Getting around Kraków
A lot of this information comes from public sources – we will try to keep it up to date, but it’s always worth checking for current fares, etc.
I realised that I did this whole About without giving credit to the planning tool visitors to Kraków will find the most useful, and maybe also the most difficult. It’s called Jakdojade and the Krakow version is here http://krakow.jakdojade.pl/?locale=en
Basically, the difficult bit is that you need to be able to accurately identify three things – your start and end points on the map and the time you’ll be setting out. This is because:
– The tool will give you a detailed route, including a map, from start to end points including walking directions, bus and tram elements, stops to get on and off and times, and
– All this will also take account of the time you’re setting out – so if there is a choice of trams, for example, the tool will give you the first available route – so, setting out ten minutes later might give you a different route.
Confused? Don’t be – as long as you understand those points you’ll be fine and quickly see the value of the tool and appreciate the work which went into it.
Oh, one more point. The tool will presume you want to use the tram or bus. There is no option to just walk.
The tool is available for all these cities – just click “change city”
- Górnośląski Okręg Przemysłowy (GOP)
- Metropolia Zatoki Gdańskiej (Trójmiasto)
Anyway, back to the original text:
Depending on your level of fitness, you can see the whole of the city centre on foot*. There are some beautiful walking routes, try the Royal Way beginning at the northern end of the medieval Old Town and continuing south through the centre of town towards Wawel Hill, where the old royal residenc Wawel Castle, is located. The Royal Way passes some of the most prominent historic landmarks of Poland’s former royal capital.
As a break from the busy streets, explore the Planty park that surrounds the old city, all the way from Florian’s Gate to Wawel castle on the land where the medieval city walls used to stand until the early 19th century, and consisting of a 4km loop of 30 gardens, statues, fountains and refreshment stalls.
Or enjoy a stroll on the well-cared for river bank next to the castle, cross the bridge to the balloon, or take a cruise on the river.
However, be aware that in winter snow is sometimes not removed from the pavements, resulting in a mixture of snow and mud. Be sure to bring waterproof shoes if you plan to travel by foot in the winter.
*When John was 14 he went on a 4-day school trip to London. The school advised the pupils to harden their feet in advance by soaking their soles in surgical spirit – comfortable shoes and two pairs of socks is probably a safer idea!
There is an excellent system of public transportation 24/7 consisting of trams and buses managed by MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne). On their website you can check routes or stops and find best connections between them. Rush hours are mostly between 7AM-9AM and 3PM-5PM and you can spend a lot of time in traffic jams.
It’s best to buy tickets before you get on board in a kiosk or ticket machine on the tram/bus stop (these are present mostly in the city centre and provide help in few languages). Those trams and buses that are equipped with ticket machines are marked with large “A” sign above the entrance. As the last option, if there is no ticket machine on board you can buy the 4 zł ticket from the driver but you have to pay him with exact change (driver will not accept a higher amount than the ticket price). If buying a ticket after mounting the vehicle try to be fast. Ticket inspectors are fairly common and fines are quite high (150 zł) and a hassle.
As soon as you get on, punch the ticket in the validation machine. Tickets need to be punched only the first time you get on, don’t do it again after changing a tram/bus. You can use a single ticket for multiple rides as long as its time period hasn’t expired.
Ticket prices: single journey 3.80 zł, any two journeys 7.20 zł, 20-minute 2.80 zł, 40-minute 3.80 zł, one-hour 5.00 zł, 90-minute 6.00 zł, 24-hour 15 zł, 48-hour 24 zł, 72-hour 36 zł, 7-day 48 zł, family ticket (Sat-Sun only, unlimited daytime travelling) 16.00 zł.
ISIC and Euro26 student holders that study outside Poland can use 50% discount tickets which means: single journey 1.90 zł, any two journeys 3.60 zł, 20-minute 1.40 zł, 40-minute 1.90 zł, one-hour 2.50 zł, 90-minute 3.00 zł, 24-hour 7.50 zł, 48-hour 12 zł, 72-hour 18 zł, 7-day 24 zł
The rules on ticket concessions are complex (senators and frequent blood donors travel free for example) but most of them do not apply to non-Poles.
Children under four and everybody over the age of 70 are entitled to free public transport. However, there have been cases of confusion over which non-Polish documents constitute proof of age. Given the low cost of tickets, it’s probably safest to buy concession or full price tickets for young children and senior citizens.
Concessions are available for:
Children under 16;
Full-time students under 24;
Again, there can be arguments about whether these categories extend to non-Poles. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is widely recognised.
