Legends, stories, fun, games... Kraków is a city with a lot to offer to all kinds of tourists, even the youngest. From historical museums with a different feel to water parks and medieval castles, the Polish city ends up enchanting the most childish spirits. Here's what not to miss if you 're visiting with children.
1. Little adventures in the Wieliczka Salt Mines
In the galleries and passages of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, children will feel like explorers in search of treasure. In addition to its historical value, there are many sculptures, monuments and legends that will come to light during the visit.
Since it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Krakow, to avoid having to wait in a long queue that will tire the little ones before the visit even begins, I recommend buying tickets for the Wielicza Salt Mines in advance. This way, you can also book a tour with a specialised guide who will tell you all the stories and peculiarities of this place, something that will keep the children more interested.
In general, this tour is always very popular with the whole family, as it is something different, and there are discounts for children under 12 years old. Even so, I recommend you take a look at some specific tips for visiting the salt mines with children, as there are things you need to plan before you go, such as bringing an alternative to a pushchair if you are travelling with babies.
2. Go back to the Middle Ages at the Underground Museum
Kraków is a city that seems to be straight out of the Middle Ages, so children are likely to be curious about what life was like back then and how it has changed. To answer all their questions, nothing like a visit to the Underground Museum, where they can learn in an interactive and fun way what the Middle Ages were like in Krakow.
Although most historical museums tend to bore children, this one has maps, recreations, lights, sounds... which help to create a didactic and entertaining atmosphere while you discover the archaeological finds that have been recovered from the ancient city, such as funerary objects or remains of the pavement. In addition, there are often temporary exhibitions that narrate other historical events. Of course, there are a few steps to climb down, so bear this in mind if you have a pushchair.
One of the great things about the museum is that the price is quite cheap (there is a family voucher for about 48 zl) and there is even one day a week when it is free, but I don't recommend you go on that day because it is usually crowded and the children won't enjoy it as much.
3. Meet animals of all kinds at the Krakow Zoo.
If your children love animals, have you thought about booking a ticket to Krakow Zoo on your trip? Your kids are sure to love seeing large predators from a distance, but they'll also have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the more friendly animals. And what will undoubtedly catch their attention will be the freedom with which the pink flamingos and peacocks walk around the enclosure.
Although it is one of the oldest zoos in the world (it was founded in the 15th century), it is also one of the best, as it has been modernised to house over 1,000 animals and even breed rare species.
However, I have to warn you that it is a bit far from the city and although you can easily get there by bus 134, a much more convenient option especially if you are travelling with children is to buy a zoo ticket in advance which also includes transfers to the hotel.
4. Experience an adventurous day at Energylandia
Just outside Krakow, there's another must-visit amusement park. We're talking about Energylandia, an amazing place where your kids can enjoy more than 60 rides, several roller coasters and a large water park. There are also packages that include, in addition to the tickets, the transfer to and from the park in a minibus. A great experience for you and your family!
In Energylandia you can enjoy 5 different themed areas:
- Fairytale Land: this is the fairytale zone, ideal for the youngest members of the family.
- Family Zone: suitable for all ages, this area is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
- Extreme Zone: are you a risk taker? This zone is for you.
- Dragone Zone: if your kids are fans of dragons, they will definitely love this zone.
- Water Park: a water park for the whole family - great!
Plus, by booking your ticket for Energylandia a minibus will pick you up and drop you back at your hotel in Krakow and you can enjoy a range of complimentary drinks and snacks. What more could you ask for?
5. Discover the Dragon at Wawel Castle
Are your kids obsessed with stories of dragons and castles? Then I have the perfect excursion to leave them open-mouthed during your trip to Krakow: the Wawel Castle. In addition to the fact that the building itself invites you to enter and discover the legends that are housed in it, the little ones will be amazed when, towards the end of the visit, they come across a dragon.
To get to the Dragon Cave you will first have to visit the rest of the rooms in Wawel Castle, which also hold secrets and stories of knights. The building dates back to the 14th century and, before the capital of Poland was moved to Warsaw, it was home to the kings of the country.
Before leaving the castle, you will enter through a tunnel which is actually a passageway that connects to a famous cave. There is a large sculpture in the shape of a flaming dragon. Legend has it that this dragon terrorised the people around the castle for years until a clever cobbler tricked it into eating a sheep full of sulphur.
6. Fun and games at the Pinball Museum
Kids love to play games, so let them spend an afternoon at the Pinball Museum in Krakow. Adults will also enjoy reminiscing about your childhood among the dozens of arcade machines in this special museum. But don't let that word fool you, it's not just about seeing, it's also about playing.
