June 2, 2023

With the rising price of dwelling, there has by no means been a greater time to hunt out various, finances pleasant journey locations. Don’t fear, we’ve bought you coated.

Nestled on the very fringe of Poland, close to its southern border on the foothills of the Tatra mountains, lies Zakopane. This charming small city is surprisingly accessible; only a two-hour flight from London to Krakow adopted by a two-hour practice journey, you will get there in time for lunch! With costs beginning as little as £25 (return) from Stansted, Luton and Gatwick, it will be against the law to not go to Europe’s hidden gem. 

Zakopane’s excessive mountains, ski resorts, thermal baths, multitude of walks and trails in addition to its proximity to a serious metropolis make the realm excellent for these in the hunt for each an lively and stress-free vacation.

Zakopane Walks and Sights

Above: Deserted within the 40’s the shepherd huts in Gasienicowa Valley, Tatra Mountains.

Whether or not you might be within the temper for a protracted stroll with breathtaking views of the Tatra mountains and a mulled wine in hand or you might be extra within the vacation spot than the journey and would slightly take a fast cable automobile to the highest, Zakopane city has all of it. 

Kasprowy Wierch stands tall and proud at 1,987m. As compared, the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, is 500m shorter. The cable automobile that takes excited travellers from Kuznice (North of Zakopane) to the very high of the mountain takes roughly 10 to fifteen minutes. The Station on the high has a restaurant and ski store, whereas the views of Tatra mountains are assured to offer you chills even within the warmest of months. The station is open all 12 months spherical and on most holidays, however be certain to ebook your tickets prematurely to keep away from queuing.

It ought to come as no shock that there’s an abundance of valleys in Zakopane. Some, reminiscent of Rusinowa Polana, take lower than two hours to stroll for a spherical journey. Dolina Strążyska, Chochołowska, Kościeliska and Dolina Gąsienicowa (residence to the Murowaniec shelter the place you possibly can eat and even ebook a mattress), are all secure routes in each winter and summer season.

Morskie Oko is the largest lake within the Tatra Mountain area and has been recognised as one of many nice lakes of the world by The Wall Road Journal. In hotter months, the stroll to Morskie Oko is a well-liked household expedition with a spherical journey taking round 4 hours. Be warned; throughout the winter months, the time taken to the lake and again can double because of icy circumstances.

In case you are planning a Tatra hike or a stroll throughout the colder months (from November till late April), it’s important to keep watch over the TOPR avalanche bulletin on their web site and equip your self with ice/snow grippers.

Security comes first. If uncertain, all the time keep in mind the next – being blown away by views is far sweeter than being buried underneath the avalanche. 

Snowboarding in Zakopane

Kasprowy Wierch, Zakopane, Lesser Poland, Poland

Zakopane has many family-friendly slopes, reminiscent of Pod Wielką Krokwią and Nosal ski centre, that are excellent for rookies to be taught and practise their turns earlier than heading into tougher trails. It’s advisable to ebook an hour-long class with pleasant, English-speaking instructors. 

For extra skilled skiers and snowboarders, I like to recommend the terrain parks at Witów, Białka Tatrzanska and Gubałówka, that are filled with sufficient jumps and options to maintain you busy. Superior skiers can get pleasure from a world-class snowboarding expertise down a three-mile-long descent from Kasprowy Wierch.

You’re not required to have your individual tools as it is possible for you to to lease a helmet, skis, boots, poles and goggles on website, however a water-proof ski jacket and trousers are a should. 

The ski passes range from slope to slope and rely upon the timeframe you want tjem for. For instance, a three-day go for Nosal can price you between £60 and £75 relying on the season whereas a Gubałówka Ski Cross for a day (for an grownup) prices simply £14.

Motels and various locations to remain in Zakopane

Koscielisko village in the Tatra Mountains, Poland

The lodging choices on the town vary from cosy rooms in cottages and personal houses to distant cabins within the woods and five-star accommodations with spas.

Zakopane’s costs will pleasantly shock you if you’re used to spending a bit of your month-to-month wage in your vacation lodging. Relaxation assured that you simply’re very more likely to discover a complete residence for as little as £20 (and even much less!) per particular person per night time. 

When selecting a spot to remain, it’s vital to maintain the purpose of your vacation in thoughts. For vacationers wanting to discover the festive city centre and those that like the thrill of a busy way of life, it’s a good suggestion to ebook a spot near the principle road, Krupówki. 

My favorite space of Zakopane is situated between the ski leap at Wielka Krokiew and Nosal ski centre. It’s solely round a half hour stroll to Krupówki however stays comparatively quiet and crowd-free all 12 months spherical. 

I stayed in certainly one of Kabel resort’s 34 cabins final New Yr’s Eve and advocate it for individuals who love the outside, independence and conventional interiors. The distinctive really feel of the resort could be attributed to the situation; the realm is picturesque, surrounded by pine timber and the sounds of Foluszowy Potok, making it splendid for travellers seeking to chill out.

A photo of a cabin in Poland
Above: Kabel cabin I’ve stayed in

Kabel is conveniently situated a 30 minute stroll to the centre of Zakopane, a 15 min stroll to Nosal ski centre and it’ll take you lower than 25 minutes to stroll to cable automobile station for Kasprowy Wierch. 

