Planning a visit to Krakow and Zakopane? You’re in for an incredible experience as these two destinations are among the best that Poland has to offer. With a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural landscapes, a trip to these beautiful locations is sure to be the highlight of your travels.
Krakow, known for its exquisite architecture and significant historical sites, provides a perfect starting point for your adventure. From the magnificent Wawel Castle to the bustling Market Square, this city is full of attractions that will captivate and inspire you. Then, just a short journey away, you’ll find yourself in Zakopane – the mountainous paradise of Poland. Here, you can indulge in exhilarating outdoor activities such as skiing or hiking, while also enjoying the unique local culture and charming atmosphere.
With so much to explore and discover, creating the perfect itinerary for your trip to Krakow and Zakopane is essential. Whether it’s a day trip or a longer stay, we have the tips and information you need to make the most of your time in these enchanting Polish destinations.
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Getting To Zakopane From Krakow
Travelling from Kraków to Zakopane, which is approximately 110km away, can be done conveniently using various modes of transportation. The journey should take around 2-3 hours, depending on your choice of transport.
One of the most popular options to reach Zakopane is by bus. There are several bus companies operating this route, one of them being Flixbus. Buses depart from Kraków Bus Station and should take about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Zakopane. Bus ticket prices vary, but you can expect to pay between 17 zł and 95 zł for a one-way ticket.
If you prefer a more private mode of transportation, you can opt to rent a car in Kraków and drive to Zakopane. The journey usually takes about 2 hours, but this can vary depending on traffic conditions. Keep in mind that during peak season, such as ski season or weekends, traffic might be heavier and might increase the travel time.
Another option to consider is taking a train between Kraków and Zakopane. Although the train journey might be slightly longer than the bus or car options, it offers a comfortable and scenic ride through the Polish countryside. The downside is that the train’s final destination is not directly in Zakopane town, so you’ll need to change to a local public transport or taxi to reach your final destination.
A less common but still viable option is to use rideshare services between Kraków and Zakopane. This can be an affordable and flexible way to travel, allowing you to choose your pick-up and drop-off locations to suit your needs. However, there’s no guarantee regarding the availability of rides, and you might need some patience to find the right match.
Lastly, if you’re travelling on a tight budget, you might consider taking a night bus from Kraków to Zakopane. This option can save you costs on accommodation, but be prepared to sacrifice some comfort for the journey. Regardless of your choice, you can easily plan a day trip to Zakopane to experience the beauty of this mountain town and its surroundings.
Where To Stay In Zakopane
In Zakopane, you have a variety of accommodation options to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Ranging from luxurious hotels to cosy guesthouses and budget-friendly hostels, there’s something to suit everyone’s needs and preferences.
If you’re looking for a more upscale stay, consider checking into a high-end hotel such as the Grand Stamary Hotel or ARIES Hotel & Spa. These hotels offer top-notch amenities like spa facilities, swimming pools, and fine dining options. Additionally, they are ideally located close to the town centre, making it convenient for you to explore nearby attractions.
For a more budget-friendly yet comfortable option, you might want to look at guesthouses or B&Bs. Some popular choices include Willa Orla and Willa Jan. These establishments provide a warm and inviting atmosphere with clean rooms and personalised service. Moreover, they are often situated in scenic areas, allowing you to enjoy the picturesque views of the Tatra Mountains.
If you are travelling on a tight budget or enjoy socialising with other travellers, hostels are the perfect choice for you. Good Bye Lenin Hostel and Top Hostel are popular choices among backpackers. Providing basic amenities and shared facilities, these hostels enable you to save money while experiencing the local culture and meeting fellow travellers.
When choosing where to stay in Zakopane, it’s important to factor in the location of your accommodation. If you plan on skiing or snowboarding, consider staying close to popular ski resorts like Kasprowy Wierch or Nosal. If you’re more interested in hiking and nature activities, look for accommodations close to the Tatra National Park or Morskie Oko lake.
