If you’re ever in any doubt about the splendour of Krakow, bear in mind, its Old Town was one of the first ever urban sites to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Then just imagine the gorgeous squares, elegant colonnades, medieval merchants’ houses and soaring towers done up for Christmas. It’s a stunning sight, conjures up enough magic to delight the most difficult to please kids and can even come good on snow in December, or at least a light frost on the cobbles.
Poland’s largest festive market basically takes over enormous Rynek Glowny square in the middle of the Old Town from mid-November. For traditional goodies like hand-painted baubles this is the place, though it also does a nice line in cute gingerbread hearts and the type of brightly coloured sweets young shoppers adore.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines are a satisfyingly eerie underground tour for older kids, and another of the city’s World Heritage sites. Teens won’t forgive you if they miss out on seeing Schindler’s Factory, it’s now an immense exhibition space but the history’s as poignant as ever. If you want frosty Christmas trees for real, wrap up well and head to legendary Planty Park. And make sure kids leave some space between gingerbread and sweets to try obwarzanek pretzels: they’re sold from street carts and almost as famous in Krakow as fabulous architecture and endless cute cafés.
Multi-era Wawel Castle dominates Krakow, so no surprise to find its battlements have the best city views, bar none.