Dramatic mountains dominate Southern Poland on the border with Slovakia in the picturesque town of Zakopane. Take a gondola to the top for a view that spans two countries!
While in Krakow, my husband and I wanted to check out the historic (and only) mountain area in Southern Poland around the quaint resort village of Zakopane. As a Coloradoan, there is something about gorgeous mountains that speak to me like nothing else... I love the mountains, and never tire of seeing mountains all over the world.
We went to Kasprowy Wierch and rode the two gondolas to the top for a small fee (at the end of april, the line to get on the gondola was short, but the ride was completely packed with tourists and skiers.)
One note on the gondola- it is NOT for the faint of heart. It is very high off the ground, and travels through rocky peaks, swinging along the line, as you reach the summit. I have been skiing since 7 years old and have been on many gondolas- but this one made my stomach drop more than any I've ever been on.
Poland itself is a very flat country. There are rolling hills, but no mountains, except for the Zakopane region. It's a small but gorgeous area, with ski areas dotting hillsides, towns full of tall wooden buildings, and gorgeous views in every direction.
We booked a driver to take us through Zakopane with Krakow Direct. The car was clean, comfortable and perfect for touring- and our driver Martin was awesome. He was so much fun, knew tons of great and interesting tips about Poland, and was great to talk to! I'd book a trip with him anytime.
If you're in Krakow, and have an extra day where you'd like to get out of the city and explore some of Krakow's mountainside towns, head to Zakopane!
Head to the market by following the main street through Zakopane towards the funicular. You'll need to walk down a flight of stairs and under the train area, then back up a flight of stairs to get to the long market area. Once in the market, there are different sections- crafts, touristy knick knacks, long stalls lined with cheese, honey, and other local foods- as well as a whole side street selling furs. Fur hats, coats, rugs and great quality leather goods sold for only a fraction of the price you'd find in America. I saw beautiful fur hats for as low as $15, and the most expensive ones I saw were less than $100 USD.
Cash is a must at the markets stalls.
Where to Eat
Karczma Saba?a- a modern, english speaking restaurant on the main street in Zakopane.
Reccomended dish: platter for two- which includes pierogies, lamb and pork sausage, smoked cheese, fried cheese, roasted potatoes, and fresh homemade sauerkraut.
Oscypek, Various Locations- if you see people smoking small bits of cheese on a grill, and topping them with cranberry sauce- stop and immediately buy as many as you can. They are so good, I wanted to eat Oscypek all the time! They are squeaky, salty, and a bit tangy- and pair perfectly with cranberry sauce. I giggled seeing bottles and bottles of Trader Joe's Cranberries all the way in Poland- but TJ's must contract with a supplier there. I saw them everywhere!