How to get from Krakow airport to the city center (Krakow Old Town)?

If you are planning a stay in Krakow, chances are that you will need to go from the airport to the city center.

During my vacation in Krakow, I met tourists who paid a small fortune for this trip, when in fact there are very simple solutions to get to the center of Krakow from the John Paul II International Airport. So, I offer you a little guide full of advice to make your arrival in Krakow as smooth as possible!

Krakow Airport: John Paul II International Airport

If you are coming to Krakow from abroad, you will most likely land at the John Paul II International Airport, located in Balice, only 6.8 miles west of Krakow’s city center.

It is an airport that was long neglected in favor of another airport in the region, Katowice-Pyrzowice, but it has now become Poland’s second-largest airport after Warsaw-Chopin Airport. Nevertheless, it remains an airport on a human scale.

Krakow-Balice airport, or John Paul II airport
Krakow-Balice airport, or John Paul II airport | Photo © Piotrus – Under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

How to get from Krakow Airport to the city center (Krakow Old Town)

If you want to reach the center of Krakow from the airport, you have several options:

  • Take the train;
  • Take the bus;
  • Book an airport transfer to Krakow city center in advance;
  • Take a taxi;
  • Rent a car at the airport and drive to Krakow.

Let’s take a closer look at these options.

Take the train from the airport to Krakow city center

The train is the most cost-effective way to get from Krakow airport to the city center. Everything is well signposted in the airport to reach the train station, which is located in the airport itself. You can buy your ticket on the platform.

To give you an idea of how simple it is, the first time I went to Krakow, it only took me 20 minutes from the moment my flight landed on Polish soil until my train departed, even though I didn’t know the airport at all! There is just a footbridge to take from the arrivals terminal to the train station.

The line you will take is SKA1, which passes through Krakow airport, Krakow’s main train station near the city center, and goes to Wieliczka, the town where beautiful salt mines are located.

You can find the train timetable here, knowing that the airport is called “KRAKÓW LOTNISKO” and the main train station in Kraków is called “KRAKÓW GŁÓWNY”.

Kraków Airport station platform
Kraków Airport station platform | Photo © Altoshipper – Under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

You can take the train with a bicycle (there are compartments that accept bicycles), and you just need to add a small supplement to the price of your ticket. The same applies if you have a dog (guide dogs travel for free).

Other animals and equipment such as strollers, skis, and snowboards do not require additional baggage fees.

The ticket price is really affordable. I paid less than 3€ for a modern train with plugs under the seats and screens that allow you to visualize the route and the duration of the stops at each station.

The trip from the airport to downtown Krakow takes about 20 minutes. Once you arrive at Krakow Glowny station, you are less than a 10-minute walk from the historic center (Krakow Old Town). The local streetcar passes right in front of the station, so you can quickly get to your accommodation if it is further away!

Taking the bus from Krakow airport to the city center

If the train schedule doesn’t work for you or isn’t compatible with your flight schedule, you can try taking the bus from Krakow airport to the city center.

You have several lines to choose from:

  • Line 209 towards Salwator takes about 21 minutes to complete and stops west of Krakow’s Old Town at the terminus of streetcar lines 1 and 2. From there, it takes just over 5 minutes to reach the Old Town. You can find the timetable here.
  • Line 300 towards Os. Podwawelskie is an alternative; the journey takes about 21 minutes to Szwedzka station, south of the Vistula. From there, you can take streetcar line 18, which goes to the city center along the Wawel Castle. I find this route a little less convenient because the bus arrival station is a little further away than with line 209. The timetable for line 300 is available here.
  • Line 902 is a night bus option. The timetable for line 902 is available here. You can get on at Kraków Airport and get off at the Jagiellonian University stop or at the Bagatela Theater stop. The journey takes about 25 minutes.

The former 252 and 208 lines no longer serve the airport.

The airport website provides the indicative price of bus tickets in zlotys, the Polish currency, with the equivalent in euros.

Bus 292 at Krakow Airport
Bus 292 at Krakow Airport | Photo © Andrzej Otrębski – Under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Booking a transfer in Krakow between the airport and city center

If you have a lot of luggage or are afraid of getting lost when you arrive in Krakow, you can book a private transfer with a driver who will meet you at the airport and take you directly to your destination in Krakow city center.

You can book in advance with Cracow Holidays. They have an excellent reputation. I also recommend GR8 Way, which offers a transfer from Krakow airport in an electric vehicle. You can check prices and book here.

If you are traveling with your family or a group of friends, it can be advantageous to use a driver who charges “to the group” instead of “to the passenger.” For example, with this transfer offered by Krakow4You, you will pay the same price for up to 4 people in the car. This is great for small groups!

As Poland has a lower cost of living than other countries in Europe, these transfers are relatively affordable.

Taking a taxi from Krakow Airport

This is usually the most expensive option. There is a taxi service at Krakow airport, and the price is based on the distance traveled. You can see the rate table here.

To give you an idea of the distance, there are about 7 to 9 miles between Krakow airport and the city center (main square), depending on the route taken, so you will be in zone 3 or 4.

The waiting time for the taxi is charged.

Getting from Krakow airport to the city center by car

The last option is to rent a car at Krakow airport for the duration of your stay and use it to travel to the city center.

There are many car rental services available at the airport, including international companies like Europcar and Hertz, as well as local rental companies. One of the most reputable options is Odkryj-Auto. Rates may vary depending on the time of year, but to give a rough idea, expect a budget of around 25€ per day for a small air-conditioned car. You can also check out “TopCars” at John Paul II airport.

Once you have the car, take the A4 and DW780 roads to reach the city center. The journey takes about 20 minutes.

I hope you have a great stay in Krakow!

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