A Budget Ski Break In Zakopane

Poland doesn’t have lots of mountains, but they make the most of it in Zakopane, nestled at the foot of the Tatras. This popular resort, around two hours south of Krakow is an appealing mix of chocolate box quaint, accessible ski slopes.

Add low prices and Zakopane makes for a value for money ski break that is a good alternative to big budget spending of Val d’Isere even if there is no real ski in/ski out option and the mountains are not especially high. The fact is you’ll find snow, mountains and nightlife to rival plenty of other budget resorts.

Budget skiing for families and beginners
The town of Zakopane serves as the gateway to the mountains, so visitors need a taxi or the use of a daily transfer service to access the ski stations.

Zakopane – Gubalowka Hill a nursery ski run
Gubalowka Hill – nursery ski run (c) Jonathanawhite
Bialka Tatrazanska is the most Alpine of Zakopane’s ski stations, with 16 kms of ski runs spread over a series of small valleys. To the experienced winter sports enthusiast that may not sound like much, but beginners or the undemanding intermediate will find the terrain extremely pleasant and forgiving. Wide runs and beautiful woodland scenery make for a pleasant skiing experience.

Those looking for mountain runs will find the best option in the imposing Kasprowy Wierch, the mountain that towers over the city. The 15 kms of runs will be more of a challenge and are better suited to intermediate skiers and boarders.

The closest slopes to town are at Gubalowka, which is accessible via a funicular ride from the centre of town. From here you’ll get great views across the town plus an excellent market which is fun diversion for bargain hunters.

Zakopane – Gubalowka Hill Funicular entrance
Gubalowka Hill Funicular entrance (c) Jonathanawhite
We headed to Zakopane fairly late in the season, in mid March and although there was snowfall on the day we arrived it didn’t stick around for long. But, thankfully the ski areas have invested in great snow making facilities. Kasprowy Wierch is mostly pretty snow sure and offers skiing up until late March or April.

Ski day passes vary from around 62 PLN (approx £12) up to 120 PLN (approx £25).

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Eating & Drinking
One thing is for sure, you won’t be short of dining options in Zakopane. Most of the fare is of the hearty meat and veg type with a healthy side of beer or vodka. The main drag, Krupowki, is packed full of authentic wooden panelled eateries, with grills stacked with sausages and joints of pork. The rustic vibe is often completed with live traditional music.

The best of the bunch was at Watra (Hr. Władysława Zamoyskiego 2, 34-500 Zakopane), a restaurant and brewery a short walk off the main drag. The stills in the window aren’t just for show, their selection of beers are perfect for warming you up.

We also found a great vegan burger joint, Mountain Bar (Ulica Weteranow Wojny 2, Zakopane), which serves some of the biggest vegan burgers I’ve ever seen.

Nightlife is lively with lots of bars and nightclubs off the main drag.