Why Your Family Would Love a Trip to Poland

Why Your Family Would Love a Trip to Poland

This country is full of wonderful attractions for families.

Poland has always been of interest to New Yorkers, in part because there are many people of Polish descent living in the the Tristate area. So it’s not surprising that LOT Polish Airlines recently (on April 30, 2018) launched a direct flight from Newark to Rzeszow, a town in the southeast part of Poland. But even for those not of Polish descent (like me), this is a country full of wonderful attractions for families. While it’s hard to see the whole country in a week, a good itinerary is starting in Krakow and the traveling to the Podkarpackie Region, in the south-east of the country. Here a list of some of the top things to do and see with your family.

Krakow

This is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern (or as they prefer to be called Central) Europe. Chock full of old churches (99% of Poles are Roman Catholic), a beautiful market square located in the center, and the magnificent Wawel Castle, a stay in Krakow is a good introduction to Poland. The Legend Hotel has the perfect location: walking distance to the castle, the main square, and many attractions. There are also many wonderful restaurants including Szara Kuchni, Restauracja Pod Baranem, and The Piano Rouge, where local Polish meals (duck, pork, beetroot soup) can also be found with more common American dishes that kids will like (like chicken, mashed potatoes, and French fries). The Poles are known for their soups and it’s not uncommon to have a soup before your main at both lunch and dinner. Spending a few days walking around Krakow—or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride along the the cobblestone streets—is a great way to start your trip.

Auschwitz

Our guide recommended this destination for children 13 and older, and while this is a very somber experience, it’s also an important one for travelers (a recent study showed that two-thirds of American millennials did not know what Auschwitz is). While the subject matter is obviously quite heavy, seeing one of concentration camps where 6 million Jewish people lost their lives provides an unforgettable lesson in history and humanity.

Salt Mines

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a world heritage site and well worth a visit; combining the salt mines with Auschwitz is a good day tour, since each takes about half a day. The kids will especially love going deep under the earth to tour a once-working mine (it dates back 700 years) that is so large it was pretty much an underground metropolis. Learn about the history of the mining and how horses and intricate structures aided the workers to create a success and long-lasting business (families will take a two-hour guided tour before exploring on their own). The guides make this interactive for kids, but it’s also interesting enough for adults.

The Podkarpackie Region—Rzeszow Old Town

The Podkarpackie Region is a province in the southeast of the country. It’s home to two national parks, the Bieszczadzki and Magurski, and the Carpathian Foothills, and is home to great hiking, biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. Catholic and Orthodox churches dot the landscape as well as palaces and castles. A good place to start is Rzeszow, the capital of the Podkarpackie Region, with over 650 years of history. Families will love visiting the Underground Tourist Route, a subterranean world made up of 34 cellars. A guide will talk about the history of the region and the use of the cellars and the markets above. Kids will love being underground, exploring the “caves” of this town.

Krosno

One of the oldest cities in this region, Krosno is home to a number of great family-friendly activities. Make sure to visit Portius Tower, where the second oldest bell in Poland can be found. This town is also famous the world over for its glass. The Glass Heritage Center is a new, modern museum where families will not only learn about the history of glass, but will even get a chance to try and blow their own piece of glass. The tour of the museum is about two hours, but the guide can make it shorter depending on the attention span of the kids involved. Another must-visit is the chocolate factory M. Pelczar Chocolatier, where kids can learn how to make chocolate in the workshop, watch chocolate-related movies in the cinema, or simply try the amazing chocolate (and ice cream) specialties of the shop. It’s the only gourmet chocolate shop of its kind in Poland and a highlight for kids and adults.

Sanok

This picturesque city sits on the banks of the San river at the foothills of the Slonne Mountains. The Renaissance Royal Castle, now a Historical Museum, and the open-air village here are two great family-friendly activities. The open-air museum allows kids to see what it was like to live in this region many years ago.

Uherce Mineralne

In the city of Uherce Mineralne a really unique activity for kids is riding on the Rail-Cycle Draisines, a mix between a bike and a rail car. It’s a great way to see the countryside while getting a little exercise. After the hour-long tour (everyone can take turns on the bike), be sure to visit Bieszczady School of Arts, where kids can work with dough and bake a traditional Polish pastry or try their hand at a pottery wheel, making a traditional Polish handcraft, or calligraphy. The school of arts is good for kids of all ages and is a hands-on, interactive way for kids to get involved in traditional Polish activities.