International travel is a huge undertaking for any traveler. Traveling with kids internationally is another story! We caught up with Magda Piasecka who is an expert in exploring Poland with kids. She owns and operates the website Kids in the City that is dedicated to international and Polish families living in and visiting Poland. The website is entirely in English so it is easily accessible for non-Polish speakers. Kids in the City has incredibly useful articles about current happenings and events in Poland, Polish travel tips for families, and information on interesting places to visit around the country.
Read on to learn about Magda's excellent tips, tricks and recommendations for visiting Poland with your family.
Kids in the City is an informational website dedicated to international and Polish families living in and visiting Poland. You provide a lot of useful information in English about living in and exploring Poland as a family and more. Where did you come up with the idea for this website?
First of all – thank you for your kind words about Kids in the City.
The idea for Kids in the City was born when I decided to change my career path (I was working in business consulting then) and create something “with my own hands”. I wanted to bridge my various professional and private experiences and aspirations - it turned out that there is no website in English presenting Poland from the family point of view. I thought then - this is THE idea – a website in English dedicated to international families living in Poland, moving to Poland, and traveling to Poland. And so Kids in the City was born, in 2017. Now it's not just a website (www.kidsinthecity.pl) but also a monthly newsletter (Explore Poland with Kids), a weekly newsletter (What's on in Warsaw for Kids & Families), Instagram, Facebook, Facebook public group (Family life in Poland), Facebook private group (Parents Support & Workshops). I’d like to take this opportunity to invite all parents interested in Poland to subscribe, click, follow us - all Kids in the City’s resources are in English.
Kids in the City is a great resource for international families living in Poland. What do you think is one of the biggest challenges for families who move to Poland from abroad?
From my conversations with parents who moved to Poland, it appears that the biggest challenges for them are the Polish language and the lack of a support network. Especially in the first months after moving. The language barrier is difficult for any foreigner living in Poland - regardless of whether it is a parent or a single. Creating everyday life from scratch and building a support network for your family in a new country – it’s serious business for parents and requires a lot of time, energy and ... courage (yes, courage – it takes guts to make new friends, to ask for help from strangers, to find your place in the new neighborhood). I admire these parents from the bottom of my heart!
And here I hope that Kids in the City will help parents in navigating their family life in Poland at least a little. That’s why the main goal and mission of Kids in the City is to support families living in Poland and traveling to Poland.
It seems you have had the opportunity to travel to many regions in Poland and have excellent recommendations on where families should visit. What are the top three things you recommend to do or see for families who are visiting Poland for the first time?
It's so hard to name just three destinations in Poland to visit! It is like asking a parent of four to pick ONE favorite child :) For the first visit, I would recommend landing in Warsaw, from there taking a train to the city of Kraków, finally, renting a car and driving to the Polish Tatra Mountains.
Warsaw stands out from other European capitals - walking through the streets of Warsaw you experience the power of history and decisions of world politics. On one side, the Royal Castle blown up and reduced to ruins during the Second World War, rebuilt and opened to the public in 1984 (UNESCO World Heritage Site). On the other side, the Palace of Culture and Science built in 1952-1955 as “a gift” from Stalin, a symbol of communism in Poland. And between these two iconic buildings - a lively city with restaurants serving cuisines from around the world, cozy cafes, interesting museums, and beautiful huge parks.
The city of Kraków does not need advertising! It is the perfect place to soak up the historic architecture and relax using the tourist-friendly infrastructure. Kraków is an ideal city for everyone who loves walking - both for romantic walks for two and for walks with children ;)
At the end of our short trip around Poland - a 2-hour drive by car from Kraków to Zakopane, the town in the heart of the Polish Tatra Mountains, serving as a starting point for many hiking trails. Must-do attractions in the Zakopane area? Hiking in one of many kid-friendly valleys; selfie with sheep grazing in a mountain meadow; enjoying the oscypek cheese, bought straight from the shepherd's hut.
