12 Enchanting Hidden Gems in Krakow, Poland

Krakow is full of surprises. I was excited to wander around its landmarks like the Main Market Square and Wawel Castle, but as someone obsessed with non touristy and alternative spots, I was also eager to discover some hidden gems in Krakow.

Now I’m here to share my favorite ones with you, from cute shops and cafes to lesser-known museums and photo spots to an underrated day trip.

*This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

*I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

*As a Get Your Guide affiliate program member, I got a 15% discount when I booked my Krakow activities. That said, I always share my honest opinions.

Enchanting Hidden Gems in Krakow, Poland
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Hidden Gems in Krakow

Zalipie

I want to start with an offbeat yet authentic spot near Krakow – the painted village of Zalipie.

Not every single house is painted, but those that are, are adorned with beautiful, colorful flowers, including walls, bee hives, wells, furniture, and more!

This painting tradition began over 100 years ago when the local women wanted to revive the soot-covered interiors of their homes. It has evolved throughout the years in terms of materials and style, and it is still very much alive today, not as a gimmick to attract tourists.

A colorful house and well in the painted village of Zalipie, Poland

The village is located amidst the picturesque Polish countryside and is not conveniently reachable by bus from Krakow. If you don’t want to rent a car, I highly recommend you book this private Zalipie tour I have taken.

I’m so glad I did because I couldn’t have made the most of my time there without my friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guide.

Thanks to him, I even had the chance to stroll through the garden of a local family who was sitting outside and painting, hoping to win an annual competition. If you’re looking for memorable experiences, don’t miss this one.

Book this Zalipie guided tour to visit one of Poland’s prettiest villages or read my full Zalipie guide!

A old colorful house in the village of Zalipie, Poland
A colorful house and well adorned with painted flowers in the village of Zalipie, Poland

Nowa Huta District

On our way to Zalipie, we drove through Nowa Huta, a communist-era neighborhood built in the mid-20th century. My guide kindly explained its history and current status.

Located roughly 8 km from the Old Town, it’s definitely a non touristy place to visit Krakow, and it provides an authentic glimpse into Poland’s not-so-distant history.

At first sight, all you can see is its unique layout, parks, and concrete buildings. It’s not packed with landmarks – the neighborhood as a whole is “an attraction” – so to dive in deeper, it’s probably best to take a free Nowa Huta walking tour with a local guide.

You can also check out other themed free walking tours of Krakow.

Wolf Popper Synagogue and Galeria LueLue

Krakow’s Jewish quarter is a wonderful place to discover quaint concept stores, aka one of my biggest travel joys, and there are two unique spots I personally fell in love with.

The first is Galeria LueLue, a treasure trove of old photographs in black and white turned into prints, postcards, stickers, and more. The atmosphere inside is just incredible, even if you’re not a photography lover.

The second is Synagoga Poppera, a former synagogue that operated in the 17th-20th centuries and now houses a magical book and souvenir shop.

Here, you’ll find items connected to Judaism or Jewish history and culture, from books and stationery to tote bags and maps to mezuzahs and dreidels.

If that’s not enough, you should also check out other shops in the area, like Art Factory and Lookarna Illustrations.

Popper synagogue bookshop in Krakow
Synagoga Poppera
Facade of the photo shop Galleria LeuLeu in Krakow
Galeria LueLue

St. Andrew’s Church

While it’s situated on one of the Old Town’s main streets and not technically hidden, St. Andrew’s Church should probably get a little bit more attention.

This church is:

  • One of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to the 11th century
  • One of Poland’s best-preserved Romanesque landmarks
  • A unique “fortress church” that has protected civilians throughout the centuries, including during the famous Tatar-Mongol invasion of Poland in the 13th century

These historical facts may be too nerdy for some people, but as someone who would actually listen ‘if these walls could talk’, I’m okay with that.

st andrews church in Krakow

Villa Matula and Wojciech Bednarski Park

The Podgórze quarter is a great place to explore Krakow off the beaten path.

At Podgórze Market Square, you’ll find the awe-inspiring St. Joseph’s Church, and if you walk up the streets of Parkowa and Plac Lasoty, you’ll also stumble upon some beautiful houses and villas, testimony to the upscale status this district once had.

The one that made me want to go all the way there was the 19th-century Villa Matula, even if it was just for a quick photo stop.

