Polish Delight

The Après-Ski Scene
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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 you’ll talk about for years to come. Here are our picks for things to do when you’ve had your fill of the slopes.

Take a stroll down the main street (Krupowki), towards the bottom of the Gubalowka funicular train. Here you’ll 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, there’s plenty of retail therapy on offer—although 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 Zakopane’s main drag. Upstairs, against a backdrop of stuffed animals and rustic knick-knacks, you can order tasty tidbits like sheep’s cheese and cranberry sauce followed by a mixed grill of local game—all served by waiters in customary garb (seeing is believing).

Where to Stay:
On the whole, accommodations here are comfortable but modest. However, if you’re craving a touch of luxury, the Hotel Belvedere (ul. Droga do Bialego 3, + 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, + is where to go for big-name international DJs, while the eccentrically designed Café Piano —tucked down an alleyway just off the main street, Krupowki—is decked out like a traditional highland shack.

Getting There:
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).

Published: 27 Oct 2005 | Last Updated: 26 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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