Known as Kazimierz to locals, the Krakow Jewish Quarter was once a thriving Jewish community. Moved across the river from the old town in the 14th century, Kazimierz became a primarily Jewish district due to its proximity to the Krakow old town, historically one of the largest trade markets in Europe.
Wandering through Kazimierz, with its neglected buildings and uneven sidewalks seamlessly blending with craft boutiques, unique street art, and thriving bar scene illustrates the dramatic changes that occurred in the suburb during the 20th century. Beginning with the mass relocation of the Jewish population by the Nazi’s in World War 2, through Krakow’s Communist era when the quarter was a den of crime, and finally to the present with Kazimierz today being an eclectic bohemian hotspot, Kaziemerz has undergone many changes and endured many faces.
Leave the well-trodden tourist path of Szeroka street, Remuh Synagogue and the Old Synagogue and you’ll find yourself surrounded by hipster locals rather than selfie-stick wielding tourists, particularly in the evening and on weekends. Nearby Podgórze, located just across the river, is the former Jewish ghetto and will also be featured due to its similarly bohemian vibe and interesting historic sights.
Where to stay in Kazimierz; the Best Hotels in the Jewish Quarter in Krakow
We highly recommend staying in Kazimierz on a trip to Krakow! While the Old Town is gorgeous, we find the expensive accommodation, tourist restaurants and amount of people a little exhausting. Meanwhile, Kazimierz is a vibrant and fun little artisan enclave full of history and endearing rough-around-the-edges charm. Don’t let this fool you though, it’s also got plenty of comfortable and luxurious places to stay, and it’s only a short walk to Wawel Hill and Krakow’s Old Town!
Here are our favourites for every type of budget.
Stay in luxury and modern convenience at these beautiful apartments near Izaak Synagogue and New Square. Featuring large bright one-bedroom (and three-bedroom penthouse- with bathtub!) apartments with a large terrace, this is the perfect place to stay while exploring Krakow for a few days!
Have all the benefits of an apartment with the convenience of a hotel at the Inspire Miodova Residence. Located in a great area of Kazimierz close to Szeroka street and New Square, stay in a comfortable and modern studio or one-bedroom apartment complete with kitchenette in these lovely apartments.
We love the PURO hotel in Kazimierz for their convenient location, modern minimalist design, and hotel amenities at an affordable price. We’ve stayed in a few PURO hotels in Poland and have only had great experiences. The Kazimierz PURO has a fitness centre, terrace, free bike rental, and even a sauna!
Momotown is a friendly and colourful hostel offering private rooms and dorms, located close to the action in New Square. With a fully-equipped kitchen, relaxing garden and barbeque area, and plenty of fun activities each night, Momotown is perfect for budget-conscious travellers!
Awesome things to do in the Krakow Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz & Podgórze)
Wander Szeroka Street (Old Synagogue & Remuh Synagogue)
The main tourist area of Kazimierz, Szeroka street was once a thriving Market Square of the Jewish Quarter. You’ll also find two of Krakow’s oldest and most significant synagogues, the Old Synagogue (Stara Synagoga, or Alta Shul), now a museum for the history and traditions of Polish Judaism, and the Remuh Synagogue, Krakow’s smallest but most active synagogue with a 16th-century Jewish cemetery behind it.
Cheerfully recreated to resemble the historic market square, Szeroka street is lined with colourful buildings housing Jewish and Israeli kosher restaurants (see below for our recommendations), bookshops and art galleries.
Built in 1644, the Baroque-style synagogue is decorated with prayers painted on the walls and high vaulted ceilings embellished with baroque wreaths and garlands. The interior was destroyed in WW2 and again by fire in the 1980s, before the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community and reconstruction works began, restoring some of the original prayer scripts and murals painted on the walls. Today the Izaak Synagogue is a practising Orthodox Synagogue and hosts a small exhibition of historic photographs and films for tourists.
Visit the New Jewish Cemetery
The enormous 11-acre New Jewish Cemetery, established in 1800, was the burial site for many of Krakow’s elite Jewish population in the 19th and 20th centuries. During WW2 the Nazi’s plundered the cemetery for valuable stone and construction materials, leaving behind fractured headstones and open pits containing the remnants of those buried there.
