With travel restrictions still in place, there will be many skiers in this country who will be unable to travel to their usual destinations. However once these have been lifted then you might like to consider the delightful resort of Zakopane in the Polish ‘Alps’.
Just a short express coach ride from Krakow I have visited a number of times and always been overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of the people and impressive food.
Zakopane lies in the Tatra Mountains and can be reached by taking a flight to Krakow and then one of the many coach services which run from the city to the resort which, because of competition, are incredibly cheap.
The train link from the airport is probably the best option as it takes around 17 minutes to Krakow main line terminal.
The coach station is next to the railway station in Krakow and so it is very easy to make the transfer. The journey, which takes around 2 hours depending on the traffic, will drop you just a short walk from the centre of this very attractive town. The coaches are very comfortable and a great way to travel. The trip to the resort also takes you through some very beautiful countryside.
The legend of Zakopane is that a shepherd tending to his sheep looked out towards the Tatra Mountains and decided to see if it would be a good place to put down his roots. He planted an oat seed and returned later to find that it had produced a valuable crop. He decided that he would like to stay here, and so he gave the place the name Zakopane which means ‘buried’ in Polish.
Very popular, it has a large number of Polish visitors and many from Eastern Europe.
I have usually visited the resort during the winter months when there is a real buzz. The streets are full of visitors and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes available where you can get a bite to eat or a drink. There are lots of hotels nearby, and I was most impressed with the traditional Highland wooden buildings and in particular the attractive wooden churches which can be found in and around the town which give the whole area a very Alpine feel.
During winter months skiing is the main draw but in the summer there is a wonderful opportunity to go walking in the hills. The International Ski Jump is a great attraction and if you stay there you must make a visit. You will find a range of stalls at the bottom where you can buy a selection of clothing and other gifts but be prepared to barter if you want the best deal! There is also an extensive market in town close to the ski lift.
There are plenty of cable cars, wonderful ski runs and also a number of museums which will give you an insight into life in the Highlands.
If you are looking for a well-placed hotel then you should try the Belvedere which is in walking distance of the centre. This luxurious four-star establishment is located on the edge of the Tatra National Park and is great for couples and families. When I stayed there I had the chance to take a nighttime sleigh ride around the town which was very impressive as it also included a shot of vodka to keep out the cold! The hotel staff was very welcoming, and it has a great atmosphere.
The food in Poland is excellent and very filling, so you shouldn’t have any problems. Pierogi is a very popular dish and ideal for a snowy day. Created from crescent shaped dough dumplings they can have various fillings such as cheese, cabbage and meat. A great way to finish the day on the slopes before enjoying the shops. A good place to try is the fabulous Cvarci Jar. Before you leave you should try some of the very tasty Polish beers and vodkas which are available in this area.
People who live in this region are known as Highlanders and each year organise several festivals celebrating the culture and traditions.
One other idea might be to create a two – centre trip staying firstly in Krakow and then Zakopane.
For more information go to www.zakopane.com.
Find out more about Silver Travel Advisor partners that offer trips to Poland.