Are you a mountain or a city lover? Me, I’d choose the mountains over a city any day. I’m in my element when I’m hiking and surrounded by nature so when booking a trip, even if it’s to a city, I’ll always research the hikes which are nearby.
When heading to Poland, many people tend to head to the big cities like Krakow and Warsaw. Although these cities are well-worth visiting, Poland also has beautiful mountainous regions, including a picturesque town called Zakopane (pronounced ‘Zak-oh-pan-ay). In the winter this region is popular for skiing and in the summer it is the perfect place for hiking. It’s nestled in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains.
My friend, Lani, and I hadn’t realised it existed until we looked at day trips from Krakow. When we saw photos of Zakopane I immediately suggested that we stay there for a couple of nights, and so we did. As soon as we and I arrived, we knew we’d made a mistake not staying longer. Even though we did plenty of research, we were not expecting such a traditional, vast town to welcome us.
We arrived at our Air bnb and couldn’t get over how wonderful it was. It’s one of my favourite places I have ever stayed. The interior was wooden, giving it the feel of a cosy ski chalet, and if that wasn’t enough, there were two balconies offering us mountainous views. I was in my element!
We dropped off our things and headed out to explore Zakopane. We had no idea where the town was in relation to our apartment but we followed our noses to find the restaurants! On the way we stopped to take in the landscape. What made it even better was the fact that an adorable cat walked over to us and demanded some attention. He made the perfect subject for photos.
We walked down the Main Street, which was far longer than we’d anticipated, stopping at little shops along the way. The road was filled with wooden shops and restaurants. It really did have a theme of ‘everything wooden’. Many of the restaurants were traditionally decorated and there was the sound of traditional music coming from inside (mostly live). We chose to eat at one with musicians there to entertain us. They were delightful to listen to.
I had fried sheeps cheese to start with which can only be found in the region. I’m surprised to admit that it’s the first cheese I haven’t been fond of. I could usually eat mountains (pun intended) of cheese but this was too smokey for me. I had pork for main which was delicious. Lani had traditional polish dumplings. (Dinner 2 courses and drink: 70zl ,about £13)
We looked inside the Old Church where the outside reminded me of a Disney castle. It was free to get into and the inside was decorated beautifully. Remember to look up at the blue painted ceiling.
I slept upstairs in the apartment. I had to climb up an awkward ladder to get up there but it was worth it. It was so blissful waking up to this view each day.
On our second morning we woke up early and headed to the nearby caffe, ‘Samantha’s’. Here I had my favourite, freshly squeezed orange juice, with a spinach and cheese pastry. Lani had a strawberry cocktail (non-alcohol) with sweet bread.
We then excitedly headed off on our hike. Zakopane is surrounded by many hiking trails in the Tatra Mountains. We chose one to Morskie Oko and I’m glad we did. It was one of the most stupendous scene. The emerald-green mountain lake was just stunning.
The scenery along the way was breathtaking too. It’s places like this that really make me appreciate how beautiful the world really is. On our way back we spotted a deer grazing on the grass. He was completely oblivious to us standing there and admiring him (of course, we didn’t get too close).
Read more about the hike here.
In the evening we ate in another traditional restaurant with more live music. I couldn’t get over how adorable and wooden everything was. I loved it and I just wish we had more time to spend in Zakopane. I would have loved to explore the many hikes in the Tatra mountains. Oh well, I guess it gives me an excuse to return!
Check out what the area looks like in the snow in this blog post by ‘Reading the Book’.
How to get there:
We took a Bus to Krakow bus station from the airport. It took 1hr and cost 4zl (80p). Be sure to get the right ticket as we got a different one at first which wouldn’t have been valid on the bus. From Krakow bus station we got another Bus to Zakopane. This took 2 hrs and cost 17zl (£3.20). Look out for the lovely views along the way.
Pin for later: