Zakopane Stories and Tips

Zakopane in general

One thing I've noticed whilst living in Poland, is that a lot of Poles seem to think along the same lines. So when a lot of my students told me they shunned Zakopane in favour of smaller nearby resorts, I wasn't totally surprised to find Zakopane quieter than usual. It was my third time in the mountain town, having been there sparing three decades (90s, 00s, 10s) - I cannot see a huge difference, other than the run-in from Rabka-Zrdroj being more built up, a dual carriageway running south of Krakow and bigger cars on the streets.

Zakopane is the one place in Poland with higher mountains and quite big slopes for skiing but other than people who know how to ski, it does tend to attract a certain amount of posers who are just happy to have their photos taken in a restaurant with rented skis, poisefully placed behind then. It's probably the only place in the mountains truly attacking a lot of foreign visitors, particularly Russians who make use of the casinos and nearby thermal spas.

Whilst the culinary options are fairly poor because restaurants don't seem to offer good quality, it is reasonably cheap and drinks are good value. If you don't find the food up to scratch then the salty sheep cheese "oscypek" sold in various forms will surely please. Traditionally served with cranberry sauce, I prefer to give that condiment a miss but love the grilled ones and usually bring back a few of the bigger ones to Warsaw.

Zakopane is easily reachable by car, train or bus. If you're travelling a long distance, you may be best off taking Polski bus because the trains are usually crowded.

Accomodation varies in price, there are plenty of budget offers in the form of private rooms and hostels. Private rooms might as little as whilst dorms can run as low as 25zl. Even at its busiest, you'll find somewhere to squeeze you in a location, a central one, is undoubtedly an important factor if you're planning on going out at night.

I'm not much of a skiier but those in the know will tell you that Polish slopes tend to be quite on the busy side, queues are quite big and many prefer to opt for Italy or Austria which is not much more expensive. Hiking trails start from around Zakopane and when it's not too snowy, you can walk in the mountains and valleys, crossing over into Slovakia and some even hike to Hungary. The mountain enthusiast might want to try their hand at climbing Rysy. While those caring for a gentler stroll might look to Morskie Oko where there's a brilliant view of a lake (it was frozen when I went but I've seen it in photos!)

Other than walking, eating or participating in the fanfare that is Krupowki, you could go to see the ski jump, take a cable car to Gobolowka or Kasprowy Wierch or buy any number of overpriced knick-knacks from the market place.

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