This guide to Kraków Główny railway station explains what to look out for when arriving and departing by train.
It also shows you how to access the city's core attractions from Krakov's main station and how to travel from the city's airport by train.
Look for images of Kraków Główny station online and most of the pictures will show a large and grand white building that dates from the 19th century.
That building was Kraków Główny station, it isn’t now and doesn’t have any access to the trains.
The new Krakow Głowny railway station has been built to the north of the old station and is hidden behind the city’s comparatively recently constructed main shopping mall; the 'Galeria Krakowska'.
When viewed from the city you can’t see the new Krakow central railway station at all, as it is in effect an extension of the mall; the station facilities are mainly housed in a space that links the mall to the city's main bus station
The fact that Kraków Główny is such an unconventional station means that using it for the first time can be a particularly disconcerting experience.
But not only will this info help make sense of navigating this location, one of our favourite train travel bloggers has also published an excellent guide to using the main station in Krakow/Cracow.
It's packed with tips and insights that ShowMeTheJourney hasn't covered, such as where to eat and drink in and near the station and how to use the left luggage facilities.
Arriving by train at Krakow Glowny train station can be a disconcerting experience.
You'll get an insight as to why it can be confusing as you read through our guide.
Take the escalators or lifts down from the peron/platform that your train has arrived at and you’ll find yourself in the circulating area beneath the platforms.
It won’t seem as though you’re in a station, this area is also the lobby between the city’s main shopping mall and its bus station.
You will see doors that lead to the street, but only head in this direction if your final destination is to the east of the station, or if you’re connecting to the bus station.
It's a three stage process:
(1) You need to head in the opposite direction, towards the mall if you’re heading towards the old town heart of Krakow - the 'Stare Miasto'.
As you walk towards the mall look out for the easy to miss signs, the fact that you’re in a mall can be distracting, which direct you to the old town 'Stare Miasto'.
(2) These signs lead the way to a side exit from the mall which will be over to the left.
There are stairs and a lift up to street level, but no escalator.
Take this route and you will exit on to a square, which has the old station building, the large white building, on its left side.
(3) The quickest route to the old town on foot is to head to the opposite corner of the square – bottom right.
The edge of the old town is through the gardens, that you will then see ahead of you, on the opposite side of the street named 'Baztowa'.
Walking from Krakow Główny to the main square in the heart of the city will take around 12 – 20 mins.
To access the main exit at Krakow Glowny station on the street named 'Pawia', you need to pass through the mall – and you can also go this way if you miss the signs pointing to the old town.
Head into the mall and you will come to a bank of escalators, or you can seek out the lifts.
You will be using the same main entrance to the street as the shoppers.
Go up one level and you will see the exit to the street.
If you’re heading to the old town and missed the shortcut described above, you can turn left when you exit on to this street – head in a straight line and then cross the main road named 'Baztowa'.
For first time users departing from Kraków Główny train station is a particularly bewildering experience - it confused us more than any other station in Europe.
Not only is the main station in Krakow hidden inside a large shopping mall, finding our train once we had found the station was also a challenge.
Here's three tips, to help ensure that you're not as confused by taking a train from Kraków Główny rail station, as we were:
(1) Even though you've entered what looks like a standard modern shopping mall, you are in the right place.
(2) The station doesn't have a departure hall or anything like it.
Instead the ticket counters and areas in which you check the departure details of the trains etc, are located in a wide passage which connects the mall to the bus station.
(3) Forget how you would usually find your train at a station - just follow the info on the departure screens and signs and don't question it.
Why this matters will become clear when you read the text below.
The perons (platforms) which the trains depart from are pretty much at street level, but accessing the trains from the street is a two stage process that's described below.
(1) Descend to the lowest level in the mall - depending on how you have entered the building the signs will direct you to towards escalators or stairs, but lifts are available.
(2) Then ascend up to the peron (platform) using escalators or lifts.
