When it comes to choosing a holiday destination, no matter what time of year or what activity you want to do there are hundreds of choices. If you search on-line for walking holidays you are shown options in and around the UK, skiing and snowboarding holiday searches bring up endless options in France, Italy, Canada and the US and if you are looking for a relaxing short break you would most likely find your local health spa. Unfortunately for far to long, Zakopane, Poland has remained hidden on these results pages. There is no doubting the quality of a holiday skiing in the French Alps or walking in the Italian Dolomites in summer but have you ever considered a trip to the Tatra Mountains in Poland?
The Tatra Mountains form a natural border between Poland and Slovakia and are the largest mountains in the Carpathian Mountain range. Not only do the Tatra mountains provide opportunities for hiking, rafting and climbing in the summer months but come winter they provide picturesque slopes for skiers and snowboarders.
Zakopane is located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland and is visited annually by around three million tourists. It is regarded as Poland’s winter sports capital and is a popular destination for both mountaineering and skiing.
If we start with January, Zakopane is in mid winter and is a hive of skiing and snowboarding activity. Festive lights still hung through the streets in the centre of the town and snow falling all around, make Zakopane feel like a true winter wonderland. There are cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs all the way up Krupowki (the centre of Zakopane) offering a warm and welcoming rest place from the crisp winter weather. Heavy snowfalls in Zakopane are the norm during the winter months so shelter from the cold and a warm meal are never far away. Poland has not yet adopted the Euro currency and although it will one day prices in Poland currently offer great value for money.
February in Zakopane is a busy time of year as Polish school holidays are split into different regions. This means the school holiday period gets drawn out over the whole month and the Polish people love to visit Zakopane to ski and snowboard. As March and April comes around the town seems to breathe a sigh of relief as tourism slows down and spring weather begins to come through with heavy snowfalls and hot clear days.
It is then not until the summer months of June through until September that the tourists return to Zakopane to see the transformed Tatra Mountains as they take on there new green look for summer. Walking and hiking is a must in Zakopane during the summer, with hundreds of options to choose from you can walk for days and days taking in the sights from different points around the Tatra Mountains. A common choice in summer is the walk to Morskie Oko, once you make your way up the 9km trail you enter through a small pass and discover a lake surrounded by mountains, the largest lake in the Tatras. To get to Morskie Oko from Zakopane there is a regular bus that takes you through to the start point of the walk at Lysa Polana. A definite must see during a trip to Zakopane.
So back to winter and the ski slopes in Zakopane usually begin to open around mid November when the snow is deep enough for the skiers to return. Once again the town turns back into a winter wonderland and the winter weather sets in.
Zakopane really is a holiday destination worth a visit, as you can see above it offers more than just a cheap Eastern European holiday. Accommodation in the town ranges from self catered very cheap rooms to catered chalets and luxury hotels. The one thing to be aware of in Zakopane is that it is a big town and accommodation can be found on the Internet that is in an area recognised as Zakopane but is actually a long long way from the centre of the town and all the major facilities.
If you are planning a trip it would be best to consult a travel company that specializes in holidays to the area such, as White Side Holidays Poland.