While Zakopane is not somewhere to come for ultra-challenging, technical skiing, the ridiculously cheap cost of living and unique cultural experience will make this a trip youll talk about for years to come. Here are our picks for things to do when youve had your fill of the slopes.
Take a stroll down the main street (Krupowki), towards the bottom of the Gubalowka funicular train. Here youll find a market selling everything from elaborately patterned woolly jumpers that clash horrifically with mad dog-induced hangovers, to (non-alcoholic) live puppy dogs. Beyond this, theres plenty of retail therapy on offeralthough know that fashion tends to be "quirky" rather than cutting-edge.
Where to Eat:
Risky drinking culture aside, Polish cuisine is a highly pleasurable experience. For a taste of the traditional, head to Bakowo Zohylina (say "bonkovo zoheeleena"). This cozy, wood-timbered restaurant is a few minutes walk from Zakopanes main drag. Upstairs, against a backdrop of stuffed animals and rustic knick-knacks, you can order tasty tidbits like sheeps cheese and cranberry sauce followed by a mixed grill of local gameall served by waiters in customary garb (seeing is believing).
Where to Stay:
On the whole, accommodations here are comfortable but modest. However, if youre craving a touch of luxury, the Hotel Belvedere (ul. Droga do Bialego 3, +011.48.12.421.4865) is the place to stay: stylish rooms, a good pool and spa, and well-stocked weights room make this the best joint in town. Prices for doubles start at around $180.
It may be small but Zakopane is not shy when it comes to shaking its booty. Ampstrong (ul. Jagiellonska 18, +011.48.18.201-290) is where to go for big-name international DJs, while the eccentrically designed Café Piano tucked down an alleyway just off the main street, Krupowkiis decked out like a traditional highland shack.
The nearest airport is Krakow, about 80 miles north of Zakopane. From there, you can get buses from downtown Krakow to Zakopane, for around $15. LOT flies to Krakow from various U.S. airports (800.223.0593; www.lot.com). Sample fares include round-trip from Chicago to Krakow from $895 return, plus tax (no flights Fridays and Saturdays), or New York to Krakow from $815 return, plus tax (Fridays and Saturdays only).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Zakopane