By taking the time to carefully research and select the right accommodation, you’re sure to enjoy a fantastic stay in the enchanting town of Zakopane.
Exploring The Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains, shared between Poland and Slovakia, offer a stunning backdrop for your adventure from Krakow to Zakopane. With a range of activities and sights to explore, you can create an unforgettable experience during your visit.
When it comes to hiking, the Tatra Mountains are a paradise for nature enthusiasts. There are numerous trails to choose from, catering to various levels of expertise, from easy family-friendly routes to more challenging options for experienced hikers. As you trek through the mountains, you’ll come across beautiful alpine lakes and breathtaking natural landscapes that will leave you in awe.
Besides hiking, the Tatra Mountains offer a wide range of sightseeing opportunities. Take a cable car ride to marvel at the spectacular panoramic views or stroll through the quaint mountain town of Zakopane, where you can admire traditional wooden architecture and enjoy local cuisine, such as the famous highlander cheese.
For those seeking adventure on the water, the Tatra Mountains region offers various activities. Whether it’s kayaking, rafting, or exploring crystal-clear lakes, you’ll find your perfect water activity to immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings.
During the winter months, the Tatra Mountains turn into a skiing haven with numerous ski resorts offering well-groomed slopes suitable for all skill levels. From beginner lessons to challenging advanced runs, the skiing experience in the Tatras is not one to be missed.
For a smooth and hassle-free tour of Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains from Krakow, consider opting for a guided trip that offers a mix of sightseeing and outdoor activities tailored to your interests, ensuring that you make the most of your unforgettable time in this lovely region.
Activities in Zakopane
In Zakopane, there are plenty of activities to enjoy throughout the year, whether you’re visiting in the winter, summer, or any time in between. No matter the season, the picturesque town nestled at the foot of the Tatra Mountains is sure to charm you with its beautiful landscapes and vibrant atmosphere.
During the winter months, skiing is a popular activity. The town is surrounded by numerous ski resorts, making it an ideal destination for ski enthusiasts. You can spend your days gliding down the slopes, taking in the stunning mountain views, and appreciating the breathtaking winter scenery. The crisp mountain air and vast expanses of snow are sure to make your skiing experience an unforgettable one.
On the other hand, summer in Zakopane offers incredible opportunities for hiking. The Tatra National Park boasts an extensive network of trails that cater to all levels of difficulty. Whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced mountaineer, you’ll find a path that suits your abilities. As you traverse these trails, you’ll be met with awe-inspiring views of the mountains, lush forests, and tranquil lakes.
Apart from skiing and hiking, Zakopane has much more to offer. Take a cable car up to Gubałówka Hill or Kasprowy Wierch to admire the panorama from above. While exploring the town, wander down Krupówki Street, a bustling pedestrian zone filled with shops, restaurants, and local attractions such as the Church of Our Lady of Częstochowa.
For relaxation, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the town’s thermal spas. After a long day of skiing or hiking, treat yourself to the healing waters of a hot thermal spring and spa complex. These facilities offer a peaceful and rejuvenating experience that is not only soothing to the body but also rewarding to the soul.
Should you wish to venture beyond the Polish borders, consider taking a day trip to Slovakia. Embark on an exciting treetop walk in Pieniny National Park, which offers unique perspectives on the area’s natural beauty. Afterwards, further relax by enjoying Slovakia’s renowned thermal spas.
With such a wealth of activities available in Zakopane, your time spent in this enchanting mountain town will undoubtedly be filled with adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable memories.
Sightseeing in Krakow
While visiting Krakow, make sure to explore its rich history, fascinating culture, and picturesque architecture. Start your adventure in the heart of the city at the Main Square, one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Here, you can admire the stunning St. Mary’s Basilica, marvel at the Cloth Hall, and enjoy local food at one of the many cafes lining the square.
Next, head over to the famous Wawel Castle, a symbol of Polish history and a national treasure. This magnificent castle and cathedral complex is situated on Wawel Hill, overlooking the Vistula River.
