Zakopane, the winter capital

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text and photos Gil Cancela

Zakopane, Poland

Another Erasmus+ Project, another trip. This time, to Poland. Two hours south of Krakow, we find the Winter’s capital, the town of Zakopane.

Our trip started at the capital Warsaw, where we took the train to our destination. Eight and a half hours later (!!!), we arrived, finding a nearly deserted city (normal, given it was 7 a.m. of a freezing Sunday). But, little by little, the stores would open, the people packed the streets and movement filled Krupowski Street, one of Zakopane’s ex-libris, showing us that this small town of the polish deep south as one of the growing touristic spots nowadays.

The houses are mainly built and/or adorned with wood, making me and some of the friends travelling with me remember of a Christmas village. This, with the snow that had fallen previously and the freezing cold we faced, did give Zakopane a Christmassy vibe to the whole setting.


Besides Krupowski Street, I highlight Gubalowka, a hill located north of Zakopane, facing the Tatra mountains. Although it sends the same “touristful” vibes of Krupowski Street, with numerous souvenir stores and camera flashes around, you can still breathe the pure and unique air of the top and appreciate the gorgeous view of the mountain.

Zakopane is also home o one of the most beautiful lakes of the world, the Morskie Oko, or “Eye of the Sea”, with 862 metres of length.

The third point of interest is, without a doubt, Kasprowky Wierch. Kasprowky Wierch is the only high spot of the Tatras mountains accessible from Zakopane, by cable car, being the most visited ski center of the region.

The view from the top was amazing. At least, I supposed it is, given the strong fog we felt there. From what I have been seeing all week I deduct that, once the sky clears, the scenery is the ideal to dream. But we had a great time at the snow (carefully, given that we were at various feet above land) and abstract ourselves from the less frozen world down. I should warn that you should still keep your brain in alert for the bears that could appear and would certainly join and throw snowballs at the groups that visit their habitat.


I couldn’t end without recommending one traditional dish of the region: the smoked cheese. Called Oscypek, this cheese is made of goat cheese, and smoked. It sustains a intense flavor and a unusual texture, but I advise you to taste it. In all corner of the town, is pretty easy to find various spots selling it.

Zakopane is a small town, not being difficult to visit all the interest points in one or two days. So, I recommend that, while coming down from Warsaw, don’t end your trip in Krakow. Keep going for a while, and meet the quirky Zakopane. Dream. Live. Enjoy.

P.S.1: I could not end another project without thanking the awesome group of people that I got to share it with. Portugal, Poland, Greece, Italy and France were represented by amazing people!

P.S.2: For everyone that has yet to experiment na Erasmus+ Project, either Youth Exchange, EVS, Training Course, in this website you can find various projects, waiting for your submission:

P.S.3: Sabotaaaaaaaage!!!!!! Love you guys!

27 486 pop. (2006)
Zloty (PLN)
 European, 2 pins
Winter (from December to March) is very strict in Poland with negative temperatures and snow occurrence. Summer is not very hot, temperatures are not going beyond 30ºC.


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