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Krakow: Wawel Royal Castle, Poland

The Royal Wawel Castle combines both Romanesque and Gothic styles; in 16th century it was refurbished into a splendid Renaissance palace. It was built in 14th century and then for centuries was the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood until the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1609.

How to get there

Wawel consists of two main architectural complexes: the Royal Castle and the Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslas.

To get to the Wawel Castle Hill from the Market Square, you need to move along the Grodzka Street. We enter the castle via Herbowa Gate (A; GPS: 50.055048, 19.935156) (you can also use the Bernardyńska Gate located on the other side of the castle - B; GPS: 50.052889, 19.935390) - we climb the stairs, next to the statue of Kosciuszko. We walk along the wall of the inscriptions commemorating donors who have helped to restore the Wawel Castle, which took place in the interwar period. Then we go through the Wazów Gate which was built in 1591 (C; GPS: 50.054789, 19.934841). In this time it was the only gateway to the hill.

What to do inside

The castle has so many things to do and to visit. Outside, it's free to walk around and even to enter the cathedral but for other places there is a charge for every attraction. The castle grounds are amazing and they should be visited for anyone who is in Krakow. Looking at the Vistula river from the vantage point (D; GPS: 50.053254, 19.933646), do not forget to also watch Kosciuszko's mound on the horizon, and look down and see how the Wawel Dragon breathes fire every 5 minutes! You can also buy a ticket to go to the "Dragon's Lair", walk through the cave and see the fire-breathing dragon directly (E; GPS: 50.053015, 19.933573).

A little problem with tickets

Only one disadvantage is confusing ticket buying system. It means that you need to visit several ticket offices to get the tickets for different attraction. We think this process should be better organized in the future. They should for example consider offering a "must see" bundle or even one ticket to visit all the attractions.

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