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Poland’s Version of a Ski Town: Exploring Zakopane on a Budget

Planning on travelling to Zakopane on a budget?  I have put together a list from my experiences of a few things you will find here in winter  while not hurting your wallet too much.


First of all..where is Zakopane and what is it?

Zakopane is in the very south of Poland against the Slovakian boarder and I think it is Poland’s only real ski town.   Its 2.5 hours by bus from Krakow and I recommend taking Polski Bus.  They run many times a day with the bus actually coming all the way from Warsaw and it cost me just €4.5 or 20 Polish Zloty.


My Video

Cheap Accommodation

Target Hostel

Once in town itself, there are multiple hostels and cheap hotels on offer.  I can recommend Target Hostel.  Its €7 (30 Zloty)  a night for Dorm beds, about 5 minutes’ walk from the train and bus station, and 10 minutes from the main street of town.


Gazdówka u Janka

For a private room for 2 people you can also go to Gazdówka u Janka.   It’s cheap, simple and closer to the ski lift.  For a double or twin room, it’s €13 (56 Zloty)  per night.  That’s the cheapest accommodation I could find in Zakopane. 


To find more options check Booking.com   It’s usually the cheapest in Poland.



If haven’t yet signed up to Airbnb  use THIS LINK  to sign up and get  €30 off your first stay.

Not sure what it is?  Airbnb is a website where people rent rooms or apartments for very cheap prices everywhere in the world.  Great if you’re looking for a private room but don’t want to pay hotel prices.


The main street of Zakopane

Where to eat?


Restauracja Pstrąg Górski

They are famous for their fish but we actually had soup.  My goulash soup served in bread was really good and cost €3 (14 Zloty); pretty good value for a very nice restaurant, by my standards.

Goulash soup served in bread

There are plenty of small and medium-sized grocery stores and both places I stayed had kitchens. Buying food to cook at the hostels is a good way to save money if you’re in Zakopane on a budget.


Tip:  Don’t forget to try the famous smoked goat and sheep cheese.  You find it everywhere in the streets and it is SOOO good!!  You’re in the mountains of Europe.  That’s what they are famous for.  Am I right??

Smoked sheep cheese with cranberry. Yum!.



Gubałówka Cable Car

For €5.20 (23 Zloty), 5 minutes by cable car above the town, is a great place to go for a few hours.   You can walk along the top of the hill where there are restaurants and souvenir shops everywhere.  You will also find some easy skiing, one advanced terrain park and some tubing for kids.  It’s all a bit more expensive up there so if you want to save money, buy your food and souvenirs at the bottom of the mountain!


The view of Zakopane town from Gubałówka

Moskie Oko

Moskie Oko is a very cool lake that you can walk to.  In winter it’s frozen over and you can walk on it.  In summer it’s a beautiful green colour.  (I know that from pictures! Haha)

To get there; take the public bus from outside the Zakopane train station to the Moskie Oko car park. €2 (10 Zloty) for the bus, €1 (5 Zloty) park entrance fee.

From there, it’s  a 9km walk (roughly 2 hours) each way along the access road to the lake itself.  It’s an awesome walk, slightly uphill all the way, so downhill on the way back.  Not hard at all, just long.  If you’re feeling lazy you can take a horse-and-sleigh taxi for extra cost.  There’s a restaurant at the lake and another about 700m before the lake, with food about 8-20 Zloty for a good meal.  Not too expensive.

Dress warm.  When I was there it was about -10 and we didn’t get back to the bus until dark!

Moskie Oko lake in winter, frozen solid.

The hike into Moski Oko lake is along this snowy path, 9km each way.


Moskie Oko is definitely a full day trip and is so worthwhile doing!


Smreczyński Staw

Apparently this is a very quiet lake you can walk to but unfortunately, I didn’t get there.  About a 1 hour walk from where the bus drops you off.   I don’t know if it costs any money or not.


Kasprowy Wierch

   You can take a cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch mountain, almost 2000m high.  It’s also one of the most popular ski areas in Poland and is right on the Slovakian border.


Single trip up and down:  €14 (60 Zloty)

Lift pass for a day’s skiing:  €25 (110 Zloty)

Day’s rental ski package:  €9  (40 Zloty)



There are a few small ski areas in the Zakopane area but Kasprowy Wierch: is the biggest and best from what I’ve heard.



For me, my trip to Zakopane was a good break from the bigger cities in Europe.  It’s Poland’s version of a ski town.  Not huge but a very fun place, all the same.

I hope this post will help you to enjoy your stay in Zakopane.


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