Watch out for additional charges (fines!)
When traveling to neighbouring villages or to the airport you need an agglomeration (zone) ticket. All buses that go outside the city limits have 2 at the beginning of their line number. Buses to and from the airport are numbers 208 and 292. Keep in mind you need zone ticket even if you have any sort of valid time pass mentioned above (as they cover just the city area). Zone tickets are slightly more expensive than city ones and follow similar time system.
Night bus lines start with 6 or 9 at the beginning of their line number. The night bus to and from the airport is number 902. Ticket prices during the night are the same. 24 / 48 / 72-hour tickets are valid on night buses.
Tram and bus stops show routes and most kiosks will be able to advise you on route numbers. Modern trams and some of the modern buses also display the route inside on the screens and announce each stop.
Kraków does not have a subway or urban rail network, in the sense of the London Underground or Tyneside Metro – buses and trams are the main means of getting about. Trains are famously the less-preferred option for most journeys, as the tracks and rolling stock need some serious work – only fast express services like the Kraków-Warsawa ICE are preferred over buses and coaches. (Note: flights within Poland are often good value, for longer distances.)
Having said that, there is a good rail shuttle service between the airport and the main station in Kraków, connecting air, rail and coach networks. For details, check our page on routes to Kamionka Wielka.
There are two fare zones on the bus network – I and II, but you can think city and outskirts. You may never need to cross the zone borders but, for example, the airport is in Zone 2 so you may find yourself having to. In most cases, automatic ticket machines and anywhere where you ask for a ticket by destination will give you an agglomeration ticket if you need one. If you want to check, there is a horrible map of the network indicating the boundary points with a pale yellow dot on the street. You need to get your bearings on the map, then click to zoom in to figure things out! http://www.mpk.krakow.pl/plan/dzien.html is our link. All the tram lines are in Zone I
Don’t bother driving in the city centre. There’s often a lot of traffic, parking spaces are scarce and can be expensive, and Polish driving takes a lot of getting used to. There are also rules around local ‘driving zones’ that confuse even long-time residents. The taxis are cheap and it makes more sense to use them.
Taxis to and from the airport, or for a longer transfer, should be booked in advance by the internet. A taxi from the airport to central Kraków costs around 70PLN. During the day, most fares around the city will be around 20PLN. All taxis should have a ‘Taxi’ sign on the roof and a sticker on the rear passenger window with prices. There is an initial charge of about 5-7PLN, plus 2-3PLN per kilometre. Price list should be shown on the passenger side door.
Car services such as iCar or Car-o or MaxiDriver are almost always less expensive than taxis, and will quote you the prices in advance (based on the real distance between you and your destination). An 8 km ride will run you about 22 PLN.
There are instances where drivers will overcharge tourists, especially those who don’t speak Polish. Check on a map in advance how much it should be and if it goes much above that, debate the price.
In 2008, Kraków introduced a reasonably priced system of public municipal bikes (1 hour – 4 zł, a weekly fee – 15 zł). There are 15 stations (mostly around Kraków’s centre) but the network should grow. Nice thing about this system is that you don’t need to return the bike to the same station you took it from – you just grab a bike for a few minutes to transfer from one point to another and drop it at any other station. In 2012 the system’s name changed to Roweres. Before using the bikes you need to register in the system and pay a small initial fee.
Another option is to hire a bicycle. It is easy to get around the centre on two wheels, as there are some bike lanes, including through the ‘Planty’ that surround the Old Town. Some bike rentals also provide city and country tours.
- Bike Rental, ul. św. Anny 4, ☎ +48 501 745 986 (firstname.lastname@example.org). In summer from 9:00AM till dusk. 7 zł for 1h, 40 zł for 24h.
- Cruising Kraków, ul. Basztowa 17, ☎ +48 12 312 60 20 (info@cruisingKraków.com). 9:00AM-8:00PM. 20 zł for the first 3h, 40 zł for 24h.
- Two Wheels, ul. Józefa 5 (Kazimierz), ☎ +48 12 421 57 85. 10:00AM – 6:00PM. 50 zł for 24h.
For those who are prepared to spend more, you can do a downtown Kraków tour using a rented Segway.
Kraków trams and buses http://www.mpk.Kraków.pl/en/
Maxi driver http://maxidriver.pl/
Bike rental http://www.rentabike.pl/rowery/page_2.html
Cruising Kraków http://www.cruisingKraków.com/
Happy bike http://happybike.pl/
Segway Tours http://segwaytoursKraków.com/