Situated at the foot of the majestic Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is a beautiful small town with spectacular views and a place which cannot be missed when you visit Poland. Located just over two hours by bus from Krakow, it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a sports tour somewhere a bit different. If you want to experience a different culture all together then Zakopane is the destination for you, as you can meet with Polish Highlanders who have their own national dress and even their own language which sounds quite different to traditional Polish.
For sports teams looking to get some serious training done during their tour we can provide access to state of the art training facilities, with Zakopane being the perfect location for both children and adult football, volleyball and handball teams. Of course being located in the mountains Zakopane is also a great destination for skiing in the winter as well. And when you’re not playing games or training hard then it’s definitely worth taking some time to see the spectacular scenery on offer. Gubalowka Hill is one place to admire the views, and you can take a cable car up there from the end of Krupowki Street (the main street in Zakopane). There is also Kasprowy Wierch which can be reached by cable car and again is well worth the visit in summer and winter.
In terms of nightlife there is not as much on offer as our other destinations, however there are still some nice bars on Krupowki Street and also some great restuarants where you can try some traditional highland food. All in all Zakopane is a great place to visit for teams young and old who are looking to get some training done and take in some of the spectacular local sites.
The Stunning Mountain Town of Zakopane
Nestled at the Foot of The Spectacular Tatra Mountains
The nearest airport to Zakopane is Krakow, which is located about 2 – 2,5 hours’ drive. You can fly to Krakow from the following cities: Ryanair: London Stansted, Birmingham, East Midlands, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Dublin, Shannon. EasyJet: London Gatwick, Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast. Jet2: Newcastle British Airways: London Heathrow
Ireland:Warszawa, ul. Humańska 10, tel. (+48 22) 849 66 55
Zakopane's recent history
Zakopane was originally a tiny village in the 19th century, however it did start to grow towards the end of the century. It wasn’t until the 20th century that it really started to flourish, becoming a popualr destination when it became a popular detination for artists and intellectuals. At the end of the 20th century the town really started to become popular amongst tourists, with many people from Poland, as well as neighbouring European countries taking their holidays there. Nowadays it is one of the most popular tourist detinations in Poland with around 2 million people visiting each year, as people come there in the summer months for hiking, and in the winter months for skiing and snowboarding. The town is also fairly accessable by road or rail from major Polish cities, most notably Krakow where there are a number of buses each day, as well as a train line, although the train tends to take twice as long as the bus.
What's the weather like in Zakopane?
Being in the mountains the weather isn’t as hot as in the Polish cities obviously, however they still enjoy warm summers with the temperatures sometimes hitting 30c. In the winter there is always heavy snowfall and cold temperatures with -20c not uncommon. Because of the snow it means that during the colder months some of the hiking routes are closed as they’re in avalanche danger zones.
Prices and local currency
The currency used in Zakopane is the Polish Zloty, NOT the Euro as some travellers believe. The exchange rate at the moment is about 5.75 zloty to the pound, which coupled with the cheap prices here means trips to Zakopane can be done on a very low budget. You can eat a meal in a restaurant for a low as 5-10 GBP per person, with a beer costing about 1,50 GBP. Polish notes come in 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 denominations, although it’s always worth making sure you have change as many places often don’t have enough coins.
Taxis in Zakopane
Zakopane is a very small town so chances are you won’t need to use a taxi whilst you’re there. If you do however we recommend phoning one rather than jumping into one which is waiting on the street, as this tends to be more expensive. For any activities booked with Sports Tours Poland we will provide you with transfers. If you do need any help booking a taxi then please ask at your hotel, or your English speaking guide who will be more than happy to book you a taxi with a reputable company.
With Zakopane being such a small town there is no need to use public transport. If you want to get to one of the neighbouring villages to go hiking then there are a number of small buses which run (they look like minibuses), where you get on and pay the driver. Usually the price for one journey is about 10 PLN. You have to use one of these if you want to get to the entrance to the trail for Morskie Oko. There is also a main bus station where you can get buses to many destinations in Poland. You have to enquire at the ticket office if you wish to travel on one of these.
Drink in Zakopane
Drinking is deeply embedded in the Polish way of life, with alcohol available pretty much anywhere. Bars are open a lot longer here than in the UK, with many bars staying open until the last customer leaves.
The most popular drinks in Poland are beer, and of course vodka. Polish beers are very strong, but they also taste great with even the most common brands such as Tyskie or Kasztelan being of the highest quality. The strength of each one is usually a minimum of 5%, although there are a few weaker ‘session’ beers available. Dark beers or porters are also very popular here, and whilst they taste great they are often quite heavy and usually stronger than the lagers. You can also get some imported beers such as Heineken, however these are more expensive and roughly the same price you’d pay in the UK. For a Polish beer (500ml) you’re looking at between 6-10zl. Polish vodka is also known to be some of the best in Europe, with a number of different flavours available in each bar. It is also very cheap, with a large shot of vodka usually costing around 5 zl (less than one pound). Good quality wine is also readily available, with the prices often a lot cheaper than in the UK. Common sense rules do apply though, so never order a bottle of wine without checking the price first as you may end up with a nasty shock once the bill arrives.
