If you are traveling to Warsaw with kids you made the right choice, it’s the perfect destination to travel to with children. It’s easy to see why with a plethora of museums, parks, stunning architecture, forests, and remarkable scenery where ever one looks. It’s a vibrant city and there is always something to do, especially for families.
Poland is definitely a destination geared toward the family with an abundance of venues and activities specifically equipped for the entertainment and education of children. Most parks, like the world-famous Łazenki Royal Gardens, have playgrounds. If you were to kick a ball hard enough out of one playground, chances are that it would land in another.
Weather presents no barrier as the fun does not stop in winter, nor when it rains, due to a number of indoor playgrounds and fun educational programs run across the city, check out Smart Kids Planet at Fabryka Norblin or learn along with your little geniuses at the Copernicus Museum.
Warsaw with Children: Tips for Traversing the City
When out and about in the city, with kids, it’s always a good idea to carry some snacks and refreshments, but should you need anything keep an eye out for a Żabka. It’s a chain of quick shops and chances are there are at least ten within walking distance of where you happen to be standing at any given point when your child starts asking for a drink. They do tend to be a little more expensive than supermarkets so it is a good idea to stock up on munchies at a larger store if you are on a budget.
Potty breaks are inevitable and you will find toilets in malls, museums, and tourist areas, but they may be far or hard to find in parks or when walking around the city. Many public toilets ask for payment to use the facilities so don’t be shocked if a woman at the entrance demands that you pay two złoty for the privilege.
It’s a good idea to get a portable disposable kid’s loo for small children. They are small and fit in a bag easily. Your little darling can use the throne in a quiet area, strategically hidden behind a bush or a held-up coat. You will save yourself the stress and rush of having to find a toilet. Once in Poland you can order one from Allegro and choose to have it delivered to where you are staying or to your closest Paczcomata (outdoor safety deposit box for deliveries) where you can collect it at your convenience.
Museums often have free entry days so check online to see when these are when you are planning your visit. There is an annual Night of the Museums, Noc Muzeów, in May. Most of Warsaw’s museums have free entry and remain open till late. Make sure to register in advance if you plan to take advantage of the event.
When visiting indoor playgrounds, even in malls and restaurants, please observe the no-shoes rule. Poles do not wear outside shoes in their homes, and they have applied this rule to schools and play areas as well.
Google Translate is your friend. This handy tool is a must for travel and can help you translate any signs or information. However, one can get by with using English in most places in Warsaw as it is widely learned as a second language.
If you have hired a car please be aware that most parking is paid in Warsaw, Monday to Friday, and free on weekends, unless stated otherwise. Keep a lookout for the parking pay stations, they all have options for English instructions. Make sure to place the slip on your dashboard to show that you have paid.
Public transport is excellent in Warsaw so there is little need to hire a car or take a taxi. Make use of the Moovit website or application. When you put in your destination Moovit shows you the route and which busses, trams, and metro lines to use. Be sure you pay for transport as you may receive a hefty fine if you are found without a ticket. Ticket machines can be found next to most stops or paid for, by card only, on busses. Children up to 7 years of age ride for free, as do pensioners over 70. Identity documents may need to be presented.
Top 10 Things to do in Warsaw with Kids
Here are ten fun and interesting things to do with your kids in Warsaw.
The Kampinos National Park
The Kampinos was established as a reserve in 1959 and in January 2000 it was added to the UNESCO list of biosphere reserves. It covers a massive area of over 385 square kilometers (over 148 square miles), 70% of which is covered by forests mostly consisting of aromatic pine.
It can easily be reached from the city using public transport, or the bike path along the Wisła River, and is completely free to enter. Families can enjoy walks, or longer hikes, along its many paths and take in the magnificent scenery. You may come across the residents of the park, such as birds, elk, roe deer, beavers, foxes, lynx, and wild boar. One may even spot a snake or two, especially when it’s warm. They are mostly harmless, apart from the common European adder, which is mildly venomous.
Other points of interest within the park are bogs, dunes, memorials, and cemeteries, the most famous of which, is in Palmiry. When visiting in the warmer months a mosquito repellent is advisable.
The Old Town
This UNESCO World Heritage site does not disappoint. The scenery includes a patchwork of different colored tenement houses and church spires rising up from the cobbled streets, leading in and out of the square and onto the facade of the Royal Castle. It is a site to behold in any season, whether covered in winter snow or sunlit and baking in the summer heat. It’s where all of Warsaw regularly meets for a meal, a drink, or just a walk to enjoy the almost tangible energy of the place.
A family can enjoy exploring the streets and little shops while enjoying an ice cream or waffle. When entering the town square you will be greeted by the statue of Warsaw’s beloved symbol, The Mermaid, in the center, she is surrounded by motes of locals selling works of art and handmade items, outdoor restaurant seating (in summer), and the rebuilt tenements of the bygone aristocracy. In winter she enjoys a Christmas market with an ice rink, and she listens to beautiful jazz played during the summer holidays.
