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About city Gallery Where to stay

One of the southernmost Polish cities, Zakopane, is also known as the country’s winter capital. During the season, this resort, located on the Polish-Slovakian border, at the base of the Tatra Mountains, is humming with tourists. Mostly it’s Poles themselves, coming to Zakopane for the weekend to ski - although sitting in a traffic jam on the way to the city one can also spot a few foreign license plates. Another load of tourists comes on trains from Krakow.

Due to its excellent climate, Zakopane had its beginning as a health resort, but courtesy of the well-developed coal and metal industries, winters here are marked by smog and the smell of burning coal. The city itself is barely large enough to fit all of the skiers and enthusiasts of winter entertainment. Even though there is no shortage of hotels, parking one’s car in the city centre during season can be a real challenge, so if you plan to visit Zakopane, we advise you find a hotel in the surrounding settlements, where things are not as hectic.

Swiss-style Villa Poraj built as Pension Marya in 1887 at Krupowki Street, main pedestrian street in the City
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Swiss-style Villa Poraj built as Pension Marya in 1887 at Krupowki Street, main pedestrian street in the City

The city is now a mixture of traditional Polish mountain culture and the attributes of mass tourism. Traditional inns offer tasty and inexpensive Polish dumplings, traditional macaroni soup, hot smoked sausage, and roasted lamb- and sheep’s-milk cheese. You can navigate the streets of Zakopane in horse-drawn carriages which offer their services to tourists.

The tourist-filled Krupowki Street, on the other hand, is full of souvenir stalls, kitschy knick-knacks, luxury shops and entertainment venues., and just like most Polish cities, Zakopane can tire one’s eyes with its hundreds of differently-sized, multicoloured billboards.

All of that notwithstanding, it’s a resort with deep-rooted traditions of skiing and mountain hiking - the Kasprowy Wierch, located at the top of the Tatra Mountains, attracts many experienced skiers and hikers, and the summit has been a favourite with the former for over a century. The first ski lift – one of the oldest in Europe – was built here in 1935-36. The astronomical and weather stations were also built around the same time.

Kasprowy Mountain ski resort
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Kasprowy Mountain ski resort

The ski lift at the Kasprowy Wierch has been completely modernized. Once at the top, tourists and skiers can now enjoy both beautiful sights and a café. Even though two of the skiing tracks are marked black, skiers with average skill can also safely get to the bottom by using at least one of the other tracks that lead to the intermediary lift.

The other skiing tracks of Zakopane are situated on hills surrounding the city. These short, red- and blue-coloured tracks are perfect for a leisurely afternoon skiing session or skiing and snowboarding lessons. The Gubalowka and other neighbouring hills provide an excellent view of the Tatra Mountains.

Gubalowka peak with a height of 1126 m above sea level, a tourist attraction in Zakopane in Poland
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Gubalowka peak with a height of 1126 m above sea level, a tourist attraction in Zakopane in Poland

Situated in the Bialka Tatrzanska town just 20 km from Zakopane is another well-equipped skiing centre and snowboarding park, called Kotelnica. Even though the tracks here are also relatively short, both novice and experienced skiers are sure to have a good time regardless. In Poland, this resort is very well-known and regularly attracts many winter-sports-loving families with kids. The complex also has a restaurant and café village, and a thermal water park with a spa, bath services and heated outdoor pools.

The whole region of Zakopane is characterized by plains, slippery tracks and many different winter sports championships.

Where to stay

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