Kraków has many attractions, and for younger visitors the fact that the central area is fairly compact and yet surrounded by gardens and parks means that there’s usually some open space close by for some down time from all that sightseeing!
Some attractions are more obvious than others. Here we have compiled a listing of just some of the Kraków area’s kid-friendly places.
A word first, though, about Auschwitz. In some respects, the museum’s website says it all – “Visits to the Museum by children under the age of 14 are not recommended.”
Only you know your children, and can judge whether they can cope with (a) a physically tiring day and (b) the sights they will see and stories they will hear as you tour the camps at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
For the record, the tour visiting both camps takes roughly 3.5 hours from the commencement of the tour at the museum in Auschwitz I. Transport between the camps is by a (free, often very busy) shuttle bus. Entry is free, but the tour costs 25zl (Polish) or 40zl (other languages). See our “About” file for more information. You’ll have to allow 1.5 – 2 hours for the bus between Kraków and the museum entrance.
Krakow Zoo is popular with kids, You’ll find it in the middle of the 500 hectare Las Wolski Forest, about 10km west of the centre of Kraków. The 17ha zoo has some 1,400 animas, including herds of pygmy hippopotamus, white camel, sea lions, several species of wild cats and rare antelopes, while the zoo’s Reptile House features dwarf caimans, lizards, turtles, snakes, amphibians, invertebrates and exotic fish. http://www.zoo-krakow.pl/index.php
Wielizka Salt Mine is the subject of a separate About. The mine is a wonderful experience for kids able to handle the stairs and distance involved. http://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com/visiting/the-mine-for-the-grownups-and-the-little-ones tells you more about what’s on offer for kids – you’ll note that the mine recommends a minimum age of 5 for the Tourist Tour.
Park Wodny Kraków, at ul. Dobrego Pasterza 126, information tel. (12) 616-31-90, is a big hit. The swimming halls is the largets in Pol.and, and open from 08:00 to 22:00 every day. The centre comes fully equipped with a dragon, slides, climbing walls, a bowl and a bar as well as saunas, a paddling pool and waves! Price list here http://www.parkwodny.pl/en-cennik
To let the kids really run off steam, head for Park Jordana, next to Blonia Common, just west of the old town, where you’ll find football pitches, tennis courts and the occasional cow!
For some hands-on stuff, those interested in interactive devices and illusions will find about 60 at the Stanislaw Lem Science Garden, all demonstrating one or more features of the laws of physics. Open from 1 May to 31 October, 09:00 – 19:00 at Al. Pokoju 68 (Czyżyny), explanations are in Polish and English. http://www.ogroddoswiadczen.pl/en.php?s=88
Kraków does not have a permanent funfair or theme park, though there are some in the surrounding area, such as the three parks at Inwald (three mini theme parks – Dinolandia and all that goes with it, including the equally large (or is it small) Park Miniatur, and the dungeons and dragons of Warownia. All on the doorstep of the Park Hotel. http://www.dinolandia.pl/en.html and http://inwaldpark.pl/
However, check when you get here as there are often fairs set up at different places (often on the other side of the river, facing Wawel, where a 12-storey big wheel operated in summer 2012. On the same bank, you’ll also see the tethered balloon, the hi-flyer. Tickets are sold on the street and you can see when the balloon is operating – you’ll see it in the sky. http://www.hiflyer.pl/en
The Teatr Groteska at ul. Skarbowa 2 is Kraków’s repertory puppet theatre – usually for children and usually in Polish. (91) 12 633 48 22 http://www.groteska.pl/
Poland’s National Aviation Museum Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie is found at Al. Jana Pawła II 39, on the site of the old airport which opened in 1912 (under Austria-Hungary) and closed in 1963.
The Museum’s collection contains numerous engines and other exhibits as well as over 200 aircraft (planes, gliders and helicopters). The aircraft collection contains some (approx. 20) from the personal collection of Hermann Goring which had been evacuated from Berlin to keep them out of Allied hands and were later found abandoned on what was by then Polish land. http://www.muzeumlotnictwa.pl/indexen.php
The museum is not the easiest to find – a taxi will be about a fiver, but otherwise to get there take a tram No 4 from the centre (5 or 6 stops say) Get off at Wieczysta or AWF which are either side of the museum. It is about 8-10 minutes walk from the stop. From Wieczysta walk along the road, continuing in the direction of the tram you have just got off. Or at AWF, walk back the way you have just come. The museum is up a side road to your left from Wieczysta and right from AWF. Al. Jana Pawła II
The Museum is closed Mondays. Tuesday is when it is FREE, otherwise 14 PLN.
There are too many museums in an around Kraków to list – whether your kids are interested in art or archaeology, WW2 or stained glass, modern art or the Polish Resistance, there’s a museum in town.
For keen shoppers and rainy days, Krakow offers a wealth of retail opportunities. Fir the full under-one-roof experience, we recommend Galeria Krakowska, just next door to the main station and close to the Rynek.
This huge indoor mall has a wide range of stores, a lot of space, and a half-decent food court. http://www.galeria-krakowska.pl/en/
Visitors to Kraków are sometimes disappointed that there’s no “bateaux mouches” style dinner cruises on the Wisła. On the other hand, mums and dads arfe often pleased to see that cruises on the river are not at all a formal affair, last less time, but allow pleny of time for a sit down and a quick picnic. Trips run from 30 minutes to the 3.5 hour round trip to Tyniec.
Other watercraft are available to hire, for those fancying some fun on the water. And the Wisła has wide areas of banks where a picnic would be just as nice.
The Planty Gardens are the answer to “what happened to the walls and moat?” When the defences were removed, the land was turned into a series of gardens skirting the old town – just one of the large number of green spaces we have in Kraków.
Back to nature
No list of kids’ activities around Krakow would be complete without some reference to the beautiful land (largely) to the south.
The Dinosaur parks around Krakow are not entirely unrelated to the Jura landscape west of town – Jura = Jurassic – and that includes beautiful Ojców. That area alone will give you bugs, caves, castles, rock formations, art …
Head south and you’re definitely into the land of lakes and mountains. Here you’ll find lovely areas for walking and, for the more serious, rock climbing and mountaineering. We have many lakes where you can fish, swim, sail, do some river-rafting or just mess about. And in the winter, skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing. For those looking to stay over, there’s a huge choice of accommodation, from A-frame cabins to luxury hotels – including, of course, the 1904loghouse!
Leaving one of the best till last, the statue of Smok Wawelski, also known as the Dragon of Wawel Hill, is found on the bank of the Wisła. The street along the banks of the river leading towards the castle is ulica smocza, which translates as Dragon Street.
The dragon has seven heads and every few minutes it breathes fire!