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Free Tours of Krakow

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Maria Magdalena square in Krakow

Free walking tours in Krakow

Free walking tours have mushroomed in Krakow since the official abolition of any professional requirements for tourist guides in Poland in 2014. Since anybody may show a tourist group around the town, it has become a job popular with foreigners living in Krakow–as far as we know there are no free tours in Polish–as well as students in their spare time. But whatever the guides of free tours lack in the knowledge of the city and of the sights or in their language skills (or both) they usually make up for with their friendliness and even enthusiasm in many cases. There are licensed guides active in Krakow, who have passed vocational exams and boast their own professional association, but they shun the business of free tours. If you are very fortunate, however, you may happen to join a free tour led by a qualified guide desperate enough to settle for gratuities rather than seek a fee for his/her services.

 

Krakow free tours in practice.

To put first things first, please remember that the term “free tour” doesn’t mean you aren’t expected to pay. There is no fixed fee but the guides await gratuity payment. The “free tours” is a model of business not charity for tourists.

The amount a tourist is supposed to pay for a “free tour” depends on his/her overall satisfaction but it should be proportional to the length of the tour, its attractiveness, the quality of provided information, language skills, etc. Fifty zlotys (PLN) seems a decent fee for a well-executed two-hour walking tour. Regular tour operators usually charge more but they provide a certified guide, their tours are longer and more attractive than an average “free tour”, and the price often includes museum tickets and the cost of transport by car or minibus.

 

A “free tour” may be booked online (and sometimes even paid for in advance!) but in the high season, namely mid-April through mid-October, the guides await customers next to Brama Florianska gate tower and the nearby Barbakan (barbican) practically any time between 10 am and 4 pm although bad weather may drive away most of them.

Typically, a “free tour” party is led across the Old Town to the Wawel Hill and then back to the Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Novum and Collegium Maius with a couple of other sights close by. It may last as little as an hour or as long as three hours, entirely on foot, and one shouldn’t expect entering any buildings. Some guides take their parties to the former Jewish quarter in Kazimierz district. And a few more enterprising operators offer “free tours” of other popular Krakow attractions such as Schindler’s Factory.

 


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