As it is a fully interactive museum, children will have the time of their lives trying out all the machines and discovering games that, although they may seem "old-fashioned" at first, will end up getting them hooked. If you are calculating all the coins you will need for them to play, don't worry, with the price of admission (approximately 20zl for minors and 40zl for adults) there is free access to all the machines. It will be hard to get them out of there!
To top it all off, getting to the museum is already quite an adventure because of the place where it is located. It is located near the Old City, but to enter you will have to go through an alley that leads to a back door. It's definitely a trip back in time for children and for those who want to feel like children again.
7. Water fun in Wodny Park
Whetheryou're travelling to Krakow in the summer or travelling to Krakow in the winter, Wodny Water Park is always a fun and perfect choice for the kids (and the rest of the family). Being mostly indoor, inclement weather is never a problem when it comes to sliding down the slides, taking a dip in the pools or relaxing in the saunas. There are also areas specifically for the little ones, including the pirate island.
Although it is not a huge park, it is the largest in Poland and is actually quite complete. Why do I say that? Because it has rides for all ages, so every child is welcome, from the youngest to the beginning of adolescence. Meanwhile, parents can keep an eye on them from the sunbeds or take turns to go to the sauna.
Bear in mind that during the summer months it tends to be more crowded, as the outdoor area (Aquapark Beach) is also open. Also, the price is somewhat more expensive (during the rest of the year general admission costs approximately 80 zl/hour for three people).
8. Visit the Wax Museum and visit the most important Polish personalities
Have you ever taken your children to a wax museum? If the answer is no, perhaps your visit to Krakow is the time to change that. The city's Wax Museum is fairly new, having opened in 2016 in order to present the most important people in Polish society in the run-up to World Youth Days.
It's normal for children to get tired of long historical tours of cities, so visiting this museum can be a much more entertaining alternative. They will discover who are the most important people in the country, as well as other famous people, and you can tell them why they are there or what the contributions of John Paul II, Maria Teresa of Calcutta or the footballer Robert Lewandowski have been.
Admission is also quite affordable (approximately 30zl) and children under 7 years old are free. It may not be an activity to dedicate a whole day to but, being close to the city's Market Square, you can go to the museum after your visit.
9. Discover a Krakow built with Legos at HistoryLand
Do your children get bored during historical tours and excursions? I'll give you a solution: Historyland. It may still be a history museum, but when Legos are involved, fun takes centre stage and children are less reluctant to visit this museum.
As well as being able to take a tour of Kraków's history through Legos, you can also put on virtual reality goggles and transport yourself to the Jasna Góra monastery. There is no better way to see how Kraków has changed over the years, especially during the Second World War. You and your family can't miss out on this visit, which is also very good value (approximately 100zl for a family combo of 2 adults + 2 children).
Of course, the last stop had to be a playroom full of Lego blocks so that the little ones can build their own figures and capture all that they have learnt.
10. Walk among the street performers on the Market Square
Sometimes we don't need big excursions to have a good time with our children. Krakow's Market Square is a case in point; it has many attractions that will keep the whole family entertained, such as street performers, food stalls and craft stalls.
Being the centre of the city, the Market Square is always bustling with life. It's also a pedestrianised area, so you won't have to worry about cars if one of your children suddenly runs after a pigeon or to get close to one of the musicians playing there.
11. Fly at the Lotnictwa Polskiego Aviation Museum
Children may be wary if you tell them you're going to a museum, but once they get to the Aviation Museum, they'll forget all their misgivings. Why? Because the whole place is quite impressive and allows the little ones to get up close (and even inside) various planes and helicopters.
As it's an open-air museum, children will have all the freedom in the world to move and run around the huge collection of old aircraft, including those from the World Wars and the Soviet fleet. To make the visit even more special, they can put on their helmets and sit in the cockpit of some of the most legendary aircraft - they will feel like real pilots!
When is the best time to visit Krakow with children?
Although Kraków is charming all year round, I won't kid you, the winter months can be quite cold. Despite the wide variety of indoor activities to do in the city, such as visits to museums and Krakow's best churches, Krakow is best enjoyed outdoors, among its parks and streets. Cold, rain and short daylight hours are not the best travel companions, trust me, so it's best to go in spring.
The cold can be freezing in Krakow and children can have a hard time if they have to walk or queue in bad weather. If you go in the months between April and September, for example, the little ones will enjoy themselves and you won't have to worry about them catching a cold. The only month in winter when I would advise you to travel to the Polish city is in December, when the Christmas lights, markets and decorations in Krakow are up and the kids love them!