One of Poland’s beloved places, Krakow, is also one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and has been the epicenter of Polish art, economics, academics and culture for hundreds of years. The City has a long history that dates back to the 4th century when it was ruled by tribesmen until it became part of the Kingdom of Bohemia. It isn’t until the 10th century when Krakow finally grew into an important trade city that started to look more like a city thanks to the construction of buildings and homes made from brick. However, when the Mongols invaded in the 13th century, almost all of Krakow was left in ruins yet it was quickly rebuilt to its original state as if nothing had ever happened. In the 14th century, Krakow flourished in the arts and sciences and continued to boom culturally well into the Renaissance period.

In the 18th century, Krakow became part of the Austrian Empire for a short period followed by its independence in 1918 after a revolution, before the end of WWI. In the 20th century, Krakow became a modern city yet, with the rest of Eastern Europe, fell victim to war. It wasn’t until after WWII did the City recover, becoming once again, a major player in Poland’s economy. Today, Krakow offers visitors museums, parks, restaurants, cafes and centuries-old churches and castles to explore, and if you plan on visiting this city for the weekend, here are some of our favorite things to do and see.

Crypt of the Franciscan Sanctuary and Monastery

The Franciscan Sanctuary and Monastery is a famous one dating back to the 17th century and a must-visit. But below the monastery is a crypt where monks, city folk and aristocrats have been buried for more than 200 years—you can see a countess, a Napolean soldier and a young female who passed right after she got married. Due to the climate below, the mummified bodies have been well-preserved, and seeing them is fascinating. One important note is that the crypt is only open for visitors a few days in November, but if you call ahead and hire a guide, you may be able to visit the Crypt on other days throughout the year.

Wawel Dragon’s Den and Skeletal Remains

A dragon in Krakow? According to legend, it did exist and there’s a cave and supposedly skeletal remains as evidence, although if they are real dragon bones remains a mystery. The dragon was said to have lived in a cave beneath the hills of Wawel and put down by a local hero. Aside from the dragon’s skeletal remains hanging above the entrance to Poland’s Wawel Cathedral, there’s also a den you can visit located on the side of Wawel Hill. During the Medieval period, this limestone cave was used as a pub and brothel but is now open to visitors to explore and learn about the tales of the Wawel dragon.

Rynek Underground

Underneath the Old City in Krakow lies an underground archeological museum featuring remains from vendor stalls such as clothing, coins, weights and jewelry, as well as paths that date back to the 13 century, a cemetery and a water system. When visiting Rynek Underground, you’ll notice holograms portraying Krakow during the Medieval Ages, including vampire burials—it’s quite the sight. Click here for the opening hours and here to purchase tickets (highly recommended you do this in advance).

Collegium Maius

Krakow is full of interesting historical areas, and another one of favorites is the Collegium Maius, the oldest University building that still stands today. Established in the 14th century, Collegium Maius was a science university, attended by the most famous mathematician and astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus. Today, the Collegium Maius houses a variety of scientific equipment used throughout the centuries such as clocks, astrolabes, globes, telescopes, weights as well as art from the Medieval period. Be sure to check out the courtyard and the clock, both of which look like something that came out of a film.

Pod Aniolami

One of the best restaurants in Krakow for traditional Polish and Eastern European dishes is Pod Aniolami. From bread with pork fat and bacon, deer and trout to veal with polish potatoes, pierogis and borscht, Pod Aniolami will make you feel like a nobleman thanks to the food, service and atmosphere. The restaurant is located in a cellar in a 13th-century building where local goldsmiths used to live. In order to get a table, we recommend you book in advance.

Krakow, Poland is a terrific city to visit for a weekend if you’re traveling around Europe. Explore underground dens and crypts or dine in a restaurant serving five-star cuisine, Krakow offers visitors a plethora of places to check out, and we hope this guide can help you have an even better time there.

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