Zakopane is a city in the mountains, located 100 km south of Krakow. It is the Polish winter capital, crowded throughout the year by thousands of tourists.
Zakopane – Polish town in the heart of Tatra Mountains
Historians say that Zakopane already existed in the XVII century. And the name “Zakopane” means something buried.
Zakopane has become a tourist destination since the beginning of the 20th century, initially among Poles. However, since 1989, when Poland emerged from Russia’s influence, the era of international tourism in this mountain region began. Many farmers found work in tourism.
What particularly attracts people to Zakopane are the views – the town is located in the Carpathian Mountains and the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. This is where people came to admire the mountains, climb them. Or to have contact with the beautiful nature of the Carpathians. Thanks to its geographical location, there is a winter for almost half a year.
Children and adults come to Zakopane to ski or snowboard on the surrounding hills and mountains. After that they relax in hot springs near Zakopane.
The Tatras are an indispensable element of every tourist’s journey to this area. Their largest peak is Rysy – 2499 meters high. It is the largest peak in Poland but it is not the largest peak of the Tatra Mountains. Poland divides the Tatra Mountains together with Slovakia. From here it is possible to enter Rysy from the Polish and Slovak side.
Morskie Oko is a very important tourist stop. It is one of the mountain lakes, to which a very easy asphalt route leads. Hikes to Rysy and the surrounding peaks are organised from the mountain lodge at Morskie Oko. The lake is unique in its kind – it was created as a remnant of a glacier.
The inhabitants of Zakopane and the Podhale region form their own ethnic group. They are different from the Cracovians, because they have a separate dialect of Polish language, other folklore and folk costumes, completely different mountain architecture, music, dances as well as specific regional cuisine – which you must try.
For instance the most famous local delicacies that you can find in Podhale are:
Oscypek – a regional smoked sheep’s cheese.
Kwaśnica – sauerkraut soup with meat and potatoes, served with bread.
Zbójnicki pancake – potato pancake served with goulash.
Below there is a film with highlander music and dances.
Sports in Zakopane
As Zakopane is the winter capital of Poland. We must mention Sport in this region is very important. In the south of Zakopane you can visit ski jumping hill. It was built on the slope of Krokiew mountain. Where training and international ski jumping tournaments are held.
Every year, Polish Television broadcasts an international ski tournament from Zakopane. As a result, ski jumping is the favourite sport of Poles during each winter. Polish jumpers have taken high places in the general classification for many years.
In Zakopane, also in the past took place the World Championships in Biathlon, Nordic and Alpine Skiing and Speed Skating. In last years Zakopane was applying to be host of Winter Olympics.