Two hours (100 kms) south of Krakow, Zakopane is a popular resort town with the Poles, both in summer and winter. Set in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains, the town is dotted with oldworld wooden chalets topped by high, sloping slate grey roofs. Wander down Krupówki Street and the Gubałówka Market to shop for local souvenirs like wooden handicrafts and high quality leather products.Taste the typical Zakopane cheese, oscypek, a salty, smoked sheep’s milk cheese often served grilled with a dab of cranberry marmalade. Take the cable car up Kasprowy Wierch for a view of the mountains that separate Poland from Slovakia. Advanced skiers can take to two skiing and snowboarding pistes here or try the horse-drawn sleigh ride in the Tatra National Park to admire the winter landscape while ensconced under warm sheepskin.The best place to sample the local highlander cuisine is the rustic restaurant Bakowo Zohylina Wyźnio which hosts lively folk music and dance performances.
Since childhood I have always been fascinated by mountains. Family trips of summer in the lower Himalayan hill stations like Darjeeling, Gangtok, etc. in India, has always been stuck in my mind and played a very important role in making me a genuine lover of the mountain and hilly landscapes.So it comes as no surprise that wherever I go to travel in the world, I always search for hills and mountains near that place. That is why, when I went to live in the lovely central European country of Poland, I could not hold myself to check out it’s beautiful mountain range called the Tatra mountains.Tatra mountains are part of Carpethian mountain range and situated in the south of Poland, marking it’s border with nearby country Slovakia. In the valley of Tatra, the town of Zakopane is situated which is arguably the most famous hill station of Poland both in summer and winter. Thousands of mountain lovers visit the town everyday to trek in summer and for skiing and other winter sports in the winter.I arrived to Zakopane in the beginning of August with my girlfriend, with the goal to trek and explore the beautiful Tatra national park and its mountain peaks for a week. Zakopane is just a couple of hour bus ride from the most famous city of southern Poland Krakow.We booked a room is a family-run hostel on the southern edge of the town, just half a kilometer away from the entrance of Tatra National Park. All the trekking and skiing trails of Tatra mountains are situated inside the national park and for better maintenance of nature and wildlife of the park, the entry is partly restricted and 5 złoty (Polish currency, 1 euro = 4.2 złoty) ticket need to be bought for entering the park. After entering the room we opened the back door to a lovely terrace where the beautiful view of the national park was waiting to welcome us.
Next, I was in Zakopane, Poland, in the Tatra Mountains, near the border with Slovakia. I loved it there, but unfortunately, it’s still raining quite a bit. It was absolutely beautiful, and pretty cheap too. Sure it was offcseason, but even in the off season in a similar town back home (say, Breckenridge), a hotel room hasn’t been had for $13 since 1947. And then there’s the meals…amazingly delicious, and huge meals, all at TGI Friday’s prices…and good beer for cheap too! And after a day of hiking in the cold rain, nothing beats a nice porter, with a garnish that’ll make you feel like you’re on the beach.