5 reasons you should visit Krakow over Prague

5 reasons you should visit Krakow over Prague

Before all of you who have been to Prague start on what an amazing city it is and how we should all love it, hear me out!

It’s not that I didn’t like Prague – far from it. It was pretty, fairly cheap, and enjoyable to wander around. But I think Kraków was better.

We didn’t really know what to expect from Poland before we arrived – a day trip to Auschwitz was all we really had in mind, but the cobblestone streets, rich and vibrant history, and wonderfully friendly people made Kraków definitely worth the visit.

1.5 weeks later we visited the much hyped Prague. I actually found it similar to Kraków in many ways and just as beautiful, but considering how pleased I’d been with Kraków I’d recommend it over Prague any day! Here are 5 reasons why I think you should visit Kraków instead.

Prague Old Town

Prague Old Town

Krakow Old Town

Kraków Old Town

1. The old town is equally as pretty

Prague is most famous for its picturesque buildings and streets in the old town. But what if I was to tell you that Kraków has just as pretty streets and equally as beautiful buildings, all without the ridiculous amount of tourists?

Walking through Kraków is like something out of a European fairytale. Magnificent looking churches keep popping up beside you as you wander down perfect cobblestone lanes, a rather impressive looking castle is perched on a hill beside the city, and the bell tower in market square chimes with St. Mary’s Trumpet Call (Kraków’s town song) every hour. If you’re looking for a European experience, you’ll definitely find it here.

Market Square Prague

Thousands of tourists packed into Market Square Prague

Spacious and reasonably quiet Market Square Kraków

2. No hoards of tourists

The Astronomical clock in Prague is known as the second most overhyped attraction in Europe (after the Mona Lisa). I thought it was kinda cool, but I certainly didn’t think it deserved the insane amount of tourists crowding around to get photos. There were actually people bottle-necking in a space about 20 metres (65 feet) wide. My mild claustrophobia surfaced in this tight area, I could never have imagined how busy Prague would be.

Sure, Kraków had tourists. Mostly Brits who’d managed to bag some great deals on budget airlines from the UK, but it never felt crowded. We could easily walk down the main street without having to elbow our way through crowds and worry about how we were going to get to the other end of market square without trampling people in the process.

Market Square Prague

Locals? What locals? Prague.

Market Square Krakow

Tourists? What tourists? Kraków.

3. so much more LOCAL CULTURE

We did walking tours in both cities. In Prague it was run by an American who’d lived there for a few years, but in Kraków it was run by a local university student who told personal stories about growing up there. I felt this gave us a much more genuine understanding of the city.

Kraków’s old town was also full of locals shopping at the Christmas markets, eating out at restaurants, or just wandering around with family members. It was lovely to be surrounded by people that actually lived there instead of only being around other visitors.

Prague's Astronomical Clock

Prague’s Astronomical Clock

Jewish cemetery in Krakow

Jewish cemetery in Kraków’s old Jewish ghetto

4. an abundant HISTORY

Yes I know, Prague has history too, but it’s not on the same scale! Kraków’s history is so rich with feeling. Every building, street, and tradition has a compelling story behind it.

Kraków has a rather dark past as the city really caught the worst of WWII. There are plenty of remnants to see while you learn about the shocking affect the war had on Kraków’s inhabitants. You can also visit Schindler’s Factory Museum, the old ghetto in the Jewish quarter, remainders of Kraków’s old city wall, or head out to Auschwitz for a day.

Prague Nightlife

Krakow Nightlife


Poland which is easily one of the cheapest countries we visited in Europe! As we normally compare the price of beer to gauge to cheapness of a country, we can concede that the average price of a delicious Czech beer in Prague was about 1.5-2 Euro, but in Kraków we had this handsome hipster man bar pour us beer for 1 Euro. Yep. That’s pretty much $1.50 AUD/USD.

We were also staying in a hostel private room for just over $21 AUD each per night in the centre of Kraków, and in Prague we were staying in a 6-bed dorm for over $29 AUD each per night (which was also further out of the town centre). If you’re looking to do Europe el-cheapo, Kraków is definitely going to save you a few bucks.

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33 Responses to “5 reasons you should visit Krakow over Prague”

  1. Kim

    absolutely love this post and thanks so much for sharing. Prague has always been on the top of my “must visit” list.


  2. Hailey

    This is really interesting. I find it’s always better to go to places with lest tourists when possible. Having only locals around makes the experience seem more authentic. Then again, I haven’t been to either city so my opinion doesn’t really count!
    Thanks for following my blog btw 🙂 I followed yours and I’m obsessed.


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Hailey, I’m really glad you like my blog! I agree on the authenticity, less tourists makes the experience much more enjoyable. Hopefully you get the chance to visit Prague and Krakow one day 🙂

  3. Eden

    I have been recently considering a trip to Prague next year, but your post has been very enlightening. I definitely need to look into Poland — never though about visiting there before! Thanks!