Wave goodbye to our syrena and take the kids down the alley with the view of the Palace clocktower at its end. Upon entering the plaza your kids will undoubtedly spot the horse-drawn carriages offering rides along the outskirts of the ruins of the castle walls, to the Barbican and back. Then their attention will be drawn to the balloon sellers with their sky-high clouds of floating characters. Make sure you have cash in hand for both as neither accepts cards.
Opposite the castle is Zygmunt’s Column, which was originally erected in 1644, to commemorate the Polish king who moved Poland’s capital from Kraków to Warsaw in 1597. It’s a popular meeting spot and one can often see some rather colorful characters around it.
Then on to the New World, Nowy Swiat. This road which connects the Old Town to the city center is often closed off to vehicles on weekends and public holidays. Along the way, you will be entertained by talented buskers, see the presidential palace (and occasionally protesters outside it), and statues of various famous Poles. After you pass the Hotel Bristol look down to road to your right and take a detour to see the statue of Piłsudski, a Polish hero, facing a square with the Grave of the Unknown soldier and its guards on the opposite side. The beautiful Saxon gardens are behind the memorial, a perfect spot to rest and enjoy the fountain and occasional bubble maker entrancing children who run after the globules of air and pop them.
Palace of Science and Culture
This iconic art deco building used to be visible from all parts of Warsaw, but is now joined by a multitude of other skyscrapers filling the skyline. Most visitors to the city will get their first glimpse of the controversial structure when flying overhead. It has several nicknames: Mad Confectioner’s Dream, Russian Wedding Cake, and Stalin’s Rocket, which convey how the Poles feel about it. The Palace was a “gift” that Poland could not refuse. Initially named after Joseph Stalin, it was completed in 1955 and is viewed as a reminder of the Soviet influence over Poland.
Despite its history, Warsaw makes full use of it and there are many attractions on offer at the city’s second-tallest building. Kids will love the viewing deck and tickets can be bought online here. There are also a variety of exhibitions that take place within the Palace of Science and Culture, including a guided tour of the gift that nobody wanted. It also houses the Teatr Lalka, which has a repertoire of puppet theatre your children are guaranteed to adore.
Navigating a museum with little children can often end up with a wasted entrance fee. Kids get bored, hungry, and tired fast, but The Copernicus Museum is sure to keep them entertained and captivated for hours. There are 400 exhibits, construction challenges, workshops, and mini-labs within its walls. Most importantly, the exhibits are interactive so kids can learn and have fun at the same time as touching everything.
There is also a Planetarium, with a number of shows and films, in English, on offer. It’s guaranteed to be enjoyed by parents and kids alike. It is recommended to purchase your tickets to both the museum and the planetarium prior to your visit to avoid disappointment and queues. This can be done here.
The boulevards are another Warsovian favorite for scenic walks, especially when the weather is good. Everyone along it is doing something, bodybuilding under a bridge, riding a bike, roller skating, or just relaxing on its steps.
There is an interesting playground on the way and various restaurants and bars, on the shore and even on the water. A trip to the boulevards could be a last-minute decision to take a walk after visiting the Copernicus Museum, or it could be an all-day exercise. Start off with a boat ride, there are a variety of cruises that can be booked online. Later enjoy some lunch as you make your way to the end and back, stopping to cross the road to see the Royal Garden and dancing fountains. You could rent bicycles and ride along the path to Żolibosz beach for lunch, or, if you are an active family, all the way to Młociny Forest for a picnic and ice cream.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse Fabryka Norblin is an excellent destination with a lot on offer for young and old. This old factory complex was gentrified and has become a trendy place for locals to enjoy themselves.
The food court is worth the visit alone. 23 vendors are serving delicious cuisine, from all over the world, catering to all diets. Check out the bar and try some great Polish beer while you are there. Grab some takeaway and make your way upstairs to the cinema, which has an offering of films in English. You can enjoy your meal while watching a movie, with the kids, in extra comfortable chairs with attached tables.
If Food Town isn’t your thing there are also some restaurants, located on the premises, where you can sit down and enjoy a meal.
If you are in the mood for something healthy check out the Bio Bazaar where you can purchase an array of Eco and Bioproducts and produce.
If the kids need to burn some energy take them down to Smart Kids Planet, an indoor educational playground where they can run rampant and learn something at the same time.
Believe it or not, the suburb takes its name from the French ‘Joli Borg’, meaning beautiful shore. This popular neighborhood is quite beautiful with its tree-lined streets and old aristocratical mansions. Take a walk, or bike ride, in the charming Park Kępa Potocka with its willow-lined lake, and of course, stop by the playground so the kids can do what kids do best.
