Ski Horizon on Tatra Mountains and Zakopane town
In the far south of Poland and overlooked by the impressive Tatra mountains Zakopane city is located, the 'winter capital' and Mecca for Polish skiers and those seeking fun in the white stuff. With a typical mountain town atmosphere it's a great place to try the local sports, take a sleigh ride, watch the brave ski jumpers challenge the 'big hill' or sample the cozy bars and restaurants.
In the surrounding forests and valleys traditions are maintained and the local favorite smoked cheese, is a great winter warmer. Away from the mountains you have time to explore Krakow, the ancient capital of Poland. Busy and electric. Devoid of mass tourism, the huge central square, Wawel Castle and Cathedral and the architecturally eclectic old town are commonly cloaked in a blanket of snow adding a romantic edge to this impressive city.
Visitors to the Tatras largely head for Zakopane, the biggest mountain resort in Europe north of the Alps. The town of 28,000 receives about two million holiday-makers a year. Due to its central location on the verge of both the High Tatras and the Western Tatras, and its accessibility, Zakopane is the best gateway to the whole area. The town also abounds in varied hotels, inns, and boarding-houses, restaurants and cafes, shops and art galleries, sport facilities and nightclubs. Zakopane is a major center of winter sports of all sorts.
The townsfolk take pride in their own brand of the traditional Polish highlander culture-Poland's highlanders are as emblematic to other Poles as Scotland's to the British, albeit more colorful by far. Noteworthy is the region's old wooden architecture.
Skiing areas in Zakopane are spread around the town. Poland's largest mountain suitable for ski, Kasprowy Wierch which is 3 kilometers away. There you can ski on two treeless bowls Hala Gasiennicowa and Hala Goryczkowa, and, what can be considered as a great tourist attraction, use almost 80-year old gondola to get to the top. FIS-certified slalom slope Nosal is situated almost in the very town centre. Another skiing spot is Gubalowka, which can be easily reached from Zakopane's major street - Krupowki.
However, not only skiing is possible in Zakopane, mountain hiking is another very popular activity in the area. Most popular hiking trails from Zakopane are to the Koscieliska Valley (Dolina Koscieliska) and to a beautiful mountain lake Morskie Oko, which you can reach on foot or take a sleigh and enjoy a great ride.
Only One-hour drive from Krakow takes you to a completely different world. The further to the south the more hilly the landscape becomes until you get to Zakopane, located 1000 m above sea level and surrounded by Tatra Mountains (Rysy Mountain - 2.400m above sea level ). Funicular to Gubałówka hill gives a beautiful view over Polish and Czech Tatras.
A walk along crowded Krupówki Street or among old wooden houses and a visit to a small church in Jaszczurówka. For good walkers we suggest stroll in picturesque valleys. Time for shopping - friendly street vendors will follow you offering local goods lamb-wool sweaters, walking sticks, wooden figures at incredibly low prices. Bargaining in Polish is a real fun and you will soon learn how to count in Polish. Meal at a restaurant featuring local specialities with accompaniment of folklore band.