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.