The town is famous for its beer festival called Chmielaki (Polish: chmiel means hop), and for its dairy products like yogurt and kefir. Krasnystaw is near the border with Ukraine. The river Wieprz flows through Krasnystaw.
Krasnystaw received its town charter from King Władysław II Jagiełło, who signed the document in Kraków, on March 1, 1394. The new town was located in the location of previously existing village of Szczekarzew, and in 1490 - 1826, was property of the Bishops of Chełm, and the seat of a starosta. Due to convenient location along merchant route from Lublin to Lwów, it prospered in the 16th century.
The period known as Swedish wars (1655 - 1660) brought destruction of both the town and the Krasnystaw Castle. Following the third partition of Poland, Krasnystaw was in 1795 annexed by the Habsburg Empire, but since 1815 until 1916, it was part of Russian-controlled Congress Poland. During the January Uprising the town and its area saw heavy fighting between Polish rebels and Russian troops.
In 1916, Krasnystaw received rail connection, and in 1919, already in the Second Polish Republic, the town became seat of a county. On September 18–19, 1939, during the Invasion of Poland, Polish troops of the 39th Infantry Division fought here with advancing Wehrmacht units. During World War II, numerous units of the Home Army and others operated in the area. In 1943, a local German prison was raided, and 300 inmates were released, in spring 1944, several German trains were destroyed. After the war, anti-Communist units operated here until 1950.
In Krasnystaw dominates the food industry:
The old synagogue of Krasnystaw, which was still standing at the beginning of the 20th century, had a number of 14th- and 15th-century architectural features. The municipal customs records of Krasnystaw for 1548 show a number of Jews resident in the town. In 1554, Jews were prohibited from owning dwelling houses in the town and suburbs, though in 1584 they were allowed to reside in the suburbs only. In 1761, three Jews from Wojslawice and one from Czarnoloz were convicted in a blood libel trial in Krasnystaw; another accused person, the rabbi of Wojslawice, committed suicide in prison. In 1776, the Jewish population of Krasnystaw numbered 63.
In the first half of the 19th century, a bitter struggle emerged between the Jews and the gentile townsfolk, who wished to keep their privilege of not having Jews reside in the town. In 1824, Jews were permitted to reside temporarily in several villages near the town, but the last restrictions on Jewish residence in Krasnystaw itself were not rescinded until 1862. Eleven Jews resided in the town in 1827, by 1857 the community had grown to 151 (4% of the population), and by 1897 to 1,176 (25% of the total). At that time 80% of local trade was in Jewish hands.