The Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Kraków, Poland. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great, it consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków. There are a few things to do at Wawel Castle and you need tickets to do it.
Wawel Castle Tours
1. The Castle
Visitors first ascend Wawel Hill via a ramp and enter the grounds through a gate. The grounds themselves are interesting to explore—you'll be able to take in the view over the Vistula River, examine architecture, identify the outlines of structures no longer extant, and picture how Wawel Castle must have looked hundreds of years ago. You can purchase your tickets and start to do the things to do at Wawel Castle. Some of Wawel's state rooms and private royal chambers are open to the public and include some original interior design, Renaissance paintings, and rich furnishings. Some rooms, such as the Planet Room, are named for their decorations;others are named for their intended purpose.Private rooms include guest bedrooms and rooms of unknown purpose, the Hen's Foot rooms, offering panoramic views of Krakow.
2. The Exhibitions
The crown treasury and armory exhibitions contains some interesting objects from the time of Polish kings, including original rooms, a coronation sword, jewelry, and of course weapons used throughout the ages for defensive, ceremonial, and tournament purposes. If you like archaeology, descend into Wawel's basement to view items unearthed by excavations of Wawel Hill. The exhibition reveals various objects from everyday life at the castle and architectural fragments from deteriorated structures. It's an interesting thing to do at Wawel Castle.
3. Wawel Cathedral
Wawel Cathedral is a must-see Wawel Castle sight. This cathedral was the sight of royal coronations and also acts as a burial site for Polish kings. Richly decorated chapels, some dedicated to past rulers, contain examples of elaborate art pieces and relics. Upon entering Wawel Cathedral, you may notice an odd collection of massive bones chained up on the left outside the entrance. While legend obviously purports these to be the bones of Smok Wawelski – Wawel's fearsome dragon – more conventional wisdom has claimed they might be parts belonging to a blue whale, woolly mammoth, rhinoceros, or all three. At any rate, they haven't been removed and inspected for centuries due to their magical properties, which are credited with protecting the city from destruction during centuries of Polish partition and particularly during WWII when almost every other major city in Poland got pancaked. Visiting Wawel Cathedral is a must thing to do at Wawel Castle.
How to Get Tickets?
Wawel visitor numbers are restricted and tickets are timed in an attempt to prevent overcrowding. To guarantee entry as well as avoiding the need to stand in long queues, buy your tickets online. Tickets should be collected at the Wawel Visitor Centre Reservation Office at least 30 mins before the reserved tour time. While almost all exhibits require a ticket, there is no charge to stroll and admire the castle grounds and courtyards.
How To Get Around?
You can get around Wawel Castle by walking, it's very easy and you won't get lost.
What Should I Wear?
You can wear anything you want, there is no dress code here. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes for the walk.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Wawel Castle is in the morning. The castle area is pretty crowded during the day and it's better to go early after it opens. Off-season is also a better timing to visit the castle.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, it's easy to get around and you can find everything on this website. Make sure you read about this place before you go to learn more about Wawel Castle. All exhibits are self-guided except for the Royal Apartments, however foreign language guides can be arranged at extra cost if done in advance.
How To Get There?
If you are accommodated in the city centre, there is a solid chance that the castle is within walking distance from you – it takes an approximately 10-15 minute walk from the Main Market Square to get to the castle (via the Grodzka and Kanonicza streets). When using public transport, you can take a tram and get out at WAWEL stop which is just by the castle. Trams that go there are 6, 8, 10, 13 and 18.
In addition to ticket sales and pick-up, the Visitor Centre is also the place to get more info about various seasonal and theme tours on offer, pick up free maps or make use of the small post office, gift shop, cafe/restaurant and toilets.