Krakow Zakopane is a most popular route in Poland, a favourite to tourists worldwide. We set off that morning from Krakow by bus, which is the most convenient way to reach Zakopane, tips on how to move around are also included for you at the bottom of this article. Why Krakow Zakopane? Because Krakow is a fascinating city and Zakopane is a quaint town filled with charm, culture and not only…
No matter how much I loved Krakow, Zakopane remains in my heart. The town’s centre attracts thousands of visitors the year round and nestles at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. Zakopane makes the perfect base for travellers visiting the southern part of Poland who appreciate adventure, sports and nature. Visitors love this southern tourist resort because it is an outdoor wonderland that provides access to snow-capped peaks, alpine forests, mountain lakes, waterfalls, wildlife, meadow-filled valleys and quaint towns.
For me, Krakow Zakopane trip was a dream come true. It does not really matter when you visit any of the two, as there are always lots of people around and each season is unique and very different. (More about Krakow here) The atmosphere of Zakopane is different, the colours on the trees, and of course the activities. Expect it to be crowded in the summer and winter and even more crowded on New Year’s Eve. Being a very popular destination it is often found to be a rather expensive place.
The quaint town of Zakopane, known as the winter capital of Poland, offers many summertime tourist attractions as well. Among them is Dolina Strążyska (Strążyska Valley), a popular tourist trail leading to the Giewont. I long to follow this trail myself the next time I am back.
The main pedestrian street, the Krupowki is lined with buildings with wooden exteriors and it is one of the most popular streets in Zakopane, over a kilometre long, with an unrivalled atmosphere and vibrant with life. There are outdoor clothing stores and tons of restaurants along with shops that line on both sides of the street. Get a bit of the atmosphere through the photos below.
I loved the horse-drawn carriages combined with elements of highland culture. I would have loved to attend the Festival of Highland Folklore that takes place in Zakopane, but this takes place towards August.
Portray artists, street performers, sounds of horse stamping on the pavement and the smell in the air from local cuisine mixed with grilled specialities are a few of the things that make this street attractive.
One of the most charming aspects of Zakopane is its architecture. We were out for a stroll and we came across several such wooden villas in the Kościeliska Street.
Many houses and buildings in Zakopane are built according to the traditional style of the area out of wood. The design is inspired by the regional art of Poland’s highland region known as Podhale.
The exterior architecture of these houses is known to have the Zakopane style. All new buildings up to 1914 had to be built in this way. It is still very popular today and a walk around town will tell you that many new buildings are still being built in this traditional style.
Everywhere we look there are these amazing wooden buildings, both single and double story. Houses seem unique and I have no idea if this sort of design is to be found in any other part of Poland. Along with my friend Margo who is local, we wandered through different streets admiring how people had stuck to the traditional building designs. It is nice that each of them has small touches of their own style too. Gardens are lovely and well looked after. The climate helps too…lots of rain the year round, something missing from both Greece and Cyprus.
Krakow Zakopane Bus
Krakow Zakopane route for most tourists is best visited by bus. A unique and cheap option to visit Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains, with frequent departures for the two-hour journey. For exact departure times check the website which is also in English.
The bus system in Poland is pretty reliable and tickets for Polski Bus and other private national bus companies can be bought online. Majer operates the bus route and is slightly more expensive. You can check it here.
Zakopane is small in size and it is preferable to try and walk around if you can. If not, taxis are not that expensive you can ask your hotel to call one for you. Locals say that it will cost you less (30% off) if you make them a call than grabbing one from a taxi rank.
I remember while waiting at a bus stop in Zakopane for the bus to drive us to the city centre a taxi driver on his own and without us signalling, stopped and made us a good offer. He finally drove us to the centre at almost the same price of the bus.
Krakow Zakopane Car
If you plan to hire a car to follow the route Krakow Zakopane to get around, think twice before you do it, especially if it is winter as the centre is often blocked and chains are needed as well to get anywhere. It is preferable to hire a car during summertime.
Krakow Zakopane Public transport
Sleighs in the winter and carriages in the summer for the tourists make Zakopane picture postcard pretty. For practical purposes though go for the state bus service (PKS) or for the burgeoning number of small minibus operators who can ferry you to the popular setting-out points at the bottom of the Tatra Mountains. Zakopane’s Central Bus Station (Dworzec Autobusowy) is ten minutes’ walk from the town centre.
Cable car and train
Krakow Zakopane route is not only popular, but visitors coming here at some stage try to take the cable car to Kasprowy. It is preferable to book your tickets early otherwise you could stand in the long queues unless standing for a few hours is your idea of a holiday. The cable train to Gubalowka is not usually that busy, so take it to the top, and on the way back you can walk back down again. It only takes 20 minutes or so back to Zakopane’s town centre.