Located in southern Poland, just two hours away from Krakow, at the base of the stunning Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is a beautiful resort town. In the summer, it is an ideal spot for hiking, rock climbing, and mountaineering. In the winter, it is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, ski touring, snowshoeing, ice-climbing and more!
But it is not just for the Tatras that Zakopane is such a great destination for outdoor adventures. When the weather is warm, the Dunajec river is a popular place for swimming and boat rides. The vibrant Goral culture, typical of this region, is another reason why Zakopane is an attractive town to visit. Krupowki, the town’s most important street, offers traditional apparel, carnival rides, and local delicacies. In the winter, celebrations in Zakopane include dancing, horse-pulled sleighs, and delicious rich winter cuisine. Additionally, the nightlife is alive and kicking, and a great way to cap off an adventure filled day both in the summer and the winter. Whichever the season, Zakopane has something to offer.
With so much to discover, it might be difficult to choose the best things to do in Zakopane, which is why we have put together a list of our picks of top outdoor activities in this area led by local mountain guides listed at Explore-Share.com. Read on to find out more about what you can do in this stunning spot in the Tatra Mountains and start planning your adventure!
1. Discover Zakopane on a unique hike
Hiking is definitely a top outdoor activity in Zakopane. Whether it’s in the town itself or in the surrounding mountains, there are plenty of places to discover on foot. On this 2-day tour, you will get a chance to explore both. The trip starts at the Koscieliska Valley, which is famous for its legends about hidden treasures, its caves, and its amazing flora and fauna.
Then, you will get to hike up mountains such as Ciemniak, Krzesanica, Malolaczniak, all slightly over 2000 m, as well as hike through the Dolina Bialego park, and the Strazyska valley. The itinerary is flexible, and it can be tailored to your preferences. Additionally, you will have time both before and after going to the mountains to explore the beautiful Zakopane town.
Duration: 2 days
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Best time for this trip: the summer months, between May and August.
2. Explore the Polish Tatras on a hut-to-hut ski touring adventure
With approximately 30 peaks over 2,500 meters, the High Tatras is a great spot for ski touring, and well worth visiting over the course of a few days. On this 3-day hut-to-hut ski touring adventure, you can do just that and discover both the stunning white-capped mountains as well as the winter-sport environment in the cozy mountain lodges you stop in on the way. Furthermore, the trip can be tailored to suit your preferences and your level, so that you make the most of your time ski touring in the High Tatras!
Duration: 3 days
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Best time for this trip: winter months between December and April
3. Tackle an ice climbing challenge in the High Tatras
Ice climbing is an exhilarating sport and one you can practice in the Zakopane region in winter, regardless of your level. On these guided ice-climbing excursions in the High Tatras, the itinerary is planned according to your level and preference. One of the things that’s special about ice-climbing in this area is that it is done in open valleys. Some of the top ice-climbing spots include White Water Valley, Dolina Wielicka, Dolina Białej Wody, and Dolina Staroleśna.
Duration: One or more days, depending on your wishes
Difficulty level: Beginner, intermediate and advanced
Best time for this trip: Winter months between December and March
Snowshoeing is an ancestral practice in snowy mountainous regions that is now also a popular sport. It is a great way to hike in the winter and to hike in the Tatras in the Zakopane surroundings. On this guided snowshoeing adventure, the fun begins at Witow, a small and cozy ski resort with a stunning old wooden church that is well worth stopping by to visit. The adventure continues along a shepherd path through the forests and up to the Magura Spiska, at an altitude of 1232 meters. From there, the snowshoeing continues on the border between Poland and Slovakia down to the Slovak Valley to a place with hot springs, a great spot to relax in after an exhilarating day in the mountains!
Duration: 1 or more days, depending on your preference
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Best time for this trip: Winter months between January and March
5. Try something new on a rock climbing course for beginners
If you’ve never tried rock climbing, then a 5-day rock climbing course for beginners in Zakopane is just the thing for you. For starters, you will be able to enjoy this fantastic and exhilarating sport. Additionally, you will be able to practice around 6 hours per day in a breathtaking location with a fantastic guide. This will not only let you experience Zakopane in a unique way but also, it will prepare you for other amazing adventures around the world that you can enjoy in the future!
Duration: 5 days
Difficulty level: Beginners
Best time for this trip: Warmer months between April and November
6. Feel your heart skip a beat at the top of Giewont (1,894m)
At an altitude of 1895m, the stunning Giewont mountain, also known as “the knight” of Poland, is an emblematic peak in the region. From the top, you can get panoramic views in all directions. This 1-day Giewont hike takes you to the summit and back in 7 to 9 hours.
The adventure kicks off from Zakopane on a local bus to Kuznice, the starting point of the hike. From there, the hiking route goes up to the Kondratowa valley and then to the Kondracka saddle at an altitude of 1725m, and then up to the Giewont summit. The way down is the same, or via an alternative route through the Strazyska valley. Although this is a day-long hike, this is not a difficult mountain to climb and there are sections with chains to grab onto for safety. Therefore, it is a great excursion for everyone with a good fitness level.
To get to Zakopane, you will first have to fly into Krakow which is 100km away from the town. From there, you can either take a 3-4 hour train ride, a bus, or a private minibus. Otherwise, you can also drive to Zakopane from Krakow, which takes around 2 to 3 hours, if there is no traffic. There is also an airport in Poprad, in Slovakia that is 70km away, however, it only serves summer charter flights.
Whichever way you decide to go, and whatever the season, Zakopane should definitely be a must on your outdoor adventure wishlist. Whether it’s for a fun hike in the nearby surroundings or to go up the famous Giewont, to learn how to rock climb in an amazing location, or to go ice-climbing, snowshoeing or ski touring, Zakopane has something for you!