Tag: Hiking

Tag: Hiking


Zakopane: Exploring the Beauty and Culture of Poland’s Winter Capital

Nestled at the base of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland, Zakopane is a popular winter destination known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. With its unique blend of traditional and modern influences, Zakopane offers visitors a chance to explore the best of Poland’s history and natural wonders.


The History of Zakopane

The town has a long and storied history, dating back to the 17th century when the first settlers arrived in the area. In the 19th century, Zakopane became popular as a health resort, with visitors coming from all over Europe to take advantage of the fresh mountain air and therapeutic hot springs.

During this time, Zakopane also became a center of Polish culture and art, with many artists, writers, and musicians flocking to the town to escape the urbanization and industrialization of the cities. This cultural heritage is still evident in Zakopane today, with traditional highlander architecture, folk art, and music still a vital part of the town’s identity.

Exploring Zakopane Today

Today, the town is a popular winter destination, with visitors coming to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. But even if you’re not a fan of the cold, there is plenty to see and do in Zakopane year-round.

One of the most popular attractions in Zakopane is the Tatra Mountains, which offer breath-taking views and excellent hiking opportunities. The town itself is also home to many museums and art galleries, including the Tatra Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the region.

Visitors to Zakopane can also experience traditional highlander culture by attending a folk music or dance performance, or by sampling local cuisine, such as oscypek, a smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk.

No matter the season, or the weather, the town’s most popular street; Krupówki is crowded with tourists visiting the shops and restaurants. The street is packed full of market stalls selling local Goral apparel, leather jackets, fur coats, hats, shoes and also the famous oscypek smoked sheep cheese, fruit, vegetables, and meats. During the evening, Krupówki is popular for nightlife.

Winter sports

For those interested in winter sports, the town has several ski resorts, including the popular Kasprowy Wierch and Gubalowka ski areas. But even if skiing isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the snow by taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the town or by simply strolling through the picturesque streets and admiring the snow-covered architecture.



Zakopane hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1929, 1939, and 1962; the winter Universiades in 1956, 1993, and 2001; the biathlon World Championship; several ski jumping world cups; and several Nordic combined, Nordic and Alpine European Cups. It hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1939, the first outside the Alps and the last official world championships prior to World War II.

The town recently made unsuccessful bids to host the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2011 and 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships.

Climbing, Skiing & Hiking

Climbers from all over Europe travel to Zakopane to climb in the High Tatras and thousands of people arrive to go skiing in the winter, especially around Christmas and in February.

Zakopane has many hiking trails and ski slopes. This makes Zakopane a tourism mecca for all seasons. The downtown bustles with outdoor wear shops and ski rental stores. Tourists come here in large numbers in summer and during the Christmas and New Year Season.


Zakopane is a charming and vibrant town that offers visitors a chance to explore the best of Poland’s natural and cultural heritage. From the stunning Tatra Mountains to the rich history and folk traditions of the town itself, there is something for everyone in Zakopane. Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast, an art lover, or just someone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Zakopane is a destination you won’t want to miss.

For detailed tourist information about Poland, please visit our travel partner, the Poland Travel Agency.

Zakopane tours & experiences


Tatra Mountains

The Tatras

The Tatra Mountains are a beautiful and rugged range that straddles the border between Poland and Slovakia. With a maximum elevation of 2,655 meters, the Tatras are the highest mountains in the Carpathian range and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Poland. The highest mountain is Gerlach located in Slovakia just north of Poprad. The north-western peak of Rysy (2,499 m) is the highest Polish mountain.

Tatra mountains

Hiking & nature

The Tatra Mountains are a true paradise for hikers and nature lovers. The Tatras National Park covers a vast area of 211.6 square kilometres and is home to many species of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the area. The park offers a range of hiking trails of varying difficulty, from easy walks through forests and valleys to more challenging hikes that take you to the mountain peaks. Some of the most popular hiking trails in the Tatras include the Morskie Oko trail, the Kasprowy Wierch trail, and the Giewont trail.

