We visited Zakopane (Poland) as part of our family holiday to Poland. Originally the plan was to just head to Krakow (the lure of cheap flights), but I’m a mountain girl so we couldn’t resist tagging on a trip to Zakopane. If you’re thinking of visiting the area too, here are our family friendly suggestions.
What to do
Eat and Play
There’s an art gallery on the main street (Krupówki) that you enter via an unassuming door. Head up the stairs and you’ll find a really cool café. We loved the décor, the menu is great (even for fellow veggies) and they have a lovely play area with toys. They also have good quality highchairs and baby change facilities. Thumbs up from us!
Where? STRH, Krupówki 4a, 34-500 Zakopane, Poland
Ride the Funicular
Zakopane is a resort at the base of the mountains. It’s geared up for the ski season, so there’s a funicular, ski rental companies and shops. We visited in mid-December and although there was snow on the ground, it didn’t look like the best place to ski (well, compared to other places we’ve been).
We were with our two mini-explorers (three months old and 2 years old) so we weren’t there to ski and it was actually enough to entertain them. Nova loved making footprints and throwing it about. He also enjoyed the funicular ride up and down, which didn’t cost much at all. The ride takes about three and a half minutes each way. At the top there isn’t too much to see and do (make sure you eat a chimney cake!), so you only really need an hour or so up there in my opinion. It was more about the ride and views for us.
Where? Gubałówka Funicular, North of ul Krupówki
We spent the afternoon at Aqua Park Zakopane. Nova loved the toddler paddling pool, with little slides and fountains. The water was really warm so Kit enjoyed it too. If you have bigger kids they’ll love the bigger slides and outdoor pool. The sun was setting when we left and it looked really pretty from the outdoor pool.
We visited midweek and it was really quiet. There are loads of lockers and family change areas. Perfect spot for a rainy day or if you want to wear energetic toddlers out!
Where? Aqua Park, Jagiellońska 31, 34-500 Zakopane
Watch candy being made
Everything seems to centre on that main street – Krupówki. About midway down/up you’ll see a cute little candy store. You can watch the staff mixing the ingredients and rolling them out to create sticks of candy. Drool enough like our little boy and you’ll be handed little taster treats.
It claims to be the smallest factory of sweets in the world, but whether that’s true or not, it’s a good watch.
Where? Ciuciu Cukier Artist, ul. Krupówki 13, Zakopane
Where to stay
If I’m honest it was our hotel, Villa Nova, that made our visit to Zakopane so lovely. And yes, we were attracted by the name – it felt like a sign!
Villa Nova is a beautifully stylish, modern hotel that is really affordable. There’s a playroom on one floor, with lots of clean, pretty toys, including a vintage ride-on. Each floor also has a lounge area, so we’d usually let the kids loose in the playroom (that was always empty) and then we’d sit in the lounge area enjoying the complimentary drinks and cakes whilst watching them. One night we also ordered take-out pizza and ate it there, rather in our room.
The hotel is at the top of the main tourist street, so it’s a good base for exploring. We only had to use our car to get to the water park, but we probably could have walked if it wasn’t so icy.
Where? Villa Nova, Stanisława Staszica 8 A, 34-500 Zakopane
How to get there
Krakow to Zakopane is about a two hour journey but the roads can be notoriously slow. We left Krakow mid-afternoon and it took over three hours to get there. Despite having three lanes the main road was so slow and busy. By the time we hit the smaller roads that climbed the hills it was dark and a storm was brewing.
We had a scary incident where a huge tree fell straight across the road and as we turned around to go back down the road another tree fell straight in front of us blocking us in. We managed to move some of the thinner top branches so that we could precariously drive over it without falling down the hillside. It was bloody terrifying!
Our journey back was less eventful, but only slightly. There wasn’t so much traffic but I was really sick, so yeah. Hopefully your journey won’t be as dramatic!
We spent two days in Krakow and three days in Zakopane. Unless you’re skiing I’d recommend one-two days in Zakopane as it’s a fairly small place. We found not many people spoke English, but were friendly so it’s a nice spot to escape to.
Pin for later…
The First Trip With A Newborn and a Toddler (to Poland)