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Poland Family Holidays & Breaks

Old Town, WarsawOld Town, Warsaw© PNTO, London
Festival costumesFestival costumes© PNTO, London
Festival of Slavs and VikingsFestival of Slavs and Vikings© PNTO, London
Long Market, GdanskLong Market, Gdansk© PNTO, London
Capital City Warsaw
Flying Time 2.25hrs
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Polish Zloty

Today

Overview

From historic cities such as Krakow and Warsaw to the up-and-coming Baltic seaside town of Gdansk, Poland is a reasonably priced and accessible destination for family holidays, offering some of the most child-friendly short breaks in eastern Europe. Throw in great skiing in winter and fantastic summer hiking in the Tatras Mountains, and Poland also hits the mark for even the most active families.

Things to do with kids in Poland

Start family holidays in the capital Warsaw, a fantastic introduction to Poland for families. Visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, Patron of Warsaw, to see the stone bear outside, reputedly an enchanted prince awaiting love to bring him back to life, then head to Warsaw Zoo to see the real-life grizzlies at play, plus around 500 other species, including sharks. You might also spend an afternoon exploring the Old Town, especially the Royal Castle and surrounding square, Plac Zamkowy (home to one of the city’s ice rinks in winter). Visit the planetarium in Warsaw’s Museum of Technology in the Palace of Culture and Science, or get to grips with the hands-on exhibits at the newer Copernicus science centre, with an earthquake simulator, twister, magic carpet and robotic theatre.

Warsaw’s role in World War II means it has a number of significant war-themed sites and museums, though the harrowing nature of some of the exhibitions means only families with teens ought to consider visiting the former Gestapo Headquarters, Pawiak Prison and Museum of the Warsaw Uprising.

Explore the area around Warsaw, especially Wodny Park in the suburb of Mokotow, Poland’s largest sports and recreation centre, with a great indoor pool with slides, waterfalls and a lazy river. About 100km from Warsaw, Dino Park takes you back to the age of the dinosaurs with interesting exhibits, a paleontological and geological museum and a botanical garden.

If you have more time to spare, spend a few days in the Biebrza National Park3hrs from Warsaw in northeast Poland, with camping and forest lodge accommodation and activities including hiking, bicycle trails, kayaking and horse-riding in summer.

Check out Gdansk – though often overshadowed by Krakow and Warsaw, this seaside town is an increasingly popular destination for a short break and has lots to keep families entertained, particularly in summer. Discover the Old Town, lovingly restored after World War II, and head out to sea aboard a real-life pirate ship. Kayaking is another fantastic way to explore the Gdansk waterfront in summer, or visit Gdansk Zoo or the Aquarium in neighbouring Gydnia.

Move away from the cities and towns into the Tatras Mountain range on the border between Poland and Slovakia, fast establishing itself a reputation as a great skiing and hiking destination. Base yourself in Zakopane, Poland’s premier mountain resort, which is perfect for skiing in winter and hiking and camping in summer. Take the funicular to Gubalówka and return via the dry sledge run, or take a horse-drawn ride along the ridge of Gubalówka to the chair-lift for fantastic views of Europe’s smallest Alpine mountains. Close-by, the Trollandia high-ropes course has climbing nets, rope-ladders, swings and ziplines, plus, for teens and adults, adventure activities including quad-bikes, offroading and paintballing.

Eat

Poland is famed for its fantastic breads and sausages, which form perfect finger-food for little hands. Polish dumplings, pierogi, are also a guaranteed hit on family holidays, with fillings including sauerkraut, mushrooms, meat, cheese and potatoes, or sweet curd cheese with vanilla, blueberries and other fruits. Other classic dishes include goulash and golabki (cabbage parcels stuffed with meat and rice).

Fast-food stalwarts including McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut are now making an appearance in the bigger cities, for those desperate for a familiar name.

When to go to Poland

Poland has warm, occasionally hot summers, crisp autumns and cold winters, with temperatures sometimes as low as -20°C. Rainfall can be expected year-round.

For skiing family holidays, head to the Tatras Mountains over Christmas or in the February half term. For hiking in the region, the best time is May to October.

Cost

Poland remains outside the Eurozone and, although you can’t get the bargains you could in the past, still offers the potential for budget family holidays or breaks. Hotels are generally cheaper than their counterparts in Western Europe or the USA, but eating out is pricier than in the latter.

Tailor-made family holidays to Poland start at £295 per adult for a week, excluding flights.

By Zannah Ingraham

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