Filled with cultural significance, priceless architecture and picturesque courtyards, Krakow’s medieval Stare Miasto district, known as Old Town, symbolises Poland’s stately past while incorporating a progressive modern mindset. Cosmopolitan cocktails bars and literary cafes attract tourists and locals to this UNESCO World Heritage Site for lively conversation, sightseeing and shopping in the market square.
After browsing the treasures at Rynek Glowny Market Square, visitors can explore Stare Miasto via the “Royal Route,” an ancient coronation path for Polish kings and home to historical attractions such as the Florianska Gate and Wawel Castle. Once surrounded by a moat, Old Town now flourishes with the Planty, an expansive public green space with at least 30 small gardens, monuments, ponds and refreshment stands. The National Museum holds a fantastic collection of 20th century art, and the Renaissance-era cloth hall bustles with gift shops, eateries and local artisan stalls.
The best way to explore Stare Miasto is on foot, especially in areas with cobblestone walkways and narrow paths, most of which are designated pedestrian areas. Alternative options include horse cabs, bicycle rickshaws and open-air electric carts. There are no subways in Krakow, but double-decker buses are common for tours, and taxis are available from dedicated taxi stands throughout the district.
Stare Miasto holds an official designation as one of Poland's national Historic Monuments, once circled by a 3-kilometre protective wall with 46 towers and seven gates. The present-day architecture of Old Town came into being after the Tatar invasions of Poland in the 13th century. The district held reign as the Poland’s royal capital and political powerhouse until King Sigismund III Vasa moved his court to Warsaw in 1596.