Zakopane Poland Summer & Winter Wonderland
Zakopane Poland is a winter wonderland for anyone who loves snow and winter sports. Zakopane Poland is not just about winter. In summer, Zakopane turns into a place for hikers, mountain bikers, and sightseers. Zakopane is located in southern Poland in the Tatra mountains close to the border with Slovakia. This amazing mountain getaway is a beautiful place to visit from the amazing houses to the picturesque mountains to the friendly polish people. Accessible from Krakow in around 2 hours by public transport, or guided tours this town provides amazing value for money for the international visitor, outdoor and adventure lovers.
Facts about Zakopane:
Zakopane has an elevation of between 800 and 1000 meters
The earliest mention of Zakopane was 1676 when it had a population of 43.
Zakopane’s is visited by over 2.5 Million tourists a year.
Zakopane bid unsuccessfully for the 2006 winter Olympics.
Krupówki street Zakopane Poland
Krupowki Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfare in the town of Zakopane Poland. Krupowki is over a kilometre long and begins at the base of Gubalowka cable car station. Krupowki is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels. When the sun comes out you will find thousands strolling the street window shopping and people watching. Restaurants and bars are packed with people enjoying good food and drinks. Grilled meats seem to be the speciality of Krupowki. I can attest to this I had one of the best pork knuckles I have ever had. The atmosphere is alive on Krupowki especially in the height of the summer and winter seasons. You will find horse-drawn carriages and street performers all along the street. An afternoon spent strolling eating, drinking and enjoying life on Krupowki is a must. In the summer, you will find a market selling tradition Tatra crafts and products from the region such as handcrafted wooden souvenirs and local produce.
Family Travel Tip: You will find people dressed as characters such as Paddington bear who approach the kids. These guys are going to want money. All along Krupowki, you find amusement centers with games like air hockey and pinball machines.
Traditional cheese making
Oscypek, Oszczypek is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. No other cheese can be called Oscypek. This regional speciality is a protected trade name under the EU‘s Protected Designation of Origin geographical indication. Just outside Zakopane on the open fields at the base of the mountains, you will find wooden huts dotted all over. You can go in these huts and watch the traditional making of the cheese and buy it freshly made. The cheese is pressed into wooden moulds and comes in all shapes and size. Cheese production in the Tatra was first mentioned in the 15th century. We tasted the cheese and it is a really creamy and smooth cheese with a rubbery texture.
Zakopane ski jump
Wielka Krokiew is the official Polish name of the Zakopane ski jump. It is a regular venue for the FIS world ski jumping championships. The stadium has a capacity of 40,000 people. The ski jump is open even in the off season. It is available for tourist’s and for summer practice sessions for the local ski jumpers. The ride to the top of the mountain is not for faint hearted. The ski lift takes you up vertically to the top of the ramp where you get a real indication of the height and slope of this venue. The views from the top are fantastic and well worth the journey. The views provide an amazing panoramic over the town and the mountains behind. Just don’t look down when you are going up.
Family travel tip: At the bottom of the ski jump a small photo both sells pictures captured of you on the way up to the top of the ski jump. Makes for a great souvenir.
Gubalowka sits at 1123 meters looking down on Zakopane directly above the town. The trip to Gubalowka begins with a cable car ride up the hill. The cable car takes 4 minutes and costs a bit over a euro. The ride up the hill is amazing as you ascend upwards through pine tree’s and the town slowly disappears beneath you. At the top of Gubalowka, you will find restaurants and bars. The sun deck terrace is one of the most magnificent spots to have drink, food or ice cream in all of Europe. A soft serve ice cream called Lodi is the amazing and you will encounter machine’s everywhere selling Lodi. The view is amazing as it sweeps over the Tatra mountains. Snow covers the tops of the highest peaks even in summer. There is a smaller market at the top selling all sorts of Polish handicrafts and souvenirs.The market seems to stretch on forever on either side of the road at the top hill. You will be bombarded with the smell of grilled meats, hamburgers, and hotdogs while trying to avoid market stall holders trying to sell you anything and everything. For hikers, there are many trails leading off from the top of Gubalowka. In winter ski runs lead down there hill.
Family travel tip: At the top of the mountain there is a toboggan run for both kids and adults, a rope course, horse rides and numerous other activities to keep the young one’s amused.
Architecture and design of Zakopane Poland
Many houses’ and building in Zakopane are built according to the traditional style of the area out of wood. The design of these building is inspired by the regional art of Poland’s highland region known as Podhale. This style of the building is now known as the Zakopane style. All new building up to 1914 had to be built in this way. It is still very popular today and a walk around town will tell you that many new buildings are still being built in this traditional style. Everywhere you look there are amazing wooden buildings, both single and double story. The house is truly unique you won’t find this sort of design anywhere else in the world. I found myself wandering different streets admiring how people had stuck to the traditional building designs but had added small touches of their own.
Zakopane Poland is definitely worth a visit and should be on everyone’s bucket list who visit southern Poland.
When we stayed in Zakopane we choose to say at Za Wnukiem, Central affordable and home to the best breakfast in Europe. Do yourself a favour and stay here you won’t regret it.
A full-time worker in Disability support and part time traveller when time, money and kids schooling allow.
Next up for Wyld Family Travel is 10 weeks in Europe from November 2016 till January 2017. We will be visiting Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, France, Poland, Iceland, Denmark, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia
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