Wawel Castle

Krakow featuring a park and a lake or waterhole as well as a couple
See the coronation sword of Polish kings, opulent royal apartments, Renaissance paintings and an underground cave system at Krakow’s biggest castle. 

Explore the former bedchambers and staterooms in Wawel Castle. See Flemish tapestries and paintings by Rubens. Head to the Treasury to view collections of armor and royal jewelry and explore the castle’s past in an exhibit dedicated to archaeological finds in and around the grounds. Visit a cave where legend says a dragon once lived or relax with a stroll around the Royal Garden.

A castle was first built on the Wawel Hill as far back as the 14th century, but the building you see today is largely the later work of King Sigismind I. In the 16th century he brought the finest sculptors, builders and artisans from Italy and across Europe to create a fashionable, Renaissance-style palace. Perched high above the Vistula River, it remains one of the most prominent sights in Krakow today.

Start your exploration of the castle in the Treasury. Here you will find the sword used to swear in Polish kings, as well as a large collection of armor and royal jewelry. Visit the top floor to find more royal riches in the king’s apartments. See art by Rubens and other Renaissance painters, original furniture and portraits of the rooms’ former inhabitants. Enjoy sweeping views across Krakow from the Hen’s Foot Tower. 

Delve into the castle’s past in the Lost Wawel exhibit, a collection of archaeological finds from as far back as the 10th century. Enter the cathedral and visit the ornate tombs of bygone kings. Descend into the labyrinth known as the Dragon’s Den, a cave system beneath the castle. The entrance is easy to find thanks to the large bronze dragon that breathes fire at regular intervals throughout the day. 

Wawel Castle is a 10-minute walk from the main town square in central Krakow. It is open daily. Check the castle’s official website for opening hours, as these vary. Be aware that daily visitor numbers to the castle are limited, so it’s best to arrive early in the day during summer and on public holidays. All areas of the castle, such as the Dragon’s Den and the Treasury, have separate entrance fees.