The park has a surface of 21 square hectares (52 acres) and a length of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). It consists of a chain of thirty smaller gardens designed in varied styles and adorned with numerous monuments and fountains. The park forms a scenic walkway popular with Cracovians. In summer, sprinkled with ponds and refreshment stalls, it is a cool and shady retreat from the nearby bustling streets.
Most historic sites of the old Kraków are located inside the Planty park belt along the Royal Road (Droga Królewska) crossing the park from the medieval suburb of Kleparz through Florian Gate at the northern flank of the old city walls. The historic Wawel Castle at the Wawel Hill, adjacent to Vistula River meander, form the southernmost border of Planty.
By the beginning of the 19th century the expanding city had begun to outgrow the confines of the old defensive walls. The walls had been falling into disrepair due to lack of maintenance after the Partitions of Poland. As a result, Emperor Franz I of Austro-Hungary ordered the dismantling of the old fortifications. However, in 1817 Professor Feliks Radwański of Jagiellonian University managed to convince the Session of the Senate of the Republic of Kraków to legislate the partial preservation of the old fortifications, namely, the Florian Gate and the adjoining Barbican.