About Zakopane

Winter Capital of Poland

Zakopane

Nestling at the feet of the mighty Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is proud to be known as the winter capital of Poland. Don’t be deceived by the fact it lies in a sheltered valley, for the winter snows cover Zakopane and her surrounding hills in a pristine white cloak from December until March.

Tourists have been flocking here since the 19th century and the town boasts a proud skiing heritage. The ski jump on Wielka Krokiew opened in 1925 and a cable car to the snow-sure peak of Kasprowy Wiech in 1936. Just two years later, a funicular railway began taking skiers to the top of Gubalowka mountain.

The splendid scenery and colourful traditions of the highland people, known locally as Gorals, charm the visitor into believing time stands still. This picturesque notion is quickly dispelled by a stroll down Zakopane’s famous main street. For here, on Krupowki, designer boutiques rub shoulders with fine restaurants, winter sports emporiums and stylish café bars. The standards of food and service are easily on a par with most Austrian resorts. Only, with a beer costing just £1.50 and a filling meal five pounds, a great deal cheaper.

So, here is just a short selections of things to do in Zakopane, with a few recommendations.

Shopping

Anyone in need of a bit of retail therapy is well served at Krupowki, which is lined with designer boutiques and souvenir stores. Prices of designer goods are a fraction of those found back home, whilst the market at the foot of Gubalowka is the perfect place to shop for traditional gifts such as wood carvings, artwork and sheepskin rugs.

Goral Culture

Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the unique Goral culture. Street food on Krupowki involves barbecued sausage or Oscypek, the delicious smoked sheep’s cheese for which the region is famed.

Many restaurants and bars feature live music played by Goral folk bands in traditional dress. Horse drawn carriages provide a popular way to see the town, whilst an evening sleigh ride into the surrounding countryside, followed by traditional food and music around a bonfire is a highlight of everyone’s holiday.

Architecture

The region’s traditional architecture is extremely picturesque. It consists of large wooden houses, steep slanting roofs and balconies from which to enjoy beautiful views. Even the modern hotels and restaurants adopt the ‘Zakopane style’ made famous by the artist Stanislaw Witkiewicz in the 19th century.

Restaurants and Bars

Nobody will leave Krupowki hungry! With over 50 restaurants to choose from, Zakopane really does offer something for everyone. Steakhouses abound and lovers of traditional meat dishes will find themselves spoilt for choice. However, vegetarians are well catered for and there are also a large number of Italian restaurants. The town also boasts a sushi bar, Chinese restaurant and a recently opened Indian.

Our tips? Take time to visit Monty Rosa near the fabulous open air market. The pizzas are very good, whilst hearty appetites won by a hard day’s skiing will be satisfied with a massive burger from Stol Dola. You should also try their delicious shashlik kebabs.

The unpronounceable Strh Café is a great place for coffee and locally produced fruit wines. Tygodnik has a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the town. For a really special occasion, Casa Mia is the place to visit.

Piwo and Wodka

Poland is rightly famous for its vodka and no skiing holiday here would be complete without a glass or two in one of the town’s many welcoming bars. Meanwhile, Polish beer remains one of the world’s best kept secrets. Founded by the Austrian emperor, Zywiec is brewed nearby with fresh mountain water. Other delicious beers are Okocim and Tyskie, whose brewery dates all the way back to 1629.

There are many friendly pubs, from the traditional to the unique. Where else but in fun-loving Zakopane can you enjoy a cocktail in a beach bar like La Playa after a day on the slopes! There are sports bars showing Premier League football, and don’t miss Semafor, whose quirky themed décor recalls the communist past.

Zakopane – The Winter Capital of Poland