Its palace/fortress-like mysterious and enchanted exteriors are worth the effort in my eyes, and after you’re done taking photos, you can also enjoy a leisurely stroll in the adjacent Wojciech Bednarski Park.

facade of Villa Matula in Krakow Poland
Upper facade of Villa Matula in Krakow
Turret of Villa Matula in Krakow

Eagle Pharmacy (Apteka pod Orlem)

Podgórze was also the location of the Jewish ghetto the Germans established in Krakow in 1941.

The Eagle Pharmacy (also called Pharmacy Under the Eagle), owned and operated by the Polish pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz, was the only one in the ghetto.

It became a “safe haven” for Jewish leaders to meet up, a refuge to prevent deportation, and a place to get free medications, smuggle food, and more. Not surprisingly, this crucial assistance to the Jewish community granted Pankiewicz the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

The pharmacy now functions as a small yet important museum everyone should visit to learn more about this dark time in history.

Interiors of Eagle Pharmacy Museum in Krakow

Dragon Trail

I’ve yet to visit the Polish city of Wroclaw, but I know it’s home to hundreds of gnome/dwarf sculptures scattered around its streets, symbolizing an anti-communist movement that used the characteristics of the mythical creature in its protests.

In a similar concept, Krakow, with its famous Wawel Dragon legend, has started to dot itself with small, playful figurines of dragons, one of which is found right at the entrance to Wojciech Bednarski Park near Villa Matula, both mentioned above.

If you find these sculptures as utterly cute as I do, here are all the locations where you can see them at the moment.

Tip: After accessing the map, you can also open it on your Google Maps app. Simply open your app, tap the ‘saved’ icon at the bottom, scroll down and tap the ‘maps’ icon, and choose the MyMaps map you want to see (you can do the same on your computer).

Little dragon sculpture in Krakow

Food Trucks

Krakow’s Jewish quarter is full of cool surprises, including three areas of food trucks.

You might have already heard of the Judah Food Market, but there’s a good chance you missed the Safari Food Truck Park and Plac Izaaka Street Food.

They’re all quite small, housed in random little courtyards, but they make a fantastic place to grab a bite in the open air, especially if everyone in your group has different cravings. From burgers to pierogi to chimney cakes, they offer a variety of sweet and savory options.

Food truck area in Krakow Jewish Quarter

Secret Cafes

You’ll be happy to know that you can easily find adorable cafes in Krakow that serve amazing coffee and food/desserts AND are perfect for unwinding and escaping the crowds.

Hidden in tranquil courtyards away from most tourists, two that I absolutely adored were:

  • Tartelette Café: A great spot to visit throughout the day, serving scrumptious cakes, breakfasts made with seasonal ingredients, organic wines, and smoothy-like cocktails.
  • Żarówka Cafe: A cozy place in the Old Town, serving warm Krakow bagel sandwiches, cakes, and more.

What’s your favorite secret cafe in Europe? Let me know in the comments!

Warm bagel at Zarkowa Cafe in Krakow old town
Żarówka Cafe

Arsenal of the Princes Czartoryski Museum

The Czartoryski Museum is not only one of Poland’s oldest museums but also a very famous one, especially for being the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork Lady with an Ermine.

But did you know that a minute away, there’s a smaller, lesser-known branch? From ancient Egyptian artifacts to Roman-era sculptures to armor, its modest collection can be ideal for those who love historical exhibitions.

Oldest Botanical Garden in Poland

Due to its location outside the Old Town and Jewish Quarter, you won’t just accidentally stumble upon the Botanical Garden of the Jagiellonian University, so if you’re looking for a beautiful place to “escape” the urban scenery, I think coming here is totally worth it.

Founded in the 18th century, it is home to thousands of species from around the world and includes a large park/garden (resembling a forest at times), a museum, and several greenhouses for orchids, tropical plants, and more.

You can easily spend a few laid-back hours here, especially if you also decide to try the on-site cafe, Milin Cafe. I opted for one of the cheesecakes and an iced coffee, both of which were fantastic.

Water lilies in the botanical garden of Krakow

Amber Museum

It doesn’t take long to see that one of Krakow’s most emblematic souvenirs is jewelry made of Baltic amber, also known as ‘The Gold of the North’.

You’ll find plenty of items in the stalls of the famous Cloth Hall, though you should also pay a visit to the free-of-charge Amber Museum.

More of a store than a museum, it’s a fabulous place to admire (or buy) beautiful pieces of jewelry as well as a few unusual exhibits like a ship, a horse, and instruments made of amber.

If it wasn’t located in the heart of the Old Town or near other attractions, I probably wouldn’t go there specifically, so it’s great that you can find it a stone’s throw from the main square.



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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

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