Whilst Zakopane remains one of the most popular destinations in Poland, a lot of people find it too crowded and have left it to visiting Russians and Varsovians, snubbing it for nearby Male Ciche, Bukowina and Bialka Tatrzanska. In an effort to avoid crowds, the opposite effect has taken place with the last two particularly becoming popular. We had a couple of choices to choose from on our recent trip to the Tatry. Oe of them was a rather old-fashioned looking hotel room in Bukowina, devoid of night life and very much geared towards old people and families, we chose its rowdier cousin instead. A day or two into our visit, we paid a visit to Bukowina Tatrzanska to confirm we'd made the right decision.
Bukowina's pride and joy is the thermal baths, without doubt soothing and at about 60zl a day, the hot water won't burn a hole in your pocket. Unfortunately we'd left behind our swimming gear, so gave it a miss. Other than this, the main benefits are the ski slope which is not as high as those in Zakopane and therefore less busy. From the bottom of the town, there's a good direct route to Slovakia, some 3km away. The village though, is very linear and if you're looking for a place to park it becomes a nightmare. A main road runs through the town, meaning its rather busy.
There's a small range of restaurants that loiter by the pavement, we were famished and frequented a couple of them in an attempt to find a seat. All of them were full though and were seriously cramped. The restaurants specialised in Polish food or pizza and most had a greasy cooking smell about them. We were unprepared to wait and decided to head back to Zakopane before the traffic built up even more (it was a Friday afternoon)
Busy but without the array of choices available in Zakopane, I'm glad we gave it a wide berth. The one thing that would sway me to stay there would be the thermal baths, a spot of luxury particularly during the winter but staying at the hotel itself is often rather dear or fully booked. Having grounded part of my car radiator grill on a small wooden fence by parking in a hurry in the hope no one would nab my spot, we then spent over an hour in traffic to cover the 17km to Zakopane on the way back. I would certainly say that there are nicer mountain destinations in Poland and I found the supposedly relaxing Bukowina to be hectic but without much in the way of attractions.