As you walk through the castle’s halls and courtyards, you’ll encounter splendid examples of Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic architecture. Don’t forget to visit the Wawel Dragon’s Den and the Royal Tombs within the cathedral.
After taking in the breathtaking views from Wawel Hill, pay a visit to the prestigious Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. Established in 1364, this historic institution played a vital role in shaping Polish intellectual and cultural life. Wander around the enchanting Collegium Maius courtyard, visit the university’s museum, and marvel at the impressive array of medieval and Renaissance artefacts on display.
To make the most of your sightseeing experience and efficiently cover all the landmarks, consider joining one of the many Krakow City Tours. These guided tours will provide you with interesting insights and stories about the places you visit, as well as guidance through the city’s narrow streets and bustling squares.
Krakow boasts a unique blend of historical richness and vibrant modern life. By immersing yourself in the city’s fascinating past and exploring its key attractions, you’ll create unforgettable memories during your trip.
Local Transportation in Zakopane
When visiting Zakopane, there are several transportation options available to help you explore the area efficiently and comfortably. Whether you prefer public transport or a more personalised mode, you’ll find suitable choices in the mountain town.
Buses are one of the most convenient ways to get around Zakopane. The town has an extensive public bus network, with connections to key attractions and nearby locations. Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines, found at most bus stops, or directly from the bus driver. Ensure you validate your ticket upon boarding to avoid fines.
Coaches offer a comfortable alternative to buses, providing a more spacious environment for your journey. They ply regular routes between Zakopane and Krakow, departing from both cities throughout the day. FlixBus is one popular coach service that connects the two destinations in approximately 2.5 hours.
If you prefer a more flexible mode of transportation, consider car rental services in Zakopane. Numerous local and international rental companies are available, offering a range of vehicle types to suit your needs. With a rental car at your disposal, you can easily explore Zakopane and its surroundings at your own pace.
For those looking for a more sustainable or active option, riding a bike is an excellent way to navigate the town. Zakopane features several bike rental shops where you can rent a bike for a few hours or a whole day. The town is relatively bike-friendly, with dedicated cycle paths and picturesque routes to explore.
Ultimately, the choice of transportation mode will depend on your preferences and itinerary. With these options at your fingertips, navigating Zakopane will be an enjoyable and hassle-free experience during your visit.
Planning a 5 Day Itinerary
Embarking on a 5-day journey to explore the beauty of Krakow and Zakopane is an excellent way to experience the best Poland has to offer.
From historical sites to stunning landscapes, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy various sightseeing spots and activities that are sure to make your trip unforgettable. Here’s a brief itinerary to help you make the most of your 5 days:
Day 1 – Krakow Old Town
Begin your adventure by exploring the heart of Krakow – its Old Town. Stroll around the Main Market Square, visit St. Mary’s Basilica, and wander the charming streets lined with beautiful buildings and captivating history.
Be sure to stop at the Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower to soak up the atmosphere of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 2 – Wawel Castle and Church On the Rock
On your second day, head over to Wawel Castle, a symbol of Polish history and culture. Explore the stunning architecture, admire the art collection, and take in the breathtaking views of the Vistula River.
Afterwards, venture to the nearby Church On the Rock, a stunning baroque masterpiece brimming with fascinating history.
Day 3 – Zakopane
After spending two days in Krakow, it’s time to head to the picturesque mountain town of Zakopane. You can reach Zakopane from Krakow by coach, which takes about 2.5 hours.
Once you arrive, familiarise yourself with the town and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Krupówki Street, where you can indulge in local delicacies and shop for souvenirs.
Day 4 – Tatra National Park
On day four, set aside a full day to explore the pristine Tatra National Park. Here you’ll be surrounded by stunning landscapes, offering excellent opportunities for hiking and photography.
The park’s diverse flora and fauna will captivate you, while the picturesque valleys and impressive mountain peaks provide the perfect backdrop for lasting memories.
