In 2017 we chose Krakow as one of our holiday destinations. The city itself seemed very appealing. It has a long history and it’s said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. It is also close to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, a place my husband wanted to see. Enough reasons to go one might say. To people without children that might be the case. But we had our then 3-year-old daughter with us, so we needed more. We needed things to do with a child.
As always we had booked a nice apartment outside the city center. The bus station was at walking distance, so it was easy to get around without having to park our car in the center. Krakow public transport is easy and there is a website on which all the connections and timetables can be found. I experienced no difficulties at all using our buggy in the bus.
On the internet I noticed that Krakow has a Zoo. Whenever someone asked us what we were going to do on our holiday, I replied: “My husband is going to see Auschwitz and Eryn and I are going to the Zoo”. That did actually happen. In a previous story on my blog I wrote about our visit to the Krakow Zoo. However, we did find some other things for children to do as well.
One of the first things we visited in Krakow was the grand square, called the Rynek Glowny. We were blown away by its beauty. This 13th century main square is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Everywhere we looked we saw something interesting. To take it all in, yet also entertain our daughter we decided to sit down at the E. Wedel Chocolate Cafe that is situated at this square. This turned out to be a great idea.
Ever since our daughter tasted her first pure chocolate in a Belgian chocolate factory she loves chocolates. All type of chocolates. Strangely enough she was not keen to drink hot (or cold) chocolate, but maybe that was because of her exquisite 3-year-old taste. But ever since her allergies allowed her to have cow milk, she eats white, milk and pure chocolate.
Warning: when your child cannot have cow milk it can only have pure chocolate as that has no milk in it!!
E. Wedel is a Polish confectionary that also sells many types of chocolate bars in the supermarkets. The cafe we went to is quite expensive, so if you’re on a smaller budget you can try the taste by buying a chocolate bar elsewhere. We had a coffee with a range of chocolates. We girls loved them all. My husband let it pass. Apparently sometimes customers have to wait a long time to get served here. Since we were not in a rush we had no such experiences and looking back I don’t think we had to wait too long. We sat outside and enjoyed our view and the chocolates.
While I was drinking my coffee my husband and I had a good look around us. The Rynek Glowny is surrounded by historical buildings. In the center of the square you will find the UNESCO listed Cloth Hall, which was built in the Renaissance. It once was the center of international trade. These days it is still used as a commerce center although it is also a place to receive and entertain distinguished guests.
Right behind the Cloth Hall is the 13th century built Town Hall Tower. In the past this complex was much bigger, including the city prison with a torture chamber. However in 1820 everything was taken down apart from the Tower.
I love squares. Most of them are car-free zones. This means that a child can run around without having to worry about being hit by a car. It gives the child the opportunity to blow off some steam. Squares are especially great when they have fountains or monuments on them where a child can run around in circles. Rynek Glowny has a monument for Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s greatest poet.
Another thing that gets children entertained and running are street artists. On Rynek Glowny there was an artist who could make the most amazing soap bubbles. Our daughter could not get enough of them.
Another great place in Krakow to visit with a child is Wawel Hill. This hill lies near the riverbank at 228 above sea level and here you can find an impressive fortified architectural complex. Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral are two parts of this complex. According to a myth the hill was inhabited by a dragon (‘Smok Wawelski’). Indeed there is a statue of this dragon and every now and then it spit fire. To our daughter and all other children around it was fun, but also scary to watch.
What our daughter found even more interesting were the many hand prints of famous people that can be found on the way to the dragon’s cave. She had a great time trying to fit her small hands and feet in the much larger prints of the celebrities. The hill itself was filled with people relaxing, walking around and enjoying a sunny day. It is a great hang-out spot where you can have a nice afternoon without spending any money.
A hidden playground.
On the way from Rynek Glowny to Wawel we walked through a park in a street called Straszewskiego. We were wondering where we could find a nice playground for our daughter to play in, but we had not seen any yet. I figured a park would be a natural place to find one. We asked a Polish couple with a child, but they were not from Krakow, so they had no idea. We continued walking and asking until all of a sudden the couple came back to us. They had just walked past the entrance of a hidden playground and were kind enough to let us know. And we were happy they did.
The playground they had found had opened in January 2017, so it was only half a year old when we got there. You can find it next to the archeological museum, behind the famous Kanonicza Street. When we walked back in the park, we soon found the entrance, behind University. There was a small gate that could be opened for visitors. It was not very visible, that’s why we had walked past it the first time.
Inside we found a very modern playground made of wood and metal. There were trampolines, various slides and swings. There was a climbing wall and a sand pit. And several musical and sound equipment. Because the entrance was so hidden, it was a peaceful place with not too much noise. The children could play and the parents could sit down, talk, eat and relax. I can honestly say this is new playground is a real asset for Krakow’s youth.
Oscar Schindler’s Factory.
One of the days my husband wanted to see Oscar Schindler’s Factory. This factory was built into a museum. Of course, it is well worth visiting without children, but with a 3-year-old I would not even try it. Because the factory was situated in another part of town we took a bus there. On the way over I noticed a nice-looking playground only a few blocks away from the factory. “This is where Eryn and I are going to spend some time”, I said to my husband. “Come and meet us there when you’re ready”.
I walked back with my daughter in the buggy, ready to enter the playground, but I could not find the opening. I continued walking until I arrived at a construction site. This could not be right. I walked back and tried the other side of the building. It was quite frustration, because we could see the playground, but we could not enter it. I started asking people about it. Finally I met some people who knew more. The playground was not a public one. But they encouraged me to try to enter it anyway. I followed their advice and entered a brand new fancy apartment complex. It was huge. After the entrance there was a court yard with on both sides apartments. Behind it was the playground. The only way to enter it was through the court yard.
A private playground.
There was a security guard near the entrance. Of course he wanted to know what I was doing there. I tried English and German on him, but all he could speak was Polish. So I typed in “Can my daughter play in the playground?” on Google Translate. My phone came up with a good Polish sentence, because he now understood. He asked me if I was a residence. Of course I was not. But I looked at him with puppy eyes and begged him to let her play. He sighted and waved his hands towards the playground as if saying “Ok, you can play there, but I pretend I haven’t seen it and I don’t know about it.” We quickly went inside.
At first it felt a bit weird playing in this playground. I felt a bit like an intruder. We were not supposed to be there. The playground was occupied mainly with grandparents and a few parents. All of the children were either living in the complex or their caretakers were. However, to children it does not matter where you come from and whether you’re allowed in or not. They just want to play. So soon Eryn was playing with Polish children and having a great time. Their caretakers might have found it strange that we were there, but no one said anything. We spent hours there until my husband showed up on the outside and we said our goodbyes to the other children to meet him at the other side.
All in all I can conclude that Krakow has plenty to do and see for young children. It may not be the same highlights grown-ups go to Krakow for, but they can definitely have a great time there too. The things we did are surely not the only things available, but to us they were enough. Not a day went by that we did not find anything to do for our daughter. And if you’re determined to see some of the grown-up highlights it is also possible. Just split up for a few hours and share the stories later on.
Also on Travelharts.com.
We also have a photo site. Our latest album is about our road trip in the USA.
In Europe the word road trip does not bear the same meaning as in the US. We really loved the scenery on our road trip. Check out our road trip photos.
I previously wrote a story about our visit to Krakow Zoo.
In 2018 I took my young child to the Krakow Zoo. It is a nice day trip when you’re in Krakow. It’s easy to get there by public transport.