Zakopane, a small Polish town, is at the foot of the famous Tatras Mountains. It is around two hours of driving from Krakow. The town has its unique wooden house architecture, which is very attractive. But the most attractive area is the Tatras National Park, which offers many outdoor activities all year round. It is the base for the famous winter skiing resort and hiking in summer. Many tourists add it to their itinerary as a day trip destination from Krakow.
We added it to the itinerary of our trip to Krakow and only spent a couple of hours there. But after our trip, I think we could spend a couple of days there because there are more things to do in Zakopane.
Things to do in Zakopane
The list of things to do in Zakopane includes cultural and outdoor activities. It is better to go to some places by car. If not, it is also possible to join a local tour.
- A walk through Zakopane
- Visit Poronin, the former residence of the socialist leader Lenin
- Take a funicular to Mount Kasprowy
- Enjoy views from Gubałówka hill
- Visit museums
- Spend a day in a local hot thermal spa
- Taste the local cheese Ocsypek
- Hike to the Morskie Oko
- Tours to Tatras Mountain and Zakopane
A walk through Zakopane
One of the main attractions is its turn-of-the-20th-century wooden chalets. Many residential houses, restaurants, shops, hotels, as well as churches, are built in this unique style of Zakopane wooden architecture. For example, our hotel GORSKA OSADA Chalet is also in this wooden style.
If you have only a few hours, one of the things to do in Zakopane is to see the one-kilometre long Krupówki street. There are many shops and local restaurants on this street. We felt very pleasant to have a stroll in the town.
Or, you can join a walking tour to learn more about its rich cultural and historical heritage. Let the tour guide to tell you about some of the most famous Zakopane residents and people who helped promote the town as a vacation destination.
Visit Poronin, the former residence of the socialist leader Lenin
Poronin lies approximately 7 kilometres north-east of Zakopane. To visit Zakopane from Krakow, you will pass Poronin before you reach Zakopane. There is a very big wooden villa next to Marszałka Piłsudskiego Street. The villa used to be the former residence of Lenin. Lenin and his wife moved to Poronin in May 1913 with two other socialist couples. They loved the awesome Alpine views, and Lenin enjoyed long hikes in the mountains. They stayed there until August 1, 1914, World War I broke out.
Today the villa is used by the local community. Its basement is the local tourist information centre. Not far from the villa, opposite the shopping mall, there is a beautiful church.
Take a funicular to Mount Kasprowy
While in Zakopane, it is a must to take the cable car to Mount Kasprowy. Either in summer or in winter, this is one of the most popular local attractions for both the adults and especially the kids. Check the opening time and tickets here.
You can experience a funicular railway to Gubalowka Mountain by joining a private tour from Krakow. It also includes a visit to Chocholow village, its museum as well as a two and half hour bath in the thermal pools (Spa).
Enjoy views from Gubałówka hill
The other very popular lift in the area is the funicular to Gubałówka hill, which starts in the very centre of the town. Gubałówka offers spectacular views over the town and the surrounding Tatra mountains.
On rainy days, you can visit some museums. Two of them are worth to visit, Tatra Museum in 10 Krupówki street and Zakopane Style Museum in Villa Koliba in 18 Kościeliska street.
The Tatra Museum is a museum of the history, culture, nature, and ethnography of the Polish Tatras. The Villa Koliba was built between 1892 and 1893 in Zakopane style and was the first building ever erected in Zakopane style. Since 1983 the Koliba Villa is a registered Polish Monument.
Hiking, Climbing or Biking in Tatras Mountains
There is 275 km of marked tourist trails located in the Tatra National Park. The beginning route is the hiking trail around lake Morskie Oko. Other activities like climbing or biking are also available in the national park area. Tourists must always follow the marked trails to avoid potential dangers.
To explore the mountain area, you can join this full-day Zakopane & Tatra Mountains guided tour. It also includes the tasting of a highlander smoked cheese called Oscypek and the visit to a museum dedicated to the Tatra Mountains.
Spend a day in a local hot thermal spa
The Tatra Mountains region has numerous thermal springs and sources of mineral water. Thermal pools in Bukowina (in Bukowina Tatrzańska village, around 25 minutes drive from Zakopane) are rich in quality mineral water.
Aqua Park Zakopane is a popular place for family. Situated in the very centre of the city, it offers a beautiful view of the panorama of the mountains. The complex of pools with thermal waters and lots of water attractions also offers spacious spa, fitness, and bowling.
You can combine the spa experience with other activities such as the 1234-meter long Bachledka Treetop Walk by joining this Slovakia Treetop Walk, Zakopane & Thermal Spa tour. The tour departures from Krakow and includes walking around Zakopane as well.
Taste the local cheese Ocsypek
Ocsypek s a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. Between the end of April and the beginning of October, it is the time to collect sheep’s milk and the production of Oscypek. The cheese tasting is part of this cultural tour.
Hike to the Morskie Oko
One of the most memorable things we did was the hike to the Morskie Oko during our trip to Krakow in the late spring. Near the border between Poland and Slovakia, in the Tatra mountains mark with blue-green alpine lakes. Among them, the loveliest and the largest one is Morskie Oko, which sits at the bottom of the valley on the Polish side.
We did a great hiking around the Morskie Oko and further up to another lake. It was a great day trip destination from Krakow. Most visitors were the local people.
Tours to Tatras Mountain and Zakopane
If you don’t drive there or have less time, one of the things to do in Zakopane is to join an organized tour. Because most travelers will choose to stay in Krakow, many tours also start from there. In most cases, the tour operators will pick-up guests from the hotels. The Tatras mountain areas are not only a nice destination for the summer holiday, but it is also the popular winter skiing destination among the local communities.
You don’t need to worry about skiing gears or any heavy stuff if you join a skiing & therms tour. The tour includes hotel pick-up & drop off, entrance ticket to all the ski runs, hot therms ticket, complete skiing gear, and refreshments on board. At the time of writing, a day trip costs around 100$. Compared to what you need to pay in the skiing area in southern Germany, the price is very reasonable.
Both of the following platforms offer a range of tours for the area. Please take a look and find yourself a good offer:
Where to stay
A fireplace and a fully functional kitchen area are on the ground floor of the chalet. Three rooms are available upstairs.