Food in Zakopane
The Poles have a phrase which describes their duties to their lucky guests: “A guest in my house is like God in my house”. This means that it’s very hard to go hungry in Poland!
Restaurants in Zakopane are known for being extremely cheap and also having good quality Polish food. They are perhaps even cheaper than restaurants in the main cities. Whilst there are a few restaurants serving foreign cuisine, the restaurants mainly serve traditional Polish and Highlander cuisine. Particularly good are the grill restaurants which are dotted around the centre of the town.
There are a few local delicacies which you should try whilst in Zakopane, most notably the local cheese, Osypek. This is often used in cooking as well and is particularly good when cooked with chicken breast.
Top 5 sights to visit when in Zakopane
1. Take a walk down Krupowki Street
The main street that runs through the centre of this town is Krupowki Street, and it’s well worth taking a slow wander down here both during the day and at night. With wooden buildings lining the street on either side are a variety of bars and restaurants, as well as shops selling traditional souvenirs. There are also street entertainers as well who have been entertaining the crowds for many years in Zakopane. It’s also worth looking out for the small stalls selling Oscypek, which is a traditional smoked Highlander cheese made from salted sheep’s milk. It tastes good cold, but even better is if you get it from one of the grills.
2. Climb Gubalowka Hill
Located at the end of Krupowki Street is Gubalowka Hill which is one of the most popular attractions in Zakopane. The hill is 1,120 meters high and offers spectacular views of Zakopane, as well as the surrounding mountains. To reach the top you can either take a cable car, or walk. The route is fairly easy as most of it is on grass’ however it does get pretty steep towards then end. At the top of the hill there are a few restaurants and many stalls selling souvenirs, as well as other activities such as horse rides and activities for children. Whilst climbing Gubalowka is not as challenging as some of the other routes on offer, it’s well worth taking the time to come up here, even just for the views.
3. Visit Morskie Oko
WMorskie Oko is the deepest, and fourth largest lake in the Tatra Mountains. To get there you need to take a bus from the centre of Zakopane to the entrance of the national park where you can begin the trail. The route is very easy as it is all on tarmac, it is about 10km in length with horse and cart and option if you don’t want to walk. If you want a bit more of a challenge then there are other routes branching off from the tarmac which can take you to other lakes and mountains. If you’re young and fit then it’s well worth doing this as the views are simply stunning. Morskie Oko itself is also beautiful and a great place to spend the afternoon admiring the view.
4. Visit the thermal baths
Terma Białka is situated at 714 meters above sea level in the Białka Tatrzańska village which is located a short drive from Zakopane. The water used in the thermal baths is extracted from a borehole which is 2,500 meters deep and has a temperature of 72°C meaning during the winter it’s the perfect place to sit outside in this warm water admiring the views. This really is a great way to pamper yourselves, and one which attracts people from far and wide.
5. Enjoy some winter sports
People don’t usually tend to associate Poland with skiing, however Zakopane is a great destination for any winter sports fans. There are a number of places to go skiing and snowboarding no matter what your level; from complete beginner to expert. We can also arrange for you to go snowmobiling in the winter months as well, which is an awesome experience.
There are great sporting facilities available. If you want to enjoy a training camp then Zakopane is the perfect destination. We can provide you access to state of the art sports facilities at the Olympic preparation centre, as well as nearby accommodation meaning it’s the perfect place to come and train.
The town is located at the foothills of the Polish mountains and is simply stunning. Zakopane has been a popular tourist destination for Polish people for many years, and once you’ve visited it is easy to see why. The town is surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains, with a number of decent hiking routes located nearby. If you don’t fancy the hike then there are also a number of cable cars which can take you to the summit of some mountains. Of course being a mountain town it is also a great place for winter sports.
Zakopane is in close proximity to Krakow which means it is easy to get to. The best way of getting to Zakopane is to fly to Krakow where we can arrange transport for you. The drive takes about 2,5 hours, however with it being a popular tourist destination this time can increase significantly if you’re travelling at the weekend in peak times.
You can experience the Highlander culture. Visiting Zakopane and meeting with the locals can be a great experience, as many of them still wear traditional Highlander dress and even speak a different version of Polish.
Whilst people don’t really head to Zakopane for its nightlife, there is still plenty to do here in the evenings. There are some great restaurants if you want to experience some traditional Polish food, as well as some nice bars and even a couple of clubs.