The ancient city of Zakopane, the so-called winter capital of Poland, is located near the highest part of the Carpathian Mountains, in the Tatras. Firstly, it is one of the famous and inexpensive ski resorts in Europe, and secondly, it is a picturesque place with interesting Goral folk customs and original architecture.
According to clothingexpress, Zakopane, where about 30 thousand people live, is suitable for sports activities, family holidays and educational tourism. Skiers will be offered high-quality tracks of any level, supporters of a leisurely pastime will be happy to admire the mountain scenery in the national park and botanical garden, and there are a lot of museums and cultural monuments at the service of the most inquisitive guests. Winter sports championships are held here, including world championships in ski jumping.
What to bring
The city, which arose on the border of the Slavic and German lands, will surprise tourists with a bizarre interweaving of traditions. The most common souvenirs here are sheep breeding products. The famous national sheep cheese is sold everywhere in Zakopane. Hutsul carpets with geometric patterns are made from sheep wool. Highlanders are proud of this handicraft, it is better to purchase it directly from the masters. True, such souvenirs are quite expensive – from 600 PLN.
Not far from the resort are the famous salt mines in Wieliczka, an interesting acquisition would be a salt lamp – it looks stylish and costs only 30 PLN.
The city also makes compositions from dried flowers. The gift is very beautiful, but fragile – there may be difficulties with transportation.
You can buy all this on the central pedestrian street of Zakopane – Krupowka. It also exhibits the work of local potters and blacksmiths.
Cuisine and restaurants in Zakopane
Zakopane is a tourist city, and local chefs try very hard to please guests. It is full of restaurants, bars and cafes, low prices, and the quality of service does not suffer at all.
The local cuisine will not surprise guests from Russia too much. It is a mix of Ukrainian and Russian traditions. But you should definitely try the Tatra smoked sheep cheese, here they call it “oscypek” or “oštjepok”. Also noteworthy are “zhurek” – a soup based on rye flour sourdough, beet cold, bigos with mushrooms. For sweets, you can take bagels. Do not confuse Zakopane feathers with Russian pies. This is something like dumplings, but with a thinner dough and a variety of fillings.
It is customary to taste local dairy dishes in dairy bars. Such canteens have been preserved in Zakopane since communist times.
In expensive restaurants, dinner for two will cost about 80-100 PLN. One of these is on the top of Kasprowy Wierch, from where a magnificent mountain panorama opens. Establishments of a lower class are not inferior in quality, and prices are lower – 75 PLN for hot, wine or beer and dessert. Numerous cafes offer breakfasts and lunches, the average check here is 20-45 PLN.
Entertainment and attractions
The first mention of the village of Zakopane dates back to the 17th century – it is not surprising that there are many historical and natural attractions here.
In architecture, there is a special Zakopane style of wooden architecture. You can see its best examples on the streets of the city: this is the Villa Koliba, built in 1893, and the “house under the fir trees”, which houses the Museum of the Tatra Region, and the sanatorium of Dr. Havranka.
You can continue your acquaintance with Polish wooden architecture by going to the village of Chochołow, which is a 20-minute drive from the resort. Here, in the 19th century, a complex of residential houses of the highlanders was built, which is still inhabited. In the vicinity of Zakopane, a wooden church from the 16th century has been preserved. It is located in Dębna Podhalański. It is worth seeing it for the unusual carvings that adorn the façade. Also not far from Zakopane is an ancient knight’s castle, built as a defensive fort on the old border with Hungary – this is the Dunajec castle in Nejice.
Not quite a typical attraction is the old mountain cemetery Piueskowym brzyku, where many famous figures of Poland are buried.
Natural monuments will amaze the tourist’s imagination no less. A walk in the Košteli Tatra Valley will allow you to see the Morskie Oko mountain lake and caves.
There are several museums in the city. In addition to the already mentioned villas of Koliba and the “house under the fir trees”, this is the Museum of Kornely Makushinsky, a well-known children’s writer in Poland, and the Museum of Carriages and Locomotives. Tickets to all museums cost 7 PLN for ordinary visitors and 5.50 PLN for privileged citizens. Zakopane also has the Drama Theatre. Vitkevich.
3 things to do in Zakopane
- Get to the top of Gubałówka by funicular and take pictures of the Tatras.
- Get to know the locals – Gorals and learn to distinguish their Old Polish dialect.
- Pass the Zakopane part of the Polish tourist route “The Way of Wooden Architecture”.
Zakopane for children
In Zakopane there is a kindergarten especially for tourists. Here you can leave a child for 6 hours from 80 PLN.
Together with the kids, you can go to the Rabkoland amusement park, which is 50 km from Zakopane. A ticket for the whole day costs 29 PLN. There is a water park in Zakopane itself. The ticket price is PLN 22 per hour for adults and PLN 17 for children. Entertainment here is traditional – pools with thermal water, saunas, slides, the Wild River attraction, which imitates a mountain stream.
If you come to Zakopane in winter, you can go ice skating with your children. Many hotels equip ice rinks in their territories. There is one artificial ice arena, as well as city ice stadiums. Children can also enjoy horseback riding, which has become a popular family pastime. The child will be taught the skills of a rider and offered to ride along the picturesque mountain trails.
Zakopane is located at several altitudes, so the weather varies from region to region. In general, experts call it “invigorating”: it is believed that the local climate speeds up metabolism and promotes recovery from a number of diseases. Here, average annual temperatures are low and there is practically no summer in the conventional sense, and winter lasts 120 days. The resort has very high humidity, precipitation occurs about once every two days, but there is practically no wind.
Snow is usually not a problem from mid-January to early March, although the ski season runs from December to April. The rest of the time, snow cannons cope with the lack of snow cover.