Zakopane is a town in the extreme south of Poland, in the southern part of the Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. From 1975 to 1998, it was part of Nowy Sącz Voivodeship; since 1999, it has been part of Lesser Poland Voivodeship. As of 2017 its population was 27,266. Zakopane is a centre of Goral culture and is often referred to as “the winter capital of Poland”. It is a popular destination for mountaineering, skiing, and tourism.
Zakopane lies near Poland’s border with Slovakia, in a valley between the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill. It can be reached by train or bus from the provincial capital, Kraków, about two hours away. Zakopane lies 800–1,000 metres above sea level and centres on the intersection of its Krupówki and Kościuszko Streets.
There is a network of well-marked hiking trails in the Tatras and according to the national park regulations the hikers must stick to them. Most of these trails are overcrowded, especially in the summer season.
In summer, lightning and snow are both potential hazards for climbers, and the weather can change quickly. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons. In winter the snow can be up to several meters deep.
In the winter, thousands arrive in Zakopane to ski, especially around Christmas and in February. The most popular skiing areas are Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. There are a number of cross country skiing trails in the forests surrounding the town.
Zakopane hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1929, 1939, and 1962; the winter Universiades in 1956, 1993, and 2001; the biathlon World Championship; several ski jumping world cups; and several Nordic combined, Nordic and Alpine European Cups. It hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1939, the first outside the Alps and the last official world championships.
Closest airports to Zakopane
The nearest airport to Zakopane is Poprad (TAT). However, there are better options for getting to Zakopane. FlixBus operates a bus from Kraków Airport to Zakopane, Dworzec Autobusowy 5 times a week. Tickets cost $10 – $13 and the journey takes 2h 50m. Alternatively, Railways of Slovak Republic (ZSSK) operates a train from Bratislava Hlavna Stanica to Liptovsky Mikulas every 2 hours. Tickets cost $14 – $22 and the journey takes 2h 58m.