If you’ve heard of Zakopane, it’s probably been in the context of skiing. After all, Zakopane is one of Poland’s most popular ski destinations, which is why it’s called the “Winter Capital of Poland.” But it’s also a popular place for summertime hiking through the rugged Carpathian Mountains. The region is loaded with hiking trails all the way south to the country’s border with Slovakia.
Zakopane is only about a two-hour drive from Krakow. As you get closer, you’ll start seeing hills that get progressively higher. Eventually, the terrain starts resembling something you might expect to see in the Alps of Western Europe. The countryside is scenic, to say the least.
Zakopane itself is an attractive little town of about 30,000. Its streets are lined with trees and inviting shops and restaurants. Every year, this pretty little town gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million visitors. That’s both good and bad news. It’s bad because it means if you go there during the winter, you could be elbow-to-elbow with an army of fellow skiers. And it’s almost as popular during the summer. So what’s the good news?
Well, there are plenty of Zakopane hotels and restaurants to accommodate all of the town’s visitors. You might see some street entertainers during the summer. You’ll find some picturesque chalets on the outskirts of town. But winter and summer, the nearby mountains are the best thing of all. You can hike or take a funicular to the top of a nearby mountain for some amazing views of the town. Even better, during the summer you can go on some scenic treks through the mountains. You’ll encounter lush pine forests, towering cliffs, stunning views down the valleys, hiking lodges (for breaks, snacks and refreshments) and some interesting ascents and descents.
Besides being marvelous exercise and giving your eyes a real treat, hiking in the mountains around Zakopane is a great break from the town center’s hustle and bustle. In the evenings you can return to town to enjoy some delicious Polish cuisine at one of the local restaurants. Then go to one of the pubs that have an outdoor terrace or sitting area, order your favorite beverage, and kick back and relax. You’ll appreciate the views and the chance to recuperate from a strenuous day. You might even be entertained by a group performing traditional Polish music. At the end of the day, you’ll be tired, but you’ll also feel a terrific sense of achievement.
Now that we’re in the Age of the Internet, it’s easy to book Zakopane hotels. You’ll be able to choose a hotel in the price range and location you prefer without needing to leave your home. Start thinking about it soon – you won’t find a better place for mountain hiking.Google+