Today, cracked headstones overgrown with foliage dating back to its opening sit amongst narrow pathways, tall ancient trees and holocaust memorials made from the remaining fragments of stolen headstones. A stark contrast to the curated buildings on Szeroka street and the artsy bohemian vibe of Kazimierz, the cemetery is a peaceful and moving place where you really feel the Jewish history of Kazimierz and Krakow.
Please be respectful when visiting, this is still an active ceremony where Jewish locals are laid to rest.
Temple Synagogue & Jewish Community Centre (JCC)
Kazimierz newest synagogue, Temple Synagogue was built 1862 to account for a growing population. Surviving WW2 because it was used for ammunition storage and as a horse stable by the Nazis, the synagogue has since been loving renovated to restore its former glory. Step inside the imposing entrance doors to explore the synagogue decorated with colourful floral patterns, ornate flourishes, and incredible stained glass windows. The synagogue is a major centre for Jewish culture and remains a place of worship for the local Jewish population.
Many community and cultural events like concerts and workshops are held at the synagogue and neighbouring Jewish Community Centre, especially during the annual Jewish Cultural Festival in June/July when Kazimierz comes alive with concerts, exhibitions, plays, workshops and more educating and celebrating Jewish history, culture and faith.
See the Passage from Schindler’s List
A short walk from Plac Nowy (New Square) the shopping and nightlife heart of Kazimierz, this unassuming little courtyard and alley between apartment blocks was used to film a very memorable moment in Schindler’s List when a woman (Mrs. Dresner) hides under the concrete staircase while the Nazi’s are rounding up Jews in the ghetto. The stone passageway, staircase and even apartment balconies remain almost unchanged from the movie, though today they are decorated with plants, drying laundry and street art.
Explore Józefa (Jozef street)
For something a little different, spend some time wandering lovely Józefa (Jozef street). Having changed little architecturally since pre-war times, the street is full of beautiful historic buildings housing artisan boutiques, art galleries, vintage shops and cosy cafes. Make sure to call in for a perfectly brewed coffee and delicious Pączki (Polish jam doughnut).
Hang out with locals in New Square (Plac Nowy)
A complete contrast to the picture-perfect Rynek Glowny, Krakow’s Old Town Square, Plac Nowy is concrete is a concrete square lined with parked cars and unappealing metal market stall with a large rotunda in the centre. But just like Kazimierz itself, what it’s lacking in refined style it more than makes up for in rough charm.
During the day the square is bustling with merchant stalls selling everything from produce to antiques depending on the day, with Saturday’s junk/antique market and Sunday’s clothing flea market being absolute highlights.
At night the Plac Nowy shifts persona and it’s time for the numerous hipster bars and restaurants surrounding the square to shine.
For more things to do in Plac Nowy check out our recommendations below for the best bars and restaurants in Kazimierz.
Hunt for incredible Street Art
Kazimierz (and Podgórze across the river) is well known for its fantastic street art. The art scene has existed in Kazimierz since the 1960s when it was an artist commune, however today the street art scene has exploded. In fact, in 2016 local street artists undertook the ‘101 Murals for Krakow’ project, creating works that celebrated architectural, historical and urban landmarks in different areas of the city. Many of the artworks are centred in Kazimierz and Podgórze districts, with many of the paintings celebrating the Jewish history of the area.
Start your search on Józefa street in Kazimierz, and Józefińska street in Podgórze, and follow your inspiration.
Walk through the former Jewish Ghetto
In April 1940 the Jews of Krakow were ordered to leave the city (and Kazimierz) and move into overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in a small section of the Podgórze district in what became the Krakow Ghetto (or Podgórze Ghetto). As part of the relocation, over 50,000 Jews (deemed unsuitable for work) were deported to nearby labour camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. A 3-meter high wall topped with (unnecessary) arches designed to resemble the rounded Jewish tombstones was erected around the ghetto, thought to be intended by the Nazi’s to torment the Jews and hint at their fate.
