10 Extraordinary Castles Near Kraków for a Perfect Day Trip

If you ever find yourself in Krakow with a day to spare, I am sure that a trip to the Kraków’s nearby castles would be a fantastic idea. Krakow is surrounded by an intriguing array of castles, ranging from the remnants of the historical Eagle’s Nests trail to other intriguing architectural gems.

Let me say, not all of them are ruins. Some still proudly stand tall. Now, allow me to introduce you to 10 of the most captivating castles in Lesser Poland, each with its unique allure. So, are you ready to figure out the most enchanting one?

Wieliczka’s Saltworks Castle

You will find Wieliczka just a short hop from Krakow and in my opinion it is truly worth the visit. The key to getting there is braving the traffic on Wielicka Street. While the town is famed for its salt mines, it has another feather in its cap: the royal Saltworks Castle. This castle, pieced together between the 13th to the 19th century, once served as the administrative hub for both the Wieliczka and Bochnia salt mines.

Nowadays, the Saltworks Museum has found a home within its historic walls. As you roam its rooms, you’ll discover an impressive assortment of exhibits from a humble salt shaker display to a Gothic room. If you want to drink in this slice of history, just know that the entrance fee is a mere PLN 8.

↳ Make sure to read my guide to the most amazing places to stay in Kraków:
How to Find Best Place to Stay in Krakow Old Town – Your Guide

The Legendary Tenczyn Castle in Rudno

Tenczyn Castle in Rudno

Just 36 kilometers from Krakow’s bustling Market Square, you’ll come upon the historic ruins of Tenczyn Castle in Rudno. Perched on Góra Zamkowa’s summit, these ruins were once part of the legendary Eagle’s Nests system. This castle boasts a history dating back to 1308.

The Potockis, the castle’s last owners, were sadly stripped of their property, but recently, the castle has been returned to its rightful heirs. While the ruins may be weather-worn and closed during winter, I believe they still hold a lot of charm. If you’re curious to learn more about this castle and its history, feel free to delve deeper with additional resources and photos.

Pieskowa Skała Castle Near Kraków

Pieskowa Skała Castle

Pieskowa Skała and its idyllic setting is another worthy contender for Krakow’s fascinating vicinity. Nestled in the village of Sułoszowa, Pieskowa Skała Castle has been standing since 1315. King Casimir the Great recognized its strategic position and included it in the illustrious Eagle’s Nests system.

As centuries rolled on, the castle blossomed in architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque. Even after being ravaged by the Swedes and enduring numerous fires, it managed to survive. Sadly, in 1850, the High Castle was lost forever. However, it’s worth to say that today, it serves as a museum under the Wawel Castle Museum and remains the best-preserved castle from the Eagles’ Nests system.

Discover Ojców Castle

Ojców Castle Near Kraków

After you’ve experienced the magnificence of Pieskowa Skała, I think you’d love another dose of the legendary Eagles’ Nests. For that, look no further than the Prądnik Valley, where the Ojców Castle is waiting for you. Built under the command of Casimir the Great, this castle has seen the passage of time and even endured the Swedish invasion.

Unfortunately, it was abandoned in the 19th century, and despite the best efforts of owner Ludwik Krasiński, much of it couldn’t be saved. After World War I, the Czartoryski family attempted a restoration, which wasn’t entirely successful. Today, you can admire the castle’s entrance and drink in the breathtaking view of the Prądnik Valley from the ruins.

Rabsztyn Castle

Rabsztyn Castle

On your journey from Krakow, after Ojców and Pieskowa Skała, it is worth travelling 21 km towards Olkusz to visit another castle, the Rabsztyn Castle. Nestled in the village of Rabsztyn, this castle first came into existence in the 13th century. King Casimir the Great later transformed it into a formidable fortress.

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Tragically, retreating Swedes left the castle in ruins, and it suffered further damage at the hands of treasure hunters in the 19th century. However, there’s still hope as efforts are underway to restore the castle. The Rabszyn Castle Association even hosts knight tournaments here, adding to its allure. Unfortunately, as of 2019, it is not open for visits.

Ogrodzieniec Castle

Ogrodzieniec Castle Near Kraków

Don’t be quick to dismiss the Ogrodzieniec Castle as mere ruins. This castle, built in the 14th and 15th centuries, has an intriguing past. The castle suffered at the hands of the Swedes in 1655, and a fire ravaged its structure. Despite several attempts to restore it, another fire in 1702 led to its abandonment.

After the war, the castle was plundered, and its walls were used as a source of building materials. But I can tell you, its history and remnants are still quite fascinating. And if you are intrigued by the supernatural, you might be interested to know that the famous Black Dog is said to haunt these ruins! A visit to these ruins and the nearby hillfort on Góra Burów costs PLN 18. It’s an excellent choice if you enjoy a slightly commercial, but still indulgent atmosphere.

Dobczyce – The Royal Castle

Dobczyce – The Royal Castle

The royal castle in Dobczyce is another ruin you shouldn’t miss when exploring castles near Krakow. The castle’s origns can be traced back to 1362, but it was fortified much earlier. Under Casimir the Great, it was one of the most crucial fortresses. The castle switched owners multiple times, including the rule of the Lubomirskis. It survived the first Swedish invasion, unlike many castles around Krakow, only to be destroyed in the second invasion in 1702.

Like the High Castle in Lviv, it fell into disrepair, only to be partially restored recently. It now houses a PTTK museum. Let me say, the castle hill provides a stunning view of the dam in Dobczyce. The museum visit costs a mere PLN 7.

Wiśnicz Castle

Wiśnicz Castle Near Kraków

For those of you who aren’t keen on ruins, the castle in Wiśnicz is perfect. Commissioned by Jan Kmita in the 16th century, it features a mix of Baroque and Renaissance styles, surrounded by 17th-century fortifications. Over the years, it passed through various hands, including the Sanguszkos, Potockis, and Zamoyskis, and even the Austrian invader.

The castle’s restoration has been ongoing since the last century. The interiors might not dazzle you, but they’re worth exploring. You’ll find old paintings, furniture, and fireplaces, as well as restored parquet floors and ceilings. The castle visit and the VR bastion cost PLN 24, while exploring the chapel and the Lubomirski tomb will cost another PLN 10.

Niepołomice Castle

Niepołomice Castle Near Kraków

Niepołomice near Kraków is known for its forest walks, but there’s more to it. At the heart of the town, you’ll find the Royal Castle in Niepołomice. Like many castles, it was commissioned by Casimir the Great. It was a launching pad for royal hunting expeditions in the nearby forest rather than a defensive structure.

After a destructive Swedish invasion, the castle was renovated by the Austrian invader. Today, it houses a museum showcasing a collection of old paintings.

Sucha Beskidzka – Suski Castle

Sucha Beskidzka – Suski Castle

The Renaissance Suski Castle in Sucha Beskidzka was home to several prominent aristocratic families, including the Castiglione-Suski, Komorowski, Wielkopolski, Branicki, and Tarnowski. The estate’s courtyard is sometimes referred to as the „small Wawel”.A brick estate was constructed here after a fire destroyed the wooden Słupski manor house.

Post World War II, the castle was plundered, and various institutions were housed here, including a gymnasium, boarding school, factory, and warehouse. Today, the Kasper Suski hotel and restaurant occupy the ground floor, offering affordable main courses around PLN 30. You can even stay overnight for PLN 160 for a double room, despite the interiors not being overly luxrious. The remaining part of the castle is occupied by the City Museum and MOK.

So, if you want a royal experience, be sure to explore these captivating castles near Krakow. Each one, I am convinced, is a gem with its own unique charm.


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