Kraków is a charming cultural Polish destination, once a city of the Polish kings, now it enchants with its beautiful Renaissance old town, many historical landmarks, museums and art galleries as well as distinctive artistic and academic vibe – Kraków draws many Polish and international students to its universities and engineering schools.
Kraków is a great destination for a weekend break (or longer) on its own but if you like seeing few places during one journey, the good news is that the city is well-connected to all major Polish towns but also to many international cities around.
Trains in Poland but in general in the Central Europe are often not very expensive. I often use them to move effectively to Germany, Czech Republic or Slovakia. A train ticket to Prague costs (if booked a bit in advance) around 30 euro, ticket to Berlin is around 30-40 euro. The prices are unbeatable and I learned to use my time in train in a productive way, most carriages are equipped in the electricity sockets and have wi-fi so one can work on laptop without much problems. There is no luggage limits and train stations are in the city centers which allows to avoid a lot of hassle. Finally, trains are ecological and more sustainable way of travel and very popular in Europe, so I strongly recommend this way of travel in Poland and countries around!
In this post I will give you a list of countries reachable from Kraków by train and write mention few practical tips concerning the trains, bookings and destinations.
- Austria (Vienna, Graz)
Every day there is a direct train from Kraków to Vienna and Graz. The train to Vienna departures from Kraków in the afternoon and the journey takes 5h 45 min and if you prefer to travel in the night, there is a direct night train to the Austrian capital which departures from Kraków Main Station after 22h. If booked few weeks in advance the ticket for an afternoon ticket can cost as low as 30 euro. Interestingly, you can book your tickets through both Austrian and Polish railways websites but prices on the Polish website will often be significantly lower so it’s important to check both train companies’ offer before purchase. To check the Polish railways website, click here.
Austrian capital is big cultural feast with many museums, imperial palaces, world famous state opera and historical old town. If you’re fascinated by the story of Habsburg family and Empress Sissi, want to see the masterpiece paintings of European old masters or just change here for some local trains to get to Austrian Alps, Vienna is a good place to start your Austrian explorations.
If you want to see smaller Austrian towns and explore picturesque Stryria which is a mountainous, forested state in southern Austria, known for its wine, spas and castles, then continue your journey to Graz, the last stop of the train from Poland.
If you plan your itinerary in Vienna, check this post for ideas:
If you want to travel around Europe by train in a single journey, click here:
- Czech Republic (Prague, Moravia region)
Kraków is very well-connected with Czech Republic, there are convenient train connections with the Czech capital every day. There are morning, afternoon and night train journeys and the daily train ride lasts around 7 hours. The ticket bought in advance costs as low as 30 euro. Check the prices on Polish and Czech railways websites for the particular trip to choose the best fare.
The rail company which operates on this route is most often České dráhy. CD is one of my favorite European railway companies mainly due to the fact that the tickets have very affordable prices and the quality of service is very good. If you want to make sure to get a good fare, try to book one week in advance (which is still a short notice compared to other European railway operators). The Czech trains are clean and reliable, connections to major Czech cities are frequent and you can conveniently check all schedules at the website of the national railways. Highly recommended!
Prague is a picturesque city with many cultural venues, historical landmarks, museums and relaxing parks, the Czech capital is also well-connected with other Czech cities so you can use trains to comfortably explore the entire country. Czech Republic is also very well-connected with other European countries so you can plan with their national railways longer European trip, click here to see my journey around 5 European countries in one journey using trains.
To check my guide around Prague, click here:
If you want to travel from Prague to other countries in Europe, check this post:
If you’re more interested in spending some time in the Czech countryside, I recommend exploring Moravia region on the border with Poland. This is a good choice for people who search for relaxing time in the nature and want to learn more about Czech history and cuisine. When travelling from Kraków to Prague, I passed this area many times and always get enchanted by its dreamy green landscapes, for me this is a trip still to happen but I’m sure it will be an enjoyable experience.