Walking down Józefińska street and it’s surrounds you’ll find little plaques on the buildings explaining the history and important sites within the ghetto. Make sure to cross the tram tracks to see the fragment of Ghetto Wall still standing, the tombstone-inspired decoration on the top of the wall is truly ominous.
Ghetto Heroes Square
Erected in the place where the main entrance gate to the ghetto once stood, Ghetto Heroes Square is a beautiful and thought-provoking memorial and symbol of the tragedy committed against Polish Jews in World War 2.
The memorial depicts 33 empty metal chairs of different sizes lined up in the square similar to the ‘roll call’ the Jews were forced to endure in concentration camps, where they would stand in lines for hours.
Apteka pod Orłem (Eagle Pharmacy)
On the corner of Ghetto Heroes Square, inside the former ghetto, is Eagle Pharmacy. When the Nazis created the Jewish ghetto in Podgórze in 1941 the Eagle Pharmacy, owned by a non-Jewish Polish man (Tadeusz Pankiewicz), was located in the middle of it. Not willing to leave, Pankiewicz and his staff were permitted to stay to offer assistance to the Jews living there. During the two years of the ghetto’s existence, Eagle Pharmacy was an important hub for resistance, assisting in smuggling food, falsified documents and more, while having to bear witness to the terrible treatment of the Jews.
Today Eagle Pharmacy is an interactive museum recreated to look the same as it did in the 1940s. Visitors are encouraged to handle the replica artefacts and photographs as they explore the heart-wrenching stories and multimedia exhibits displayed in the chests and cabinets of the old pharmacy.
Oskar Schindler Factory Museum
The Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory, made famous with the movie Schindler’s List, was a metalwork factory owned by a German man (Oskar Schindler), that was credited with saving approximately 1200 Jews by employing them to work in his factories (so that they could avoid the Nazi labour camps). While the true story of Schindler and his enamel factory is a little less humanitarian than portrayed in the movie, his employment did save over a thousand lives.
Today, the factory houses an incredible museum called Kraków under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945, which showcases gripping exhibitions detailing life for the Polish citizens under Nazi Occupation in World War 2.
As you walk through the museum, each room is an interactive display that shows different snapshots of Krakow in WW2. There’s a railway station and main street covered in Nazi propaganda, a hairdressing salon decorated with original salon equipment from the 40s, a tiny cramped room to show what conditions were like in the ghetto, and even a labour camp. Each exhibition has information panels, personal anecdotes and even documentary films throughout to detail the difficulties of life under Nazi Occupation in WW2.
You could spend all day wandering the exhibitions and soaking it all in, but at least 2 hours is recommended.
Schindler’s Factory Museum is truly a must-see for anyone even slightly interested in history!
Make sure to pre-book tickets at least a week in advance as they sell out quickly! If you miss out on pre-booked tickets you can arrive early and queue up on the day, but be warned the lines to buy these tickets can stretch all the way down the street!
Here is the website to prebook tickets.
We actually hired a guide to take us through the museum, which was wonderful and provided great additional insight and personal anecdotes (her grandparents both lived through WW2 in Krakow). We spent approximately 1.5 hours in the museum with her, and then could walk back through and continue exploring for as long as we liked afterwards.
If you’re interested, this is the tour we did – highly recommended!
Walk the Rainbow Stairs
Created in 2013, a regular staircase in Tatrzanska Street was given new life by being painted the colours of the rainbow. With an inspirational or famous quote on each step, the idea behind the project was to create an urban playground that encouraged people to enjoy movement and exercise.
Admire Saint-Joseph Church
This gorgeous neo-gothic church, located in the heart of Podgórze, is among the most beautiful churches in Krakow. Dominated by the incredible 80-meter clock tower and an elaborately decorated exterior with gargoyles and statues of saints, this is a must-visit sight in Podgórze.
Take an Evening Stroll (or run) along the Vistula River
A favourite hangout and walking path for locals, the Vistula river looks truly spectacular in the evening as the sun gently sets over the city. Take a walk along the river, or if your legs are tired from exploring all day, simply find a grassy spot or bench and relax as the sun goes down.
If you’re not one to say no to a drink, why not call in to one of the cute boat-restaurants for a comfy seat and refreshing drink to watch the sunset (our recommendations below).