Buy any food/drink etc that you want to take with you on the train, before you ascend to the platform/peron.
The facilities on the platforms/perons are a tad sparse.
Finding your train is a two-step process.
Use the information on the electronic departure screens, to find out which peron/platform number your train is departing from.
Ascend up to it, not being bothered by the fact that the peron number won’t tell you exactly where your train will be departing from.
At this stage it is the number of the peron is leading you in the right direction
You will then find yourself in the middle of the platform/peron; think of it as a rectangle that has four corners.
On each side of the rectangle is a separate track/tor, with its own number; which will likely NOT be the same as the peron number.
Each track/tor has indicators that show the next train that will be departing from each specific ‘track’.
So when you get to the platform/peron, you can then check from which side of it your train will be leaving from.
This may sound awkward, but there is a logic at work here, you find the peron number and THEN the track/tor number.
Which isn’t as complicated as it seems, but yes it can be confusing if you’re not used to this system.
Therefore aim to be entering the building in which Krakow Glowny station is located, a minimum of 10 minutes before your train departs.
Use these track indicators to find your specific train, but be aware of these two things:
(1) The details of arriving trains are shown until the train has pulled into the station.
(2) Even when a train is apparently waiting at the ‘track,’ the departure details may not appear on the indicator, until around 10 mins before the train is due to leave.
You cannot board the train until these departure details appear, even if it is obvious that your train is already in the station.
Board too soon and the conductor will ask you to leave the train.
Finding Trains To Warszawa/Warsaw On The Departure Screens:
If you’re heading to Warszawa/Warsaw from Krakow by train, something to watch out for is that most of the trains from Krakow continue beyond Warszawa to other destinations in Poland, including Gdynia and Gdansk.
Only the final destination of the train will be in the large typeface on the departure screens.
So don’t panic if the train time is correct, but you can’t initially see Warszawa Centralna.
Check the scrolling text beneath the final destination, which lists most, but not all*, of the stations that the train will be calling at.
* Warszawa Centralna will always be listed, but Warszawa Zachodnia station tends to be omitted - despite all trains from Krakow to Warsaw calling at Zachodnia station before they arrive at Centralna.
Using the departure posters:
There is an alternative to touring the electronic track/tor indicators on the platform/peron.
There are yellow ‘Odjazdy’ departure posters in the station lobby, that show the peron numbers AND the track numbers.
On the posters, the peron numbers are listed as roman numerals and not numbers so peron IV = peron 4 etc.
Under the roman numerals are numbers and these are the numbers of the specific ‘track/tor’ on the peron, that each train will be leaving from.
So, FOR EXAMPLE, the ‘peron’ number on the electronic departure board could be '5'.
But paper departure posters will show this ‘peron’ number as ‘V’, with a track number, such as 10 beneath it.
So if you check the posters, you'll know that your train will be departing from track 10, before you ascend up to platform (peron) 5.
If you don't want to take a taxi then the easiest means of making your way to Krakow's main station from its old town, the 'Stare Miasto' is on foot.
The walk will take around 12 - 15 minutes and consists of the four stages described below.
(1) Use the street named 'Szpitlana' to exit the 'Stare Miasto' - when you come to the gardens at the end of street, take the path through the gardens leading off to the right.
At the end of the path you will come to the main road/street named 'Baztowa', then use the pedestrian crossing by the cross roads - head for the large square which you'll see across the street.
(2) Having crossed the main road/street named 'Baztowa', look out for the virtually impossible to miss old station building – the large white building on the right hand side of the square
On the left side of the square, you will see signs pointing the way to the station, which can be bewildering, but the large white building is no longer the station.
(3) Follow the sign that will be hanging from the roof of a covered pathway, then as you walk down this path on the right you will see the platforms that the trains depart from.
(4) When you enter the building by this entrance you will see a staircase and a lift - you need to descend from here to access the station - at the foot of the staircase you need turn to the right.
