3 zile in Zakopane – Ce sa faci in cea mai renumita statiune din Polonia

A wonderful place in the heart of the Tatra mountains, a beautiful mountain town and one of the main tourist spots in Poland, is Zakopane. With numerous hiking trails, ski slopes, places to relax and extraordinary landscapes, Zakopane is the perfect destination for all nature lovers.

We spent a short vacation in Zakopane, and we really liked it! We walked, relaxed and enjoyed the whole mountain scenery that welcomed us here. I invite you to discover the resort of Zakopane and the Tatra mountains, with the hope that I will convince you to put this place on your list of future trips.

About Zakopane

Zakopane is a small mountain town in southern Poland, close to the border with Slovakia. The city is located in a valley between the Tatra Mountains and the Gubałówka Hill, a location that offers beautiful landscapes, from any part of the city you look at.

Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains, seen from Gubałówka Hill
Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains, seen from Gubałówka Hill

Zakopane is a very popular tourist destination in Poland. In the winter it attracts snow sports enthusiasts, and during the rest of the year the resort offers a lot of activities in the mountains or in nature, thanks to the numerous hikes that can be done here. Besides these aspects, tourism in Zakopane is very well developed in terms of promoting local culture, traditions and gastronomy, and the resort is very chic and authentic.

Poland is a member of the European Union, and the official currency of the country is the zloty: 1 zloty = 0.22 euro (November 2023).

How to get to Zakopane

By plane in Zakopane

The nearest airport to Zakopane is in Krakow, just over 100 kilometers away. There are different modes of transport to travel from Krakow to Zakopane: bus, train, taxi or rental car.

If you come to Krakow, I advise you to set aside a few days to visit the wonderful Polish city and the tourist attractions in the area. We really liked Krakow, which I invite you to discover in this article: City Break Krakow, Poland: What to Visit 3 Days in Krakow.

Tip: From Krakow you can take a day trip to Zakopane. You have a few hours at your disposal to visit the center of the resort, take the funicular up Gubałówka hill and relax at one of the largest spa centers in Poland, Chocholow Hot Thermal Bath Pools: Krakow: Zakopane Tour with Hot Bath Pools.

By car in Zakopane

We arrived in Zakopane by car, and if you are living close to Poland, I recommend that you do the same. You will be more flexible, you can make several stops on the way, and in Zakopane you can easily move from one point to another. We took advantage of this and stopped on the way for a short visit in the cities of Kosice, in Slovakia (our friends from GhidulTauOnline.ro have a comprehensive guide about Kosice), and on the way back to Miskolc, in Hungary.

Tatra mountains seen from the highway in Slovakia

Parking in Zakopane

If you travel by car in Zakopane, it's good to know a few things about parking. After a few days spent here, I was left with the feeling that you need to pay for parking almost everywhere! At the accommodation we paid for parking (there are many accommodation units that require additional payment for parking), in the center of the resort we paid for parking, near the points of interest in the area we paid for parking.

  • In the center of the resort, in the private parking lots, you have to pay 10 zlotys/hour.
  • On the street, you pay through the app or directly at the vending machine, and 30 minutes costs 5 zlotys. The vending machineis quite difficult to use, and the application does not always work. But the good part is that, on weekends, the parking on the street is free!
  • At the accommodation we paid 30 zlotys/night for parking.
  • In the parking lot at the beginning of the trail to Morskie Oko we paid 69 zlotys for the whole day.
  • In the parking lot at the base of the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch we paid 20 zlotys for the whole day.
Morskie Oko
Morskie Oko

Where to stay in Zakopane

Zakopane has many beautiful accommodations, with breakfast included or with spa and wellness center facilities, at decent prices, lower than you would find in Western European countries.

We stayed at the Rezydencja Gubałówka, a superb accommodation, on the Gubałówka hill, 6 kilometers from the center of Zakopane. For 3 nights we paid 270 euros/2 people, with a very good breakfast and access to the indoor pool and sauna. We had to pay extra for parking 30 zlotys/night. The location also has a restaurant or a playroom for children, and nearby is the market in Gubałówka and the funicular to the center of the Zakopane resort.

