When arriving to Krakow Airport, there are lots of ways to get to the Main Station:
The cost of getting from the Airport to the city center varies from 4 zł (PLN) for a public bus, up to 100 zł (PLN) for a taxi.
There’s also a big difference in traveling time: the train will usually get you to the center twice as fast as any other method.
Some of these means of transport have free WiFi internet, electric outlets to charge your devices, bathrooms etc…
Read on to learn the important details.
Differences between the Main Station, Dworzec Glowny, Galeria Krakowska, Old Town, City Center, Main Market Square etc.
First, let’s explain, that the Main Station in Krakow is called “Dworzec Glowny” – that’s the Polish translation and the name on most of the stops surrounding the station. The station is a central hub for both public buses & trams, as well as trains, private buses, private minibuses and long-distance private buses (the “RDA” – Regionalny Dworzec Autobusowy, translated to: Regional Bus Station). The tour buses for guided tours also usually leave from around the main station.
The main station is connected (literally) with a shopping center called “Galeria Krakowska”. It is also about 1 km (0.5 miles) away from the Old Town & Main Market Square, which is also known as the center of the city.
Therefore, no matter if you want to go to the Main Station, Dworzec Glowny, Old Town, Galeria Krakowska, Main Square, City Center – you usually mean the same place. Just to be sure you end up where you want to be, use the Main Station, Dworzec Glowny or Galeria Krakowska naming. The Old Town & Main Market Square is a 10 minute walk away from the station, while the center of the city can be considered as a wider area.
What’s the fastest way to get to the center of Krakow from the airport?
- Taking the train is the fastest way to reach the center of Krakow. It’s a 20 minute ride.
- Taxis, ubers & private drivers will drive you to the center in about 35 minutes.
- Public buses usually take 50 minutes to reach the main station (they have many stops along the way).
If you take a public bus, taxi, private driver or an uber around 7:00 – 10:00 or 16:00 – 19:00, your travel time might easily double or triple, as these are the high traffic hours in Krakow. The train is not affected by traffic.
What’s the cheapest way to get to the Main Station from the airport?
- A public bus is the cheapest way to travel between the airport in Krakow & the main station (Dworzec Glowny). You need to buy an agglomerative (Zone 1 + 2) version of the ticket, since the airport is outside of the standard city zone. You can view the current prices here. Right now, an agglomerative ticket costs 4 zł (PLN) per person.
- The train is more expensive, but still cheap. It costs 9 zł (PLN) per person.
- Private drivers & uber drivers are not registered as taxis, so they usually don’t pay taxes or have the needed exams taken. This also allows them to lower the costs to about 40 zł (PLN). I highly discourage you from using these means of transport – you don’t have any rights when traveling this way.
- Taxis have taximeters installed, but sometimes you can agree on a fixed price when entering the vehicle. The price depends on the time of day (night is more expensive). There’s a starting fee of about 7 zł and then the price per km gets added and changes when you enter the city. Usually you’ll end up with a taxi price of around 90 zł (PLN) at daytime.
Is there a metro (subway, tube) in Krakow?
Nope, there is no subway in Krakow and there might never be, as whenever you stick a shovel into the ground, you find a monument that needs to be preserved. We built on top of the old structures, so now it’s a bit hard to make a metro.
The public transport is very well organized though, so don’t worry.
So, what’s the BEST way to get to the center?
By far, the best way to travel from the Krakow – Balice Airport to the center of Krakow is a train. Reasons being:
- It’s cheap.
- It’s fast.
- You have a lot of ways to get a ticket (including a cash / credit card machine & person on the train).
- You have a lot of space for your bags.
- You have free access to a bathroom.
- You have free access to WiFi internet.
- You have free access to electrical outlets (sockets) to charge your devices.
- You can hear the station names via the speakers and have a LCD display to see when you should get off.
- It’s clean & safe.
This is a no-brainer. The only circumstance at which you’d want to use something else are:
- when you arrive at the airport very late at night and the trains don’t run that late (which we’ll get into in a moment),
- when your accommodation is far from the main station and it’s better to take a cab or get off the public bus before reaching the station.
How to get a train ticket at the Krakow – Balice Airport?
You can get a train ticket:
- At the airport terminal in a machine (you can pay with cash or a credit card). When you leave the Arrivals zone, you will be on the bottom floor. There’s a ticket machine right next to the moving stairs, basically in front of Arrivals. Look around and you’ll see a black column which shows the time when the nearest train leaves. After buying the ticket, go up a level using the moving stairs and turn left to walk through a bridge straight to the train station.
- At the airport train station in a machine (you can pay with cash or a credit card).
- Inside the train in a machine (you can pay with cash or a credit card) – be sure you immediately go find the machine after entering the train or you may be fined for traveling without a ticket.
- Inside the train from a conductor (you can only pay with cash) – be sure to immediately go find the conductor (he should be in the 1st wagon) and say you want to purchase a ticket or you will be fined for traveling without one.
The price of the ticket is the same everywhere, so people usually buy it from the conductor.
