Stunning Zakopane! Southern Poland’s Tatras Mountains

Situated at the foot of the Polish Tatra Mountains and with over a century-old tradition of skiing, Zakopane is Poland’s “Winter Capital” so expect loads of skiing, snowboarding, cross-country activities, walking trails, and breathtaking vistas!


This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Where is Zakopane?

Passing through a few Slavic countries and spreading over more than a thousand kilometres are the Carpathian Mountains. And, situated in the middle massive arch of the Carpathian is the Tatra Mountains, which host the highest peak: Gerlach at 2,654 metres above sea level.

Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland, Europe

The gorgeous Tatrzański National Park is only a few kilometres out of Zakopane, another reason why this area is so popular with all tourists.


The first thing that strikes you about Zakopane in the spring (April Easter weekend) is the abundance of heavy snow, in fact, blizzards! So, there’s no surprise that the skiing season is from November to May.

The other thing is all the lovely traditional wooden homes covered in snow that are so picturesque; everywhere you look there’s a postcard scene just waiting to be captured.

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Gorgeous timber homes

As Zakopane has always been a mecca for artists, you can find many museums, art studios, and galleries in town.

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Zakopane’s bygone era

Because of the spectacular highlands, Zakopane hosts many festivals each year. Be sure to do some research before arriving so you don’t miss out on the chance to party with the locals – I’m sure this would be loads of fun.

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Bottom larger text: “Such symbols should never find yourself on the neck of a man belonging to the Catholic Church”

Founded as a crop-growing and livestock-raising settlement at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the number of visitors grew. Especially when the railway was built in 1899, which made travel to this region more accessible.

Walking Trails

The Tatrzański National Park offers many short and longer walking trails.

Although we spent seven nights in Zakopane and walked pretty much all over the town and out to the start of the walking trails, it was snowing so hard some days that we didn’t bother doing the walks, so only walked two of the longer trails.

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Stunning vista on walking trail

The whole area is magical, especially walking along the trails.

Depending on your fitness level but more importantly, if you’re doing the trails in the snow, allow more time than the designated signage time. Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be stopping a lot to take numerous photos along the way.

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Colour-coded trail signs

Check out the Tourist Information wooden booth on T. Kościuszki and pick up your weather-resistant map (7PLN), which shows the well-marked walking trails (colour-coding and trail names match signs on the forest trails). So you shouldn’t get lost…even in the snow.

Dolina Strążyska

This trail is one of the shortest at around 2.8 kilometres, easiest, and closest to Zakopane so very popular with everyone, especially on a Sunday.

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The walk is pretty flat and marked as a child-friendly trail, so many families take this trail, which should take 40 minutes. But, in the snow and if you stop for photos, this takes much longer. With spectacular vistas along the way, why rush?

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Signs at the start of treks

Dolina Maleńka

This trail is longer than Strążyska and a little steeper, also in the snow, and a little harder.

The blue and yellow trails run parallel until they split.

The map and sign for the yellow path states it’s another 55 minutes to the next sign, but this takes longer in the snow and when taking many photos.

This region is nothing short of stunning amongst nature and the forest, so there’s no need to rush the trail.

A steep incline greets you for the last part of the trail. The scenery that awaits at the top is spectacular and well worth the climb.

From the signpost, there are several directions – choosing the black trail, this is signed at 15 minutes, but of course, this takes us longer.

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Gorgeous magical trails…

Heading right at the next sign post, we trek back down to the parallel blue/yellow path from which we started.

Getting to Zakopane

In March 2015, the 3-carriage train (14PLN ‘Promotion fare’ – usually 18PLN) from Kraków for the 3.5-hour trip to Zakopane is old with hard plastic seats, but the heating works well.

Several locals including the lady selling us the ticket advised to take the bus as it’s about 2 hours and “better” by European standards.

Travel is slow across a flat and mostly farmland terrain.

