Wawel Royal Castle (Zamek Wawelski)
Flanking an arcaded Renaissance-era courtyard, Wawel Castle is divided into several exhibition sections that can seem confusing to first-time visitors and are best explored with a guide to ensure you cover the highlights and understand their history. There are five key sections: the Royal Apartments, State Rooms, Crown Treasury and Armory, Lost Wawel, and Oriental Art—each accessible by separate, entry-timed tickets.
Many tours of the sections include time-saving skip-the-line access, while others are teamed with a River Vistula cruise that showcase views of the castle from the water. Alternatively, book a Krakow walking tour that includes a castle visit and a stroll around Krakow’s Old Town and perhaps its former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz. Other fun ways to see the castle include Segway, bike, and electric-cart tours, or even city helicopter flights.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wawel Castle is an essential for history buffs and newbies to Krakow.
Security screening is in place, and backpacks, large bags, and strollers must be checked in to the complimentary luggage rooms.
Only limited areas of the castle are wheelchair-accessible.
Visitors can enter and stroll around the castle grounds for free.
Ticket numbers are capped for some of the castle’s exhibition rooms, so if you’re exploring independently, book ahead.
How to Get There
Wawel Castle is just a 10-minute walk from Krakow’s Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny). To get there by tram, disembark at Wawel—just below the castle—or Stradom; or if you’re traveling by bus, hop out at Jubilat or Stradom.
When to Get There
The castle’s five main sections are open Tuesday–Friday 9:30am–5pm and Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays 10am–5pm, with last entry at 4pm. The Crown Treasury and Armory and the Lost Wawel exhibitions are also open 9:30am–1pm on Mondays, with free admission tickets issued until 11:45am. The castle gets busy in summer and on weekends, and because visitor numbers in some areas are capped, aim to arrive early.
Highlights at Wawel Castle
Standouts include the opulent State Rooms where Krakow’s royals once entertained—don’t miss the spooky Envoys’ Room with its carved wooden heads in the ceiling—and the Crown Treasury’s royal paraphernalia, including an original coronation sword. Another must-see is the 16th-century arcaded courtyard—a masterpiece of Italianate-style colonnades framing a cobbled square.
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- Wawel Hill
- Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska)
- Archdiocesan Museum (Muzeum Archidiecezjalne w Krakowie)
- Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace (Polish National Museum in Krakow)
- Krakow Pinball Museum
- Archaeological Museum of Krakow (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie)
- Tempel Synagogue (Synagoga Tempel)
- St. Stanislaus Church (Skalka)
- Plac Nowy
- Józef Czapski Pavilion (Pawilon Józefa Czapskiego)
- Stained Glass Workshop and Museum (Pracownia i Muzeum Witrazu)
- Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square)
- St. Adalbert Church (Kościól Św. Wojciecha)
- Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagielloński)
- Planty Park