What to do for 3 days in Zakopane

We spent 3 beautiful autumn days in Zakopane. We traveled at the end of October, and had exceptional weather for this time of year. Compared to the months of December-March, when Zakopane is full of winter sports enthusiasts, or in the summer, when most people have holidays and vacations, October and November are considered quieter months. But even so, we met a surprising number of tourists here.


Day 1

On the first day, we arrived in Zakopane around 1 p.m., and our first stop was at the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. In the afternoon we spent exploring the center of the Zakopane resort, and in the evening we relaxed in a hot jacuzzi at the hotel.

Kasprowy Wierch

Kasprowy Wierch is a mountain peak in the Tatra Mountains, with an altitude of 1987 meters. You can reach the top by hiking, but the option we chose was by cable car.

Kasprowy Wierch

We took the cable car from here, and left the car in a private parking lot, one kilometer away from the base of the cable car, for which we paid 20 zlotys for the whole day. It is important to know that you cannot reach the cable car by car, you will have to walk at least one kilometer from the parking lot to the place where the cable car starts. But be careful which parking lots you choose. The first time we arrived at a parking lot where we were asked for 30 zlotys, without the possibility of paying by card. Since we didn't have zlotys in cash yet, we had to pay either with the card or in euros. He asked us for 10 euros in cash, which we thought was a scam (10 euros = 45 zlotys). We then went to the nearby parking lot, where we could pay 20 zlotys, with card, nice and elegant.

The walk from the parking lot was pleasant, and when we reached the base of the cable car, we were greeted by a small tourist village. We bought the cable car tickets directly from the counter, and a return ticket costs 99 zlotys/adult and 79 zlotys/child in the off-season, respectively 129 zlotys/adult or 109 zlotys/child during the summer. However, if you will travel in more crowded periods, I recommend you to buy the tickets online. We stood in line for almost half an hour to buy the tickets, in October. The last ascent was at 3:30 p.m.

Kasprowy Wierch

The ascent takes around 20 minutes, and in the middle of the route you need to change and climb into another cable car.

Arriving at the top, we were extremely pleasant surprised by all the scenery and images we could see from here. The view is wonderful, on one side you can see the whole city of Zakopane, but also the impressive ridges of the Tatra mountains.

Kasprowy Wierch can be a starting point for various hikes or mountain trails, and in winter the place is famous for the skiing and snowboarding slope.

The center of the Zakopane resort – Krupowki street

The main street in Zakopane is Krupowki. A lively pedestrian street in the center of the resort, with a lot of shops, restaurants with Polish characteristics and authentic wooden buildings, is the place most visited by tourists in the city of Zakopane.

Also here you can find different markets and shopping markets, where you can buy souvenirs, clothes or handicrafts.

We really liked the atmosphere on this street: a typical atmosphere of a mountain town, with many tourists serving mulled wine on the street and with very nice and cosy restaurants, which seemed to invite you inside, to the warmth and a glass of hot chocolate. It is the perfect place to go out for dinner in the evening, after a day full of activities.

Day 2

You can't come to Zakopane and not do at least one hike. That's what we did on the second day of our trip, choosing the most popular mountain trail from here, towards Morskie Oko lake, a suitable trail for the less physically active or for families with small children.

Morskie Oko

Morskie Oko

Morskie Oko, or "Eye of the Sea" in Polish, is one of the most beautiful and largest mountain lakes in the Tatra Mountains. A glacial lake, surrounded by mountain peaks, with a superb landscape and an easy hiking trail, is one of the most sought tourist attractions in Zakopane and in the Tatra Mountains. It is the place that every traveler puts on his list when he comes to Zakopane!

And now some information about the trail...

The trail is one of low difficulty, on an asphalted road from the beginning to the end. Perhaps the only challenge is the distance (about 10 kilometers each way), and the slightly ascent to the lake.

