Last updated on September 26, 2019
So the winter season has started and you might be wondering where to go to find the nicest skiing/snowboarding spots? There are many places to go to in Poland in order to enjoy the winter climate but let me talk about one that I particularly like – Zakopane. I’ll guide through the skiing options and also the main things to do in Zakopane. Stay with me 🙂
Where is Zakopane? A gentle introduction
Zakopane is a small town in southern Poland at the base of the Tatra Mountains. It’s a popular place for winter sports and also summertime mountain climbing and hiking. Not bad, right? 🙂
Zakopane is actually one of my favourite cities in Poland to go to. And I do not mean only in the winter season but also in the summer season when you can observe beautiful landscapes and do some hiking trips. It is also conveniently located close to Kraków city so you can get there reasonably easily either by car or by bus. I went there quite a few times so I think I can recommend some cool places for you to go 🙂
The main street of Zakopane is called Krupówki and this is where the heart of the city is. Zakopane also offers a lot of evening activities such as clubs, great restaurants (some of my favourites include Bakovo Zyhylina Nizno, Mala Szwajcaria, Pstrąg Górski). But let me now talk a little bit about what you can do in Zakopane during winter time.
Things to do in Zakopane
Winter sports in Zakopane
If we talk about winter activities then I guess you would not be surprised if I start talking about skiing and snowboarding. That is right, in Zakopane, you can really take advantage of some cool slopes, especially if you are a beginner or an intermediate skier. So let me mention a few places where you can enjoy this amazing winter sport in the city 🙂
This is the highest place in Poland for skiing/snowboarding and probably the best one in terms of the skiing conditions. The price is 149zl for unlimited daily skiing ticket. The rails you can enjoy have black or red parts so this place is better for more advanced skiers.
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In comparison to the Kasprowy Wierch, this is a great place for the beginners and children. The rails are rather mild and not too long – around 150-250 m. The daily price ticket costs 75zl. You can take advantage of 5 T-bar lifts.
In order to get to the top of the mountain, you need to take a cable car that is one of the main tourist attractions in Zakopane. Once you are there you can use two 300m rails that are rather suitable for the beginners or intermediate skiers. Snowboard lovers can also take advantage of snowpark Goobaya. One day ski pass will cost you 62zl.
The resort offers both short and easy rides for the beginners as well as more difficult black ones for the advanced. There are a total of 4 T-bar lifts available as well as a 4-seater chairlift. A daily ski pass costs 95zl. If you need an instructor or rent skiing equipment you will have no problem there.
You can take advantage of two lifts here. One that is perfectly suitable for the beginners with the total length of 360m and another one that is impressively 1291m long. There is also a Kids Park available as well as skiing school. One day ski pass costs 100 zl.
What else to do in Zakopane
I want to mention to you my absolute favourite activities to do in Zakopane. As I mentioned before I went there many times and I cannot really wait to go there back again. My Brazilian husband also fell in love with the city, the landscapes and especially as he is a big food lover of the local food.
- Krupówki street – The main tourist street of Zakopane. You should not miss it during your stay. You just stroll through it in order to find some cool spots to eat, buy some souvenirs, drink some mulled wine or do clothes shopping.
- The Great Krokiew – Are you a fan of ski jumping? If yes, I am sure you know what I am talking about 🙂 Some years ago ski jumping was not even that popular in Poland until this great guy called Adam Małysz started winning international competitions. Fans of ski jumping! – DO NOT MISS IT – the competitions in Zakopane are happening already in January and you can buy your tickets here 🙂
- Gubałówka mountain – take a cable car to the top of Gubałówka mountain in order to enjoy the breathtaking views for the surrounding area.
- Shopping at the bottom of Gubałówka mountain – if you would like to buy some local products you should go to the bottom of Gubałówka mountain. You can buy there everything – starting from local food specialities through winter hats and scarves finishing with carpets and wooden kitchen tools.
- Oscypek – you have to try the local sheep cheese. You can try it in the raw form or grilled with the cranberry sauce. There are many different types and shapes of oscypek so you simply need to try them all in order to find the one you like the most.
