The best time to visit Krakow

Poland’s liveliest city captivates at any time of the year.

Most of Krakow’s attractions stay open year-round, and events take place every month. In April, May, September and October, mild temperatures and reduced crowds make it a great weekend getaway. Summers are filled with festivals (and visitors), while a light dusting of snow makes the city wonderfully photogenic during bitterly cold winters.

Here’s our season-by-season, month-by-month guide to when to visit Krakow.

High season (June-August) is ideal for festivals

Hot summer days, long daylight hours and balmy nights mean that Krakow is teeming with visitors in the summer, especially in July and August. This is a great time to take your children to the Stanisław Lem Experimental Garden, for a walk through the zoological gardens or to watch the swans in Krakówski Park. Alternatively, head underground to the Wieliczka Salt Mine or use the pools and waterslides at Wodny Park to get away from the heat. This is Krakow’s busiest season, so expect accommodation prices to rise accordingly.

In late spring and summer, the calendar fills with festivals – such as the Lajkonik Festival, held every June © Wiola Wiaderek / Shutterstock

Shoulder season (April-May and September-October) is best for sightseeing

Spring flowers bring a splash of color to Krakow’s tree-lined streets and boulevards, while balmy May days mean it’s warm enough to bring a packed lunch to the banks of the Vistula or to tables in Grazyna park picnic. Late spring and early fall, when the leaves change color, are the most beautiful times to walk around the Old Town and Kazimierz, as it is warm without being stuffy and accommodation prices are reasonable. It’s also a good time to explore Krakow’s cultural offerings, as the crowds are fewer.

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Low season (November-February) is best for photography and budget travel

Prices drop during the winter months when visitors are few, making this a great time for budget travelers. It doesn’t snow here all winter (some days you may experience freezing winds and freezing rain instead) but if you’re a photographer, you won’t want to miss Krakow Castle and other landmarks of the city. old town with a sparkling white dust. You can explore Krakow’s many museums without being pushed around by crowds, and seasonal ice rinks pop up in Jordan Park and elsewhere. In December, twinkling lights add a festive touch to the Krakow Christmas Market.

January is for snowy panoramas

While most nationals use the month of January to get over the Christmas hangover, in Krakow the party is just getting started. New Year’s Day marks the start of the carnival season which lasts until Mardi Gras and is marked by feverish festivities in the many clubs of the city. Typically, January also brings the heaviest snowfall of the year.

Key events: Opera Rara, Grand Orchester de Charité de Noël

In February, overeating

Another cold and snowy month, February sees Krakow locals (Catholics or otherwise) stock up on balls of Polish donuts with rose jam on Shrove Thursday, before partying until dawn on Shrove Tuesday. In February, groups of sea shanties from around the world also drop anchor in Krakow, while drum ‘n’ bass fans head to the nearby Tatras to ski and/or dance to Nero and Ghostface Killah.

Key events: Shanties, Fat Thursday, Ostatki (Shrove Tuesday), SnowFest

Celebrate Easter in March

The days are warming up, the snow is melting and the spring flowers are appearing. Lent sees many ceremonies held in the churches of Krakow, culminating in special services during Holy Week. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness a hooded procession of the Brothers of the Good Death from the Basilica of the Virgin Mary every Friday during Lent. Watch out on Easter Monday: splashing water on each other is a local tradition.

Key events: Easter, Chocolate Festival, Early Music Days, Krakow Cello Spring

People in historical costumes take part in Rekawka, a Polish tradition on the Tuesday after Easter, Krakow, Malopolskie Poland
Every Tuesday after Easter, Krakow residents don medieval-style costumes to take part in the Rekawka folk festival © De Visu / Shutterstock

April brings medieval festivities and art

The weather is still fine, but even the occasional shower in April isn’t enough to dampen the enthusiasm of participants in jousting and fencing at the Rekawka Medieval Fair on Krakus Mound. Dozens of contemporary art exhibits transform the city during Art Week.

Key events: Rekawka Traditional Medieval Fair, Krakers (Krakow Art Week), Krakow Comic Festival

The month of May is reserved for holy processions and student festivals

Warm and sunny with increasingly longer daylight hours, May sees local students dressing up in outlandish fancy dress to wreak havoc on the Old Town for a week. Polish worshipers follow the relics of Poland’s patron saints from Wawel Cathedral, while the Lajkonik Parade brings light pageantry, led by a bearded Tatar.

Key events: Constitution Day, Procession of Saint Stanislaw, Juwenalia, Lajkonik Parade, Film Music Festival

Celebrate the summer solstice in June

Wreaths of flowers with candles float on the Vistula for the exuberant celebrations of the summer solstice as Krakow sways in the long summer night in a concert hall opposite Wawel Castle. Beginning of ten days of Jewish arts, music and films in Kazimierz.

Key events: Wianki (St. John’s Day Festival), Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow Film Festival, Ephemera Festival

Jazz musicians take part in the
Every July, jazz musicians take to the medieval streets as part of the Krakow Jazz Festival © Omar Marques / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

July is synonymous with festivals

It’s the hottest and rainiest month in Krakow, so bring your waterproof gear. However, the rain doesn’t deter most visitors, so expect steep accommodation prices, especially during the popular Krakow Jazz Festival.

Key events: Jewish Culture Festival, International Street Theater Festival, Krakow Jazz Festival

Enjoy classical music with a side of pierogi in August

Expect another warm and rainy month, with average highs of 77°F (25°C). String quartets, violinists, organists and choirs perform to a cosmopolitan crowd at a classical music festival in Old Krakow. Village craftsmen and artists from the countryside set up shop in Główny Rynek (main square), while Maly Rynek fills with pierogi stalls.

Key events: Krakow Folk Fair, Music in Old Krakow, Pierogi Festival

Relax in September

As summer crowds leave and accommodation prices drop, the weather remains balmy at 68°F (20°F). It’s a quiet month as far as events go, but it’s a wonderful time to walk around the city just as the leaves start to change color.

Key events: Veganmania, Fermentation Festival

Expect literature, experimental art and music in October

Cool days shouldn’t deter you from visiting, as fall reveals its splendor and the trees are in all their autumnal glory. Cold nights are ideal for coming indoors and participating in offbeat musical and literary events.

Key events: Unsound, Conrad Festival

November lets you commune with the dead

As the days grow colder, Krakow sees its first snowfall of the season and mournful accents of jazz musically accompany the gathering darkness. Locals head to cemeteries on November 1, All Saints’ Day, to light candles on the graves of loved ones and decorate them with fresh flowers.

Key events: Toussaint, Andzejki, Krakow Autumn Jazz

The huge Christmas market in the main square of Krakow, Malopolskie, Poland
Krakow’s Old Town Main Square sparkles with the lights of its huge Christmas market every December © martin-dm / iStockphoto / Getty Images

December is synonymous with Christmas markets

It’s cold and snowy, but the Old Town’s main square is lit up with the lights of the Christmas market, where you can admire the elaborate ‘Nativity Scenes’ (or Nativity scenes). On New Year’s Eve, accommodation prices skyrocket and Krakow’s Old Town and Main Square are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of revelers counting down to the New Year.

Key events: Mikolaj, Krakow Nativity Scene Competition, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve

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