Morskie Oko
How to get to the trail to Morskie Oko

The trail to Morskie Oko starts from Palenica Bialczanska, located 24 kilometers from the center of Zakopane.

The easiest way to get here is by car, but you also have buses, which run quite often. There are two parking lots for your car, at Palenica Bialczanska, close to where the trail starts, or at Łysa Polana, 1.5 kilometers further.

I recommend you to buy your ticket for parking online, for a lower price, and to start as early as possible, to find places at the nearest parking lot. If you don't have an online parking ticket, you risk not being able to find it on the spot, during very busy periods, or the prices may increase significantly. And believe us, Morskie Oko can get very crowded, even on a Sunday in October! 

We were not very well prepared and did not know all these aspects. We waited almost an hour to park our car in the second parking lot, although we did not travel on a day in full season. In addition, we paid on the spot a rather large amount for parking, 69 zlotys per day.

Trail to Morskie Oko

To get to the Morskie Oko lake, you need to pay an entrance ticket of 9 zlotys to enter the Tatra Natural Park. From here to the lake, a 9-kilometer road of low difficulty awaits you, which can be covered in 2-3 hours, if you don't take long breaks and walk at a constant pace.

I admit, the trail is not very impressive, it is like a walk through the forest on an asphalted road, surrounded by many other tourists who take the same route through the forest with you, and as long as the route lasts, the landscape does not change much. But the walk is pleasant, and you have several stops on the way, where you can rest or go to the toilet.

However, I recommend you to have some food with you, in case you get hungry. There is no place to buy food on the route, only at the lake, where you will find a restaurant.

At the end, the hike can become a bit tiring, after a few kilometers of continuous uphill, but the destination is wonderful! You will be greeted by a fascinating mountain picture, and you will understand why this place is so visited by tourists.

Morskie Oko

It is good to know that, if your physical condition does not allow you to walk 2-3 hours to the lake, there are horse-drawn carriages that can take you close to the lake for a fee.

Morskie Oko
Alternative hikes from Morskie Oko

After you have completed the trail to Morskie Oko, here you can choose to go further, on other trails, or to return.

If you still have some time, you can take a tour of the lake on foot, a tour that lasts around an hour. Or you can choose to continue your hike to the other lake in the area, Czarny Staw. Just be careful that here the degree of difficulty of the hike increases and it is more complicated to reach than to Morskie Oko lake.

Morskie Oko

We didn't get further than the panoramic point from the lake, and that's mainly because of time. In the autumn months, it gets dark quite quickly (around 4-5 p.m.), and we wanted to get back to the car before it got dark. The whole hike, with the round trip, a few breaks along the way and a longer stop at the lake, took us about 6 hours.

Day 3

After a physically demanding day, the third day was more for relaxation. We had the first part of the day for walking around Zakopane and Gubalowka, and in the afternoon we spent it in a wonderful spa center.


From Zakopane, I definitely recommend taking the funicular and going up the Gubałówka hill.

A funicular ticket costs 29 zlotys round trip, and can be purchased directly from the station. The cable car starts directly from the center of the Zakopane resort.

At the top, in Gubałówka, you will have a wonderful view of the Tatra mountains and the city. The Gubałówka hill is located in the northwestern part of the city of Zakopane, almost in the opposite direction of the Tatra mountains.


At the funicular station we were greeted by a small tourist village, with many restaurants, shops, playgrounds for children (adventure parks) and stalls of all kinds: with souvenirs, with local food, with handicrafts or clothes.

About 1 kilometer west of the funicular station in Gubałówka, we came across one of the most beautiful places in Zakopane. At the top of the ski area  you have an absolutely spectacular view, with the Tatra mountains rising above the city of Zakopane. We sat down on the grass, drank a coffee, raised the drone, and enjoyed the most peaceful and fulfilling moments spent in the beautiful Polish resort, in a very special setting.


Chochołowskie Thermal Baths

We wanted to end this short vacation in the most pleasant way possible, at the largest and most elegant spa center in the area.

