With its slopes and mountain ski chalets, horse-drawn sleighs, colorful main street and cable cars, you`ll think you've arrived in the Switzerland of Eastern Europe! Don`t miss the beautiful resort town of Zakopane.
This incredible Catholic church is worth a visit, for its solemn and stunning interior of wooden pews, burning candles and high ceilings with stained glass windows.
Head to Nosal or Gubałówka for lookout points that will have you in the heavens above the clouds.
In the summer, take some friends and rent out a raft to cruise around the Dunajec River or Lagoon Czorsztyński in Pieniny.
With its relaxing thermal pools, saunas and steam rooms, there can be no better place to unwind and relax.
What are ski trails in the winter become prime hiking trails in the summer. Don't miss visiting the Morskie Oko and Giewont.
Located in the Villa Atma, this small museum is a wonderful introduction to the life and works of Karol Szymanowski - one of the city's greatest sons. The composer lived here for six years during the 1930s before his death from tuberculosis, and it's been preserved just as it was on the day he died. You can see the study where he composed, portraits made by local legend Stanisław Witkiewicz, and you may even stumble upon one of the regular performances of the great man's work.
The Tatra National Park is one of Poland's great wilderness attractions, and one of the most breathtaking stretches of scenery in continental Europe. Studded with glacial lakes and criss-crossed with trails, you can easily spend a week exploring various routes with map in hand, while winter brings a vibrant (and affordable) skiing scene to the area's many resorts. And the Tatras are also a biodiversity hotspot, with brown bears, lynx, golden eagles, and a vast array of native plants for biologically inclined visitors to spot.
For architecture fans, this museum is an absolute must-see. Across the world, Zakopane is famous for its distinctive "style". Inspired by the prolific work of Polish master Stanisław Witkiewicz, who was mainly active in the late 19th century, this style features a heavy use of local hardwoods for the interiors, ornately crafted details, round windows, and harmonious proportions - and the Villa Koliba is probably its greatest expression. After visiting here, you'll be well and truly ready to wander around the Old Town, spotting how the style was implemented and refined, and how it's making a comeback.
The town's oldest street, Kościeliska is often called the "place where Zakopane began", and it's certainly filled with history. There's the Gąsieniców Chapel, which dates back to 1800 (not long after Zakopane was founded), the much larger Church of Our Lady of Częstochowa, which is full of folk paintings, and an array of preserved homes like the Sabała Cottage. It's genuinely like wandering into 19th century Zakopane - an experience that's rounded off neatly by the appearance of the Koliba Villa, where the magic of the Zakopane style will become clear.
A handy supplement to forays into the Tatras, this museum tells you everything you need to know about Zakopane's gorgeous mountain range. Located more or less in the center of town on Krupówki Street, the museum is another gem of the Zakopane style. But the real gems are inside, in the form of a rich ethnographic collection, exhibits introducing visitors to the city's artistic golden age in the 1890s, reconstructions of Podhale cottages, and authentic peasant costumes.
When you should travel to Zakopane depends on what kind of activities you like. If you're going for freshly powdered mountains and challenging slopes, winter is best. Temperatures are 41.9°F-22.46°F and summer reaches only 59.5°F.
Travelers arrive at the international airports of other cities, like Krakow's John Paul II Balice Airport or in Warsaw. Use the train to get to Zakopane from these destinations.
Several train services arrive at Zakopane's main terminus. From Krakow, for example, fares cost zł25.
From Krakow, take the route 7 to Rabka and then use route 47 to get to Zakopane.
Along with the PKS bus system, there are also tour operators like MaxBus, MajerBus and Szwagropol. Fares start at zł12-zł15.
The Nosalowy Dwor Resort & Spa is the perfect place to stay if you're looking to be pampered in luxury. Check out the Villa Vita for its beautiful mountain views or Target Hostel for economy in the city center.
Kasprowy Wierch - One of the most beautiful and accessible mountain ranges in Zakopane, this region offers beautiful summer hiking trials and skiing opportunities in the winter.
Nosal - Another district in the Western Tatras mountains, this is Zakopane's highest peak. Its lookout points make it a great spot to go gliding.
Gubałówka - Offering great slopes for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, this mountain range also offers relaxing spas for travelers.
Zakopane is a small ski town, so public transportation is not necessary for the most part. Getting into Zakopane, people use the PKS buses, but there are also privately owned van services called 'mini buses', with rates that are variable and negotiable.
Getting around on foot is easy, but if you're going to use a taxi, make sure to call for one rather than simply hailing one off the streets; it will be 30% cheaper. Fares from companies like Radio Taxi TATRY start at zł8 and cost around zł6/mile after that.
Rent a car locally from service providers like Wypożyczalnia samochodów Zakopane Value24 Rent a Car. Fares start at zł120/day for 1-3 days, zł100/day for 4-6 days or zł80/day for 7-30 days.
Local shops, kiosks for food and crafts, restaurants and entertainment spots are all lined up in one convenient location in Zakopane: the Krupówki Promenade.
A quart of milk costs zł4 and a dozen eggs will be around zł7.38.
Because of its destination as a 'resort' town, it can seem hard to find food in Zakopane that is well-portioned and affordable. But there are definitely hidden gems like U RYŚKA (MARZANNA) on ul. Oswalda Balzera 17E (opposite to Nosal). Here, you can feast on large pork chops, seasoned potatoes and hearty soups. A meal for 2 adults and a child comes to zł50-zł60.