My last destination of my three day trip around Krakow was Zakopane, located in the southern part of the Podhale south of Poland at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. This time I travelled by bus which I booked online on the day I arrived in Krakow.
There are plenty of options on how to reach Zakopane from Krakow, I chose to travel by Flix Bus. I’m quite happy with their service on my previous travels with them. It cost me 12.98€ return. It was an early bus journey at 06:50 and returning at 16:45. Bus departed at Krakow Dworzec Autobusowy main bus station aka MDA, situated next to main train station. An overhead timetable sign is conveniently located after you go up to the second level for your designated bus bay to join. For last minute shopping for travel necessities, there’s a huge shopping centre just opposite the train station. If you are not running late, try to check out the amazing pay to use lavatory located in the foyer of the train station, it’s state of the art, a whole new level of convenience!
Total bus journey is hours and 2 hours and 45 minutes with a distance of 110 kms. You’ll pass picturesque villages, ski resorts and imposing mountains. Bus will terminate at a car park called Parking E.Leclerc close to the train station and it’s a 10 minute walk to the town’s main centre.
On your way to the centre, drop by and explore Park Równia, here you’ll find the free standing wooden letters spelling ZAKOPANE (cover photo of this blog) with the imposing Tatra mountains behind, it’s a good photo spot. The design of the letters were inspired by the architectural style of Zakopane. Around town, plenty of colourful buildings and houses carved in wood and stone with apex-like roofs.
Zakopane is often referred to as the winter capital of Poland. It is also the centre of Goral culture, the inhabitants of the Tatra Mountains. I was there in November last year and it was quite crowded. The bustling Krupówki St. is the teeming thoroughfare of the town. Loaded with colourful souvenir shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, street food and an open market. This is the perfect place to sample Polish culinary offerings. I tried Zakopane’s signature smoked milk cheese called “Oscypek” and Moskole, round pancakes made from potato, both were delicious. There are tempting window displays of grilled meats, pork knuckle and mouthwatering Polish sweet treats. A shot of vodka or Polish beer is also a must try. Horse-drawn carriages ferry passengers up and down the street and street performers entertain visitors. It’s a vibrant and culturally rich place!
The Holy Family Church is a prominent church located in the heart of the main centre, it is hard not to miss. Built in a Neo-Romanesque style laid down in 1877 by Fr. Joseph Stolarczyk. It’s the oldest Roman Catholic stone church in Zakopane. Exterior and interior are both impressive with beautiful and richly detailed colour palettes.
A visit to Gubałówka Peak located at 1,126 metres above sea level is definitely a must do. It’s a 4 minute ride on a modern glass roofed cable-terrain railway operated by PKL Railway. You can buy your tickets on the spot at the counter or advance online. I paid PLN 20 for my return tickets. Fares are cheaper during the low season.
Gubałówka was built in 1938 and it’s one of the most visited peaks of the Tatras. There are plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes and entertainment that caters for just about everyone. An enjoyable way to take it all in is to sit outdoors at a bar, or find a balcony of a restaurant and enjoy the wonderful vista, if it’s sunny it’s a perfect place to soak up the sun. Not to be missed, is the Polonia Restituta a two-meter bronze sculpture.
Another interesting attraction is the metal cross, leading to a commanding view of the Tatra Mountains.
Breathtaking is an understatement! It is really an Instagrammble spot, so make sure to bring along your camera. There are walking paths and panoramic view points where you can see the Tatra Mountains, the Gorce Mountains, High Beskid, the Pieniny Mountains and Zakopane. You can also reach the summit by numerous hiking trails. For the adventurous, you can hire a push bike and peddle your way up to the peak.
How to get from Krakow to Zakopane:
Self Drive – 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Taxi – 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Bus – 2 to 3 hours – Catch the bus at MDA, Krakow. Read Flix Bus review here.
Train – 3 hours – Catch the train from Krakow Glowny. Timetable here.
Day Tours – Plenty of tour operators that offer a day trip to Zakopane. One of them is Viator.
I used Romeo2rio site to book my tickets. You can check all the timetables and travel options at this site.