A travel journal
to Zakopane by Scubabartek
Quote: Cradled by the Podhale basin and Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is a marvel to visit. Offering great skiing and snowboarding conditions during winter, relaxing and strenuous hiking the rest of the year, and great food and hospitality and breathtaking views year round, your visit to Zakopane will not be easily forgotten.
Not to miss sites:
Pensjonat Sosnica, while neither cozy nor traditional, offers large and comfortable rooms for a very reasonable price. Amenities of the hotel include a large swimming pool, billiards room, massage service, restaurant and a café. Each room is equipped with satellite TV, radio, telephone, WC and a shower. Rooms are large, clean, well lit and with balconies.
While as mentioned before, Sosnica does not offer that charming and cozy atmosphere that some smaller pensions and private home stays offer, it does provide good value for the money with a good, central location. Hotels and pensions located directly on Krupówki can cost upwards of 400-500 PLN (more than €100) per night, and home stays while charming and extremely cheap are impossible to book in advance and tend to be outside of the central area.
Room rates at Sosnica includes a generous breakfast buffet. Dinner has to be ordered in advance (after breakfast) at the reception desk, but if you miss out, you can always enjoy a supper-size dish at the café, which is open until late night.
For more information check out their web-site.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 4, 2002
ul. H. Modrzejewskiej 7
+48 (018) 20 667 96
The mountain is rather flat and covered with dense foliage in places. Several hiking trails lead to the top (sometimes on rough terrain) and for the lazy ones, a rail line is open 10 months a year (with the exception of May and October) that carries tourists (and skiers in winter) back and forth from the top. During spring and summer months, Gubalówka is a great starting place for a Zakopane visit. Offering few kilometers of hiking trails, breathtaking views, as well as eating establishments, one could easily spend a day here exploring the native beauty.
In winter months, when the mountain is covered with a blanket of snow, skiers and snowboarders alike ride up to the top to enjoy many magnificent runs coming down from the mountain. South and East slopes of Gubalówka especially are spotted with chair lifts, and from what I hear the conditions for snowboarding are especially great here.
To get to Gubalówka, walk to the end of Krupówki street, where the base station of the rail line is located. If you’re in a mood for a hike, head to the left of the station, where two trails are visible. If you’re not you can purchase a ticket here (8 PLN one-way, 14 PLN round-trip) to get to the top. Train line has been recently modernized and now offers brand new base and top stations and two Swiss made trains that run in both directions every few minutes.
For more information check out PKL’s web-site (the company running the rail line).
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 4, 2002
end of Krupówki street, past the market
Krupówki starts (or ends) right at the foothills (and the train base station) of Gubalówka mountain. Here is where the street is most touristy: souvenir stands litter each side selling wooden sculptures, wool sweaters, folk handcrafts and of course the famous oscypek, a smoked cheese made of unpasteurized goat or sheep’s milk. By the way, everything is so DAMN CHEAP here, that it almost makes you cry. You can buy oscypek for about a $1.50 (a little less than a pound) or a set of hand-carved chess for $20. But the deal of the century had to be when I purchased a beautiful, hand-knit wool sweater (oh man is it thick and hot) for less than $7! You can't even buy a hand-made scarf for that much in the US, and the few times I've seen hand-made sweaters for sale they were closer to $300.
As you walk down past the stands and cross the busy street, Krupówki becomes more modern and diverse. You can find some great local places to eat here, as well as a plethora of pizzerias and fast food places. Try a freshly made waffle with whipped cream and fruit (gofr z bita smietana i owocami) or a round pretzel (obwazanek). From my years of living in Poland and many travels since, I always found that street-side foods provide the authenticity and the rustic feeling of being in the old world. And nowhere else will you be able to get a generous snack to munch on for so little (usually less than a US dollar).
When you’re ready for a real meal, seek out restaurants serving rydze z patelni, a delicious type of local wild mushrooms, sautéed with butter and spices, and oscypek z grilla, grilled smoked cheese, usually served with cranberries or mushroom sauce. Restaurants will also serve a variety of game: wild boar, venison, pheasant, etc. They tend to be pricier here than on the outskirts of town, but still extremely cheap by the western standards.
Word of caution: just as Kraków’s Squarecentricness (as aptly described by Dea Birkett on the Travel Intelligence web-site) pulls you in to the Market Square, just as strong is the gravity of Krupówki in Zakopane. So the best way to combat it is to simply leave town and go hike in the mountains, or see some of the magnificent places around it.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 21, 2002
Krupówki street, at town center
The hike is not strenuous, but it is quite long. The well paved road winds up the mountain for approximately 10km (six plus miles) and for an average person will take about two hours to get to the lake. The views along the way are magnificent. On a sunny day the highest peaks of Polish Tatra's (including its highest peak Rysy at 2499m) are clearly visible. A variety of mountain flora (mostly conifers) surrounds the paths, with the occasional squirrel peaking out at the tourists. About a third way up, a magnificent waterfall system, Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza, can be seen to the right of the trail. Right around here there is also a complex of "honey buckets" for those who cannnot hold it any longer. Three quarters of the way up, at Polana Wlosienica (which happens also to be the end station for the horse-driven carts), there is wooden building housing a buffet, a bar, souvenir shop, as well as toilets. If you're hungry try the cheese-filled crepes - they are quite magnificent.
Once you reach Morskie Oko (which by the way means "The Eye of the Sea"), there is little you can do here except of course to enjoy the splendid views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. There is a pension with a restaurant where you can grab some grub. And if you made it here early, and your fitness level is high, you can follow the red trail (advanced) that leads to the top of Rysy and on to Slovakia. For myself, I just enjoyed having a sandwich while enjoying the cool mountain air and watching the ducks on the lake - how in the hell did they make it here...
To get to Morskie Oko, go to Zakopane's main bus station (PKS) where the busses leave every hour or so. Or alternatively, across from the bus station, private vans carry people to the location for approximately same price. The ride will range from three to five zlotych ($0.75-$1.25). Rides back are offered at similar prices.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 6, 2002
Tatra National Park
Tatra Mountains, Poland