Driving in Krakow: Is it even possible (or worth it?)

driving in krakow

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If you’re planning a visit to Krakow, you may be wondering whether it’s worth renting or hiring a car. Driving can be a great way to see the city and its surroundings at your own pace. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before getting behind the wheel.

In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about driving in Krakow, and whether it’s the best overall means of transportation for your trip.

Driving in Krakow

If you’re considering driving in Krakow, keep in mind that driving in the city center and Old Town can be challenging due to pedestrian-only zones, narrow streets, and limited parking. However, driving outside of the city is much easier and provides access to many beautiful places that are worth seeing.

We hired a car for three days while sightseeing outside of the city center and found that we were able to move around much more easily than if we had relied on public transportation or taxis. Plus, we were able to make spontaneous stops whenever we wanted to explore something we liked the look of!

So if you’re looking for a way to see more of Krakow and its surroundings, hiring a car is definitely a great option.

no cars in market square krakow

Do you Need a Car in Krakow?

If you are only planning on spending time in the city center, then it is not necessary to hire a car in Krakow. The city center is very walkable, and there is an efficient and reliable public transportation system that can take you to most of the major sights.

However, if you are planning on spending time outside of the city center, then hiring a car may be a great option. Krakow is surrounded by beautiful countryside and important historical sites, and there are several excellent day trips that can be taken from the city. Having your own car will give you the flexibility to explore at your own pace and without the pressure of sticking to a group tour schedule.

Ultimately, driving in Krakow is a matter of personal preference. Some people find it to be an easy and convenient way to get around, while others prefer to walk or take public transportation.

old town krakow pedestrian only zones

Is it Easy to Drive in Krakow?

Any driver will tell you that driving in a new city can be a challenge. Different cities have different rules and regulations, and it can take a while to get used to the layout of the streets. Krakow is no exception.

It is a very old city, with many roads that were not designed for modern cars. As a result, you may encounter narrow alleyways and one-way streets that can be difficult to navigate, along with high-traffic pedestrian areas that pose additional hazards.

However, there are a few things that you can do to make the experience a little easier:

  • Be sure to familiarize yourself with the city layout before you start driving
  • Pay particular attention to street signs and markings
  • Be patient. Narrow streets can mean slow going, but try to stay calm and take your time
  • Always give way to trams – they have the right of way and they don’t always stop!
  • Remember that pedestrians also have the right of way, regardless of whether they are using a crosswalk or not!

But all in all, driving in Krakow is relatively easy and definitely doable. Just make sure you’re prepared for some minor challenges along the way!

Parking in Krakow

Parking in Krakow can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the city. The best place to start is by parking in one of the city’s many parking garages. These garages are typically well-lit and offer security, making them ideal for short to mid-term parking.

Another option is street parking, which is often cheaper than parking in a garage, but it can be more difficult to find one available. You could end up driving around for ages trying to pinch a spot, so car parks and garages are generally the safer bet.

Just be sure to do your research ahead of time so you can find the best option for your needs.

parking in krakow

Average Parking Costs in Krakow

Street Parking: Less than $1 per hour

Public Car Park: $1.2 per hour

Shopping Mall: $1.5 per hour

Hotel/Garage Parking: $12 overnight

Speed Limits

Poland has a reputation for being a fast country when it comes to driving, with the average driving speed being 60-70 km/h. There are highways where the limit is 120 km/h, but these are usually only found outside of major cities and towns. 

In built-up areas around Krakow, the speed limit is 50 km/h, unless you’re in a residential area – then it’s 20 km/h. 

Driving any faster than this is not only illegal, but it’s also very dangerous. There are a lot of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads, and the cobblestone streets can be tricky to navigate at high speeds. 

So, if you’re driving in Poland, be sure to stay within the posted speed limits.

driving on highway towards krakow

Do I need an International Driving License in Poland?

Yes, you’ll need to make sure you have applied for an international driving license from your local driving authority before you leave for Poland. Once you have your license, you’ll need to be familiar with the Polish driving rules and regulations.

