Best Bars in Kraków: from Kazimierz to Rynek Główny

Bar interior

The nightlife and bar scene was obviously one of the first things I sought out in Kraków. Those atmospheric vaulted basements made a big impression on me, and after my first visit on that drunken NYE I always wanted to come back.

During my multiple visits to Kraków, I have developed a habit of staying with different friends in different areas of the town. One time I would discover the best bars in Krakóws old town, another time the highlights of the nightlife in Kazimierz. Once I even decided to spend my nights in the more deprived quarter of Nowa Huta, formerly one of the most renowned Socialist planned settlements.

After many nights in Kraków, I have a list of my favorites. Of course, old venues go and new places come, but the following have been pretty stable over the years and they are my personal highlights among the best bars in Kraków.

Piwnica pod Baranami

When you start your tour through the nightlife at the famous Main Square (Rynek Główny), you can’t really miss the Piwnica pod Baranami. Piwnica stands for a cellar. And Pod Baranami means “under the rams”.

Interior wall with artwork in Piwnica pod baranami

The bar has a historic background. It started as a little cabaret in 1956 and quickly became famous for its rather political shows. Apart from comedy and theater, the venue hosts Polish singer/songwriter performances and jazz concerts.

Tables and people in Piwnica pod baranami

Even without the shows, the bar is worth a visit. The vaulted cellar with the wooden counters and the impressive collection of paintings, posters and metal signs is the perfect backdrop for having beers, cocktails and vodka based longdrinks.

Address: Rynek Główny 27

Opening hours: daily 11:00-00:00

Website: https://piwnicapodbaranami.pl/

Café Hevre

The old frescoes and Hebrew writings on the walls remind you of the history of Café Hevre. What is today a popular bar in Kazimierz used to be an important synagogue in the formerly Jewish neighborhood.

Hevre interior view from balcony

The mixture of a ‘lost places’ type of atmosphere, the stylish chandeliers and the classic beer-house vibe leaves a strong impression. The price for a pint is surprisingly cheap and many people gather here, moving the chairs and tables around in the big main hall however they please.

From the early morning on, you can order Polish food such as breakfast dishes as well as typical Galician mains for lunch in Café Hevre. Even later at night you can add some appetizers to your drinks. Apart from the heavy Polish beer there are of course plenty of other beverages on the menu, from wine and cocktails to softer options.

Havre tables

In my opinion, Hevre is the perfect place to have little get-togethers with friends, start a Kraków pub crawl from, or just enjoy one of the most unique bars in Poland’s South.

Address: Beera Meiselsa 18

Opening hours: daily ca. 10:00-00:00

Website: https://www.facebook.com/hevrekazimierz/

Alchemia

The location of Alchemia is the perfect starting point for a little tour through Kraków’s nightlife; to be more exact, through the trendy Jewish quarter Kazimierz. You can find the pub right at the corner of the legendary Plac Nowy and Estery street. If you sit outside you will have a view right onto the large round building, where every morning slightly and strongly intoxicated people queue up for some hearty Zapiekanka pizza, one of Poland’s best food for a night out.

Alchemia

Alchemia itself has an interesting, alternative style. It comes across as dark and spooky with historic wallpapers, a wooden bar, chandeliers and mirrors. Even though the most popular drink in this Kraków bar is quite obviously beer, the name already suggests that the mixed beverages aren’t that bad either.

The barkeepers hand out classic and creative, new cocktails as well as the home-made Polish nalewki. Nalewki are a type of vodka tinctures that are flavored with different herbs, fruits, and, well, pretty much anything you can think of.

Alchemia musicians

Those nalewki usually fuel a whole night of singing and dancing. On weekends, Alchemia bar in Kazimierz opens until the early morning hours and you can expect exciting concerts by local artists in the basement. By the way, it's also the venue for breathtaking jam sessions accompanying the Jewish Culture Festival in late June/early July. Around 4 a. m. the waiters close the doors and the visitors continue to the nearby fast food stalls.

Address: Estery 5

Opening hours: Sun-Thu 09:00-02:00, Fri-Sat 09:00-04:00

Website: https://alchemia.com.pl/

Komisariat

If you want to save some money on your pub crawl in Kraków, you should definitely put the Pub Komisariat at Plac Nowy on your list. Because of the low prices the bar fills up quickly in the later evening hours, when people switch over from more expensive places for a nightcap - and another one, and another one.

Komisariat exterior

Know before you go: Komisariat is one of the cheapest bars in Kraków and won’t disappoint you if you come with cash. Cards are not accepted out of principle, which fits to the somewhat Socialist vibe of this little bar right next to the food stalls.

