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The Broke Backpacker’s Guide to Krakow, Poland

How often have you visited somewhere and said to yourself “I could live here”?

Maybe you got as far as telling your friends and family about your dream to move there and even looked into the logistics and costs of doing so. But how many people do you know have actually made the move?

This is exactly what I did when I visited the beautiful city of Krakow a few years ago, I not only fell in love with the city but I vowed to move here…and I did. So, this article reflects both the time I spent here as a backpacker, but also as a resident to give you the inside track on what to do. The extra aspect is that both when I was a backpacker and now I am a resident; let’s just say that my financial resources are limited. This guide looks at the finest things you can see and do in Krakow when on a shoestring budget.

Cheap Things to Do in Krakow
Cheap Things to Do in Krakow

Old Stuff is Cool

Not only is old stuff cool but visiting, viewing and studying it can be inexpensive or free in Krakow…winner. Being a bit of a history nerd meant museums in the region were my first port of call when backpacking in the area. The favorite museum I visited when at Krakow was the Amber Museum, there is something about the colour and structure of amber that absolutely fascinates me, so this place had my jaw on the floor.

Two more museums that I visited when backpacking and visited again a few times since are the Polish Aircraft Museum and Princes Czartoryski Museum. Not only are these two museums a fascinating look into the history of Poland, but also the reason I have visited them a few times is due to the fact that they are free on given days; Polish Aircraft Museum on Tuesdays and Princes Czartoryski Museum on Sundays.

Cheap Things to Do in Krakow

Going Out

Any self-respecting student, backpacker or traveler loves to go out for a few drinks and to socialize. But this isn’t always the easiest when traveling on a budget. A few events I have attended in the last year are great alternatives to the relatively expensive nightlife of Krakow.

If like you’re me and you just can’t beat live music as a pastime I would highly recommend getting yourself to Awaria for some of their free music events. Not always the best known bands/performers…but a great way to discover new loves, and who cares if it’s free? Another great way to get involved in music in Krakow is to use the Sofar Sounds website to search atmospheric and free living room concerts.

Cheap Things to Do in Krakow

Another incredible event to get involved in is the Students’ Festiwal Juwenalia. If you have ever visited Krakow before you will no doubt have seen a few stag dos behaving badly. This festival has a similar flavor, with students from all over the city attending various concerts and  having fun with an ‘anything goes’ type approach…this is not greeted with disgust from the locals, but is in fact a locally sanctioned event, a way for students to let their hair down between the serious events of Easter and immanent exams. Following local student life is a great way to get to know lesser-known side of Krakow.

Take Part In Art…Or at Least Look At It

My personal favorite arty attraction to visit is the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Krakow or MOCAK for short, the museum focuses on short-term history with exhibitions from the past two decades with post-war avant-garde and conceptual art. Best of all? If you visit MOCAK on a Tuesday it is completely free.

If contemporary art isn’t really your thing then another great event to get involved in is the Street Theater Festival, which does that it says on the tin really, a street theater that is based in Krakow but travels around Europe. Great fun to get involved with and you get to appreciate the theater without the usual price tag.

Cheap Things to Do in Krakow
KRAKOW, POLAND – JUL 12, 2015: Participants at the annually (July 9-12) 28th International Festival of Street Theatres – Orchestre International du Vetex (Belgium/France) in the Main Square of Krakow.

Free to See

Not only are there some great cheap things to do in Krakow, but some of the best attractions are actually free to see. If you are into the unusual and slightly psychedelic it is worth visiting the rainbow steps, each coloured step has a famous quote and can take quite some time to climb if you read them all!

Another great free thing to do is take a relaxing stroll down the Vistula Boulevard, which you might need if you pack in everything on this guide.

The Low Cost Low Down

As a backpacker you become quite involved in finding things to do for very little in places you visit. A few of my favorites in Krakow include the Rynek Underground (free on Tuesdays) and with a place of mixed history or hope and despair, the Ghetto Heroes Square close to the famous Jewish district Kazimierz.

Cheap Things to Do in Krakow

Another great inexpensive site to visit and one you are unlikely to miss if in Krakow due to its visual impact on the landscape is the cathedral. This is a fascinating place and gives you a clearer understanding of the rich religious history of the city.

Still bored?

I doubt it!

But if you do happen to be, two further great low cost options that I have enjoyed during my time here in Krakow is to visit the Kino Pod Baranami on ‘Cheap Mondays’ or spend a smart coin or two at the Plac Targowy Flea Market. Both worth a visit.

All in all Krakow is a fantastic place to visit and live in if you are on a budget. There is a massive amount you can do from art to history to ridiculous festivals. I thoroughly recommend that you time your visit with one of the great events happening throughout the year.

Have you been to Krakow? Do you have any budget travel tips? Share them in the comments below.

About Jules Bukovsky

Jules Bukovsky is an independent traveler passionate about budget traveling and foreign cuisines. A year ago she moved to Poland where she loves to explore lesser-known natural sites, eat shamelessly mountains of local pierogi and get her tongue around Polish words.

One comment

  1. How about some tips on budget eats?

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