather, January can be a wonderful time to explore the city. That’s when you have the most chances to see Krakow covered in snow and it’s beautiful.

Will it snow in Krakow in January?

Yes, but it’s not guaranteed. January is the snowiest month of the year in Krakow with an average of over 5 cm of coverage throughout the month. That said, recent years have shown that it’s not a given that you’ll see beautiful wintery scenes in the city.

Is Krakow worth visiting in winter?

Although winter in Krakow is not the most popular time to visit, we think it’s well worth making a trip to the city during the coldest season. Few other Eastern European cities look so spectacular covered in a fresh layer of snow. You can also take advantage of low-season hotel rates that should certainly be better than in the summer.

Asia K
Asia K

Asia K (the surname is long, unspellable, and very Polish!) is a Krakow native. She lived and worked in the city her whole life before heading off to travel the world. Today, she comes to Krakow as a regular visitor, which is just what's needed to put together expert guides for fly-in visitors and weekend breakers. She's an avid hiker (hello Tatra Mountains) and loves craft beer (mmm Kazimierz)

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