- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Zakopane, Poland
Zakopane is a lovely town situated at the foothills of the majestic Tatra mountains. It has a population of 30,000 inhabitants. The unusual location of the town, hidden between a gentle range of Gubałówka and the rocky Tatra summits was a decisive factor in its career as a tourism centre. As early as at the end of the 18th century Zakopane, a small and remote village located at the southern end of Poland, started to attract the first summer holidaymakers. The visitors arrived mainly from Cracow in horse carts, often carrying various domestic equipment, which they couldn't find in the modest highland peasant cottage.
In 1889 Zakopane obtained the status of a health resort attracting patients suffering from tuberculosis. When, in 1898 the construction works on a railway track were finished, the first train from Cracow reached the town. This resulted in a rapid increase in the number of tourists from 1600 in 1898 to over 10,000 in 1900 (over 3 million at present).
Here are reasons why Zakopane is worth to visit
This is most definitely top of our list. It is free and can be enjoyed by everybody all the time. There are over 250 km of hiking tracks around the Tatras and some of the most spectacular scenery we've ever seen. Hiking routes are very well marked, so no need to worry about getting lost. The is such a great variety of routes as well, from really easy 4 hrs walks to intense all dayers with high mountain peaks to traverse.
Skiing on Kasprowy Wierch
We love everything about doing this. The cable car to the top is always great and the views are awesome! The slopes are the most difficult to find around Zakopane and offer the best challenge for skiers and snowboarders. On a sunny winter's day with fresh powder snow, there's nothing else we'd rather do than being up there.
The Highlander traditions, architecture and food are distinctly different from those in the rest of Poland. The Zakopane-style wooden architecture has a very unique blend of adapting naturistic style and comfort. There are tradtitional songs and dances on display all around the town and especially in the regional restaurants, where you can also sample traditional Polish and highlander food. Oscypki (the beloved smoked cheese) are everywhere and you can try them grilled with some cranberry jam, yum!
This is one of those rare cases when the use of "epic" is not an exaggeration. Lying 110 km south of Kraków and 11 km from the border of Slovakia, Zakopane is nestled in the rolling foothills of the majestic Tatra Mountains. Given the town's prime location, it's no wonder that it has long been the ski capital of the country and a favorite vacation spot for native Poles. Giewont mountain looms over the town, and you can hitch a gondola ride up to the awe-inspiring peak of Kasprowy Wierch.
As if the grand mountain views weren't enough, the rest of the nature in Zakopane is sublime. There are a myriad of forested hiking trails harboring hidden waterfalls and serene clearings. In the warmer months, you'll be able to more easily reach the shimmering lake, Morskie Oko (roughly translated as "Eye of the Sea"), one of Zakopane's most popular sights.
The restaurants in Zakopane generally stick to traditional Polish food, especially the Góralski specialties. One of the most famous foods of the region is oscypek, smoked cheese molded and carved into ornate logs or patties. Oscypek is often served with cranberry jam, which sweetly contrasts with the cheese's deeply smoky flavor. When you walk along the main streets in the town center, you'll pass by countless stands and carts where this cheese is grilled and sold to hungry passersby.