If you’re not used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, it’s worth renting a car with automatic transmission to make things easier.

Driving Rules in Poland

If you’re planning on driving in Poland, there are a few things you should know before hiring a car.

  • You must be 21 or over (to hire a car)
  • Hold a Full Valid Driving Licence (kept on you at all times)
  • Drive on the right-hand side
  • Traffic from the right has priority
  • Trams take priority (in any direction)
  • Seatbelts must be worn (by everyone) at all times

Drink Driving Limits

In Poland, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving is 0.02%. This is much lower than the limit in the United States (or the majority of the UK), where the BAC limit is 0.08%.

As there are many pedestrians and cyclists on the roads, with streets often very crowded it is important to be extra careful when driving in Krakow. If you are caught driving with a BAC above 0.02%, you will face a fine or have your driver’s license suspended, with the potential of even going to jail (depending on how serious the circumstances are).

The best advice is to make sure you don’t drink any alcohol at all – or if you do, just opt for public transport or taxis instead.

Driving Culture in Poland

The driving culture in Poland is generally more relaxed than in other European countries. This means that drivers are less likely to honk or get aggressive on the roads. However, it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively.

Some driving etiquette tips to keep in mind when driving in Krakow:

  • Only use your horn in an emergency to warn others
  • Always yield to pedestrians, even if they’re not crossing at a crosswalk
  • When passing another car on the road, use your turn signal
  • Only overtake on the left, and use your turn signal to let the other driver know what you’re doing

With a little bit of research and preparation, you can better understand the driving culture in Krakow, which makes the experience a far less stressful one!

Are the Roads Good in Krakow?

Krakow’s roads are generally in good condition, although driving in the city can be challenging due to the high volume of traffic. However, the main highways and roads outside of the city are normally excellent and make driving around Krakow a breeze.

Is it Safe to Rent a Car in Poland?

Car crime is relatively low in Krakow, but as with any major city, there are always opportunistic criminals looking for an easy target. When driving in Krakow, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to safeguard your vehicle.

For example, avoid parking in isolated or poorly lit areas, and never leave valuables in plain sight. While car crime is not a major problem in Krakow, taking these simple steps can help to ensure that your experience is safe and enjoyable.

car crime in krakow

How to Rent a Car in Krakow

The best place to start with your car rental is at Krakow Airport, which will save you a small fortune in taxi fees getting to the city center. Book in advance for full availability and for the best prices. A good rental company will also offer free cancellation up until 48 hours of your trip taking place.

We hired our VW Tiguan SUV through Discover Cars which cost $84 for three days (and the service was amazing). As a comparison, the average cost of a taxi from Krakow Airport to Old Town is $30, so you can see how much more value you get with a hire car.

Public Transport vs Driving (in Krakow)

Public transport is generally much cheaper than driving, and it can be more convenient if you’re traveling in a group. On the other hand, public transport can be quite crowded during rush hour, and it can be difficult to get around if you’re not familiar with the city.

If you’re looking for the cheapest and most convenient option, public transport is probably your best bet. However, if you prefer more personal freedom and flexibility, then driving may be the better option for you.

Taxis vs Driving (in Krakow)

Taxis are more expensive than driving, but they can also be more convenient. They can help to avoid traffic and can drop you off right in front of your destination, and they are also a good option if you plan on drinking.

However, taxis can be hard to flag down, and they are not always available when you need them. Driving is a much cheaper option, but it can be stressful, especially if you are not familiar with the area.

However, if you are a confident city driver, then hiring your own car may be the better option.

Driving in Krakow Can Be a Great Option

If you’re thinking about driving in Krakow, it’s worth doing some research and planning ahead of time. While there are a few things to be aware of, driving can be a great option if you’re looking for freedom and flexibility during your stay.

Plus, car hire there is still relatively cheap, so, if you’re looking to save some money and have a more personal experience during your stay, driving in Krakow is definitely worth considering.

Do you have any questions about getting around in Krakow? Let us know in the comments below!

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