Before I start gushing about how much we loved Krakow and Poland, I must admit something. I didn’t know anything about Poland before stepping foot into the country. I knew I wanted to visit Auschwitz and to do that, I had to go to Poland. We originally had planned to take a night train in, spend one actual night and night train out the next day. A last-minute decision to travel with DayTrip ended up being one of the best travel decisions we made. In the end, we spent 3 nights and 2 full days plus one evening in Krakow.
We traveled into Krakow from Prague. As we pulled up in front of our AirBnB, I KNEW we had made a good choice. The location was IMPECCABLE. Located inside of Old Town, right next to a park, restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and best of all less than 5 minutes to main square. The apartment was 2 bedroom with a giant living area that had a closable door (making it 3 bedrooms). It came with a travel crib, a baby bath and a high chair. It was one of the best apartments we stayed in on this trip. Find it HERE. *Don't forget to book with our CODE to save money*
The first evening in Krakow we didn’t have any plans except to eat and get the babies settled. Conveniently there was a restaurant directly below our apartment. They served the best perogies I had ever eaten in my life. We ended up eating dinner there again the next night and everyone ordered the sampler. My mouth waters every time I think about them.
Full Day in Krakow:
Wawell Hill: This is the most visited place in all of Poland. Home to the oldest castle and represents Polish independence. We found the castle to be very welcoming of children and babies. The entrance is up a steep hill, but our stroller easily made it up. We chose not to enter any of the sights you have to pay for, but we still saw so much. After a mandatory stop for diaper changes, nursing and a family photo op, the first place we went inside was the Wawell Cathedral.
Wawell Cathedral: The entrance was a bit tricky with our double stroller, but it did fit. The entrance into the Cathedral is home to a giant “dragon bone” which I know my kids would have loved if they were older. We were able to navigate the cathedral with ease and the exit was a ramp which we were grateful for. You can pay to go up the tower or go into the cript, but we opted out of both. As far as history goes, this cathedral covers A LOT. It’s home to over 20 chapels and the construction started in the 12th century and lasted through the 19th century. You can actually see the changes overtime. It’s really intriguing!
Wawell Grounds: We were able to navigate all of the grounds with our double stroller with ease. We visited the inner courtyard, the Vistula River overlook, and the field of history. There are clean restrooms on site as well as a small snack bar. We took advantage and bought some cold water bottles. We visited in early April, but getting up to the castle was a slightly more strenuous than I imagined it would be since we had the stroller/kids.
Barbican and City Walls – and Planty: As I said before, our apartment was in a killer location. We could have spit from our window and hit Barbican (we did NOT do that, but just to show how close). The history of Barbican and the city walls is one of constant attack and the need for Krakovian’s to defend themselves. As part of the wall, there used to be a moat, but over time the moat was filled in and turned into a giant park that surrounds Old Town – it’s called Planty. We spent some time in Planty letting Charletta run her energy down – it’s absolutely gorgeous. If you have older children, I would highly recommend renting bikes and riding the 2.5 mile stretch of Planty.
Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny): This is the heart of Krakow and we spent a lot of time here. It’s one of the largest squares in Europe and was host to a massive Easter Market while we were there. You can find the famed St Mary’s Church, Town Hall Tower, & Cloth Hall all within Main Market. We shopped Cloth Hall, ate dinner a hidden restaurant under Town Hall Tower, and let Charletta play in the bubbles provided by a street performer. She loved running wild in the big open space. We loved being able to shop/eat/relax while she ran off her energy. I would have spend a lot more time here if we had stayed longer. I absolutely loved it.
Day Excursion to Auschwitz I and Birkenau:
The day before I decided to hire a private driver instead of trying to figure out the trains and public transit from Krakow to Oswiecim then out to Auschwitz. We went with Auschwitz-Krakow.com and they provided an English-speaking driver in a small van. They also provided age appropriate car seats. The driver arrived on time, spoke great English and never once rushed us. He gave us his phone number and when we were finished at each location, he came to the front and picked us up. He also made several pit stops along the drive for bathroom breaks and for us to change a blow-out diaper.
Auschwitz I: The entrance to the actual site is stroller friendly. We were able to push the stroller right up to the first building entrance, but from then on, we actually wore both of the babies in their Tula and Ergo. We had to walk the stroller and park it outside of each building as we toured inside. I HIGHLY recommend leaving your stroller behind for this part of the day. The museum pieces are all hosted in the barracks, so you have to walk up and down stairs in each one. You will not be able to bring the stroller inside and the connecting sidewalks are cobblestone and very hard to push a stroller through. Once we finished the tour we made use of the benches by the parking lot to nurse, have some coffee and a snack. The visit is emotionally draining and using that time to recharge was good for all of us. I personally would not use a guided tour at Auschwitz because I know our babies would not be able to sit and listen patiently. We chose to self-guide and it worked out perfectly. We could move at our own pace. Inside the barracks can get very cramped and crowded, so keep that in mind.
****I would not recommend this tour for impressionable children who can understand and remember; again it is emotionally intense. I wouldn’t personally bring my children if they were school age up to teens.
Birkenau (Auschwitz II): This is a much larger, mainly outdoor camp. The infamous guard tower is here. The physical size of the camp is overwhelming in itself. We brought our stroller and had no problems moving it around since this camp is mainly outdoors with decently level walkways. We did this camp second and we let our toddler walk most of the way (except inside facilities). There is a restroom at the entrance of the camp – use that facility because you won’t be back for a while. Definitely bring sunscreen for this tour because there is only shade at the far back of the camp; most of the touring is in direct sunlight. It may be smart to bring an umbrella just in case as well.
In recent history Dark Tourism has become wildy popular. I definitely encourage everyone to visit these historical sites, but to do so with the utmost respect and care. In order for history to not repeat itself, we must come face to face with it.
Poland was more than I ever imagined. The people are extremely friendly, the food is delicious, everything is cheap, and the sites are full of complex history. When you visit Poland, stay longer than we did. There is so much more to see and we will definitely be going back for a more expansive tour.
Kazimierez - Krakow's Jewish District: Free walking tour
Bar Mleczny (Milk Bar): a Communist Era way to get a deliciously cheap meal!
Zapiekanek: a delicious bread snack
Have you traveled Poland with children? Tell us about it!
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