- Sleigh ride – an amazing experience is to take a sleigh ride onto the neighbouring valleys of Zakopane. You normally go night time with torches and at the end what waits for you is the bonfire where you can make your own sausages. The surrounding is simply magical. Just make sure that you go to the valleys, do not take the sleigh ride in the city. It is simply not the same.
- Aquapark – if you like some water madness (and I DO :)) you should go and have some fun in the local aquapark. The outside swimming pool is with the thermal water 🙂 You can find more information here. BUT there is a discount now available in Groupon and you can get it here at a better price YAY!
- Thermal spa – Chochołowskie Thermal Spa is located just a few km away from Zakopane. We went there last year and I have to admit that it was totally worth it. The complex includes a big variety of saunas and steam rooms, inside swimming pool as well as a hot complex outside with beautiful views to the Tatra mountains. The prices vary depending on the season but in high season if you want to enter both swimming pools and sauna for up to 4 hours you need to be ready to pay 109zl. For more information please refer here. Very often you can also find discounts on the Groupon website. This is what we did last year and we paid 30% less 😀
Where to Eat in Zakopane
So I mentioned to you that food in Zakopane and in general in the mountain region is really good. Let me now get into details and recommend to you a few of my favourite places 🙂
- Bakovo Zyhylina Nizno – really really tasty! The restaurant is decorated in a traditional Góral style with a lot of wooden elements, furs, fireplace in the middle. Prices are rather a middle range. What we tried there was the grilled sheep cheese as a starter and a deer stew! The meat was just so tender 🙂 In addition to that, in the evening there is normally a local band playing which adds to the atmosphere.
- Pstrąg Górski – if you are a fish fan then this place is for you! The main fish they serve there is trout and is served in countless delicious forms 🙂 The restaurant is also conveniently located on Krupówki street.
- Gazdowo Kuzna – the restaurant is conveniently located at the end of Krupówki street, very close to Gubałówka entrance. It offers traditional food and a really good atmosphere.
How to get to Zakopane
- Car Rental – you can very conveniently rent a car and drive to Zakopane. It might be a good option especially if you want to stay in the center of Zakopane and easily get to the different mountain slopes. You can check options of many different rental companies here.
- Bus – a good option for the ones who care about their budget 🙂 The bus journey from Kraków to Zakopane takes around 2.5 hours so it not too tiring. You can look at Flixbus website to check suitable connections.
- Organized Tours from Kraków to Zakopane – if you are in Kraków and you have a limited time, you can take advantage of an organized tour. We used it and I find it a good value for money and really hassle free. Let me just mention some of them below:
One day visit tours to see the main point of the city such as Krupówki street, traditional Góral houses, Gubałówka mountain with breathtaking views etc.
Skiing focused tour + thermal bath. There is a really nice tour that we heard good opinions about includes the following things:
- hotel pick up
- ski pass
- thermal spa entrance ticket
- skiing gear etc
You can find more information about the tour by clicking in the link below 🙂
Where to stay in Zakopane
If you, however, have more time you should take advantage and stay a few days in Zakopane. Here are some recommendations:
- Top Deal – Rezydencja Nosalowy Dwór – located next to the Nosal mountain. It offers an indoor swimming pool, spa with sauna and massages as well as a hotel restaurant. The hotel allows you also to store your skiing gear and in general, is very children friendly. It is quite an expensive choice I would say but totally worth it if you could afford it.
- Our Recommendation – Rezydencja Bambi – if you want to stay in a traditional mountain style Góral rooms this is definitely a place to go! Just have a look yourself at the photos and you will know why I like this place so much 🙂 This is where we stayed a year ago and I have to admit that I totally loved the experience.
- Good Price/Quality – if you are looking for something reasonably priced and still at a good location you should consider Przy Szlaku Zakopane. The apartments are located 150m away from Krupówki and usually, you can get a two-person room for 200 zl per night in a high season.
So my final words would be: enjoy your stay in Zakopane and let us know how you liked the city 🙂
You might also like to read our article about visiting Auschwitz.