Our general advice is that this part of Poland has excellent public transport if you are just planning on travelling within and between the major cities, including Katowice and the world heritage site that is the centre of Kraków itself.
Many visitors to Kraków will also want to visit the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, and this can also be done (perhaps rather chillingly) by train. From Krakow direct, it’s quicker by bus – either way, you will need to go to the town of Oswiecim first, and then take a short walk from the rail / bus station.
Looking further south and into the Tatra mountains, then this is where getting a hire car in Kraków starts to become useful, but it’s also still possible, for example, to travel to a destination such as Zakopane by utilising local train services, even if they might take twice as long as driving yourself. Kraków is also a good starting point for a road trip into neighbouring Slovakia, a country which only has a limited number of inward flights via the capital Bratislava.
For anyone considering a multicity tour of Poland, it’s also easy enough to continue onwards by train from Kraków to either Lodz or the Polish capital Warsaw, although if your aim is to travel around smaller towns to the south or to the west and to focus more on rural areas rather than big cities, then a hire car might still be useful.
When compared with Western European countries, Polish rail services are generally very cheap, with first-class tickets available for a small supplement, although the rail network as a whole is generally lacking in investment. Some visitors might prefer to make inter-city journeys by coach.
Should you rent a car in Kraków? On balance, our Kraków car hire advice is that there is certainly no need to get one here for the most popular urban attractions, but that a rental car might be useful for some visitors.