Starting the incline slowly to Zakopane – about the last hour of the trip – unfolds snow-covered hills and very picturesque vistas. It’s the 31st of March tomorrow and Spring although still snowing a lot, so going to need the base layers again.

Luckily, the train is heated exceptionally well. I am sitting directly over a heater and the plastic seat is pretty hot!

Where to sleep?

If you don’t want to stay in hostels then self-contained apartments are still the most economical accommodation for two people.

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More beautiful snow!

Poland seems to be a tad more expensive than Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for accommodation and food.

Making breakfast and cooking dinner in the apartment saves a lot of cash, so a splurge on coffee and dessert every day is still affordable.

Daily budgeting means we’ve been able to travel for over a year now and hopefully can be out for some time yet.

Brzozowa Apartamenty

On Brzozowa 36, this studio apartment is around a 5-minute walk from the train station – arriving at Zakopane station, the heavens opened. As this apartment is so close, we’re not too drenched.

I think the complex is empty, as I haven’t heard from anyone yet. I’m sure this will change over the Easter break.

The apartment is fairly new, clean, and with a small kitchenette, which is the reason to chose this accommodation for 7 nights. The price is also reasonable for this time of year (125PLN/night) but Wi-Fi is proving flaky – first time in Poland – and as all the apartments fill up over the busy weekend.


Mostly cooked in the apartment so not much to suggest for restaurants.

Stek Chalupa

For the best burger around and if you feel like a massive meat hit, then you must try Stek Chalupa on Krupowki 73.

The burgers are advertised as 500g of 100% Angus beef in each burger, which comes with roast potatoes or chips, a couple of sauces, and coleslaw (33PLN).

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Blizzard grocery shopping

You may experience a meat coronary!

The Glühwein (mulled wine, 7PLN) is also good but the quantity served in the stone cup is a tad stingy.

Besides hamburgers, this restaurant is a steakhouse but also has an extensive menu of delicious authentic Tatra food – great service and atmosphere in this very cosy carved wooden building.


Along Strążyska 39 is a great little coffee shop at the start of the Tatrzański National Park walking trails. Great ambience, staff, and stop-off after your walk for a beverage, savouries or cakes – reasonable prices considering the proximity to the National Park.


A few supermarkets in Zakopane but mostly closed over the Easter weekend – surprising for such a very popular tourist destination.


Yes, there is a small Tesco on ul. Chramcówki 30 – British supermarket chain.

Just down the road five minutes from the apartment, this Tesco offers everything you need including freshly baked bread and pastries.


On Aleja 3 Maja 9, the Biedronka chain is Poland’s answer to Aldi and is excellent for cheaper groceries than other chains. You won’t pick up your usual brands but I love wandering the shelves for many unusual delicious things to eat (I’m sad like that!).

Sklep Żabka

After scouring the city on Easter Sunday and Monday for a grocery store, only found this tiny Żabka shop on Pardałówka 8, which opens on Monday and doing a roaring trade. Considering it’s the only place open for a few groceries, the prices are pretty reasonable. If you find yourself in Zakopane over a public holiday weekend, then this may be your only option.

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Snow pup

Leaving Zakopane

As Kraków is an excellent transport hub and base for other destinations, decided to return here for a few nights before travelling on to Poznań. However, as the midday train isn’t running from Zakopane this time – a change of timetable – decided to return by bus (€15) instead.

Buses from the bus station run every 15-20 minutes and the trip should only take just over two hours and as it’s after the Easter weekend, so roads should be free of cars.

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Nature’s humour – middle of nowhere on a trek in the mountains!

This could not be further from the truth. There is so much traffic that the bus journey takes almost three hours.

The road the bus travels on only crosses the rail line a few times so it’s different scenery to the train trip.

The landscape seems hillier than the much flatter farmland scenery on the train trip, which only became hilly during the last hour of the train journey. Both routes are still very picturesque.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Poland gallery for more images. More posts on Poland at my Image Earth Travel.