By default, the ticket is valid for 2 hours and the start of that time is set to the nearest train departure for your route. If you want, you can ask the conductor or click a button on the ticket-selling machine and buy a ticket that will be good for a future ride, but you will have to specify the exact time the validation starts. Therefore, it’s usually best to buy the ticket just before or right when entering the train.
Krakow Airport train schedules – IMPORTANT CHANGES
The last train usually leaves at 00:20 and the next (first) train of the day leaves at 04:30 in the morning. The train leaves roughly every 30 minutes.
IMPORTANT CHANGES! Until 10th March 2018, the railroad is under maintenance. This means that some trains are replaced with buses. These temporary replacement buses are different from the standard public buses, mentioned above. They have a different path (as close to the train path as possible), less stops and the same price as a train (9 zł). Be sure to follow the procedure below to know if you should go to the train station to catch a train or go to the bus stop to catch a replacement bus.
- Open the official airport schedule website (click to open in a new tab).
- Wait for the website to fully load. You will then see a search form at the top.
- In the first field, enter “airport”. You will see a hint with the full station name – click it.
- In the second field, enter only the letter “g”. You will see a hint with “Dworzec Główny” – click it (that’s the main station).
- Choose your estimated train departure date & time (I advise 40 minutes after the plane lands) and click “Find Connection”.
You will see a schedule. The train ride usually takes around 20 minutes. If the length is somewhere around 35 – 45 minutes, it means that it’s a replacement bus. You can also tell the difference from the little icons on a long line on this page – if it’s a train, the icon shows a train and a “OSOB.” text. If it’s a replacement bus, the icon shows a bus and a “ZAST.” text.
If the ride takes about 40 minutes but the text says “OSOB.”, it’s probably a mistake and it’s actually a replacement bus, not a train.
Sometimes it’s better to relax at the airport and wait for a train rather than go for the replacement or public transport bus (at which point they are quite similar, the public transport having more stops though but being half the price of the replacement bus).
The replacement buses leave from the same bus stop at which the normal public buses leave. It’s on the bottom floor, right in front of the Arrivals at the terminal building. If you want to ride it, ask the driver if this is a train replacement bus. The replacement bus doesn’t have a ticket machine inside, but you can still go with the ticket which you bought at the airport or buy it from the conductor.
Public transport schedule – day & night buses from Krakow Airport
The public transport buses leave from a stop which is right outside the Arrivals of the main terminal building. There is a public transport ticket machine somewhere at the terminal (or at the bus stop), but I don’t remember where, to be honest – just ask around.
Don’t mistake the train ticket machine with the public transport ticket machine. The public transport ticket machine has the letters “MPK” all around it (it’s the name of the public transport company), while the train ticket machine has trains all over it. They are two totally different companies.
The ticket for the public transport is not valid right after purchasing it. You can use it even a year later or give it to someone else.
- If it’s a 1 journey ticket, the ride starts when you validate the ticket in a machine which is on the vehicle you enter. When you leave the machine, the ticket is no longer valid and you can throw it away.
- If it’s a time-based ticket, the timer starts when you validate the ticket in a machine which is on the first vehicle you enter. You can then leave the vehicle and get to any other one (tram or bus), at which you don’t validate the ticket any more. The ticket expires when the time limit is reached, starting from the 1st validation. When you enter the ticket to the validating machine, it will print numbers on it. The last 4 digits are the hour and minute at which the validation occurred.
When you go from the airport to Krakow’s center, you’ll likely buy the “Single journey or 40 minutes” agglomerative ticket, which costs 4 zł per person. The price of the ticket is the same everywhere you buy it. The price for public transport is the same no matter if it’s the middle of the day or if you’re riding a night bus.
To get the current timetable (for buses, it changes from time to time):
- Open the official public transport schedule website (click to open in a new tab).
- Use the search field under “List of stops”. Type in “airport” and click the hinted stop name. Then, hit Enter (Return) on your keyboard.
- You will see a list of bus-line numbers which travel to and from this stop. Currently, the bus number 208 travels to the main station during daylight (every hour), while the bus numbered 902 travels to the main station during the night (also every hour). After clicking a line number, click the proper route direction (Kraków Airport – Dworzec Główny Wschód, not the other way).
If you want to get to your destination using public transport, I highly recommend using the JakDojade.pl website (click to open in a new tab). First, change your language to English by clicking a gear icon in the top right corner and by selecting “Angielski” from a dropdown menu. Then you can enter staring & ending points (they can be street names etc., not only names of the stops) or pick a line number from the left to see its route. Remember, that this website does NOT work with train transport – it only considers public transport (trams & buses).
Remember that you need a agglomerative (Zone 1 + 2) version of the public transport ticket and you need to validate your ticket in a machine immediately after entering the bus. If you don’t validate the ticket, you will be fined if an inspector checks your ticket.
Taxi from the Krakow Airport
If you want to take a cab, just exit the terminal and you’ll see the taxi stop right in front of you. You can ask for an estimate or ask for a fixed price, but usually the taximeter does the counting while you drive.
Taking an uber or private transfer from the Airport?
Don’t do it. You might get scammed and it will ruin your trip. It’s also not fair to hard working tax payers.
Have more questions about public transport in Krakow?
Write your questions in the comments section below or contact me.