Kraków is well-connected regarding transport, with a new airport just 17km west of the centre, a recently modernised joint train and bus station on the edge of the Old Town, and some of Poland's better roads connecting it to Katowice, Wrocław and Berlin to the west, Tarnów and Rzeszów to the east, Kielce and Warsaw to the north and Budapest to the south. In this section you'll find all you need to know about getting in and out of Kraków.
By PlaneArriving in Krakow from abroad generally means coming by plane and landing either at Kraków Airport or Katowice Airport in Pyrzowice. Located just 17km east of the city centre in Balice, Kraków's brand-new airport is modern, comfortable and much easier to navigate than most international air travel hubs. Conveniently connected to the centre by its own frequently running train service, getting to the airport and back is a breeze.
Kraków AirlinesThe following is a list of airlines, including contact details, that operate in and out of Kraków Balice airport.
With Kraków Głowny - the city's main train station - located right at the gates of Kraków's UNESCO-laureled Old Town, and the recent recipient of a 130 million modernisation, travelling to Kraków by train is ideal. In fact, for most it's unavoidable owing to the fact that the railway shuttle from the airport is also the most convenient and popular way to get to the city centre for those arriving by plane. Thanks to track improvements and the introduction of new Italian Pendolino trains on major rail transit routes, travelling around Poland by train has also never been more convenient and efficient. As a result of the new trains, journey time from Kraków to the northern coastal city of Gdańsk, for example, has been reduced to only 5.5hrs (a journey which formerly took 8 - 10.5hrs). Trains from Kraków run regularly to Katowice and Warsaw, with travel times of 2hrs and 2.5 - 3hrs respectively.
Private Bus Services in Kraków
Poland is one of Europe’s leading nations in road fatalities, a statistic that will surprise few who have had the pleasure of using the roads here. A lethal combination of poor road surfaces, networks unsuited to the volume of different traffic and, most of all, aggressive driver behaviour result in the common sight of mangled wrecks around the country. Exercise caution, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, rub those rosary beads and God speed.
The speed limit in Poland is generally 50km/hr in cities (60km/hr between 23:00 and 05:00), 90km/hr outside urban areas, 120km/hr on dual carriageways and 140km/hr on motorways. All cars must have their headlights switched on at all times and carry a red warning triangle, first aid kit, replacement bulbs, a national identity sticker and proper registration and insurance documents.
With that out of the way, how to get here? The A4 highway runs right through Kraków connecting it to Berlin (via Katowice, Opole and Wrocław) to the west and Tarnów to the east (though further expansion of this road is planned). While the 80km stretch east to Tarnów is still currently toll-free, a 9zł toll is paid when you enter the motorway in the direction of Katowice, and again when you exit.
Driving around the city itself is incredibly frustrating with constant roadwork being done, one-way streets and seemingly available streets requiring a permit to drive down: violate this last rule and the chances of getting a fine are incredibly high, whether you’ve realised your infraction or not. Kraków’s road network is not at all adequate for the volume of cars on its roads and parking is yet another challenge. Put it all together and we recommend you ditch your vehicle in favour of public transportation at the first opportunity. Street parking is available between the large parking signs on the sidewalks, and is free on weekends; otherwise buy a parking pass from the ticket machine, or the neon-bibbed warden patrolling the area, and place it on the driver's side of your dashboard. The cost of street parking is 3zł for the first hour, 3.50zł for the second, 4.10zł for the third, and after that back to 3zł. Public parking lots are also marked on the map in the back of our print guide.
Cracow Car RentalAll you need to rent a car in PL is a credit card and a valid foreign licence or international driving permit. Be aware, however, that citizens from countries that didn't ratify the Vienna Convention (tsk, tsk America, Australia) cannot legally drive on their licences and run the risk of hassle from the police (not that it ever stopped anyone we know from borrowing their girlfriend's car, or renting one for that matter). Enjoy cruising the EU, but don't try leaving it in a rental car.
Kraków Private TransportThe companies listed here offer customised transport services for groups and individuals, including airport transfers.
Kraków Public Transport
While Krakow has no underground metro system it does have an integrated bus and tram system which runs from 05:00-23:00, with night trams and buses continuing less frequently after that. Check timetables and network maps online at mpk.krakow.pl (which has English functionality), and purchase tickets from the handy ticket machines (also in English) at major stops, on-board most trams and buses, or from the driver immediately on boarding if there is no ticket machine. Note that the ticket machines at stops take bills and bank cards, but most of those on board trams and buses take coins only, so have some change handy.
Tickets are the same for trams and buses, and are timed, allowing you to change between tram or bus lines within the alloted time. The cheapest fare is good for 20mins at a cost of 2.80zł. By our estimation, this is about the time it should take to go 5-8 stops, depending on traffic, and ideal for travel around the Old Town, Kazimierz and Podgórze. If you're going outside the centre (Nowa Huta, for example), we recommend you purchase a 40min ticket for 3.80zł. 1-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour, and unlimited weekend family passes for 16.00zł are also options, or consider the Kraków Tourist Card, which includes unlimited free travel on trams and buses amongst its benefits. Note that ISIC and Euro<26 Student cards are valid for transport ticket discounts, but you must carry your ID and be under 26.
Most importantly, you must stamp your ticket immediately on boarding the tram or bus in the small machines on-board, even if you bought your ticket on-board. Beware that sneaky plain-clothed inspectors regularly travel on the lines handing out costly fines to those without valid or proper tickets.
Useful Websites & Apps
Despite the fact that Kraków’s tram and bus network is incredibly easy to use, even for foreigners, we’ll still admit to being a bit put off from using it at first; that is until we discovered the veritable skeleton key to unlocking public transport: the krakow.jakdojade.pl website and the jakdojade app for your smartphone. The former is a great tool for advance planning, but the app is more practical for figuring out how to get from point A to B once you’re out in town and away from your computer. Just type in your starting address (the app does this automatically) and destination, or pin the locations on a map; select the time you want to depart or arrive, and Jakdojade magically churns out the best method for you to get there. Finished at the museum and want to head back to the hotel? This app will tell you exactly which bus or tram to get on, lead you to the correct stop and even tell you which ticket to buy. It’s brilliant and absolutely worth the couple Euros you’ll spend to download it. For those who prefer to feel smarter than their phones, you can also find timetables and network maps at mpk.krakow.pl.
Not the dodgy enterprise it once was, most taxis are reliable and use their metres without any fiddling around. Calling ahead will get you a better fare, but if you hail one from the street make sure you choose a clearly marked cab with a company name and phone number displayed, as well as a sticker demarcating prices in the window. Taxis are now legally obliged to give you a printed receipt at journey's end further limiting the likelihood of any funny business. You can expect a standard fare to be about 7zł plus about 2.30zł per kilometre; at night and on Sundays, however, fares increase by up to 50%.
For those just arriving, taxis await you on the rooftop parking lot of the train station, and outside the airport terminals where ‘Kraków Airport Taxi’ has a monopoly on service to the Old Town, charging an outrageous 69-89zł for the fare. We suggest you split it with like-minded travellers in the same predicament.
Whether or not to tip your taxi driver is a bit of a point of contention. Many Poles do not consider taxis a service that necessitates a tip and thereby, if you're Polish, the driver may not expect one. But double standards being what they are, it's anticipated that foreigners will leave a tip, in which case 10% is appropriate, or simply rounding up the bill. We leave it to you.