KRAKOW…this magical city is an absolute must on any good European adventure, but did you know that just 100km south lies the hidden gem that is Zakopane? Situated at the base of the Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is one of Poland’s favourite holiday destinations all year round. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this place so special but with this little guide, you will be well equipped for everything that this unique town has to offer.
First and foremost, Zakopane is incredibly easy to get to whether you’re on your own, with your better half or with a large group getting away for the weekend. Situated just 90km south of Krakow, Zakopane is only a 2-hour drive away by car and there is an abundance of car rental companies in Krakow where you can rent a car for as cheap as 60pln/14€ per day. If driving is not an option for you then fear not, there are buses that leave every 30 minutes from the main bus station with tickets available directly on board for around 20pln/5€. If going by wheeled transport is not your thing then there’s also the train which runs 4 times a day with tickets available from the Polish national railway website.
Bang For Your buck!
If you haven’t already been to Poland then you may not be aware how much bang you get for your buck! Zakopane is no different and once you get there you’ll kick yourself for wasting all your precious money on holidays to the alps. Twin-share accommodation at a hotel can start as low as 200pln/46€ per night. For this price, you’ll get breakfast and quite often dinner included! Booking.com and Groupon offer great deals which include your stay and meals so that’s a great starting point.
The other good thing about Zakopane is you can literally afford to eat out every meal without breaking the bank. You should start by visiting Krupowki which is stacked with authentic wooden panelled eateries offering traditional and delicious meals for an awesome price. I recommend ‘Pstrąg Górski’ for an awesome selection o f fresh trout dishes set in a cosy and traditional atmosphere. Generally, you can pick up a soup and main for around 40-50pln/9-11€.
No matter what time of the year you can always find something fun to do during your stay in Zakopane. During the summer, there’s over 270km of hiking trails, numerous bike trails as well as mountain lakes to explore in the stunning Tatra National Park. If you’re not the sporty type then fear not, you can take the cable car to enjoy the views from one of the highest points in the Tatra mountains ‘Kasprowy Wierch’ for 79pln/18€ round trip. There is also a cable car to ‘Gubałówka’ which lies opposite Zakopane and offers stunning, uninterrupted views of the mountains as well as an array of traditional markets and food outlets.
However, it’s in the winter when Zakopane really comes to life! There are over 30km of ski slopes to carve up that are served by 29 ski lifts. The highest ski resort for skiing in Zakopane extends up to an altitude of 1,987m and is accessible by the aforementioned Kasprowy Wierch cable car. Ski rental prices can vary depending on quality however, generally speaking, anywhere between 25pln and 60pln per day is a fairly accurate range. It is always cheaper to rent for multiple days so if you’re staying longer than just a day always rent your gear for your entire stay to save those pennies!
Last but certainly not least is the traditional and downright delicious cheese ‘Oscypek’. Produced only in the Tatra mountain region of Poland ‘Oscypek’ is a smoked cheese made from salted Sheep’s Milk. This tasty little treat is not only a personal favourite of mine but is an absolute must-try during your visit to Zakopane. Found on just about every street corner in Zakopane, the uncut version of Oscypek could be mistaken as a baked good or bread roll! However when cut into a bite-size piece, lightly toasted and served with some cranberry jam ‘Żurawina’, Oscypek will melt in your mouth and want you coming back for more!!
Well, that’s it, I hope you find the time to visit this beautiful mountainside escape. If you’re looking for one-stop-shop to book your trip to Zakopane head over to our friends at City Walks Krakow, whether you plan your trip straight there or you need some recovery after an alcohol-fuelled weekend on the Krakow Boat Party! There really is so much to see and do in Zakopane so leave your comments below about your time in this little slice of Polish heaven!!
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