It can get unbearably hot in the summer months, hot enough to make you want to rip your clothes off and jump straight into the Wisła River. Don’t! It isn’t safe or hygienic (that’s why no one does it, see?).
When the thermostat threatens to break in Kraków, you basically have three options: get into the nearest ice cream line (where gratification will be far from instant), duck into the nearest museum, or strip down and go get wet. The latter can potentially lead you to some of Kraków’s most interesting outdoor destinations, and the people-watching is much better than in Schindler’s Factory, in our view. As such, we submit the best places in Kraków for taking a dip and beating the heat. Follow the links for more detailed info, including how to get to each place.
1. Bagry Lagoon
Located in Podgórze Płaszów, about 5km southeast from the market square, this artificial reservoir is undoubtedly the best (and most popular) swimming destination within city limits. Bagry features several artificial beaches and a bathing area (lifeguards on duty daily in July and August, 10:00-18:00) where you can take a free dip in the regularly monitored and certified clean water. While some areas around the lake have been left wild, offering discretion for fishermen and those seeking privacy, other parts are well-developed and ideal for families, with plenty of benches, hammocks, a playground and food options. The recreation area also features two marinas, and kayak, sailboat, windsurfing, wakeboarding, pedal boat, SUP board and canoe rental (June until end of September), hosting many sailing events and competitions during the summer.
This fantastic reservoir just southwest of the city centre was serendipitously created when the limestone quarry operating here accidentally pierced the water table. Known for its irresistible blue and seemingly bottomless water, as well as the gorgeous views from atop its limestone bluffs, Zakrzówek was also unfortunately known as the frequent site of fatal accidents, forcing the city to develop the area into a safe, more accessible space for swimming. The new Zakrzówek debuts in June 2023 and features five swimming pools of varying depths, set inside the quarry and connected by wide wooden floating docks. Unlike Bagry, you must pay an entry fee to access the pools. There are also lots of new benches at overlook points, toilets, changing facilities, food trucks and a cafe. The surrounding cliffs and woods are still a wonderful and wild place to go for a walk, and intrepid adventurers can search for the cave of legendary alchemist and occultist ‘Pan Twardowski,’ as well as creepy bunkers carved into the cliffs.
Like Bagry on a bigger scale, Kryspinów is the favourite summer sun destination for Cracovians keen on a day at the beach. About 12km away and well-connected to Kraków (get there by bus in 15-20mins), Kryspinów Lagoon is a large reservoir that features no less than four separate beaches (though only one watched by lifeguards), meaning there is plenty of space for everyone despite large crowds on sunny weekends. With thorough infrastructure for guests, the recreation area features a range of attractions including water sports equipment and boat rental, windsurfing and wakeboarding instruction (available in English), zorbing and quads, flyboarding, playgrounds, a ropes course, beach volleyball and tennis courts, and plenty of drinking and eating options, including two proper 'karczmas' (traditional Polish taverns). Note that entry is paid, as is parking.
About 12km east from the city centre, Przystań Brzegi is a lovely place to take a dip during the week, but on summer weekends this place gets absolutely jam-packed with families, couples and friends looking for some fun in the sun. A seriously long sandy beach between two clean reservoirs, Przystań Brzegi offers a lifeguarded swimming area (10:00-18:00 every day in July and August), a volleyball court, water equipment rentals (kayaks, rowboats, pedal boats), and a few eating options. On weekends it's common to find extra attractions here - like water obstacle courses for kids, inflatable slides or even an industrial bubblemaker - and they frequently organise events like tug-of-war contests and volleyball tournaments, so check their FB. A word of warning, one thing there isn't much of is shade. Their season generally runs from June 1 to end of August, but it depends on the weather. Admission is paid per person and good for the entire day; parking is also paid.
If you’re in the Old Town and about to melt, head fast to this historic square just a block from the market square - a popular place to cool off thanks to its playful fountain. Located directly in front of the majestic art nouveau Palace of the Arts, the fountain features jets of water that unpredictably shoot directly out of the ground, as well as a pool with additional jets coming out. We’re pretty sure you won’t be able to get your kids past it without them getting wet. And why not? When it’s this hot out there should be sprinklers on every square.
If you’re savvy with the signage you might notice that it’s officially posted that you shouldn’t play around in the pool, but when the heat ratchets up it’s mob rule, and the authorities have graciously accepted what they’ve wrought in this case. Also note that there’s a wonderful Iranian ice cream parlour - Tiffany - located on the north side of the square.
Of course, Kraków also has an aqua park if you could care less about sand and sunbathing. North of the city centre, this huge indoor pool complex includes 800 metres of water slides for all ages, dragon and pirate play areas, massage fountains, climbing walls, swings and other in-water activities. An incredible aquatic playground, the complex also offers jacuzzis, saunas and a pool-side cafe. Keep in mind that the weekend crowds can be crazy, it's not cheap and only a day pass really makes sense.