Things to do in Zakopane, Poland
If you’re planning to visit the Polish Tatra mountains and their most famous resort town, have a look at our list of the best things to do during your stay in Zakopane.
1) Get lost in outdoor activities
With the Tatra National Park at its doorstep, Zakopane is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Winter seasons in the Tatra Mountains mean opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. If you have no previous skiing experience but would like to learn, you can head to the Nosal Ski Center. Those who prefer to visit Zakopane in the summer can enjoy the hiking trails or mountain biking. If hiking is your thing, then check out some of the best hikes in the Tatra mountains. From Gubałówka Mountain to the famous Mount Giewont, you’ll have many options to choose from, and most of them don’t involve any technical climbing. Are you traveling with kids and want an easy hike? No problem! Just check out the Strążyska Valley which is great for beginners.
2) Enjoy the stunning views
For fantastic photos, Gubałówka Hill is among the most popular spots. You can get some spectacular shots of the town and the surrounding valleys and mountain peaks. If you don’t fancy the hiking trail, you can take advantage of the Gubałówka Hill funicular. Another good spot for panoramic views is Mount Kasprowy Wierch, which can be accessed via a cable car.
3) Explore the city center
Yes, Zakopane is a great destination for outdoor activities, but there are other things you can do if you want a break from all the hiking trails. Krupówki street is a popular attraction in Zakopane, so you definitely shouldn’t miss it. The city’s main street is littered with stores, restaurants, and food stalls. Want to buy some local souvenirs for your family back home? Heading to Krupówki street will be your best bet.
4) Fill your belly with Polish food
Zakopane gives you a fantastic opportunity to taste not only Polish dishes, but also some traditional local food from the Podhale region. We love food so much that we even made a whole post about the delicacies you should try in Zakopane, Poland. If there’s one thing you should try, it should definitely be Oscypek, the local cheese made from salted sheep milk. This local staple is often served with cranberry, and you will find plenty of stalls selling it along the Krupowki street. If you’re visiting Zakopane in the winter months or around Christmas, don’t forget to chill with some mulled wine.
5) Note the unique architecture
Zakopane has its own art style, especially visible in architecture. Take notice of charming wooden churches and houses, folk motifs, and intricate carvings. If you want to learn about this style and how it all started, head to the Museum of Zakopane Style located in Villa Koliba, the first building designed in Zakopane style.
6) Soak in the thermal baths
After a day hike, make sure to relax in style. You will find a number of thermal spas in the Zakopane area. Chochołowskie Termy is the largest complex in the region, offering thermal pools and even a fitness center. If you’re looking for slightly less crowded thermal baths and hot pools, you can consider Termy Bukovina. Families with kids can opt to have fun at the Aqua Park instead.
7) See the Morskie Oko Lake
One of the most popular attractions for those visiting Zakopane is Morskie Oko, which translates to “The Eye of the Sea”. It is an easy hike, about a two-hour walk from Palenica Białczańska, which you can reach by car or a local bus. As it’s one of the most beautiful lakes in the Tatra Mountains, it tends to be very crowded, so we recommend heading there early in the morning.
8) Check out other beautiful lakes
Apart from Morskie Oko, there are many other picturesque lakes in the Tatra National Park. If you’re looking for a longer, maybe even an overnight hike, you can choose to hike to the Valley of the Five Lakes (Dolina Pięciu Stawów). Otherwise, you can visit just the popular ones like Wielki Staw or Czarny Staw, the last one is sometimes called the Emerald Lake.
9) Visit Zakopane museums
Most outdoor enthusiasts need a small rest in between all their activities. Although a relatively small town, Zakopane has its fair share of cultural spots. Apart from the previously mentioned Museum of Zakopane Style, there’s the Tatra Museum where you can learn about the culture, history, and ethnography of the Polish Tatras. Those interested in art can visit the Gallery of the 20th century at Oksza Villa. Finally, if you’d like to find out how the local Oscypek cheese is made, visit the Oscypek Museum located within walking distance from the city center.
10) Go on a day trip
Zakopane is quite conveniently located if you wish to visit other places. Located about two hours away from Krakow and Wieliczka, so if you haven’t visited either of them, you can easily take a bus ride there. Alternatively, you can see the Tatra mountains on the Slovak side. The highest peak in Poland, Rysy Mount, is actually located on the border between the two countries. Based on that, you can imagine how easy it is to hop in the car or a bus and pop into Slovakia.