Tours with children


One of the best ways to get to know a place quickly is to take a tour and Kraków boasts a really fun one! Crazy Guides is a quirky tour run by Mike Ostrowski and we were met by a shell suit wearing, heavy chained operator driving a vintage former police Trabant, complete with a knitted cap to hide its blue light. Before you set off, there is vodka and pickles stashed in the boot, ready to toast the tour which focusses on the centrally planned Socialist district of Nowa Huta, where Mike was happily brought up in the late 1970s.


Designed as a second city to Kraków for heavy engineering and promoted as a “worker’s paradise’’, the purpose built area has distinctive architecture, man made parks and green areas and subsidised food outlets, all linked to the main hub by tramway.

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Despite its lack of colour, the district has increased in popularity over the last few years with young people starting up the property ladder, moving into the area which has retained a close knit community. And behind the laughter of the tour, its important to recognise the historical importance of Nowa Huta.

The fast-moving tour features the area’s central square, blocks of residential homes, the former steelworks, which were once one of communist Poland’s most important industrial plants employing around 40,000 people, and the Lord’s Ark church, built in the shape of a boat by volunteers. An old Soviet tank also sits on the streets as a reminder of past times.

Fun fact: Crazy Mike has a range of different old style Eastern German cars to travel in on the tours from the Pink Panther to Flower Power.

Krakow - Wawel castle at day
Wawel castle at day, Krakow

Things to do with children

Just walking around and taking in the ambience is a great way to get a feel for a place and where better than to start in the city’s jewel in the crown, the Rynek Glówny, or the main square. It’s the biggest medieval plaza in Europe at 40,0000 square metres and an impressive sight to see. Before tourists came, many locals had their home here, but these days, many of the buildings have been converted into hotels, restauarants, pubs, clubs and souvenir shops.

Designed in 1257, at the hub of it, is Sukiennice Cloth Hall, a reminder of the city’s historic links to trade and commerce in Eastern Europe. Today, it is a mix of cloth and handicraft stalls, all under the architecturally beautiful building.In a nod to the famous leaning tower of Pisa, the Town Hall Tower, which is the only part of the 13th century building left, will have you bending sideways to enjoy the view from the top.


The looming gothic spires of St Mary’s Basilica hang over the square and dwarf the small and quaint Church of St Adalbert in the east . A beautiful bronze statute of poet Adam Mickiewicz also stands proud. A short walk takes you to the equally beautiful and stylish Wawel Castle, that’s if you can dodge the flames from the dragon statue. perched at the foot of the hill .

Part of the UNSECO World Heritage site, which encompasses the centre of the city, the castle is imposing and beautifully preserved. With wonderful art and intricate tapestries, the castle played a very important role in Kraków as the main seat of the national government in the 1400s.

Part of a complex of architectural beauties, next door is the cathedral, the original built in the year 1018, today is the third attempt, a gothic lovely constructed in the 14th century with elements of Romanesque, Baroque and Neoclassical. There are also side chapels and a golden domed Sigismund’s Chapel. In 1978, Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Kraków, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II and his work lives on today. History plays an important part in Kraków and particularly in World War II, when the city was saved from bombing after being chosen by the Germans, as the capital of the General Government in 1939.

Krakow 2

A Jewish ghetto was created in the Podgórze area , forcing around 20,000 people to live in cramped conditions with barely any possessions, the Germans taking the rich pickings for themselves and forcing the fit into hard labour in controlled factories. Those who were of no use, were cruelly sent to die in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

An enamelware factory run by Oskar Schindler and made famous by the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List, became a haven for the Jews and today the building houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow. Fascinating to visit, the museum gives the visitor an insight into how the Jews lived and how Schindler risked his life to help liberate 1,200. Originally motivated by money, Schindler, a humanitarian, used tenacity and showed great strength to save the lives of his employees.

Fun fact: Happily Kraków is now a thriving city and a walk across the Father Bernatek footbridge, locally known as “the lover’s bridge’’ and which connects the historical districts, shows how cosmopolitan it is. Adorned with acrobatic and gravity defying sculptures, the walkway is a sign of hope.

The Vistulan Boulevards. Poland

Things to eat and drink with children

Polish people are addicted to doughnuts, known as Paczki and boy are they far tastier than the usual ones. Packed full of enriching ingredients of yeast, grain alcohol and high-gluten flour, these beauties taste like brioche, but are far chewier and have little or no crumbs. A great time to indulge is on Fat Thursday, the last before Lent, when fasting begins. In Kraków, it is taken so seriously that people will queue for hours outside the best bakeries to get their hands on a boxful!


Pierogi’s are steamed dumplings and a staple diet, with all sorts of unusual fillings, from the traditional meat or cheese to fruits such as cherry or apple. Drinks wise, for the adults there are lots of different flavoured vodkas to try and with a great exchange rate, it’s a cheap shot to enjoy. The non alcoholic Tymbark drink is highly addictive and comes in lots of fruity flavours.

Fun fact: The Poles drink the most vodka per capita in the world.

Where to plan your itinerary

You can plan where to stay, what to do and how to get there via the tourist agencies Poland Travel and Visit Krakow

One of the nicest and handiest areas for all the attractions is the Jewish quarter, which has lots of apartment to rent and one of the best streets to stay in is the main Starowiślna Street, central and peaceful. If you are planning to visit lots of museums and use the public transport links, then the Krakow Card

There are lots of low cost airlines which fly into Kraków from airports across Britain.

Fun fact: Nearly 20 % of tourists in Kraków come from the UK.


All images courtesy of Visit Krakow