  4. Ashley

    I visited Prague nearly two years ago and loved it, but I was surprised at just how very touristy it was and that the price of beer was more than in Spain (everyone keeps saying beer is delicious and cheap in the east right.).

    I’m eager to visit Krakow…and your pictures make it look even more appealing for me. I should start checking out flights! 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Beer is definitely cheaper in the east, but if you head too far east (Ukraine/Russia) the beer starts getting kind of crap. There’s a fine line! You should definitely check out Poland Ashley, you’ll love it 😀 Let me know if you go ahead with the visit!

  5. Nuzhat Tabassum

    I went to Prague near Christmas time last year and I loved its winter festivities (the christmas markets, the roasted chestnuts!) but I’m sure a lot of other parts of Europe are great during that time of year too. I was thinking about Poland lately, some of my friends went to Warsaw and loved it, but Krakow looks like a good alternative (:

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Don’t get me wrong, Prague is nice too, but Poland definitely does Christmas markets really well and without the crowds it feels like a more genuine experience. Warsaw is also great. Actually – Poland in general is great. You should definitely head there for a visit!

  6. Angela

    Great post! I’m sold, guess I’ll be visiting Krakow during my next trip to Europe.

  7. Helcita

    great post, prague is my born city and i just love this city a lot, it has special meaning for me, so for me, prague is winning, but haha, i´m going to krakow in summer 2016 for world youth day with pope, so wait for this, then krakow will be really crowded…so i´m looking forward to go there, seems really great 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Of course there are many people who love Prague as well 😉 Though I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Krakow Helcita!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Autumn! The difference is tourist numbers is unbelievable. Prague is super pretty and of course this is why people want to experience it, but Krakow is so worth visiting as well!


    What a great post!
    I’ve been to Warsaw this summer and it was so beautiful…and the polish women are so pretty. But the city was full. Especially the old town. I heard about Kraków that it’s a totally romantic city.
    I think I need to go there too : )


  9. Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)

    I love how you made your case! I am seeing more and more people fall in love with Poland and I have a Polish friend/travel blogger here in Amsterdam. Maybe we’ll find a way to take a quick trip together so I can get a local’s perspective! Of course, Prague is on the list too…how can it not be? 🙂 Basically I want to travel everywhere. It’s a problem!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think it’s quite an undiscovered country as far as travel goes, and really under-appreciated! It would be amazing to see it from a local’s perspective. If you can manage to talk them into it, I’m sure you’d be in for a treat!

  10. Marta

    Hi, I am native Krakauer and I love this city. And that is not true the town is empty. It is full of tourists. I dont know how it is possible that you didnt notice it. But maybe it depends on a time or a day (weather). And we have lots of events, music is everywhere, restaurants are full and locals are also there, of course. However it is sad when foreigners dont know how amazing history is there. It is not enough to come for one day. This is a 1000 year old town so it is full of Poland’s history as because it was a king’s town. So we have Polish kings tombs in the Castle cathedral, too. And not only Jewish cementery but Polish historic hudge cementery found in 1803 with amazing architecture of graves. There are almost all Polish famous people buried and even the Pope John Paul the II’ s parents…but none of foreighers knows about this place at all!
    And for us, locals it is sorry to hear often when a foreigner is coming here only to see Auschwitz or Jewish ghetto. Those places are only a small part of our history less that 1% (or mostly the history of Polish Jews). So please take your time to explore more. Best wishes from Krakow.

  11. Maria Patrick

    I know this thread is more than two years old but I just had to comment because people (like me) will obviously come across this site. I’ve been to Krakow and I have fallen in love with the place. It truly is full of amazing buildings, history and people. I’m glad that the previous poster commented that Krakow is in fact busy because the photos made it look like a ghost town and don’t do the city any justice. I was there in November and it was still busy and vibrant. Even though it was cold people were still dining outside and enjoying life. Everything was lit up beautifully. There definitely not as many tourists as Prague but there were definitely lots of tourists. The only time I saw Krakow looking as empty as this was on November the 1st, on All Saints Day, which is a public holiday when people visit the graves of their dead ancestors and lay flowers and candles. Poland is a very catholic country so a lot of businesses are closed. If you go there in November it is well worth a visit to Cmentarz Rakowicki after dark to see the cemetary lit up with thousands of candles. It really is the most moving, beautiful sight you’ll see.

