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Nestled just 2 hours and approximately 105 km south of Krakow, Zakopane, acclaimed as Poland's winter capital, beckons visitors throughout the year with its diverse offerings. Embraced by the breathtaking Tatra Mountains, this charming destination is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Whether hiking, skiing, or exploring the unique culture defined by traditional wooden architecture, local folklore, and cuisine, Zakopane offers an immersive experience. Plan your visit to this year-round haven and discover the natural beauty and cultural richness that define Zakopane as a captivating destination.

Image by Sacre Bleu - Zakopane, Malopolska, Poland


The earliest documents mentioning Zakopane date to the 17th century, describing a glade called Zakopisko. In 1676, it was a village of 43 inhabitants. In 1818, Zakopane was a small town that was still being developed. As of December 31, 2019, the city boasted a population of 27,010, according to data from the Central Statistical Office. Positioned as the largest town in close proximity to the Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is renowned as a premier winter sports center, often hailed as the winter capital of Poland. Notably, a significant portion of the Tatra National Park lies within its administrative boundaries. Beyond its winter fame, Zakopane offers an array of experiences, from easy to challenging hiking trails, insightful museums, vibrant culture, to delectable cuisine. The majestic mountains grace the skyline from every vantage point, enticing hikers with countless picturesque routes. The most popular is the day-long hike to the Morskie Oko, or “Eye of the Sea” – a deep, alpine lake but there are much more to see depending on the level of your experience.


Situated near the border with Slovakia, Zakopane resides in a picturesque valley between the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill. The city is seamlessly connected by rail and road to the provincial capital, Krakow. Positioned at elevations ranging from 800 to 1,000 meters above sea level, Zakopane's focal point is the convergence of Krupówki and Kościuszko Streets. The Tatra Mountains, forming a natural border between Slovakia and Poland, are a prominent feature within the Western Carpathians. These lofty peaks represent the highest mountains in the Carpathian range, with Poland's highest point being the north-western summit of Rysy, standing at 2,499 meters (8,199 feet) in elevation. Now safeguarded by the Tatra National Park, these majestic peaks add to the allure of Zakopane, offering a remarkable blend of nature, culture, and winter sports. In 1992, UNESCO jointly designated the Polish and Slovak Tatra National Parks a transboundary biosphere reserve in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.


From the base to 1,250 metres (4,100 ft), the Tatra Mountains boast silver fir and European beech forests, creating a serene and verdant landscape. As you ascend to higher altitudes, reaching up to 1,550 metres (5,090 ft), European spruce forests dominate the scenery, gradually giving way to picturesque meadows and grasslands at elevations up to 1,800 metres (5,900 ft). Beyond this point, the highest elevations, soaring above 1,800 metres (5,900 ft), showcase alpine flora habitats, creating a breathtaking panorama. Among the diverse plant life, one encounters the resilient Swiss pine, the iconic edelweiss, and the distinctive stemless carline thistle. The Kościeliska Valley, especially in spring, becomes a spectacle with vast fields of giant crocus, adding a burst of color to the mountainous terrain.

Within the confines of the National Park lie a multitude of endemic fauna species, alongside numerous endangered and protected ones. Among the rich wildlife are the Tatra chamois and Alpine marmot, both safeguarded since the mid-19th century. Other notable inhabitants include the brown bear, Eurasian lynx, gray wolf, European otter, and the lesser spotted eagle. Explore the diverse and protected ecosystems of the National Park, providing a haven for these remarkable creatures and contributing to the region's ecological diversity.

The Tatra mountains have witnessed historical human exploitation, with past activities leaving their mark on the landscape. Summer saw the grazing of domestic animals such as goats, sheep, and cows on the meadows, contributing to soil erosion. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the establishment of mines and ironworks, industries that heavily relied on the abundant local timber.

In the present day, environmental challenges persist. The burgeoning town of Zakopane poses a threat due to rapid development, while air pollution from industrial zones in Krakow, Ostrava, and Orava adds to the concerns. The local fauna faces risks from poaching activities and habitat loss, accentuating the need for ongoing conservation efforts in the Tatra mountains. 