Day 5 – Chochołów Thermal Baths
On your final day, treat yourself to a relaxing experience at the Chochołów Thermal Baths located near Zakopane. Immerse yourself in the warm thermal waters, unwind and rejuvenate after an eventful trip. It’s the perfect way to wrap up your 5-day adventure.
When it comes to accommodation, both Krakow and Zakopane offer a variety of hotels to suit your budget and preferences. Keep in mind that both cities have plenty to offer in terms of sightseeing and activities, so choose your accommodation wisely to make the most of your time.
More recommended activities in Krakow and Day trips from Krakow:
- Krakow Axe Mate Club Entrance Ticket
- Bachelor Party Krakow
- Best Krakow Summer Activities
- Best Museums and Galleries in Krakow
- Clubs and Bars in Krakow Crawl
- Energylandia Amusement Park
- Krakow Shows and Musicals
- Krakow: Folk Show & 3-Course Dinner
- Krakow: Food Walking Tour
- Krakow: Old Town Guided Segway Tour
- Krakow: Rynek Underground Museum
- Krakow Shopping Guide
- Krakow: Wawel Royal Hill Guided Tour
- Private Auschwitz Tours
- Schindler Factory Tour
- Things to do in Krakow at Night
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take from Krakow to Zakopane?
The distance between Krakow and Zakopane is about 110 km. It usually takes approximately 2 hours to travel between the two destinations by bus or car. However, travel time may vary depending on traffic and weather conditions.
What are the best transportation options between Krakow and Zakopane?
There are several transportation options for travelling between Krakow and Zakopane. They include:
- Bus: Buses operate regularly between the two destinations and are a budget-friendly choice. They typically take around 2 hours to reach Zakopane.
- Car: If you prefer more flexibility and convenience, you can rent a car and drive to Zakopane. The journey should take about 2 hours as well.
- Private Transfer: For a more comfortable and hassle-free experience, you can book a private transfer from Krakow to Zakopane.
What are some must-see attractions in Zakopane during summer?
Some must-see attractions in Zakopane during the summer include:
- Kasprowy Wierch Furnicular: Offering spectacular panoramic views of the Tatra Mountains.
- Gubalowka Hill: Accessible by funicular, it offers stunning views of both the mountains and Zakopane town.
- Tatra National Park: Ideal for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area.
- Morskie Oko Lake: A picturesque lake surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes.
How can I plan a 4-day itinerary to explore Krakow and Zakopane?
Here’s a 4-day itinerary suggestion to explore both Krakow and Zakopane:
- Day 1: Explore Krakow’s Old Town, visit Wawel Castle, and St. Mary’s Basilica.
- Day 2: Half-day trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp then return and explore more of Krakow in the afternoon.
- Day 3: Travel to Zakopane and spend the day visiting Gubalowka Hill, Kasprowy Wierch, or hiking in the Tatra National Park.
- Day 4: Explore the architecture of Zakopane; visit Krupówki Street and the Church of Our Lady of Czestochowa before returning to Krakow in the afternoon.
What is the ideal day trip from Krakow to Tatra Mountains?
The ideal day trip from Krakow to the Tatra Mountains involves travelling to Zakopane in the morning, visiting Gubalowka Hill and Kasprowy Wierch by funicular, and perhaps some hiking in the Tatra National Park depending on your interests. You can also explore Zakopane’s unique local architecture and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Krupówki Street before heading back to Krakow in the evening.
Are there any tips or recommendations for a Zakopane travel guide?
- Plan ahead: Research your preferred attractions and activities in advance to make the most of your trip.
- Hiking: If hiking is on your agenda, ensure you have appropriate footwear, supplies, and a detailed map of the trails you intend to explore.
- Weather: Check the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes, as mountain weather can be unpredictable.
- Local cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to try some authentic local dishes like Oscypek (smoked cheese) or traditional Polish placki (potato pancakes).
- Accommodation: Book accommodation in advance, as Zakopane can get busy during the summer months and popular holidays.