Along with being one of the most picturesque cities in Poland, Krakow is also one of the largest cities in the country. It is second in population behind the capital city of Warsaw. It is an important source of Polish economics, culture and academics. Despite the beautiful setting, the weather can be temperamental, cold and wet. The city is located on the Vistula River in Southern Poland at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and has a temperate, distinct four-season climate.
Visitors can expect harsh winters with below freezing temperatures and summers with lots of precipitation. The city witnesses between 23 and 58 days that fall below freezing in the year. The weather during the summer can be fickle, with higher rain chances than any other time of the year and temperatures that fluctuate daily. However, don’t count the city out completely as a place to visit; during the spring and autumn months, the temperatures even out and the rainfall chances drop. Rainfall is considerably higher in Krakow when compared with Warsaw, with July and August each seeing average monthly precipitation of 80 to 100mm.
The city is home to five nature reserves that are highly protected by the government. The western portion of the city also borders the Jurassic Bielany-Tyniec refuge, an internationally-important reserve for wildlife and plant life. Highlights for visitors include the many Gothic cathedrals and churches found all across the city that tell of the history of Poland.
Other popular stops include several Jewish museums that explore the Holocaust in Krakow and honor the Jews that lost their lives during the Nazi Occupation. Visitors will also want to check out the Old Town area of the city, still home to some of the original fortification walls and gates that protected residents from outside attacks.
From the beginning of spring to the end, the temperatures in Krakow make a large swing. The average temperature for March, April and May averages between 4°C and 14°C (about 38°F to 57°F). During this time, the lows drop to 0°C to 8°C (around 32°F to 46°F) and the highs range between 7°C and 20°C (about 45°F to 68°F). You’ll want to keep an umbrella handy during the Spring months, with an average rainfall of 39 to 49 mm that falls on an average of 15 to 16 days each month.
The further into spring you get, the more daylight hours you have each day to enjoy the city. In the spring, you’ll get an average of 3 to 6 sunshine hours each day, with fewer daytime hours in March, gradually increasing through April and May. May is popular with tourists thanks to the increase in daily sunlight hours similar to those in the summer, but without the high rainfall that occurs during the summer months. The increasing average daily highs, combined with the smells and sights of spring, make May a very popular time to visit Poland and Krakow.
Come summer, the temperatures are finally warm and the daylight hours longer to enjoy the beautiful city of Krakow. The average daily temperature for the city in the summer is 17°C to 19°C (about 62°F to 65°F). The lows during the months of June, July and August drop to 11°C to 12°C (about 52°F to 54°F) and the highs will reach a very pleasant 22°C to 25°C (around 72°F to 77°F).
Fortunately, the temperatures are rising in the summer but unfortunately the rain amounts are too. The rainfall amounts, which average 60 to 69 mm over the three months, peak in July and then drop off again in August. July has an average rainfall amount of 69 mm, compared to London’s average rainfall for each month throughout winter of 78 mm. It is difficult to imagine, but a Krakow summer can sometimes be wetter than a London winter! The rain falls over an average of 14 to 17 days each month, so you’ll want to be sure to be prepared for wet weather during a summer visit.
Thankfully, the summer months bring longer days, with 6 to 7 sunshine hours a day. There is an old Polish poem that says ‘days are longest in June, hottest in July, and most beautiful in August,’ which seems to best sum up the Krakow summer.
Poland is famed for its “golden autumn” which offers moderate temperatures, decent amounts of sunlight each day and fewer chances and lower amounts of rain. Like the spring months, the autumn months see a wide range of temperatures, with daily averages falling between 3°C and 14°C (about 37°F to 57°F). The lows start dropping, especially in November, with average lows of 0°C to 9°C (around 32°F to 48°F). The average highs average between 5°C and 19°C (about 41°F to 66°F) for the months of September, October and November.
Rainfall in Krakow in September is nearly half the amount it gets in the height of summer. Average rainfall amounts in the autumn fall between 33 and 45 mm, with 14 to 16 rainy days each month. The daylight hours start waning these months, with an average of 2 to 4 hours of sunshine each day.
Winters in Krakow are long, harsh and lacking much daylight. The city only gets between an hour and an hour and a half of sunshine a day during the winter months. The temperatures don’t help either, with much of December, January and February staying below the freezing mark. The average daily temperature runs a very chilly -1°C to -3°C (about 28°F to 31°F). If visiting in the winter, bring plenty of warm layers, as lows drop down to -3°C to -5°C (around 23°F to 27°F) and the highs only get up to 0°C to 2°C (about 32°F to 36°F).
While cold, the winter at least sees a decrease in precipitation, with an average of 24 to 27 mm of rain or snow in December, January and February. The rain falls over an average of 11 to 14 days, so you can expect more dry days than wet ones. Even with the cold winters and lack of sunlight, the winter can still be a good time to visit since many of the attractions are still open and indoors so you can escape from the cold. The cold weather and snowfall even adds to the Gothic feel of the city.
Krakow and Poland don’t face many weather hazards. The winters get cold and harsh, but with the proper clothing and outerwear, you can easily survive the dropping temps and driving winds. During the summer months, western blowing winds bring rainfall and thunderstorms, but fortunately very few reach the severe level. The best advice is to check local forecasts when you’re preparing to travel to the area.
Some might consider the lack of daylight during the winter months as a hazard. Thankfully the city has plenty of indoor attractions, such as the cathedrals and museums, so visitors can find plenty to do, even in the darkness of winter. With a little careful planning, visitors to the area in the winter can still enjoy the outdoor and indoor activities.