Winter Activities in ZakopaneWhat to do in Zakopane during the winter
Winter Activities in Zakopane
There is a huge variety of winter activities in Zakopane. In fact, zakopane is well known as the winter capital of Poland.
Whether you are an adrenaline junkie looking for excitement or just a relaxed winter wonderland experience. Zakopane has it.
Most people, when asked, will tell you that Zakopane is the place to ski and snowboard in Poland. But it is not only this! Zakopane is a large town full of exciting activities and experiences. In this blog post we are going to provide information about all the possible winter activities in Zakopane.
We start with the main and obvious activity. Skiing and Snowboarding. Of course, skiing is a very big part of Zakopane life and culture.
Zakopane is unlike many of the large ski resorts across the world such as in the Alps. Rather than being one big linked resort, there are many smaller ski areas dotted around Zakopane and the surrounding villages.
If you are looking for a vast, never ending ski resort full of black slopes then Zakopane may not be for you. However if you are looking for an inexpensive relaxed skiing experience then Zakopane is ready and waiting for you.
What are the ski slopes like in Zakopane?
The majority of the ski slopes in Zakopane are focused more towards beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. These slopes have mostly green, blue and red runs with the occasional black. There is one ski area – Kasprowy Wierch – which is focused only on the Advanced intermediates/ Advanced skiers and snowboarders with only black and red ski runs. This area is high up in the mountains and is accessible by cable car.
The largest ski area around Zakopane is the Bialka Tatrzanska ski resort. We highly recommend this ski area for anyone visiting Zakopane. Bialka has a mix of green, blue and red runs. In recent years this ski area has expanded with the opening of a number of new ski lifts and runs. The ski runs in Bialka have very wide pistes and very good snow making facilities allowing for safe runs on top notch snow. Most of the ski areas now run on a joined ski lift pass. This means that if you purchase a weekly ski pass, you can make use of it at over 17 ski areas in both Poland and across the border in Slovakia.
Is Zakopane a Cheap Ski Destination?
Zakopane, in general, is very cheap compared to most ski resorts around the world. Many people think that they can not afford a ski holiday for the whole family and expect that it will add up to 1000’s of £s. If you we to order a hamburger and chips with a water at a ski resort in France, you could expect a bill for 20Euro easily. In the ski resorts in Zakopane this would be more than half that price. Of course, like anywhere, prices are going up year by year. Contact Addventure Tours today for a great all inclusive package price.
Some other ski areas worth a mention are – Harenda – Jurgow – Szymoszkowa
One thing Zakopane is known for is it’s thermal baths. By harnessing the thermal energy deep in the ground, the pools are heated to varying temperatures, aiming at helping you relax and heal. There are a number of thermal baths and aqua parks in and around Zakopane. Our suggestion is Goracy Potok. Goracy Potok is located around 15km outside of Zakopane. There are 6 pools all headed to different temperatures. As well as a spa area ( extra paid) where you can make use of saunas, steam rooms and cold pool. A trip to the thermal baths is highly relaxing and is a great evening activity after a hard day’s skiing.
The Terma Bania thermal baths are located right next to the Bialka Tatrzanska ski slopes. This thermal aqua park is perfect for people that do not want to ski for the whole day. Simply put away your ski gear and go for an afternoon dip while others in your group carry on skiing.
Other thermal baths we recommend – Terma Chocholowska – Terma Szaflary – Terma Bukowina
Horse Sleigh Ride
A Horse drawn sleigh ride ( Kulig) is a truly special treat for those visiting Zakopane. You can take a sleigh along the streets of Zakopane as a replacement for a taxi. However we suggest that you take a sleigh ride along one of the local valleys or behind the Gubalowka hill. In summer, the sleighs are fitted with road tires, but in winter they have skis to pull them over the snow.
For a valley trip, you will be picked up by bus and driven to the valley entrance. Here you will switch to the horse carriages. Be sure to ask what type of carriages are used. We highly recommend 4 person sleighs compared to large 8-10 seater sleighs. This option offers a far better experience and is also much less strenuous for the horses. With fire torches and warm blankets you will head up and down the valley. Upon returning you will have a bonfire and be provided with sausages, bread, tea and maybe something a little stronger for the adults. Along with this a highlander band will play for you and the other guests.
The drivers wear traditional “highlander” clothing and will make sure that you enjoy the experience.
Horse sleigh rides are one of many winter activities in Zakopane.
Exploring Zakopane Town
Zakopane is much larger that you may imagine. Usually ski towns/villages are small and run around the ski lifts. However in Zakopane the ski lifts run around the town.
Is there a town centre in Zakopane?
It is likely that you will find yourself walking to the Zakopane high street ‘ Krupowki ‘ most evenings as this is where the majority of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are located. Krupowki is one of the most well known streets in Poland. The hustle and bustle of the street performers, stalls and promoters make Krupowki a very big attraction for tourists.
