It hasn't been easy being cooped up indoors since the Polish government introduced restrictions to try and limit the spread of the Coronavirus, however, as the measures are gradually being eased, it's once again possible to get out into the world and enjoy some forms of leisure. Finally, there's going to be more to do than simply go out for short walks - something that kids will no doubt be delighted about! It's worth noting that as of Saturday 15 May, restrictions on wearing face masks outdoors is no longer necessary, so long as social distancing of 2m can be maintained - if this isn't possible, like in public transport, then covering your nose/mouth is a must! Furthermore, as of Saturday 29 May, cinemas, theatres, operas, fitness centres and amusement parks will re-open under a strict sanitary regime - only half of available seats will be occupied at cultural and entertainment venues, with people to be kept 2m apart and being obliged to wear masks. It's a small price to pay, and a price tag we won't argue with.
We're all beginning to breathe a cautious sigh of relief, and we truly hope everyone will be able to enjoy what Katowice and Silesia have to offer families with kids. With the new measures in mind, we also understand that there will still be an air of apprehension hanging over the city, maybe people still feeling uncomfortable about being in areas full of people. After so long of being encouraged to remain indoors, binge-watching films and TV series, we doubt there will be hoards rushing to a cinema to be cooped up indoors again! We've provided a bunch of recommendations on what to do in the city with the kids, with a heavy emphasis on outdoor activities, but if you choose to go to indoor venues like museums or entertainment centres, before you go, we fully recommend checking that they are open (some have chosen to remain closed for now) and what restrictions or sanitation measures they have in place!
Now that the formalities are out of the way, it's time for a recap on what you can actually do in Silesia! First off, it has a tonne of sightseeing, but we agree, maybe not all places are suited for a younger crowd. You can only expect the younglings to be quiet and respectful in churches, memorial sites and boring history museums for so long, and you can’t expect them to enjoy cellar bars or stylish clubs at all. There must be something else to do in this town, right? Yup! What we've learned during our time exploring the city is that not only is it quite an impressive place for anyone wishing to explore, it also has quite a lot of stuff for kids to see and enjoy, come rain or shine, you'll always keep them occupied!
We’ve created this section to help you find exactly those things, and send your kids back to school bragging about what a great visit they had in Warsaw. Below we’ve listed local family-friendly destinations under the categories of Indoors and Outdoors, plus reliable recommendations for where to eat and drink where your kids will be treated as welcome customers, rather than ire-inducing annoyances. Some venues are described in more detail elsewhere, so follow the links.
Everybody loves Katowice, right? Judging by first appearances, the city may not look like an obvious tourist destination for anyone, let alone kids. But this is a city which has undergone a huge transformation in the last decade, resulting in not only an aesthetic uplift, but a major kick-start to the cultural and leisure landscape.
Of course the first step to having a great family day out is to accept that what you want to do, and what your kids want to do are hardly one and the same. That said, there’s no reason you can’t find some common ground in Katowice’s major attractions. Everyone has Industrial heritage/tourism in mind when they visit Kato, but that doesn't have to mean it's boring old buildings for the kids, oh no. If you choose to go the Silesian Museum, it's super modern and will have the kids as interested in the multimedia elements as you will be. If you happen to be in the area on 09 June, then definitely check out the industrial themed Industriada 2020 festival, which opens up post-industrial sites to tourists and provides a host of events and fun for the kids. You'll be glad to know the city has a few kid-friendly venues up its sleeve (where you'll no doubt have fun too)! If leisure is more your thing, then Multikino, Cinema City Silesia and/or Cinema City Punkt 44 (with IMAX screens) to see the latest kids' movies can be good for a rainy day. If you prefer more action packed indoor attractions, Katowice also has a Laserhouse, a Jump City for trampolining madness, a 10-pin bowling centre, and a Flyspot centre to get suited and booted to fly around in a wind chamber, which is fun for all involved!
Sometimes the best thing to do when there’s easy-tiring kids involved and you want to see as much as possible is to simply walk, or take advantage of good weather and ride a bike around the city. From Apr-Dec, the 'City by Bike' scheme is in effect, and with each year more bike paths being built, a choice of 450 bikes across 54 stations, you're spoilt for choice, with the only limitation being your own decision where you want to go. Riding around Downtown Katowice is always an option, but you'll have to tussle with pedestrians in the heart of the city, but heading to the Cultural Zone is one option, from where you can even ride onward to the Nikiszowiec district, if you're all super fit! In the warmer months especially, the Valley of Three Ponds is a welcome retreat for locals who want to get away from the bustle of the city centre, and we wholly recommend a visit - it's like another world entirely, perfect for loungers on the public beach areas of the lakes, but also a haven for keep fit and outdoor types, who wish to walk, run, roller skate or ride a bike.
Another great idea is to head over to Silesia Park - either by bus, tram or bike. Although this is now going beyond the official city limits of Katowice, the wider metropolitan area is well connected and you'll barely notice where one city ends and the next one begins. Even if you choose to get to the park by bus or tram, when you get there, we'd recommend renting one of the aforementioned bikes if your aim is to see the whole park - it's truly huge! Near the main entrance to Silesia Park is Poland's oldest amusement park, Legendia, filled with a mix of old and new rides. Your next port of call may be the Silesian Zoo - it never fails to amuse the kids, especially the petting area and Dinosaur Valley! Getting there can be quite a novelty in itself as you can opt to ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad (which links the amusement park with the zoo, 1km away) or go further and traverse the park on the Elka Cableway. For the kids bursting with energy, going to the Silesian Rope Park is a safe choice! As for the sports obsessed children (and adults!), head over to the modernised Silesian Stadium where you can join a tour. In the far corner of the park, you may wish to visit the Upper Silesian Ethnographic Park, whose skansen (open-air museum) showcases how rural life once looked in the region, with reconstructed houses, churches, windmills, and one of the farms here even has animals (goats, sheep and horses), which the kids will love.
Going further afield, if you and the kids are interested in an altogether different experience, there are places across Silesia where you can go deep underground, to some truly great depths of some mines - 355m undergound in the Guido Mineshaft in Zabrze, for example! Not only do you get to experience the dark depths of the earth, seeing how miners have worked throughout the centuries, you can try your hand at being a miner by using the very same equipment. In some cases, you can also travel through mine complexes by boat along underground rivers such as in the Black Trout Adit and the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Historic Silver Mines, both of which are in Tarnowskie Góry. A similar boat trip can be experienced in the Queen Louise Adit in Zabrze, however, here there is also a child-friendly zone where the kids can learn about the history of the mines in a multimedia and fun focused manner. Not only are these unique places to visit, the kids, and you, will certainly have fun, while at the same time learning about the complexities of the mining industry, and how important it is to Silesia and its culture. Fun through learning, huh? Can't do any harm! If this is more your thing, check out our Industrial Tourism section for more details.
We hope you and your kids enjoy the city and the surrounding area, but no doubt even if you are here alone or only with adults, the kidult within you will certainly consider going to check out some of our recommendations, and why not? We all deserve to have fun!