Your website is very unique because it is one of the few that provides extensive information about discovering Poland in English. What are some of your suggestions for travelers visiting Poland who do not speak any Polish?
Any foreigner who hears Polish for the first time or starts to learn Polish will agree that it is - to put it mildly! – a very difficult language. But, paradoxically, this works to the benefit of tourists who visit Poland - no one here in Poland expects tourists to speak Polish or takes offense when they start a conversation in English or another language.
That is why restaurants in Polish cities have English menus and English-speaking staff, and all the biggest tourist attractions in Poland offer information and audio guides in English (and often in other languages too). And when you need to ask someone on the street in a Polish city for directions, you can easily do it in English. Don't be surprised when this person - guessing your accent - answers you in your native language, in French, Russian, Spanish or German. Poles learn not only English at school, two foreign languages are compulsory in primary and high schools in Poland.
Before traveling to Poland, I would recommend learning a few basic phrases in Polish, like good morning (dzień dobry) or thank you (dziękuję). Hearing you speak Polish will melt the heart of every Pole.
Learn more about speaking English in Poland here.
As you are an expert on traveling around Poland with kids, what are some of your best tips for parents who are traveling or exploring the city with kids?
Many of the foreigners I talk to are surprised how friendly Poland is to families traveling with children. They praise, for example, the ease of traveling with a child in a pram in Polish cities and public transport. Polish cities are full of restaurants, which is also important when traveling with children. Many of these restaurants have so-called kid’s corner and kid’s menu. It is great not only that there are so many restaurants (including numerous vegetarian ones) but also how many different cuisines you will find here in Poland. When you are hungry in the main square in the city of Wrocław (south-west Poland), it's hard to decide - you can of course choose a restaurant serving traditional Polish food, but also a Greek restaurant, next to it an Italian restaurant, or maybe Indian cuisine?
Traveling with kids is a different style of traveling from any others. Some people are excited to travel as a family and other are very stressed. Do you have a fun or memorable story from traveling with your family?
My kids are 7 and 10 now and finally traveling with them is fun (well, at least most of the time ... ;) When I look at our travel photos from 5 years ago, when the kids were little, I see our smiling faces. But then I often remember what happened just before or after this happy photo was taken – oh yes, there have been some tantrums and meltdowns while traveling. Just like in this photo below - my then 4-year-old daughter Hanna in the Polish Tatra Mountains, climbed the peak of the Kasprowy Wierch mountain. Believe me, there is a lot of sweat of the parents “behind” this photo (and a ton of chocolate eaten by Hanna). Was it worth it? Definitely yes!
While running the Kids in the City website, you must have the opportunity to meet some really interesting people and visit some fun places. What is your favorite thing about organizing this website?
I've been waiting for this question :) The best part of running Kids in the City is that I can meet people from different countries without even leaving Poland! I love getting to know new cultures, learning about different countries - their history, customs, cuisine. Thanks to Kids in the City, I talk to many foreigners living in or visiting Poland. Their personal stories are fascinating, but also the little things I learn about the countries and cultures - how Korean women paint their lips or how to make Turkish coffee.
Thanks to contacts with foreigners, I also learn about myself and gain a new, valuable perspective on many matters. When I think about a mother who doesn't speak Polish and goes to a state clinic somewhere in Poland to vaccinate her baby, it is easier for me to reevaluate my "big" everyday problems (and as a typical Pole I have the unfortunate tendency to complain a lot... ;)
I also appreciate very much what I learn about Poland from foreigners. To see Poland through the eyes of foreigners - it's priceless! I value both their compliments (ok - I admit - I burst with pride when I hear how beautiful Poland is and how friendly Poles are) and their criticism of certain matters in Poland. One of the goals of Kids in the City is to keep Poland open and friendly to foreigners and to make their experiences in Poland as positive as possible. So that thinking about the times when they lived in Poland or traveled around Poland would bring a smile to their faces and pleasant memories.
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