If you haven’t lived in Poland nor learned its geography, I bet the answer for the most people will be no. Once, in Bydgoszcz airport, I had a chance to talk to a German lady, and I asked her how they name this city in German. Her reply was, she didn’t know as she had never heard of it in Germany. It’s not a very touristy city and is quite underrated by the locals, but every year it’s getting better and more interesting as a tourist destination and the amount of tourists increases. But for us, it is not a touristic destination at all. This city has a special place in our hearts.
I was introduced to this city the next day after our wedding and we spent our honeymoon here. Every corner of Bydgoszcz is filled with memories for us – our two years of living here were quite busy: we made a lot of friends, attended and organized speaking clubs, various parties, we worked and traveled intensively.
Then, we got itchy feet and desire to move on and try to live somewhere else but I’ve always dreamt to bring our daughter to this place where her parents had spent 2 wonderful years and made so many friends. This summer the opportunity arose – we received an invitation to a friend’s wedding. That was just what we needed and we didn’t think twice.
We couldn’t take many days, as almost all of the vacation was spent during the first half year. But we packed these few days with visits to the fullest. Not to mention, it was a very sweet time, filled with nostalgia, memories, happiness to see the old friends and new experience: having lived in the city in a pre-parent time, we never really paid attention to children’s facilities, playgrounds, play corners at the restaurants etc. Now it was time to see the city in a new way.
So what Bydgoszcz has to offer to families with a toddler?
First and foremost – playgrounds, of course. There is a great one right in the center – at Wyspa Mlynska (Mill Island). The playground is big and functional, features lots of climbing opportunities, a large sandpit etc. It is also equipped for disabled kids, having a merry-go-round suitable for wheelchairs and a board with Braille numbers.
Eating out is always a part of our sightseeing and we were happy to discover that our favorite (I’d say best) restaurants in the center of Bydgoszcz are very family-friendly.
Sowa is actually famous for its confectionary but they also have a nice restaurant where you can taste various Polish dishes. It’s equipped with a play corner and even a nursing room (didn’t ask for a high chair and didn’t need changing facilities but most likely they have them too). The food is delicious and the atmosphere is also nice.
One of the typical Polish dishes is pierogi – basically, it’s dumplings which can be served either boiled or baked, filled with anything possible. The best pierogi you can find out there are made in Pierogarnia Stary Mlyn, conveniently situated at the bank of the Brda river. It has a big play area, changing facilities, high chairs and even low washbasins for little ones. The views are great and it’s fully accessible for the disabled too.
If you have a small child, most likely, you have to get up early. Accordingly, your breakfast is early too. Not many places are open on Sunday mornings before 10. Actually, we found only one – Piekarnia (bakery) at Stary Rynek (the main square) opens at 7 and it’s not a simple bakery – it serves different types of breakfast (Polish, English), smoothies and very good-looking desserts (the breakfast was quite filling and left no place for a dessert). We were pleased to find it toddler-friendly too: there was a play corner and high chairs so we could eat in peace while our little one was busy with the toys and when she had enough of playing, she could join us for a bite.
If you are in Bydgoszcz with older children, it might be a good idea to go to museums. During our living in Bydgoszcz we visited them all and our favorite is probably the Archeological Museum. Another good one is Wieża Ciśnień – it’s a museum inside a former water tower, from the top of which you can enjoy a great view over the whole city and beyond. In good weather, we liked to go to Myślęcinek – a big city park growing into the forest. It’s good for any age. You may want to try it out if you have time. Other things to do in Bydgoszcz you can find at the city’s site.
I would like to add one more thing here – an observation of our daughter’s behavior during this trip. Usually, we have no problem with her on our travels – be it long haul flights, constantly changing places – no problem, if the parents are with her, all that is even entertaining for her. But this time she got very tired. At first, we were puzzled and even started thinking she was falling ill but then it came to us that she could be just too overwhelmed. Not with the travel itself but with all the new people she met in those 4 days. If for us it was fun to have several meetings (planned and unplanned) with various people in one day, for her it was stress and every day it was becoming harder and harder to cope with it. Not that she cried when meeting somebody new (except when it was already her bedtime) or ran away, she even played well with some of them, but her general mood was getting worse and worse every day.
Still, we enjoyed our trip back to our second home, meeting old friends, walking familiar streets, checking out the positive changes happening in the city and things that haven’t changed. It was an interesting experience to see the same place in a different way – dweller vs. visitor, childless couple vs. parents and we were pleased to notice the city developing, the walls getting painted, new restaurants and businesses opening.