Poland is a destination that gets overlooked by many ski enthusiasts and nature lovers.  That’s unfortunate, because in addition to world-class skiing that’s on par with the skiing at many of the most famous ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy, Zakopane also provides its guests with friendly Polish hospitality and exceptional natural sights.

Some of you may not be very familiar with Zakopane.  If you don’t know much about this small Polish resort town and what it has to offer, here’s a little background information:

First, it’s important to know that Zakopane has an exceptional location, tucked in at the base of the breathtaking Tatra Mountains.  The town is informally referred to as “Poland’s Winter Sports Capital” because of the terrific mountain climbing, skiing and snowboarding opportunities it presents.  But winter sports aren’t the only things Zakopane offers to its visitors.

Breathtaking views of the nearby Tatra Mountains are a fact of life for travelers staying in Zakopane hotels, but the area features many other exceptional sights.  The Tatra Mountains deserve more than just a passing mention, though.  They’re the highest range in the rugged Carpathians, and they serve as a natural border between Poland and neighboring Slovakia.  The Giewont (a mountain comprised of three individual peaks, two of which can be seen from Zakopane) is the highest mountain in the Tatras and provides a unique backdrop for the town. 

Interestingly, the Giewont’s three peaks are also at the root of an ancient Polish legend.  In short, the Polish people have always believed that a bold and brave knight, currently asleep, will awake and come to their defense in times of need.  The body of the sleeping knight is thought to be the three peaks that form the Giewont.  Whether you’re Polish or not, and whether it’s the impact of the legend or just the natural beauty of the place, the Giewont is an interesting and inspiring place to go for a hike.

Speaking of hikes, nearby Morskie Oko Lake is a terrific spot for a relaxing, scenic walk in the country while you’re visiting Zakopane.  It’s a great place to go after a day of visiting the historical sites and museums in Zakopane itself. 

Today, Zakopane is often called “Poland’s Winter Sports Capital,” but it has also been the country’s cultural capital.  Even if one of the people in your traveling party isn’t into skiing or hiking, he or she will still be able to find lots to see and do in Zakopane.  For one thing, interesting architecture is located throughout the town.  When you throw in the town’s museums, colorful shops, and charming cafés and restaurants, there’s plenty to do.

Naturally, you’ll need a place to stay while you’re visiting Zakopane.  The town has numerous accommodation options, and they come in all price ranges.  You can look for hotel deals whenever you’re ready to plan your trip.