Watch the sunset over the city from Kopiec Krakusa (Krakus mound)
Kopiec Krakusa is a popular picnic spot for locals when the weather’s nice due to its amazing panoramic views of the city and is one of the best spots in Krakow for sunset.
Delicious Restaurants in the Krakow Jewish Quarter; Where to get a bite in Kazimierz
There are two awesome informal dining options in Kazimierz, Food Truck Square and the Rotunda at Plac Nowy.
Skwer Judah Food Truck Square is a cute little spot just off Świętego Wawrzyńca. Easily identifiable by the huge mural (Skwer Judah) that overlooks the square, this is a popular spot for a quick bite and there are often long lines at mealtimes. It has various food trucks set up every day offering everything from delicious loaded fries and burgers to crepes and chimney cakes.
If you’re looking for traditional Polish fast food, head straight to the rotunda at Plac Nowy. Here you’ll find a dozen or more little hole-in-the-wall fast-food hatches, most selling one of Poland’s most popular fast foods; zapiekanka.
Traditionally an open baguette with mushrooms, cheese and tomato sauce, the zapiekanka at Plac Nowy are worlds beyond the sloppy versions you’ll find at train stations around the country. In Plac Nowy, zapiekanka has become a gourmet street food sensation, with hordes of locals (and a few tourists) queuing up to try one of the fantastic creations from the dozen or so stalls around the rotunda, especially on the weekend when the square is abuzz with activity.
A visit to Krakow without trying a Plac Nowy zapiekanka would be like visiting Italy and not having a Pizza.
Cafes & Restaurants
Restauracja Miodova: Michelin ranked fine dining serving incredible modern Polish cuisine and international wines. A little on the pricey side, but the decor is cosy and luxurious and the service impeccable.
Hamsa: delicious and fresh modern Israeli cuisine and tasty house beer in a lovely old building. The restaurant has a relaxed friendly vibe and there is a nice outdoor area during the warmer months.
Dawno Temu na Kazimierzu: meaning “Once upon a time in Kazimierz”, this restaurant really is like a walk through history. It has a quirky interior decor featuring historic Jewish shops as the dining area (complete with artefacts or historic appliances on some of the tables) and serves fantastic traditional Jewish cuisine and homemade flavoured vodka.
Les Couleurs Cafe: A local favourite, this is a great little cafe on the square with a funky interior and relaxed hip vibe. During the day it serves delicious French-style coffee and cakes, while at night it transforms into a cool bar and restaurant perfect for a quick bite or drinks with friends.
Zakąski i wódka: An authentic Kazimierz pub serving unpretentious hearty Polish food and a great variety of vodka (also beer if you prefer that) for an excellent price.
By the River
Augusta: in a fantastic location on the river, this 60-year-old barge turned restaurant is perfect for dinner on a few drinks on the river as the sun sets. Popular with locals on the weekends, Augusta serves great cocktails and tasty modern Polish/Italian fusion cuisine.
Have a drink in Kazimierz; Cool Krakow Jewish Quarter Bars
Bars around Plac Nowy
Alchemy: Dark cosy historic decor and great Jazz music
Le Scandale: Tasty cocktails and a DJ
Mleczarnia: Schindler’s passage beer garden bar in warm months & cosy indoor bar year round
Nowy Kraftowy: Possible the best craft beer in Krakow
The Rest of Kazimierz
Beer Street Bar: on Beera Meiselsa, has a fun pub vibe with dartboard and pool table that serves craft beer
Pub Propaganda: on Miodowa street, a cool ‘dive bar’ with live music and unique decor inspired by Kazimierz’ history
Eszeweria bar: on Jozefa street, a cosy and cool art deco bar and lovely beer garden with great vibes
Augusta or Barka: on the river (near Father Bernatek’s Bridge), have a drink with a view on one of these cool restaurant/bar boats on the river
We hope you love Kazimierz, the awesome Krakow Jewish Quarter, as much as we do!
Looking for more things to do in Krakow? Check out these posts:
– Why Auschwitz is the most important place to visit in Krakow
– How to visit Auschwitz as a day trip from Krakow
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