Their largest cabin, which hosts as much as 5 individuals, is lower than £100 per night time in peak season, a cut price at simply £25 per particular person per night time with a bunch of 4 or extra. You additionally lease a barely smaller, two-person cabin from £20 per particular person per night time with your individual rest room, good wi-fi and sizzling water. It’s vital to say that each one the cabins permit pets (for a small further payment).

What to eat in Zakopane: finest eating places and bars

A picture of polish pierogi

Conventional Polish meals prospers in winter. With heavy sauces, salty sides, grilled and fried dishes, it makes for excellent consolation meals. It’s arduous to do higher than a superb pork rib (or for vegetarians – savoury racuchy, an in depth relative of pancakes) after a day hike within the mountains, regardless of the season. 

After a busy day exploring, you’ll in all probability end up guided by starvation when the time comes to decide on the place to eat. Don’t fear as Zakopane has eating places aplenty, and as a frequent customer of the area, I have to say I’ve by no means eaten in a restaurant that I wouldn’t wish to revisit. 

The phrase so as to add to your dictionary whereas searching for locations to eat in Poland is ‘karczma’. These venues serve conventional Polish meals and boast cosy, conventional, picket interiors. It’s not unusual for karczma to placed on reside music all through the week. 

In the event you’re questioning what to order from the intensive menus, permit me to recommend a few of my favourites. Pierogi (stuffed dumplings) is undoubtedly Poland’s most well-known meals. Pierogis could be savoury or candy, cooked or fried, and full of totally different sorts of meat, cheese, and greens and even fruit. They’re typically accompanied by a bitter cream topping, fried onion and/or bacon or simply butter.

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My private favourites are meat stuffed dumplings, however I like to recommend getting a combined plate of dumplings (parts are usually eight to 10) to attempt all of them.

One other conventional dish is kotlet schabowy, a breadcrumb-coated cutlet. It’s just like Austrian schnitzel however the principle distinction is that schabowy is comprised of pork.

Oscypek, a scrumptious smoked sheep’s milk cheese typically served with cranberry jam, is one other must-try delicacy and my private go-to alternative from all of the meals accessible within the Zakopane area. It’s a native pleasure and also you’ll discover stands promoting it in every single place on the town in addition to on the perimeters of mountain trails and lodges. The origins of oscypek could be traced again to the twelfth century when the Vlachs, a tribe that arrived in Polish Highlands from the Balkans, introduced the custom of shepherding and cheesemaking to the area. 

An vital tip to recollect; in Polish eating places (together with karczmas), aspect dishes (chips, potatoes and salads) are sometimes bought individually and the parts for all meals and sides are fairly massive. Don’t make the identical mistake as my pretty boyfriend, who ordered a chef’s cutlet dish with no sides. When the dish got here it included two breadcrumb-coated cutlets, every the dimensions of a dinner plate. That’s it… no sides. It took him three days! 

In the event you’re a historical past buff, the oldest inn in Zakopane will pique your curiosity. Karczma ‘U wnuka’ (the Grandson’s) opened 170 years in the past and has been maintained within the Zakopane fashion. The aesthetic was created by the Polish artist Stanisław Witkiewicz, who constantly prevented borrowing from different kinds and as an alternative took his inspiration from the folks artwork of Podhale to create the now well-known Zakopiański structure of the homes, featured in lots of stunning historic buildings all through the city.

Distinctive issues to do in Zakopane: from snowmobile rides to thermal swimming pools

An interior of St. Kinga's Chapel, located 101 metres underground at Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An inside of St. Kinga’s Chapel, situated 101 metres underground at Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Website.

For these looking for a thrill and once-in-a-lifetime expertise, you must attempt Zakopane’s snow cell expertise on Gubałówka in winter. You may go for a shorter journey or one with a bonfire. Both means, wrap up good and heat and put together for a stiff again the subsequent day!

Thermal swimming pools are a vacationer magnet in all seasons and there are three services in shut proximity to Zakopane: Terma Bania, Bukovina Thermal Baths and Chocholowskie Termy. The latter is the largest of all of them, boasting 30 swimming pools (each indoor and out of doors). 

Fancy crossing one other nation off your journey bucket record? With Slovakia simply half an hour drive from Zakopane, it will be a disgrace to overlook this distinctive gem. Solely 25 miles from Zakopane and overlaying six miles throughout the border into Slovakia is the Path of Tree Crowns. It’s an uncommon stroll up above the pines, culminating in a 105 foot excessive viewing tower from which there’s a powerful view of the Belian Tatras and Pieniny Mountains.

Enjoyable reality; Zakopane can also be residence to the world’s largest snow maze, Snowlandia, with the ice labyrinth overlaying 2,500 sq. metres. The labyrinth offers guests an opportunity to lose themselves in a big maze manufactured from ice and snow. This distinctive seasonal winter attraction is open to adults and kids.

In the event you select to lease a automobile to get round, I extremely advocate visiting Wieliczka, Poland’s most spectacular salt mine. It’s seven centuries previous and options round 245 km of hollowed out corridors. You’ll descend virtually 400 steps to succeed in stage one of many mines and the tour takes you thru spectacular chambers the place even a few of the ground panels are manufactured from salt. Its shut proximity to Krakow makes it the right place to go to on the way in which again to the airport.

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