The prices have been kept pretty stable over the years. For half a liter of beer and a snack, you pay 5 Złoty. The same goes for a shot of Polish vodka with a bit of food or a cup of wine without the complimentary nutriment. At the end of the day, you can safely say that if you are looking for a really cheap bar in Kraków and Kazimierz particularly, Komisariat is your best bet.

Address: Estery 16

Opening hours: Sun-Wed 16:00-04:00, Thu 16:00-05:00, Fri-Sat 09:00-06:00

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Komisariat.Klub/?locale=pl_PL

Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa/Pwip (Plac Nowy and Floriańska)

Pijalnia wódki i piwa translates into “drinking hall for vodka and beer” and is one of the best known bar chains in Poland. You find it in nearly every town in the country and recently it even expanded across the borders.

Pijalnia Wodki

In Kraków you will have three options to go drinking here for cheap. In Kazimierz you can start the nightlife tour through Kraków in the branch at Plac Nowy, while in the centre near Rynek Główny the Floriańska Pijalnia is your best bet. Another bar of this chain has opened on Szewska street further West of the main square.

The menu looks pretty simple and this bar in Kraków specializes in high quantity for low prices. At around 8,5 Złóty (around 2 Euros), the half liter of beer costs a little bit more than in neighboring Komisariat. Pretty popular are also the little nalewki and vodka shots for about an Euro. If you buy four at once, you will most likely get a discount. Stronger vodkas like Żubrówka Czarna cost a little bit more.

Pijalnia

Looking at the cheap offers and discounts on more than one drink, Pijalnia wódki i piwa is most popular among groups discovering the nightlife in Kraków. If you get hungry during the evening, you can also order traditional Polish snacks like herring in oil, żurek soup and pierogi with various fillings.

Address: Plac Nowy 7, Szewska 20, and Floriańska 34

Opening hours: daily from ca. 09:00-04:00

Website: https://pwip.com.pl/lokale/

Singer

The cozy café and bar Singer offers a nostalgic memory of the old days when sewing machines were present in every household in Poland. The tables inside and outside the venue are built out of the historic apparatuses welded together. In the afternoon people usually come around for a coffee and a sweet treat.

Singer bar interior

Towards the evening, Singer turns into an atmospheric bar. People start dancing in front of the old curtains, reddish wallpapers and historic mirrors. Especially on weekends this place is one of the legends in the Kazimierz nightlife of Kraków.

When it gets cold outside, the bar offers some special mulled beer with fruit syrup. Home-made nalewki and vodka shots heat up the mood as well and guarantee an unforgettable night in one of the best pubs of Kraków. You find Singer just a few steps away from Plac Nowy on Estery street.

Address: Estery 20

Opening hours: Sun-Thu 09:00-04:00, Fri-Sat 10:00-06:00

Website: -

Eszeweria

Situated on Józefa in Kazimierz, this is actually my favorite among the bars of Kraków. I stumbled into it when I got stuck on a planned trip to Ukraine during the Russian attack in 2022. Since I had nothing else to do but to wait for days, I ended up using Eszeweria a lot for work and enjoying relaxed beers in a beautiful setting.

Eszeweria exterior

At first, I was a bit shy to take a look inside. The writing on the entrance looks a bit ancient and exudes a special bohemian flair. When you pass the little door, you are drawn into a dimly lit long room that leads you to the bar and a few hidden corners that are stuffed with random pieces of traditional furniture.

Highlights are the old mirrors, in which you can observe yourself and others drinking local Polish beers, mulled wine in winter and luxurious cocktails. Personally, I prefer to sit inside because of the artsy atmosphere that brings you back to the time of the Fin de Siècle.

Eszeweria interior

In summer it’s worth visiting the shaded garden of Eszeweria. Here you can find a bit more space, in case you want to visit with a bunch of people. It’s really recommended to come early so you can save yourself a seat. In the evenings it can get crowded and you might even have to queue to get a place.

Address: Józefa 9

Opening hours: daily 10:00-02:00

Website: -

Ulica Krokodyli Pup and Café

Bruno Schulz was one of the most gifted writers of Jewish Poland. His Kafkaesque stories are set in his hometown of Galician Drohobycz, which today belongs to the state of Ukraine. The bar Ulica Krokodyli borrows one of his famously described places, the “Streets of Crocodiles” in the story collection “Cinnamon Shops”, and uses it to great effect.

Crocodile Streets

The owners have set up a scenery that replicates interwar Poland and the Drohobycz that Schulz had in his mind. In the earlier evenings you will most likely sit in the garden outside or hang around at the shadowy bar. Traditional Galician nalewki and vodkas are served as well as tasty beers. If you’re a large group or you’re really, really hungry: Go for the cheese board. It’s amazing!

