As the second largest city in Poland and its cultural capital to boot, you bet you can find good food in Kraków. Kraków has a deep and fascinating history, and its historic Old Town earned status as the UNESCO City of Literature in 2013. Millions of tourists flock to Kraków every year—a record 14 million in 2019—and there’s more to sample than its history.
Polish food is popular across the globe, but it’s not all meat and potatoes as you might think. While winter may dish up hearty soups and heavy dishes, the city has plenty of sweet treats you can indulge in during those hot summer months.
No trip to Kraków is complete without sampling the delicious array of Polish foods on offer. For every palate and season, we’ve compiled the top 10 foods to try in Kraków, with meat-based, vegetarian, sweet, and savory options.
You can’t visit Poland without trying their arguably most famous dish. Pierogi, Polish dumplings, are a staple food for most Krakowians, and the go-to type is ruskie (Russian), which are stuffed with cheese and potato. Pierogi are usually boiled, savory, and served with sour cream, but you’ll also find fried and sweet varieties.
In the warmer months, head to any bar mleczny for pierogi with fillings like berries or sweet cheeses. These "milk bars" are simple cafeterias where locals go for a quick and cheap eat. Right around the corner from the main square, the popular Milkbar Tomasza offers deliciously oily pierogi and a generous helping of sour cream.
Kiełbasa, or Polish sausage, is a national food that features in thick, wintry soups. Its often consumed as a late night post-drinking snack with a large dose of mustard, and your choice between smoked, white, spiced, pork, beef, and blood. Any seasonal market in the square will most definitely serve them, albeit at a higher tourist price.
A local favorite is the famous blue van by Hala Targowa, a Communist-era version of a food truck that shows up around 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If you’re feeling peckish after one too many vodka shots, look for the line of people on Grzegórzecka Street and enjoy a uniquely Krakowian experience. For daytime kiełbasa finds and a more traditional food truck experience, try Skwer Judah in Kazimierz.
One of the sweeter desserts in Poland, Miodownik is an understated but very tasty honey cake. Moist, crumbly, and crunchy in equal parts, it is layered with sponge, honey, cream, and sometimes a little plum jam, with nuts sprinkled on top. It’s not always so easy to find, but you can sample a good one at the quaint and crafty Indalo Cafe, just minutes from the main square and Wawel Castle.
Known as the Kraków bagel, the obwarzanek is a pretzel-esque, doughy ring sprinkled with seeds. While they can be found in other parts of Poland, they are the brainchild of Kraków and hold a special place in locals’ hearts. At 2 złoty, they make for a handy snack to grab before you hop on your tram or head out for the day.
The best place to find obwarzanki is from the little blue carts dotted around the city that have themselves become part of Kraków's cultural makeup (and a haven for the pigeons who receive the carts’ crumbs at the end of the day). There is even an Obwarzanek Museum where you can learn everything there is to know about them, and even make your own.
If you’re traveling to Kraków in June or July, you’re bound to see the local markets filled with fresh summer fruits—particularly strawberries. June is the most prolific month for strawberries, so get your fill of them while you can at markets like Stary Kleparz. Enjoy them alone, with cream, or blended with kefir, a yogurt-like dairy product.
No night out is complete without snacking on these pizza-style baguettes at the end of it, although you’re likely to see them any time of day.
At the center of Plac Nowy in Kazimierz is the Okrąglak, a rotunda full of windows where you can order many versions of zapiekanki like Greek, Hawaiian, meat lovers, or the basic mushroom and cheese. Add your sauce of choice and enjoy.
You’ll see plenty of milk bars, cafés, and restaurants offering up Placki Ziemniaczane, simple potato pancakes. They are topped with goulash, served in mushroom sauce, or paired with sour cream, and are the perfect way to warm up (and fill up) in winter. Try the potato pancakes with goulash (meat stew) at Smakołyki, where the sauce contains some sort of magical ingredient.
This cream cake is a particularly indulgent sweet treat that’s beloved by Krakowians, although it can be a little tricky to eat. It is made up of a thick layer of cream in between two layers of puff pastry, sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Kremówka is a firm favorite of Polish people (and famously Pope John Paul II), and you’ll find it in almost any Polish bakery—piekarnia or cukiernia. Try it at any branch of Lajkonik bakery or at Michałek on Krupnicza Street.
The name doubling for "pigeons" (which are well loved by many in Poland) gołąbki is a cabbage roll filled with meat and covered in mushroom or tomato sauce. It’s simple, delicious, and Polish through and through. There is a vegetarian version, although meat is more easily found, and the mushroom sauce is the better of the two sauce options. Check out Gospoda Koko, Marchewka z Groszkiem, or any milk bar to try it for yourself.
There’s nothing that will warm you through quite like this hearty soup. Żurek is made up of a sour rye broth with hardboiled egg and kielbasa, making for a meal in itself. It’s especially filling when served in a bread bowl, which you can get at U Babci Maliny on Sławkowska Street.