Krakow is a beautiful city with lots to offer, and there are many day trips from Krakow. However, many people don’t realize that Poland has some of the most stunning mountain ranges in all of Europe. Even better is that they are only 2 hours drive south of Krakow.
This place is, of course, Zakopane. We have put together this guide that puts together all the best that Zakopane has to offer and will show you why this “Day Trip From Krakow” should be next on your travel list.
We will also explain:
Why you should visit Zakopane.
Where Zakopane is, and how to get there.
What to do in Zakopane.
Where to stay in Zakopane.
Why you should take a day trip to Zakopane:
Zakopane is situated on the base of the Tatra Mountains. The Tatra mountains have it all, waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, stunning lakes, great guest houses, challenging hikes, and high vantage points. In the center of Zakopane is a picturesque village town with excellent food, drinks, live shows, and unique highland culture that is distinctly different from the rest of Poland.
Where is Zakopane, and how to get there:
As previously mentioned, Zakopane is a 2 hours drive from Krakow. Many public and private bus companies depart from the central Krakow bus station and finish in the center of Zakopane. The times and tickets can be found here. Trains depart multiple times a day from Krakow’s main station, and the times can be found here. Once you are in Zakopane, there are bike rental shops if you want to see the city on your own. If you’re going to head to the mountains, there are multiple buses that leave from different parts of the town. Of course, you can also get a taxi or uber.
Multiple companies offer all in one trip to Zakopane, including transport tour guide lunch and a drink. We recommend the Zakopane Mountains Day Trip from City Walks Poland.
What to do in Zakopane:
Zakopane has so much to offer to we are going to break this down into multiple categories. ( Adventure, Relaxed, Eat & Drink )
It doesn’t matter if you have never hiked or you rock club weekly. The Tatra national park has a trail for all skill levels. If you are looking for a light walk, the Morskie Oko trail is the one for you, it’s paved all the way up, and you can even get a horse and carriage if you’re exhausted. You will find a pleasant restaurant at the top of the trail looking over the breathtaking Morskie Oko lake. Once here, you can stop for a snack or head up to some more challenging hikes. If you’re looking for some more information, check out this great guide to hiking in the Tatra Mountains.
Image source: Unsplash
Biking around Zakopane and the Tatras is a great way to see more of the town and national park. You can check out some of the best trails here. There are multiple bike rental shops in the town center, but remember this isn’t’ your average city bike ride, it’s mountain biking, and some of the trails can be very steep and dangerous.
Image source: MTB Hostel
Skiing and snowboarding
The Tarta Mountains may not be as famous as the Swiss Alps, but they are just about as good for skiing and snowboarding. One of the benefits of this is the cost is much lower, and you can get a ski lift pass and all your gear for the day for around 200pln(40 EUR). It doesn’t matter if you are just starting or an experienced skier/snowboarder, because there is a school for beginners and a range of slops that vary in difficulty.
Image source: Hski
Ride around like a snowmobile or do some snow rafting and get pulled along in a raft that’s tied to the snowmobile. Tickets start from as little as low as 25zl.
Image source: Snow Zabawa
If you are looking to relax and let your hair down, you are in luck. Zakopane and the surrounding area has some of the best thermal spas and saunas. What is fascinating to many foreigners when visiting saunas in Poland is seeing a “Sauna Master.” Someone comes into the sauna and waives around a towel or object in a performance that heats up the room and blows waives of hot air at you. This makes the experience even more enjoyable. If you’ve never seen this before, we highly recommend it.
Image source: Therma Bania
Walking tour of the city
An excellent way to see the town is to take a Walking Tour. Have a friendly local show you the city and the best part is you pay what you think it’s worth.
Kasprowy Wierch cable railway
Enjoy the views of the spectacular Tatra Mountains from high above. The cable railway runs from Kuźnice to the top of Kasprowy Wierch Mountain. The cable railway is 4291,59 meters long and only takes 15 minutes or so. You end up 1959 meters above sea level in the railway’s upper station, which is the highest-located building in Poland. Tickets are 30zl, and times can be viewed here.
Image source: Kasprowy Wierch
Funicular – Gubałówka
Take a ride up the foothills of the Tarta mountains in the Gubałówka Funicular Railway. It takes 3.5 minutes to get to the height of 1122 m above sea level, thanks to the cable-way railway, which transports about 2,000 people within an hour. Tickets are 30zl, and times can be viewed here.
Image source: PKL
Local markets & Horse & Carriage ride
Take a stroll or horse and carriage down Krupowki Street and enjoy the many market stalls that show off local handmade goods and food. You can find wool and woolen clothing, leatherware, glass items, sheep pillows, and a wide variety of traditional Polish food. Make sure you try some “Oscypek.” It is smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk and is protected under polish and is only produced in this region.
Image source: Unsplash
Eat & Drink
There are too many excellent restaurants to list them all, so we have listed our favorite three.
Marzanna – Marzanna could be considered one of the most unique restaurants in Zakopane. The walls and roof are lined with random objects that give the place a lively and fun atmosphere. They offer a small menu of traditional Polish food that is made from local fresh ingredients, and the prices are very low for such great quality food.
Drukarnia Smaku Cristina – Drukarnia Smaku Cristina offers high-quality dining with traditional Polish cuisine. This modern style establishment is one of the most popular places in Zakopane and for a good reason as the food and service here is unbeatable.
Bąkowo Zohylina Niźnio – This is a traditional Zakopane highland style restaurant that offers the best local dishes and has a cozy atmosphere.
You will find many small and cozy Mulled wine stalls along the main street that sells a variety of delicious and heartwarming fulled wine, beer, and cider. This is a great way to keep warm during the cold winter nights in Zakopane. If you are looking for something other than mulled wine, our top three spots for a drink are:
Cafe Piano – This small and cozy bar is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It has a nice beer garden for the summer, and it is warm and relaxing in the winder.
Appendix Cafe Bar – This is a great bar located at the bottom end of Krupówki street, which is the main street in Zakopane. They offer a great range of local drinks and have a fun and inviting atmosphere.
Where to stay in Zakopane
If you’re looking to check out more of Zakopane, then why not stay for the night. Zakopane offers many highly-rated hostels and hotels and a host of Airbnbs. Depending on what you plan on doing during your stay and your own transport, this will depend on where you should book.
Goodbye Lenin Hostel is a warm and cozy cabin built-in 1909. The hostel is hidden away in the forest but still very accessible. They are located at the doorstep of the Tatra national park. The friendly international staff can assist you with all your outdoor needs and recommend the best hike for your skill level.
MTB Hostel. Although they are located just outside of Zakopane in Kościelisko, it is still a great location that is next to the national park and a quick bus ride from the town center. They are a super friendly family run hostel with many activities on offer.
Image source: MTB Hostel
Hotel Bambi Boutique – Bambi Boutique offers spacious rooms that feature interior design aspects inspired by the region, with bright wooden decorations.
Image source: Bambi Zakopane
Aries Hotel – This hostel offers the best in luxury and relaxation. It’s on the pricey side but well worth it.
Image source: Aries Hotel & Spa Zakopane
Zakopane is an excellent choice for a day trip from Krakow. But if you have the time, it’s worth staying a few nights and really getting to discover everything this place has to offer