Explore Zakopane's rich cultural tapestry through its captivating museums. The Muzeum Tatrzańskie im. Dra Tytusa Chałubińskiego offers a deep dive into Tatra Mountain history, while the Muzeum Stylu Zakopiańskiego im. Stanisława Witkiewicza at Willa Koliba showcases the unique Zakopane style. Discover the musical legacy at the Muzeum Karola Szymanowskiego in Willi "Atma" and embrace nature education at the Centrum Edukacji Przyrodniczej TPN. Uncover Zakopane's heritage and natural wonders at these enriching museums. Plan your visit to Zakopane's museums for an immersive cultural and educational experience.

THE MUSEUM OF ZAKOPANE STYLE AT VILLA KOLIBA: Explore the historical significance of the Koliba villa, the pioneering structure crafted to Stanisław Witkiewicz's design in the Zakopane Style. Nestled along Kościeliska Street, Zakopane's oldest thoroughfare adorned with timeless houses and characteristic Tatra crofts, Koliba offers a captivating insight into Witkiewicz's visionary concept. Amidst the emergence of Swiss- or Tyrolean-inspired architecture in Zakopane during the latter half of the 19th century, Witkiewicz championed a movement to safeguard Podhale from stylistically foreign structures. Recognizing the need for a style rooted in local building art, he initiated a press campaign advocating for the incorporation of indigenous motifs in the constructions of newcomers. The Koliba villa marks the inception of the Zakopane Style, a brief yet influential era lasting around twenty years.

Address: ul. Kościeliska 18, 34-500 Zakopane

Opening hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00-18:00

Official Website:

Zakopane, Malopolska, Poland

THE SZYMANOWSKI MUSEUM IN VILLA "ATMA": The villa 'Atma' in Zakopane houses the world's only biographical museum of Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937). The Polish composer, second greatest after Frederic Chopin, had enjoyed staying in Zakopane from his early youth, and towards the end of his life settled there permanently, living in a villa in Kasprusie street. Villa 'Atma' was erected after 1890 as a typical guest house, one of many built in Zakopane in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for rent to holidaymakers. The house is an example of the Zakopane style, introduced to architecture by Stanisław Witkiewicz.

Address: ul. Kasprusie 19, 34-500 Zakopane

Opening hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00-17:00

Official Website:

Zakopane, Malopolska, Poland


Located in the southern region of Poland, Zakopane is conveniently positioned just 2 hours and approximately 105 km south of Krakow. Surrounded by the majestic Tatra Mountains, the town is easily accessible from Krakow through various transport options, including buses, trains, or private transportation. Plan your visit to Zakopane for a seamless journey to experience the delightful blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.

BUSES: To reach Zakopane from Krakow Bus Station (approximately 130 minutes), opt for the FlixBus service, running every 30 minutes. Departing from Krakow's main bus station, the journey concludes at Zakopane's bus station, conveniently located within a 10-minute walk from the town center. Explore the scenic route with FlixBus for a hassle-free and frequent connection between Krakow and Zakopane. It is definitely the most cost-effective option for a one-way ticket from Krakow to Zakopane, priced at just 24.99 zł (6.99 euros).

TRAINS: While trains are generally our recommended mode of transport for comfort and sustainability, we must acknowledge that the connection between Krakow and Zakopane currently presents some challenges. The Ministry of Infrastructure has ambitious investment plans to enhance passenger comfort and reduce travel time, but these improvements are both costly and time-consuming. Presently, the train journey from Krakow Główny takes between approx. 2 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours. Alternatively, the bus connection may be faster in the absence of traffic, though it's important to note that the road to Zakopane can be congested. Nevertheless, you can conveniently check schedules and make bookings through the official PKP train portal. Stay informed for the latest updates on travel options between Krakow and Zakopane.

PRIVATE TRANSPORT: Explore a range of private transportation options, ideal for group travel or personalized pick-up services from any location of your choice. Whether you're traveling with a group or seeking the convenience of door-to-door service, these private transport options offer flexibility and comfort for a seamless journey. Consider the benefits of private transportation to enhance your travel experience.

PRIVATE TOURS: You may find more convenient hassle-free options with multiple organised day trips from Krakow to Zakopane offered by local companies. These guided excursions ensure a convenient and curated experience, allowing you to focus on the breathtaking scenery and cultural highlights. To ensure a seamless experience, plan your visit wisely and consider booking one of Zakopane Private Tour in advance through Get Your Guide

RENT A CAR: For added independence and flexibility, renting a car is also a viable option, allowing you to explore Zakopane at your own pace. If you need to rent a car, save up to 70% with the Car Rental company.


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