Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

Close your eyes, imagine a storybook village and you may well picture Zalipie. Filled with delicately painted houses, I’d never been anywhere like it. Everywhere, from the walls to the wells, seemed to painted with ‘flowers of the imagination’. I visited for the day with my travel buddy, Lani, while we were staying in Krakow. I’d previously read mixed reviews about the place but was determined to go and make up my own mind.

Zalipie is just north-west of Tarnow and it has been known as the centre for folk painting for more than a century. After finally finding a taxi driver willing to take us as far as Zalipie (no one had heard of the place!), we were dropped off at the town’s museum. This is a traditionally decorated house filled with brightly painted objects. There was the option to do a painting class there which I think would have been fun if we had more time.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

When at the museum, we requested a map of the little village which pointed out the painted houses; there is a loop you can follow either by car or foot. We enjoyed exploring Zalipie at our own leisure without any time constraints of a tour.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

As we were excitably following the peaceful route we were the only people in sight. That’s one thing I loved about Zalipie, it’s not a typical touristy destination. Our hotel was clueless when we mentioned the place and even our taxi driver had no idea where he was going (good old Google maps!). Throughout the day we saw less than a handful of other tourists. It felt like an undiscovered gem.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

The first painted house we saw was Lani’s favourite, she loved the bridge covered with flowers. There was also a tiny decorated house here, very cute! The place reminded me of a secret garden I could have imagined as a child.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

As we passed and photographed peoples homes, many of them welcomed us into their garden to get a closer look. We really appreciated the effort the people put into keeping their homes beautiful. One lady even invited us into her little but fully decorated home for 2zl (around 40p). Her garden was just as grand on the outside.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

About half way around the route we approached what we originally thought to be a school. We were in awe of what surrounded us. Everything in the grounds seemed to be decorated, from the benches to the wells. We immediately fell in love with this little house with a well outside.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

We also adored the brightly painted sun dial.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

We went closer to the building and noticed we could enter it. There, a lady welcomed us and informed us that it was a community centre. She was the first person we met who could speak English there and it was interesting to hear that not many English people visit Zalipie. This lovely lady gave us a tour of the centre. She took us into a room with people painting.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

We saw a hall used for events.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

She told us that all the flowers painted in Zalipie are ‘flowers of the imagination’. We entered the shop and each made a purchase. Lani bought a gorgeous box and I bought a beautiful chopping board which I hope to hang in my kitchen when I eventually buy a house. The lady gave us the number for a local taxi which we could call when we were ready to go home.

On our walk further around the village we approached yet another wonderfully decorated building and couldn’t resist another bunch of pictures.

Snapseed

We even saw someone painting their house.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

Our final stop on the route, before circling back to the museum, was a Church. This was decorated in traditional Zalipie style with painted flowers.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

I’d previously read mixed reviews about Zalipie. Some people raved about it and others complained that the painted houses were too spread out, however I was determined to go there and make up my own mind. Because it was in the middle of nowhere and hard to get to, I was hoping it would be worth the effort, and it really was. It’s nowhere like I’ve ever been before and I love that we saw few other tourists, six to be exact. It’s true that the painted houses are very spread out, but I enjoy walking so this really wasn’t a problem. The effort and detail that people put into painting their houses is admirable.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

Tip:
Take food! We made the mistake of not taking any and soon realised there were no shops or restaurants around. There’s no water to buy either but luckily we’d taken plenty of that.

How to get there:
Zalipie is situated around an hour and a half from Krakow. The easiest way to get there would be to drive but as we didn’t have a car, this wasn’t an option for us. We took a taxi both ways which cost around 300zl each way (around £60). There is also the option of public transport. There is a train that goes from Krakow to Tarnow and then you can take 2 buses from there.

Zalipie: A Painted Village in Poland

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5 Comments

  1. October 28, 2017 / 10:58 am

    I remember visiting the place when I was about 12 or 13… As a kid I found it like a fairytale, but I couldn’t imagine tourism there. We were basically locals on a daytrip. Then not long ago I saw a video promoting Zalipie as an instagram sensation and “instagrammable” destination and I remember that got me thinking. How in the era of desperately finding off the beaten path destination to feature on instagram could have made a place like Zalipie actually attractive. I would never have known about it if half of my family wasn’t from Krakow. So I think it’s interesting that this shift is happening, and makes me feel a bit better about my trip back in the day. When I came back from visiting family in Poland and I was telling my friend I had been to Zalipie (which was still a new adventure and not usual Krakow) I felt bad compared to the hip Cuban holidays my bestie had just returned from. Well, who’s been to an offbeat destination, now? 😀

  2. October 28, 2017 / 11:04 am

    Wow — AMAZING! I’ve never heard of this place and it looks like a dream! Are there any places to stay overnight in Zalipie (that you possibly saw)?

  3. October 29, 2017 / 12:15 am

    Ah what? I want to live here. It’s so beautiful. This is what I picture my house to look like if i ever settle down in one place. Definitely worth the trek in my opinion. Hopefully I will see for myself one day.

  4. October 29, 2017 / 12:33 am

    It’s not easy to find beautiful places which haven’t yet been discovered by too many tourists and Zalipie looks gorgeous! Great idea for a day trip from Krakow.

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