Żoliborz stretches down to the banks of Warsaw’s adored river, The Wisła, along which are numerous sandy beaches enjoyed by the locals in the Summer time. Plaża Żoliborz is a popular place to enjoy warm weather. There are two lively outdoor restaurants/ beach bars on the shore, which regularly have live bands in the evenings. There are a few public fire pits available for grilling and a kiosk renting out deck chairs. As always, there is a little playground for the kids to enjoy. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon and evening, with the sun setting after 21:00 in the peak of summer. The cool breeze coming off the river is invigorating, mixed with the pleasure of enjoying a cold beverage while listening to good music, it creates an electric atmosphere.
A short walk away is a stable yard that offers pony rides and lessons in English. On the property, you can also find the awesome open-air restaurant Pod Kopytem (Under the Hoof). It is a favorite stop for cyclists on the bike path along the Wisła and offers an array of grilled meats and delicious pizzas.
If you happen to enter these royal gardens via the Aleje Ujazdowskie gate, next to Belvedere Palace, you will be greeted by a massive monument to Poland’s beloved composer, Fryderyk Chopin. He sits under a windswept tree looking to his left, perhaps he is facing the place of his birth in Żelazowa Wola and recalling his childhood. At the foot of the monument is a reflection pool, mirroring the statue and surrounding trees. In summer there are free piano concerts the public can attend. The grand piano takes pride in its place next to Chopin and pianists from all over the world to volunteer their time to play his music to the delight of the crowds. As one sits on the grass the senses are aroused by the entrancing sound of the piano blended with the wind moving through the encircling trees and the scent of the garden’s flowers. It is as if time stops and one becomes completely immersed at the moment. The lineup and recital times are published annually here. We recommend you get there early to secure the best spot on the lawns.
Łazenki is, as expected, a sight to behold in all seasons and an oasis of serenity within the bustling metropolis of Warsaw. Leaving Chopin to contemplate his music, walk down into the gardens. It’s like entering another realm as the trees seem bigger, older, than anywhere else in the city. They reach up creating a canopy, protecting visitors from the sun or the rain.
As you move through the park you will start to notice its residents, the cutest of which is the red squirrel. You may even see some people doing something odd in proximity to the bushy-tailed creatures. Poles coax them closer by stooping down and quickly repeating the word “Basia”. This entices the squirrels closer because they know that there may be a walnut in it for them and they will occasionally run up a person to get their treat.
Make your way to the Palace on the Isle, next to which is a small amphitheater where plays are performed in Summer. Keep an eye out for the resident peacocks as they love to congregate in this area and show off their impressive plumage to visitors.
There are numerous gardens within the park, all beautiful in their own way, as well as museums. In 2023 a massive new playground opened and it is a hit. Toilets are sparsely located so mark them upon entering because trying to find them when the need is urgent can be a difficult and unpleasant task.
Next to Łazenki, you will find the Botanical gardens, which is a sight to behold in autumn. Another park is located across the road and it has a rather peculiar playground that was gifted to Poland by Hungary. If anything, it is an oddity that can be interesting to see.
Now, before you skip this section because the idea of opera and children does not seem like a good one, have a look here. The National Opera offers a selection of Musical Matinées and educational mornings for children and even adults. Book the tickets well in advance as these events sell out quickly.
Pines Forest School
Pines Forest School is a British school based on the Scandinavian all-weather education model. They occasionally offer Saturday half-day workshops for children aged 5 and up. Parents can either drop children off, and enjoy some free time together, or stay with the kids while they take part in activities based within the Powsin Forest on the outskirts of Warsaw. Camps are held throughout the year at either Powsin or the school itself, located in Żabia Wola, a village 30 km southwest of Warsaw.
The school and its programs are run in English and the children are encouraged to engage in risky play, which is monitored by the coordinators, and they take part in activities such as identifying flora and fauna, tracking, tool usage, shelter building, fire safety, and woodwork.
An experienced leśnik (woodsman), Pan Marek, takes part in all programs. He is extremely knowledgeable and adored by all the children. One may be able to coax him into an educational family bush walk, and email the school to discuss his availability.
When taking part in the weekend session, make sure to pack lunch, snacks, and beverages for your child. Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty is advisable and if the weather is wet you can’t go wrong with a waterproof softshell jumpsuit. They are relatively inexpensive and can be ordered through Allegro.
Whatever you choose to explore, you will find the Polish capital not lacking in interesting sites and activities for young and old. The city has come a long way and it really does deserve the title of one of Europe’s Best Destinations. It is vibrant and interesting and the locals enjoy it to the fullest as they walk along its streets. Embrace all it has to offer with an open heart and excitement, you won’t be disappointed.