Ski jumping is a popular sport to watch in Poland. At the southern end of the town there are the world cup ski jumps which, to someone who has not seen one before, are quite a spectacle. For one weekend every winter the ski jumping championships come to Zakopane. During this weekend many Polish supporters come to watch and celebrate in Zakopane. A walk up to the ski jumps is highly suggested.
There are many walks and hikes around Zakopane that are possible in both the summer and winter with very little equipment needed. You can see more about walking trails here.
Going on a husky ride is something that is on many of our bucket lists, and for good reason – it’s an awesome experience. These strong and tested dogs will pull you through the wilderness and make your jaw drop by how fast and fun the experience can be. There are a few places around Zakopane where you can experience husky sledding however make sure that you get it booked up early.
Zakopane is littered with ice rinks during the winter. There are big and small ones to choose from. For the smaller ice rinks an adult will pay around 25zl for entrance and ice skate rental. Most rinks are open from mid morning until 9/10pm which means that even if you spend the day skiing, you can make use of the ice skating rinks in the evenings. There is also a larger speed skating rink at the COS leisure centre at the top of town.
Mountain hiking is a much loved pass time of both locals and tourists, with there being a well-established and well-marked network of decent hiking trails all around the Tatras. These trails are well protected and the national park insists that hikers stick to them to ensure the beauty of the area is maintained as well as for safety reasons. No matter if you are a beginner in the mountains or if you are a highly experienced mountaineer, Zakopane and the Tatra mountains have the perfect trails for you. We know the nation park well so if you want some suggestions on where to hike, be sure to get in touch.
We must remember that the mountains are a dangerous place. Especially during the winter. If you are planning to hike in the mountains, make sure that you are prepared with equipment, clothing and food and that you have sufficient knowledge of the route that you are taking. If you are not certain about safety, do not go.
The weather does change very quickly and can be extreme at times, with it being cloudless and sunny in the morning, turning to a snowstorm in the afternoon.
Thrill seekers and speed freaks will certainly enjoy a snowmobile ride and Zakopane is a great place to try this. The snowmobiles can seat up to one driver and one passenger ( you can switch driver mid way through). Snowmobiling is available in Zakopane, next to the ski slopes in Bialka Tatrzanska and also in Witow. You can choose to take a 1 hour trip where you will be guided along and through a variety of terrain. You will be given the chance to push down hard on the throttle in more open areas. It is also possible to opt for a longer 3-5 hour guided tour with a bonfire in the wilderness.
Although ice climbing is not a big sport in Zakopane, it is getting more popular and there are more guides and instructors offer this fantastic experience. Ice climbing is a difficult and strenuous sport that requires you to be fit and experienced in summer mountain climbing. Most ice climbing pitches in the Tatra mountains are frozen waterfalls and in order to reach the climbing spots, you must first hike in the deep snow for a few hours.
Exploring the backcountry, finding untouched snow and enjoying the isolation. This is a sport for the adventurous kind. Ski touring combines Telemark, alpine, and backcountry skiing with the skills of mountaineering.
Ski touring usually takes place off the beaten track. In order to try ski touring you must have an advanced skiing ability as well as be very fit. It often involves steep climbs in deep snow. The highlight of any ski touring trip is reaching the summit/destination and enjoying the downhill run in untouched powder. There are plenty of ski touring options in Zakopane and the Tarta Mountains. Your guide will take you on a route suitable for your ability. We must remember that this is a dangerous sport. You must have the appropriate safety equipment and the knowledge or a guide. Avalanches kill 100s of people every year around the world.
Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing, like ski touring, is a way to enjoy the isolation, tranquility and peacefulness but without the dangers and steep climbs. Usually Cross country skiing takes place on fairly flat ground with a few small inclines. Cross country ski’s are much thinner and lighter than touring or downhill skis. They are thin to allow minimal resistance when striding forward through the snow.
There are many cross country tracks around Zakopane, Koscielisko, Witow and the surrounding areas. Cross Country skiing is a great full body work our and great for stamina and general fitness.
You can learn to cross country ski with out any prior knowledge of skiing. We suggest hiring an instructor go show you the basics and then practicing alone for the rest of the day.
The largest snow maze in the World! Yes, you hear that right. In the world. Each year ( except 2021 due to Covid 19) Snowlandia build a huge snow maze as well as a castle. It takes a a full month and many man hours to create this masterpiece as it can only be worked on in below 0 temperatures. This is a great activity for both adults and children. The maze is located next to the ski jumps close to the National Park.
Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you walk across fresh snow?
Snowshoeing is one of the best and safest ways to get out into the wilderness where the snow is deep and the air is fresh. You do not need experience to be able to rent some snowshoes and go for hike. If you want to reach the more unexplored areas then it is best to hire a guide to show you the best spots.