The thermal baths of Chocholow are located 15 kilometers from Zakopane, and have numerous thermal pools with hot water, both inside and outside. The water temperature in most pools is 36 degrees, so the thermal baths can be visited throughout the year. Outside there are two pools, on two levels, and at the bottom pool you will find a bar where you can serve drinks directly from the pool.

Chochołowskie Thermal Baths

We were very impressed by the location, especially by the outdoor pools. We recreated and relaxed, rested and enjoyed the feeling of well-being that this activity gave us.

We paid 75 zlotys/person for a 3-hour entrance ticket. A one-day ticket costs 105 zlotys/adult, 85 zlotys/child during the week, or 129 zlotys/adult, 109 zlotys/child during the weekend. You can find more information about prices on the official site

The complex is open daily, until 10 o'clock in the evening, and offers various other spa services, such as sauna or massages, and places to serve meals. Parking is free.

Other activities in Zakopane

Zakopane is a very attractive touristic center, with a lot of activities for tourists of all ages, and suitable for any season.

During spring-summer-autumn, you can choose from the various hikes and climbing trails that you can do in the Tatra Mountains:

  • Droga pod Reglami – Dolina Białego – Sarnia Skała – Strążyska Valley – 8 km trail, high difficulty
  • Palenica Białczańska – Five Polish Ponds Valley – Morskie Oko – 22 km trail, high difficulty
  • Kuznice – Koscielec – 16.6 km, high difficulty
  • Strążyska Valley – Siklawica Waterfall – 5 km, medium difficulty

And if you are a winter sports enthusiast, you should know that in the area you can find many ski and snowboard areas that you can try, such as Kasprowy Wierch, Nosal and Gubałówka. The winter season lasts until March-April.


What to eat in Zakopane

In Zakopane, local traditions are promoted a lot, and implicitly, the local gastronomy. Among the dishes specific to Polish cuisine are oscypek, the smoked sheep's cheese very popular here, potato pies or cabbage soup.

As places to eat, I will recommend two restaurants that we tried and were very satisfied with:

Food prices are quite good, around 25-30 euros a meal in the city for two people, with drinks included.

How much did our vacation in Zakopane cost

Some informative prices related to our short vacation in Zakopane would be:

  • Accommodation Rezydencja Gubałówka 270 euro for 3 nights, 2 people, breakfast included + parking 90 zlotys
  • Transport Cluj-Napoca – Zakopane 1400 km x consumption 5.5l/100 km x 7.6 RON/liter = 117 euros
  • Parking - about 110 zloti
  • Kasprowy Wierch cable car ticket – 99 zlotys/person
  • Gubałówka funicular ticket – 29 zlotys/person
  • Entrance to Chochołowskie Thermal Baths – 75 zlotys/person
  • Entrance to Tatra Natural Park - Morskie Oko -  9 zlotys/person

At an exchange rate of 1 zloty = 0.22 euro, the total amount spent in Zakopane, without food or other purchases, was approximately 250 euro/person.

Tips & Tricks Zakopane

  • I recommend that you prepare Google Translate in Zakopane. Although it is a very touristic city, I was surprised when I noticed how difficult was for the Polish people to communicate in English. Moreover, there are few inscriptions in English on the streets, at sights or at shops and restaurants.
  • You need cash! Although you can pay by card at restaurants and tourist attractions, at smaller shops, and especially at private parking lots, you will need small change.
  • If you're travelling with your car, it's good to know that on weekends or every day after 9 p.m., street parking is free.
  • If you want to do the trail to Morskie Oko, it is good to arrive as early as possible at the starting point for the trail, to get a place in the parking lot near the entrance to the park. It is recommended to buy a parking ticket online.
  • If you come to Zakopane, do not miss a visit to one of the most beautiful and touristic cities in Poland, namely Krakow, located at a distance of only 100 kilometers. I invite you to read this article to find out what you can do for 3 days in Krakow: City Break Krakow, Poland: What to Visit 3 Days in Krakow.