About Zakopane Ski Resort
Based at the foot of the Tatra Mountains in eastern Poland, Zakopane is not just a place to stay for people wishing to experience some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Eastern Europe; it is a colourful and thriving example of why tourism in Poland has expanded in recent years and will continue to do so for some time. Of course Zakopane has the luxury of being overlooked by a magnificent mountain range attracting millions of people both in winter for skiing and summer for hiking, climbing and camping. However, take away the mountain-based activities and the town of Zakopane has something for everyone.
Anybody wishing to take time out from skiing need not worry about being bored in Zakopane. The main street through the centre of town (Krupowki) is full of variety and easy to navigate around, as it is simply a straight road stretching through the heart of Zakopane. Through Christmas and New Year the Krupowki is beautifully decorated with stylish lights that fit the mood of the town perfectly. Combine this with the snowy mountain backdrop and the snow filled streets and Zakopane at this time has a truly wonderful feeling to it. Throughout the year you will find the Krupowki filled with a number of street artists helping keep the town alive with colour and fun. The Krupowki has restricted access to cars however it is advisable to keep an eye out for the odd car skidding there way up the often-icy street.
Whether it is shopping, eating, drinking or you are just looking for things to do this guide will tell you what you could expect to find in Zakopane.
If you are looking for souvenirs from your holiday you need not look very far, The Krupowki is full of local people selling a variety of cultural souvenirs as well as the usual array of tourist souvenirs you would expect to find. You will find shops selling almost everything you could possibly think of along the Krupowki, clothes shops covering all shapes, sizes and designer makes. Sports shops selling all the equipment you could possibly need to venture into the mountains or just to grab a sledge to have some fun sliding down some of the local streets and hills. If you want to get a more local feel for the town you can venture to the bottom of Krupowki and just across the road is a buzzing traditional market selling locally made jackets, rugs, paintings, carvings, delicacies and a selection of other goods including real live St Bernard puppies, probably a good idea to try and resist the urge to take one home! Whilst you are shopping you will definitely see many stalls selling Oscypek, a locally produced cheese from sheep’s milk. It is definitely worth a try and comes in all shapes and sizes, if you are not to adventurous you can buy Oscypek made up in simple cheese strings or why not try a freshly grilled slice? There are banks, chemists and post offices dotted all around Zakopane so you need not worry about a thing.
Prices in the shops are very reasonable for such a popular tourist area, there is nobody trying to make quick money from tourists in Zakopane as you get the feeling local people are happy that tourists are visiting there town and helping it to grown into an increasingly popular destination. If you need help whilst shopping smile nicely and you will find a lot of people do speak some English. Learn your way to the Krupowki and any shopping you may wish to take home from Zakopane will be found somewhere there.
The Krupowki and one of the traditional market stalls.
A few shops to look out for along the Krupowki
If you forget something or you just want to get some new clothes in Zakopane there are plenty of places to look but for a big choice at good prices look out for – CROPP TOWN and RESERVED
If you need sportswear for skiing/snowboarding or any summer activities there are many large shops selling top of the range brands, however keep an eye out for the smaller local ski shops such as SNOW EKSPERT, where you can buy quality equipment at cheaper prices and also get any of your own equipment serviced
Eating and Drinking
One thing Zakopane is definitely not short of is places to have a good meal and a few drinks. Again the majority of bars, pubs and restaurants are found scattered down the Krupowki but before getting drawn towards the golden arches of McDonalds or the colonels smiley face slapped on the side of KFC you should definitely take a look inside some of the towns local restaurants. The local restaurants are easy to find in town as they all have restaurant signs outside and the majority are located inside the traditional wooden buildings that give the Krupowki is elegant look. If you are willing to give the local food a try you are guaranteed to find some tasty dishes and you will often get more than just a meal, as local bands can be found inside many restaurants dressed in traditional outfits and enthusiastically blasting out there traditional highland folk music.
The prices of food in town vary as they do anywhere but the value is in the local food, it is similarly priced to the likes of Pizza Hut and KFC but you can expect to leave with a full stomach and a new taste in your mouth. If you want to eat somewhere Polish but stick to the food you know then you might want to (definitely want to if you are male) check out Roosters, a Polish version of the American Hooters the menu covers pasta, pizza, burgers and salads. This is also a good place to just sit and drink if you fancy a few drinks or a place to start a night out; it has a relaxed atmosphere with its American style interior, good music and sport on the televisions. On average you can expect to pay around 20-30zl for a good meal in the centre of town.
If however you are looking for a place to go for a special occasion or you just fancy treating yourself there are a number of more up market places to eat in Zakopane that wont leave you disappointed. The Belvedere Hotel, well known as the best hotel in Zakopane is host to two wonderful restaurants both of which are open to everybody. The first restaurant situated on the second floor serves traditional Polish food, cooked with the very best ingredients. If you do not fancy the local food then there is a perfect second choice located on the ground floor that serves dishes from around the world.