    I have been to many cities around the world but my reaction to Krakow was extremely visceral and emotional. The history is literally heartbreaking but the resilience of the Polish is inspiring. I speak a bit of Polish so my experience of Krakow was enriched by the warmth and friendliness of people who couldn’t believe an English person was bothering to speak Polish. For example, we went to the Pinball Museum and I bought our tickets and drinks etc in Polish. We ended up chatting with the owner who ended up showing us around his workshop where he rebuilds and fixes old pinball machines. He explained the history of the building and showed us an old tunnel that was used to help Jewish people escape in WW2. For me, the people in the countries I visit are just as important an element as the sights I go to experience . The friendliness of the locals can be the difference between and really good and a really bad holiday.

    It’s also very safe and easy to navigate. I went there alone with my nine year old son and not once did we feel uneasy or threatened – and not once did we get lost.

    I’ve been to many cities around the world but Krakow is definitely my favourite. We’re going again in March – this time for 9 nights and I absolutely can’t wait to get back there as there is still so much left to see and do.

  12. Thomas

    I have been to both places and I have to agree. Krakow was by far the better place with more to see and better food.

  13. Naomi

    This post is really helpful! I really appreciate the comparison of your experiences and love that others have left similar experiences in the comments. I’m sold. Thank you!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m so glad you found it useful, Naomi! Let me know if you enjoy your trip to Krakow 🙂

  14. Caprice

    Last year my husband and I were able to add a quick trip to Krakow onto another itinerary and absolutely loved it (long train and bus ride but worth it!) Krakow felt like a mixture of Prague and Vienna to me. We visited the cathedral (gorgeous!), the castle (one of the best we’ve ever been to) and the old town. We definitely didn’t have enough time there and can’t wait to return and bring our girls with us (they will love the castle!) Great food, affordable accommodations and easy to get around.
    We’ve been to Prague many times and even though it’s become very touristy in the past 10 years we enjoy it every time. It’s still magical to take a late night stroll on the Charles Bridge when all the other tourists have gone home for the evening, right before all the lights in the city turn off. Or to see the sunrise over the Vltava River, or take in the city view from the Lubkowitz Palace or Vyshehrad, stand in awe while you view Mucha’s Slav Epic, eat doner kebabs by the O2 arena or graze on klobasa and brambory from vendor stalls on Vaslav Namnesti. I think the key is to visit in the off season, see the main attractions and then ditch the beaten tourist path to explore the rest of the city—walk a few blocks away from Stare Mesto and it’s completely quiet with great restaurants and other things to do and see. Of course, some of my favorite parts of the Czech Republic are in the countryside —rent a car and soak it in:Telc, the gardens in Buchlovice, Czesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora, Hradec Kralove and Hluboka just to name a few 😊 So Krakow versus Prague? How can you choose? You have to do both!

  15. Marta

    Hello, I am native Krakowian. I was born here and all members of my family as well. What I am going to say is it is not that Kraków has less tourists. You had simply luck. Maybe a little bit less but it is still much. When I have a walk in the old town I rarely hear my native language, there are days when only sellers, police and waiters sometimes are the biggest group of Poles. Real season starts in April so now we have already a lot of tourists.
    The reason why Praque is more popular is not a case of being better, cheaper nor more beautiful. The reason is it was better advertised abroad.
    Well, what I find strange in every vlog on YouTube or trip advisor sites is that no one knows real history of Kraków and why it is worth to visit for history lovers. Always people talk about Auschwitz while this is a town in a distance of 50 km from Kraków. Also another popular travel destination a salt mine is located in different town called Wieliczka. It is like saying that you can see Karlove Vary when you are in Praque. Kazimierz in Krakow was once a different town which the King created for Jewish diaspora in middle ages. Now it is a part of the town and before the war Poles of Jewish ancestry were living there. But it is still not the Polish folklore but Jewish. Jewish minority was only a part of the history. Poland as every country has its own native story, folk music, dresses, culture, cuisine etc. This is like traveling to London and instead of seeing Backingham Pallace and Big Ben someone visited Indian district and try Indian food having no idea about British culture and ancient history.
    First of all Kraków is the former capitol. The are drillers of Kingdom of Poland who are buried in the Cathedral. Every stone, every building has its own story. Why not to explore more about the history of this country. The fact that it was hidden under iron curtain and no one in the west even did not know about it existence does not mean Poland has no past or a history. This country is 1000 yrs old, worth to discover. Thank you for reading. Marta

      • Elizaberth Cecilio

        Hello, Marta, I enjoyed reading your perspective of your country and it sounds wonderful. I will be traveling there soon, and you are correct, I was going because of Auschwitz. However, after reading your comments, I will really pay attention to all the other things (buildings, structures, etc) that I will be seeing while I am there. I am glad to be going on the down time; not during tourist season. I am reading up a bit now on the history, and I look forward to seeing Wawel Castle, the Cloth Hall and other sites. I especially liked the way you described the Polish cemetery in Nov…I think I will have to take a special trip then, just to see it all lit up!
        Thank you so much for pointing all of this out.


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