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28 responses to “Stunning Zakopane! Southern Poland’s Tatras Mountains”

  1. Abirbhav Avatar

    Zakopane is straight out of the fantasy dreamland – just like Calabria.. So much ice and snow.. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️
    Lovely.. 😍
    I am sure you had a nice stay and trek in this dreamland.. 🙂 Waiting for article on the culinary delights of Poland.. 😀

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Very strange, I had to salvage this comment out of my Trash folder so not sure what WP is doing.

      I absolutely loved everything about Zakopane. Hailing from Australia, I’m not a winter person and although I’ve spent the last 5 winters in the northern hemisphere, the scenery in Zakopane during winter is magical.

      Hmmm…a Poland food post may be a little difficult and think I need to return as back in 2015, I didn’t take photos of food. I like to use my own photos as much as possible.

      1. Abirbhav Avatar

        Strange.. WP is out of order it seems.. May I e-mail you?
        Well, food photographs would have been helpful, but it’s ok. Let’s hear your personal recommendations.. 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        This comment went into my Trash folder – very strange. Ok, my details are on my “Say Hi” page.
        I think my posts on Poland do touch on food choices although not many – see what I can do…

      3. Abirbhav Avatar

        Surely Madam.. Doing it right away..

      4. Abirbhav Avatar

        Done that.. Hope you recieved my message in your mailbox itself.. 🙂

  2. beataaleksiejuk Avatar

    Zakopane is nice place with unique wood houses ! I enjoy it 🙂 Worth to see close is Morskie Oko:D It sound to be really cold when you’ve been there. I’ve visited polish mountains during may 😀

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I absolutely loved Zakopane and would return in a heart beat! Such stunning scenery.
      Yes, even though I was there between March to April, as you can see by my photos, still pretty cold! 🙂

      1. beataaleksiejuk Avatar

        Moutains always are the coldest part of countries. I would prefer hot weather and summer in true 😛 And I love beaches. 😀 But views with snow are also beautifull 😛

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I love all of it but I’m not a big fan of laying on a beach really. 😉

      3. beataaleksiejuk Avatar

        I like walking in the seaside 🙂 enjoying the sea 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I love doing the same. 🙂

  3. theitinerary1 Avatar

    I didn’t poland had mountains. Im going there this summer. I cant wait!!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I loved this part of Poland, it’s gorgeous! Hope you have a great time in Poland as I did, it’s really easy to travelling around.

      1. theitinerary1 Avatar

        I can’t wait! We are going all over Europe

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You’ll have a blast! We’re back in the UK mid-May then off to Italy in July. Might bump into you! 🙂

      3. theitinerary1 Avatar

        Haha we will be in italy in late july. Hopefully we will bump into each other 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds great! We’ll be in the south…stay tuned 😉

      5. theitinerary1 Avatar

        Haha same to you 🙂

  4. jacek29 Avatar

    Cool picks ,lots of memory for me ,long time I did not go there .Jacek

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      Hi, thanks for reading, following, and taking the time to comment on my blog!

      Glad my post brought back memories for you, especially as I just read that you’re from Zakopane – indeed an honour! For me, this is definitely a gorgeous region in Poland and probably hasn’t changed much since you were there last. I’d like to return one day. Love your blog site 🙂

  5. Ruta Ly Avatar

    Beautiful winter! Hope you are enjoying it!

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      It was a beautiful winter in The Baltics and then spring in Zakopane April last year. You wouldn’t think it was spring with all the snow around would you? Zakopane is one of my favourite places in Poland – it’s magical.

  6. Rashminotes Avatar

    Love the pics Nilla:)

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      Thank you Rashmi! It’s a spectacular region of Poland.

  7. danetigress Avatar

    Thanks for liking my blog

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      You’re welcome; I like your site, it’s cool! 🙂

      1. danetigress Avatar

        Thanks so much!

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