- Germany (Berlin)
Usually there is a one day train linking Kraków with Berlin, the train departures from Kraków Main Station in the morning and arrives to Berlin HBF in the afternoon, the journey lasts around 7 hours and can cost as low as 30 euro if booked one month in advance. The train is very comfortable with working wi-fi and the dining car, usually the train is provided by the Polish railways which serves traditional Polish cuisine on board. You can buy your tickets both through Polish railways or German railways . In fact, if you travel in the summer around Germany, the Deutsche Bahn sometimes offers very attractive monthly fares for regional trains, you may want to check them out and plan bigger journey around Germany then.
Berlin itself is an interesting destination for a weekend break with many museums, cultural venues and also historical landmarks, many of them related to the WWII such as fragments of the Berlin Wall, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Tempelhofer Feld.
If you travel from the Silesian cities, you can catch direct trains to Saxony region and in particular to Dresden.
- Hungary (Budapest)
From Kraków you can also easily get to Hungarian capital Budapest. The journey is quite long and takes around 9 hours. Usually, the departure from Kraków Main station is in the morning and you arrive to Budapest in the evening, a very nice alternative to save time is to take direct night train from Kraków to Budapest, the prices for a day train are as low as 15 euro if booked one month in advance so this is really a steal! The night train tickets start from 20 euro for a seat and are bit more expensive for the couchette, when looking at the fares the trip is practically for free! Again, check the fares on both Polish railways and the Hungarian railways to compare the fares. However, in case of details, it’s easier to get reimboursed with Polish railways while the Hungarian procedure is much less clear.
The train crosses Slovakia before entering Hungary so you can visit also this charming country as a part of your trip around Central Europe.
Budapest is a very interesting place to visit with impressive architecture dating back to Austrian-Hungarian Empire as well as tempts with its wellness offer, you will find here many curative hot springs as well as spas. The prices are affordable compared with many other destinations especially in Western Europe.
- Poland (Warszawa, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Poznań, Zakopane,…)
Obviously I couldn’t miss Poland since Kraków is very well-connected with all Polish regions and major Polish towns. Polish trains have very reasonable prices especially if compared with other European railways companies. It’s always best to book your tickets one month in advance and search for seasonal and regional offers which often surprise with very good money savings options. You can easily get from Kraków to Zakopane which is a Polish Tatra Mountains capital by regional train in just 3 hours for only 5 euro!
The bullet train will take you from Kraków Main Station to Warsaw Main Station in just 2.5 hours and the tickets cost from 37 euro or you can choose a slower train and travel 4 hours for just 20 euro. I also recommend choosing beautiful historical Gdańsk and have a stay on the Polish Baltic Sea coast, the journey to Gdańsk by bullet train takes only 5 hours. Kraków has also nice connections with beautiful Lower Silesian region with its capital Wrocław. In general, Poland is a relatively big and diverse country so decide on the journey to the sea, mountains, lakes, forests or historical cities, open the Google Maps and plan your trip around Poland.
If you plan a trip to Warsaw, check out this post for a detailed itinerary:
If you want to visit Wrocław and Lower Silesian region check those posts:
- Slovakia (Bratislava)
From Kraków you can easily get to the Slovak capital, the journey takes 6h 14 min by the morning train and 7 hours by the night train. If booked in advance the day train costs as low as 15 euro and the seat for the night train is only 10 euro! This is another great fare for an international train from Poland and I highly recommend it! The trains in Slovakia connect all major parts of the country, you can easily get from Bratislava to Poprad Tatry which is a gate to the Slovakian Tatra Mountains which are perfect summer and autumn destination for hikes and for winter sports from December to March. From Poprad Tatry you will easily get to the towns with curative waters and thermal baths, in fact the country has a very good spa and wellbeing offer. Another good option is to prolong your stay in picturesque historical town Kosice.
The trains in Slovakia are very affordable, clean and punctual and are a very good way to move around main Slovak attractions. Consult the Slovak Railways’ website here.
If you want to learn more about the thermal baths experience in Slovakia, click here:
If you’d like to spend some time in the Tatra’s region, check this post for our itinerary: