Krakow Nightlife - Find the Best Bars, Pubs, and Clubs

What’s so special about Kraków nightlife?

First came the Slavic tribes and their mythical dragon slayer. Then came the Bohemian dukes and the ambitious monarchs of the Piast Dynasty. Then came the Polish kings and queens of the city’s so-called Golden Age, raising the looming Gothic spires and gilded palaces seen today around the Market Square and Wawel Hill. Krakow then weathered world wars and communist rule alike, finally emerging as the cultural capital of Poland in the 21st century; a place of enthralling museums and mysterious churches, age-old fortifications and criss-crossing cobblestone streets.

Oh yeah, and the basements turned to bars, the medieval homes transformed into booming clubs, the onetime mansions of merchant guilds became rowdy beer halls, neon lights and karaoke erupted between the squares, and something else beautiful and brilliant and downright debaucherous was born: Krakow nightlife.

The highest concentration of bars and clubs in Europe

One popular urban myth has it that this humble city of just one million, sat on the far-flung fringes of the Eastern EU, boasts the highest concentration of cafes, pubs, clubs and bars than any other city on the continent. And while no one’s counting (especially not after a round of deceptively crystal-clear Żubrówka), there’s little doubt that the multitude of dive joints and beer halls, thumping dance floors and Slavic party haunts here makes for a shindig that you’re not likely to forget (or one that you’re certain to, depending on the Żubrówka!).

Krakow’s Old Town is the centre of the action. Once the heart of the medieval city, this maze of stony streets, open squares and hidden alleys is now loaded with more hedonistic potential than any other city in Europe (sorry Budapest, and back off Rome!). The beer is cheap as chips (actually it’s cheaper), the locals know how to party, and there are bucket-list bars by the bucket load.

Something for everyone

So, whether you’re craving a quiet cocktail in a smoky Slavic jazz bar, a Long Island in a speakeasy straight out of the 30s, English ales, IPAs and craft beers brewed by local hops heads, a tongue-tingling vodka tasting session with more raspberry rye shots than you can shake a plate of traditional pierogi at (Krakow’s late-night answer to the drunken kebab), a larynx-busting karaoke sesh beneath the cobbles of the Market Square, or a rambunctious blowout in the company of Erasmus students from Spain, backpackers from Belarus, the ubiquitous UK gap yearers, Aussies so tanned they look like Vegemite, chatty local Poles and keg-standing spring breakers from the US, Krakow’s nightlife has you covered!

Want some help exploring Krakow’s nightlife? Why not come on one of our epic Krakow pub crawls? They’ve become pretty famous, winning awards from TripAdvisor five years running. We guarantee you won’t regret it  😉

For checking out the local drinking culture we’d also recommend getting yourself on one of the amazing Polish vodka tasting experiences or tours. They’re a great combination of cool little bars and vodka cafes, culture, history and obviously incredible vodka!

A group of people enjoying nightlife at a pub.

Party Do's and Dont's

Local Customs

One of the most cherished customs is the communal spirit of togetherness, often symbolized through the shared experience of drinking. Vodka, a staple in Polish celebrations, is typically consumed in shots, accompanied by a toast – “Na zdrowie!” (To your health!) – before each shot. This practice is not only a way to kick off a memorable night but also serves as a gesture of friendship and camaraderie.

Getting Around

Krakow’s vibrant nightlife is predominantly centered in two bustling areas: the historic Old Town and the culturally rich district of Kazimierz. These neighborhoods, merely a 15-minute walk apart, offer a seamless bar-hopping experience, with numerous bars and clubs nestled closely together. This proximity means that adventurers can easily traverse the heart of Krakow’s nightlife on foot, moving from one lively venue to the next with minimal effort.

Cash or Card?

In Krakow, most nightlife venues accept credit cards, offering a hassle-free night out. However, for those rare cash payments, it’s best to use small bills. Bartenders may find it challenging to break large notes due to frequent change shortages, potentially leading to unintentional larger tips. Carrying smaller denominations can smooth over these transactions, keeping your tipping intentional and manageable.

Ordering Drinks

When at clubs in Krakow, clarity is key while ordering drinks. Failing to specify can often lead to bartenders serving the priciest options available. To avoid this, it’s a wise strategy to proactively ask for the most budget-friendly choices. This approach not only keeps your expenses in check but also ensures your night out remains enjoyable without the surprise of an inflated tab.

Stay Safe

Navigating Krakow’s nightlife can be an exhilarating experience, offering vibrant party scenes. However, it’s crucial to stay informed about local laws and social etiquettes to ensure your night out is memorable for all the right reasons. Firstly, drugs are a definite no-go in Krakow; possession and use are strictly illegal, with severe penalties for those caught. Also public drinking is another legal boundary to be mindful of, as it can attract hefty fines or even a night in jail. Lastly, while the allure of strip clubs might tempt some, it’s advisable to steer clear to avoid any potential scams or unsavory situations. With these 3 things kept in mind we’re sure you’ll have an unforgettable fun night out!

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