When you have enjoyed a meal in one of Zakopane’s many restaurants then surely it must be time for a few drinks. Whether you want to go for an all night party or you just wish to enjoy a quiet cocktail, Zakopane has everything for a good night out. Look out in the bars for the local favourites of mulled wine (Grzaniec) and warm beers with fruit juice.
Host to nine nightclubs and plenty of bars and pubs you can take your pick as to the kind of night out you want to have. The Krupowki can be just as lively at night as it is during the day and you will not feel at all threatened walking around at any time. Bars generally close at around 12 o’clock and nightclubs somewhere around 3-4 o’clock with taxis operating around the clock to make sure you get home safely.
If you do not want to do much walking between bars on your night out then you may want to start off in Paparazzi, a stylish cocktail bar with a relaxed friendly atmosphere situated just off the Krupowki. From there you can simply cross the road into Genesis a large nightclub playing a selection of different styles of music. If you are more of an adventurer and want to visit every bar in Zakopane in one night then you can work your way up from the bottom end of the Krupowki where you will find the likes of Roosters. You can then move up the street stopping at a selection of places, Morskie Oko, a nightclub but also a good stop off point for a few drinks as it opens early and has plenty of seats, Seagrams, the only Irish bar in Zakopane and then up to the top of the Krupowki stopping at any bars on the way. At the top of the Krupowki you will find 3 nightclubs all within touching distance of each other, Prestige, a small underground nightclub with a friendly atmosphere and across the street Wierchy, a large commercial nightclub which can feel a bit too big for Zakopane at times. Next door to Wierchy is Blue Star, a new well sized European style nightclub with sofas, televisions, a long bar and Zakopane’s only non-smoking venue.
So if you are not drinking, eating, shopping, skiing or walking around the mountains in Zakopane what else can you be doing? Well the answer is a long one; there are plenty of other activities for people to do. If you have children or you just want to relax for a day then why not visit Zakopane’s new Aqua Park, a short walk from the centre of town. Complete with saunas, steam rooms, swimming pools and water slides the aqua park also has its own pizzeria and ten-pin bowling lanes making for a perfect day out for the whole family.
If you are looking for something to do in the evening then there is a pool hall at the bottom of the Krupowki with 8 American pool tables, a table football table and a number of games machines. This is another good venue for a whole night out as downstairs from the pool hall there is a pizzeria restaurant and the Finlandia nightclub. Finlandia is a reasonable size and tends to be more of a locals nightclub but you will definitely be made to feel welcome, nobody wants any trouble and everyone in there just wants to have a good time.
American Pool Hall and Finlandia Nightclub
Depending upon the season in Zakopane you may want to take some time out to try driving a skidoo or flying around a dirt track on a quad bike. Either way the companies operating these tours will take you into areas of the forest and lower regions of the mountains that you would not get to on foot.
If all you want to do is relax, then there are many places in Zakopane where you can be pampered. The Belvedere hotel has a designated wellness centre where you can choose from a large selection of massage and beauty treatments or indulge in a Finnish dry sauna. You will also find a swimming pool, water slide, pool tables, ten-pin bowling, a golf simulator, a basketball court and squash courts within the Belvedere hotel again open to everyone to use. Another hotel providing similar facilities to the Belvedere is the Litwor Hotel located right in the middle of the Krupowki; the Litwor has a spa, swimming pool area and a number of beauty treatments available.
Another main attraction to Zakopane is the world cup ski jump, attracting thousands of people when the main event comes to town, the ski jumping world cup. If you are in Zakopane when the ski jumping is on you cannot avoid the hype as the whole town goes crazy. However, if you are not in town during the actual world cup you can still take in the spectacle of the ski jump as for a small price you can take the stairs to the top of the ski jump and imagine you are Eddie the Eagle himself. Not that you can jump but the sheer thought of taking off from the top will be enough to make you glad your stood behind a glass window.
The ski jump in Zakopane
What do things cost?
1 GBP = At time of writing ROUGHLY 4.80 PLN (zl) (over the last 4 years the rate has bounced between a low of 4zl/ £1 and a high of 6zl / £1
- 500ml bottle of water – 2zl in a shop – 3zl in a restaurant
- 500ml bottle of Coke – 3.50zl in a shop – up to 6zl in a restaurant
- Large beer – 3.50zl in a shop – up to 7zl in a bar/club/restaurant
- A pizza – 10zl for a margarita up to 30zl
- A burger/pasta meal – 20zl
- Meal of the day in a local restaurant – 15zl
- A St Bernard puppy from the market – 250zl – 500zl
NB- All prices above are estimates at time of writing (2006)
How do I say?
|Hi! (Also used for Bye!)
|Hello / Good day
|Excuse me / Sorry
|Enjoy your meal