Krokodyli cheese board

The later it gets in the evening, the more people disappear into the much more glamorous basement. DJs turn up the volume here and a mostly young audience starts to dance until the early morning hours. Compared to the more sophisticated restaurants at the traditionally Jewish Szeroka street, Ulica Krokodyli is a lot more lively and ideal for a long party night in Kraków.

Address: Szeroka 30

Opening hours: Sun-Thu 10:00-01:00, Fri-Sat 09:00-04:00

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pubulicakrokodyli/?locale=de_DE

Pijana Wiśnia

One more time, we’re traveling to today’s Ukrainian Galicia by having a stop in Pijana Wiśnia. The “drunk cherry” is one of the traditional beverages and bar chains in Lviv, just a day trip away from Kraków. Being one of the best bars in Lviv, it expanded to many other cities in Eastern Europe: Kraków, having a similar architecture and style, is of course one of them.

Pijana Wisnia interior with view of painted logo, woman holding cherries

Usually, you just pop by here to get a warm or cold fruit wine with canned cherries. Those are served in the most beautiful crystal glasses you can imagine. You can consume your drink outside at the bar tables or you can snuggle up in the pub area and enjoy the nalewki under the red-lit ceiling out of glass bottles.

view of Wisnia red chandelier

If you like the taste, you can buy some bottles of Pijana Wiśnia to take away. Also available are stronger cherry liquors and souvenirs, such as a set of crystal glasses for home. In my opinion, this is one of the best bars of Kraków for a quick stopover or to start the pub crawl in Stare Miasto or Kazimierz. It’s also the perfect spot to get quick presents for those friends and family members who stayed at home.

Address: Grodzka 10

Opening hours: Sun-Wed 12:00-00:00, Thu 12:00-01:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-02:00

Website: https://pijanawisnia.pl/

Dobry Kumpel

The shadowy basement bars in Stare Miasto are one of the USPs of Krakóws nightlife. Actually, you can find dozens of them, if you walk along streets like Floriańska, Grodzka and Szewska. My recommendation when it comes to this type of bar in Kraków is Dobry Kumpel near the medieval Barbakan gate.

You will find this place, which translates into something like “good buddy” near the House of Jan Mateijko National Museum. Once inside, you go down the stairs and end up in an historic vaulted cellar.

At the bar, you can basically get anything you want. Polish draft beer, mulled wine, non-mulled wine, cocktails, whiskey and vodka are on the menu. In comparison to other trendy bars especially in the somewhat more popular Kazimierz quarter, Dobry Kumpel is relatively cheap.

You can also look forward to a few exciting events, like live concerts and special cocktail nights. One of the house drinks is the Poland-wide known “mad dog” (Wściekły Pies). Mixing clear vodka and raspberry syrup with a bit of tabasco together, the colors resemble the Polish flag. Because of the sweetness and the biting chili sauce, you might not even notice the strength of the vodka itself. That’s why it’s recommended to consume it with care.

Address: Floriańska 47

Opening hours: Sun-Thu 13:00-00:00, Fri-Sat 13:00-02:00

Website: https://www.instagram.com/p/CkLIebBNfLI

Ciemnia

Ciemnia is a place that I stumbled upon unexpectedly during a stay at a peculiar Airbnb in which our host would loiter on the loft bed, seemingly watching over us while sleeping. It goes without saying that there I didn’t do much sleeping, rather laying awake overthinking half of the night why in the world we decided to pay for this place.

Ciemna event information

But it wasn’t only the host’s presence that didn’t let me sleep all night. Around midnight I noticed a continuous beat emanating from the basement. Intrigued, I investigated the source and discovered that Kraków's notorious gay club, Ciemnia, was hosting a techno night that lasted until 10:00 a.m.

To my surprise, they repeated the same event the following night, indicating that Friday and Saturday nights are the prime moments to visit this establishment. When I inquired about it with my Kraków friends, they seemed nostalgically thrilled about Ciemnia.

Curiosity got the better of us, and we decided to take a peek inside. While passing a tipsy individual at the entrance of our residence, we noticed a staircase leading down to the bar on the left. Before the party was in full swing, we descended and surveyed the surroundings—a black-painted brick wall adorned with rainbow-colored effects and vibrant lights.

Based on this brief observation, the reviews from my friends, and me listening to the distant sounds of people reveling while being watched by our Airbnb host from the elevated bed, it appears that Ciemnia is an excellent option for experiencing Poland's LGBT scene.

Address: Świętego Filipa 7

Opening hours: Fri-Sat 21:00-10:00, Sun. 21:00-04:00, Tue-Thu 21:00-06:00

Website: https://www.instagram.com/p/CkLIebBNfLI/