One of the highlights of hiking in the Tatras is the stunning scenery. The mountains are characterized by steep cliffs, crystal-clear lakes, and alpine meadows that are blanketed with wildflowers in the summer. There are also several picturesque mountain huts in the Tatras that offer hikers a place to rest and refuel. Many of these huts serve traditional Polish dishes like pierogi and kielbasa, as well as hot drinks like tea and mulled wine.

Winter sports

The Tatra Mountains are also a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The ski resort of Zakopane, located at the foot of the Tatras, is the most popular ski resort in Poland and offers a range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The resort also offers other winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. The Tatras are also a popular destination for backcountry skiing, with many experienced skiers venturing off-piste to explore the backcountry.

For skiers, the Kasprowy Wierch Peak is serviced by cable-car, and there are chairlifts in the Goryczlowa and Gasienicowa valleys. For hikers, there are 250 kilometres of trails in the park, ranging from leisurely strolls to hair-raising ascents for serious climbers. Entrance to the valleys is possible by bus, but from there you must continue on foot to the heart of the Tatras. Mountain bikes are permitted only on a few paths. Owing to the unpredictability of Mother Nature, there are basic safety precautions which are essential to bear in mind.

Museums & culture

For those who want to learn more about the history and culture of the Tatra Mountains, there are several museums and cultural sites to visit. The Tatra Museum in Zakopane is a great place to start, with exhibits on the natural history and culture of the Tatras. Other cultural sites to visit include the Wooden Architecture Route, which showcases the traditional wooden architecture of the region, and the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Giewont, a mountaintop shrine that has been a pilgrimage site for over a century.

Alpine Landscape in Poland

The Tatras are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. Although considerably smaller than the Alps, they are classified as having an alpine landscape. Their high mountain character, combined with great accessibility, makes them popular with tourists and scientists.

Tatra mountains


Temperatures range from -40 °C in the winter to 33 °C in warmer months. Temperatures also vary depending on altitude and sun exposure of a given slope. Temperatures below 0 °C last for 192 days on the summits. Maximum snow thickness on the summit amounts to around 320 cm (125 in) in March. Peaks are sometimes covered with snow throughout the year. Avalanches are frequent.

Fauna & Flora

The Tatra Mountains are home to many species of animals including Tatra chamois, marmot, snow vole, brown bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx, red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. There is also a diverse variety of plants.

Hiking in the Tatra Mountains

With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, border relations are now freer than ever. Thus, for dedicated hikers, the opportunity to explore the region in depth is very much an option. Poles are the first to say how wonderful the Slovakian Tatras are, and it’s well worth bearing this in mind if you want to get a full flavour of this wild region.

Probably the easiest way to get to the Polish side of the Tatras is to take a plane to Krakow and then take the train (five hours) to Zakopane. If you want to get to the Slovak side, then Bratislava airport is currently rebranding itself as a low-cost hub (Vienna East!). Alternatively, Vienna to Bratislava is only about an hour and-a-half by train. From Bratislava take the train via Poprad to Stary Smokovec. Poprad also has an airport.

In conclusion, the Tatra Mountains are a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. With its stunning natural beauty, diverse hiking trails, and world-class skiing, the Tatras offer something for every type of traveller. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing nature getaway or an adrenaline-packed adventure, the Tatra Mountains in Poland are a destination you won’t forget.

For detailed tourist information about Poland, please visit our travel partner, the Poland Travel Agency.


Bieszczady Mountains

The Wild East

Nestled in the south-eastern corner of Poland, the Bieszczady Mountains are a true hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. With stunning landscapes, rugged terrain, and a rich cultural heritage, the Bieszczady Mountains offer an unforgettable experience for those who are willing to explore its rugged beauty.

The Bieszczady Mountains are part of the Carpathian mountain range, which stretches from the Czech Republic to Romania. It’s an area of great natural beauty, with its picturesque hills and valleys, and the sheer size of the mountains makes them an impressive sight. The area is dominated by dense forests, glistening lakes, and breath-taking views, providing visitors with a sense of peace and tranquillity that’s hard to find in today’s busy world.