There is an electronic departure indicator on the staircase that lists subsequent train departures.
You’ll know that you have reached the station when the shops are behind you and you can see the lifts and escalators leading up to the perons/platforms.
Kraków Główny station is towards the northern edge of the city centre, some distance from the most popular areas of the city.
Walking is by far the best option to access the old town from Kraków Główny, you will be in the main square in central Krakow in around 15 -20 minutes.
No tram routes penetrate the old town and there are no direct trams, between the stops immediately adjacent to Krakow Glowny, and the tram stops nearest to the opposite side of the old town.
Tram line 3 stops on 'Pawia', the street that runs on the other side of the mall to the station, but its only stop near the old town (Poczta Glowna) is under 10 mins walk from the station.
On the other side of the square, that’s sited beside the new station, the old Krakow Glowny station building is on its left, is a crossroads (intersection) of two main streets.
There are tram stops around the crossroads named 'Dworzec Glowny' - so these tram stops are a 3 min walk from the station.
There are trams from these stops to some of the most popular attractions in the city that are on the other side of the old town to Krakow Glowny station
For The National Museum take tram line 20 (direction Kicky Cacik) to the 'Cracovia' tram stop.
For the Wawel Castle and Cathedral take tram line 10 (direction Lagiewniki) to the Wawel tram stop
There is also an underground tram stop at Krakow Glowny station, but the tram lines that use it don’t go anywhere near the majority of the city’s tourist attractions
The exception is if you're heading to the Polish Aviation Museum, take tram line 5 (direction Wzorgza Krzelawickie) to the 'Muzeum Locnitwa' tram stop.
There are direct buses from the bus station at Krakow Glowny to the Auschwitz Memorial Museum as well as numerous companies offering tours that can be booked locally.
However, it is possible to travel to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum from Krakow by train, but the seven things worth knowing about making the rail journey are described below.
(1) The nearest station to the Memorial and Museum is 'Dworzec PKP Oświęcim' (or Oświęcim).
(2) Trains from Krakow terminate at Oświęcim, so look for Oświęcim on the departure screens and posters at Krakow Glowny station.
(3) The trains don’t depart from Krakow Glowny to Oświęcim at regular times - they’re not 1 x per hour, so ideally confirm the departure time(s) before heading to the station.
There are usually three trains which depart from Krakow between 08:00 and 11:45 that allow enough time to see the museum.
(4) The train journey takes around 1hr 45 mins.
(5) The trains are 2nd class only commuter trains, but relatively new trains are now being used on the route.
(6) The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is around a 20 min walk from Dworzec PKP Oświęcim station.
Turn right when you exit the station and walk along the main road, when you reach the roundabout turn left and then turn right at the next junction - look for the road that leads over the railway tracks.
Or you can take a taxi from Oświęcim station
(7) Confirm the times of return trains to Krakow before you leave Oświęcim station, in the late afternoon and evening there can be gaps of two hours between trains from Oświęcim to Krakow.
All of the suggested accommodation below is within an 10 minute walk of Krakow Glowny station.
The area between the station and the edge of the old town offers a range of quality accommodation, particularly for travellers on a budget, but there are no 5* hotels in this part of town.
Greg And Tom Hostel
The fastest journey between central Krakow and Krakow John Paul II International/ Kraków Airport im. Jana Pawła II is by train - so it’s a good option, particularly if your accommodation is near to Krakow Glowny station.
These four things are particularly worth knowing:
(1) During the day trains in both directions depart every 30 minutes.
(2) The journey takes around 15 minutes
(3) The station at the airport is named Krakow-Balice, but Krakow Airport is used on the departure screens at Krakow Glowny station.
(4) Krakow-Balice station is around 200 meters from the airport terminal and the walk is open air.
However, there is also a frequent shuttle bus service between the station and the airport terminal.
Your efforts in reaching Krakow by train will be rewarded by a beautiful city in which to spend some time.
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This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.