A Family-Friendly Guide to Krakow, Poland
Arts & Culture
Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland and offers something for everyone, from fantastic UNESCO world heritage site attractions and historic luxury hotels (you can even stay in a hotel that Nicolaus Copernicus visited) to a vibrant foodie scene. Krakow is also a great home base for easy day trips in southern Poland.
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Where to stay in Krakow Poland
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Things to do in Krakow Poland
Many of Krakow’s best attractions are conveniently located in Krakow’s old town. First settled in the 9th century, the old town is extremely walkable and was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Explore the Main Square – No visit to Krakow is complete without exploring the expansive main square which dates back to the 13th century. Main attractions include touring St Mary’s Basilica and venturing underground at the Rynek Underground Museum. There is ample shopping in and around the cloth hall and dining surrounding the square. Kids will also love the horse drawn carriage rides which are easy to hire right near the cloth hall. If you visit over the Christmas holidays, the square transforms into one of one of Europe’s best Christmas markets.
Tour Wawel Castle – Wawel Castle is located at the southern end of the old town and looks over the Vistula River. Wawel was the main residence of the Polish monarchy from the 9th century until the 1500’s. You can spend hours exploring the many rooms of the castle and neighboring Wawel Cathedral. Even if you don’t visit the interior of the buildings, it is still a great place to get an expansive view of Krakow and the Vistula River.
Visit Smok Wawelski – This metal dragon is located next to Wawel Castle and is based on a Polish legend. Every few minutes the dragon breathes fire and is a hit with the kids.
Tips for Families
To cut down on walking, I recommend booking a hotel close to or in the old town area (our recommendations above all fit this.) The cobblestone streets of old town can be tough on strollers, try to bring a stroller with bigger wheels if you can. A few old town hotels have underground pools that can be a perfect on a rainy day or if the kids are done sightseeing for the day.
Kazimierz is the historically Jewish section of Krakow and is a center for culture, great food and the arts. Kazimierz is a great place to walk around, but if you want to make sure to see everything, we recommend a guided walking or golf cart tour. Most tours will also include a tour of Schindler’s factory. The Museum of Municipal Engineering is a great place to stop if your kids are in to trains and trams.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
A must-do for anyone who visits Krakow. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is an underground marvel consisting of 178 miles of twisting passageways, stunning caverns and beautiful salt carvings. The mine was started in the 13th century and produced salt all the way until 2007.
The standard tourist route takes about two hours to complete and is a guided walk through of the most impressive rooms in the mine. It ends with an underground cafeteria and elevator ride back to the surface.
For added adventure, they offer a miners’ route where you can experience first hand what it was like to be a miner.
It’s hard to describe just how cool the mine is, you just have to experience it for yourself.
Note: The tour is not accessible (there are 800 steps) and if you are bringing small children, we highly recommend bringing a baby carrier as large strollers are not allowed. The tour starts off with a 200ft decent down a winding set of stairs, but if you can make it past that, it gets easier. It was tough but doable with an infant and a two-year old.
The following are located about one hour outside of Krakow and can be good day trips.
Auschwitz – Better for older children who can understand the gravity of the place and uphold the solemn and respectful environment. We skipped this with our younger children, but will return when they are older.
Energylandia – One of Europe’s best amusement parks. From world-class roller coasters to dozens of children’s rides there is something for the whole family here. Their newest additions are especially impressive and rival anything you can find in the US or Europe (I’ve been on hundreds of roller coasters and Zadra at this park is my favorite). Try to visit on a weekday to avoid long lines.
Places to eat & drink in Krakow Poland
Pod Wawelem – Family-friendly beer garden serving polish comfort food that the whole family will enjoy. They even have a play room that will keep the kids entertained.
Obwarzanki Krakowskie – These bagel looking breads are the signature food of Krakow and can be purchased in the main square and all around the city.
Wesele – Traditional polish cuisine located on the main square in the old town. Our server was great with the kids.
Okrąglak – Outdoor food hall perfect for a quick bite while exploring the Kazimierz district.
Dynia Restaurant – A unique feature of Krakow restaurants is that many will have an outdoor garden which is a great feature to have in the summer. Dynia is a casual restaurant with a family friendly outdoor garden.
la Campana Trattoria – Great Italian food with a lovely outdoor garden.
Zablocie 13 – A little bit outside the main part of the city, but has a great outdoor play area for kids.
Sausages from the Blue Nysa Van – The name says it all, they serve great polish sausages from a blue van, no more no less. Great for a late night snack if your kids are jetlagged like ours were. Only open after 8pm.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Rebecca Robinson’s guide, Things to Do in Krakow, Poland.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Poland.