Bieszczady Mountains

Flora & fauna

The Bieszczady Mountains are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The forests are home to a range of animals, including deer, wild boar, and wolves, and visitors may catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures if they’re lucky. Bird watchers will also be delighted, as the area is home to over 250 species of birds, including the rare and beautiful golden eagle.


One of the best ways to experience the Bieszczady Mountains is to take a hike along one of the many trails that crisscross the region. These trails range in difficulty from easy to challenging and are suitable for hikers of all abilities. The most popular trail is the Bieszczady Loop, which takes hikers through the heart of the mountains and provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Rich cultural heritage

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area. Visitors can take a relaxing boat ride on the Solina Lake or explore the region’s many charming villages and towns, such as Ustrzyki Dolne and Lesko. The region is also known for its rich cultural heritage, and visitors can learn more about the area’s history and traditions by visiting local museums and cultural centres.


One of the most unique experiences in the Bieszczady Mountains is the chance to stay in a traditional mountain hut, known as a “chatka.” These huts are located deep in the forest and offer visitors a chance to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with nature. The huts are basic but cosy, with no electricity or running water, and are a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The highest peak of Bieszczady is Mt. Pikuy (1405 m) in Ukraine. The highest peak of the Polish part is Tarnica (1346 m).

A popular tourist attraction in the area is the Church of the Visitation in Lesko, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Bieszczady, founded by count Piotr Kmita in 1539.


This area was mentioned for the first time in 981, when Volodymyr the Great of Kievan Rus took the area over on the way into Poland. In 1018 it returned to Poland, 1031 back to Rus, in 1340 Casimir III of Poland recovered it.

Bieszczady was one of the strategically important Carpathian mountains bitterly contested in battles on the Eastern Front of World War I during the winter of 1914/1915.

In 1991, the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve was created that encapsulates a large part of the area and continues into Slovakia and Ukraine. It comprises the Bieszczady National Park (Poland), Poloniny National Park (Slovakia) + Uzhansky National Nature Park (Ukraine). Animals living in this reserve are, amongst others, black storks, brown bears, wolves and bison.

Why go to the Bieszczady Mountains?

The Bieszczady Mountains are pleasantly devoid of the trappings of mass tourism and offer visitors the opportunity to discover the, ‘Wild East’ without venturing into Ukraine or the Soviet Union.

The scenery in the region is wild and rugged and includes flora such as the Dacian Violet, Carpathian Beech and the Hungarian Violet, all species which cannot be seen further West. The wildlife in the area include bears, lynx, beavers, wolves, European bison and red mountain deer.

The area is a bird-watchers paradise and here you will find 9 species of Woodpecker (inc. Syrian, White-backed and Three-toed), Black Stork, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher and both Lesser spotted and Golden Eagles.

How to get there

Sanok, known as the “Gateway to the Bieszczady”, is the most important town in the region. There are bus links with the majority of the cities in the south and east of Poland, including Krakow, Katowice, Warsaw, Gliwice, Przemysl, Krosno and Mielec.

From Sanok, one can easily visit the smaller towns of either Ustrzyki Gorne or Ustrzyki Dolne – both forming popular jumping-off points for trips into the mountains. The Bieszczady is surrounded by two major road systems, known as Mala and Duza Petla Bieszczadzka. The former runs from Ustrzyki to Lesko, the latter passes the Solinski Reservoir from the south and heads to Lesko.

Together they form the main transport artery for Bieszczady, with regular bus services connecting all the communities of the region. The region’s railway junction in Zagorz lies 6 km from the central Sanok. You can get to Zagorze via Sanok by fast train from Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz or Gliwice.

In conclusion, the Bieszczady Mountains offer a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking to explore the beauty of nature and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of this region. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and array of outdoor activities, the Bieszczady Mountains are a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Poland.

For detailed tourist information about Poland, please visit our travel partner, the Poland Travel Agency.