Dunajec Rafting: The Ideal Summer Escape From Zakopane

It’s not only the breathtaking mountain ranges of the Pieniny National Park that attract visitors. The park is also surrounded by the tranquil Dunajec River, a tributary of the Vistula River. Summer is the perfect time to visit Pieniny and hike its picturesque trails and go rafting on the Dunajec River. What do you need to know about rafting here, which routes include rafting and how much does a rafting trip on the Dunajec cost?

Experience Traditional Dunajec Rafting

Traditional rafting in the Pieniny Mountains is very popular and is organized by the Polish Association of Pieniny Rafters. The main characteristic of this type of rafting is that it’s a passive activity, as the rafters are responsible for the steering of the raft and the safety of the participants. You can simply concentrate on admiring the views and enjoying the interesting and amusing stories told by the highlanders.

There are two starting points for rafting down the Dunajec Gorge: Sromowce Wyżne-Kąty or Sromowce Niżne. You can also choose two destinations:

  • In Szczawnica – length of the route about 18 km, duration of the rafting – about 2 hours 15 minutes from Sromowce Niżne, length of the route about 12 km, duration of the rafting – about 1 hour 35 minutes.
  • In Kroscienko – route length about 23 km, duration of the trip about 2 hours 45 minutes from Sromowce Niżne, about 17 km, duration of the trip about 2 hours.

The cost of rafting is from PLN 93 to PLN 99 for regular tickets and from PLN 65 to PLN 69 for discounted tickets.

↳ Make sure to check out my guide to ALL attractions in Zakopane, so you don't overlook anything interesting: 66 Best Attractions in Zakopane 2023 – What to Do – Interesting Places

This rafting trip is perfect for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the Dunajec Canyon without actively participating in rafting. However, younger children might get bored and prefer active participation for more fun.

To sum up, if you’re traveling alone or with a group of friends or family and want to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Pieniny Valley while listening to interesting and entertaining stories from the rafters, this rafting experience is an excellent choice.

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A 200-Year-Old Tradition

Rafting on the Dunajec River has more than 200 years of tradition and attracts tourists from all over the world. The first rafting trips were initiated by rafters and farmers who were engaged in river transport, mainly felling trees. This contributed to the creation of the most important attraction in Pieniny. Tourist rafting trips on the Dunajec began in 1831, initiated by Jozef Szalay, also known as the founder of the Szczawnica Spa.

Dunajec rafting trips were organized from Sromowce Niżne and Czerwone Klasztor. Horse-drawn carriages added to the tourist attraction, ascending to the top of the Three Crowns, descending the Szopczanski Vodka to Sromowce Niżne and rafting to Szczawnica. The boats were equipped with cannons that fired shots that resounded in the Dunajec Gorge. In 1934 the Polish Association of Pieniny Rafters was established to avoid conflicts and disputes among rafters over tourists staying in the resort.

From my experience I can say that the establishment of the Polish Association of Pieniny Rafters greatly improved the organization of rafting and it’s still in existence today. In the beginning, rafts were known as dugouts. They were made by hollowing out poplar logs and joining them into two, three, or even four sections for greater stability. Today, however, rafts are made of spruce planks. The five pieces are tied together with ropes.

After each trip, the raft is disassembled, making it easier to transport by truck. When they arrive at the launch site, the pieces are put back together. I must say, the whole process is surprisingly quick. On the raft you’ll find three rows of benches that can seat up to 12 people and two rafters. The front of the raft is decorated with spruce branches. Not only does this make the raft look nice, but it also serves as a breakwater to prevent waves from splashing into the boat.

Steering is done with 3 meter long spruce poles, commonly called sprinklers. Each raft has its own unique number. With the current number of rafts available, up to 5,000 people can enjoy rafting in a single day.

Preparing for Your Trip

As we all know, the weather can be unpredictable, especially in mountainous areas where conditions can change quickly. Summer days can bring sudden thunderstorms, but there’s no need to worry. If you encounter such weather during your trip, the rafters will guide the raft to shore and wait out the storm. The key is to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

For example, on warm and sunny days, wear light, breathable clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Bring a bottle of water. On colder or rainy days, pack a rain jacket or cape and warm clothing. Remember that you’ll be sitting mostly still for more than two hours. It’s better to have too many layers than too few.

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Dunajec Rafting with Children

There is no age limit for bringing children on a Dunajec rafting trip. If your one or two year old can sit for 2 hours and enjoy the surrounding scenery, feel free to bring them along! You can also request a life jacket from the rafters if you’re worried about your little one’s safety. Both traditional Dunajec rafting and pontoon rafting are safe experiences and every participant is provided with a life jacket.

Dunajec Rafting – How Many People Per Raft?

Each raft usually holds 10 to 12 people. There are two rafters – a foreman in the front and a helper in the back.

Optimal Time for Dunajec Rafting

The rafting season runs from April to October. Trips start either at the Sromowce – Kąty Marina or in Sromowce Niżne and end in Szczawnica Niżna or Kroscienko. Typically, the duration of a rafting trip is 2 to 3 hours.

During the summer season or on sunny weekends, the number of tourists wanting to participate in rafting can be so high that queues can last from 1 to several hours! To avoid this, I recommend that you choose less crowded dates during the week, or in the spring or fall, so that you can enjoy the undisturbed nature, tranquility and stunning views.

Winter Rafting on the Dunajec River?

Winter rafting on the Dunajec River is not organized, mainly due to nature protection reasons. The Pieniny National Park prohibits rafting on the Dunajec Gorge section from November 1 to the end of March.

Pricing and Reservation Details

Rafting costs range from PLN 93 to PLN 99 for regular tickets and from PLN 65 to PLN 69 for discounted tickets.

Ticket office hours:.

  • April: 9 am – 4 pm
  • May – August: 8:30 am – 5 pm
  • September: 8:30 am – 4 pm
  • October: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

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Dunajec River Rafting on Pontoon Boats

Click Play To Lear More About Rafting on Dunajec River in Pontoons

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On top of classic rafting, it is possible to rent a pontoon boat. You can find such a trip organized by a private operators. Embarking on a pontoon boat for rafting on the Dunajec River offers a fresh alternative to the traditional Dunajec River rafting experience. This form of rafting promotes teamwork and is moderately physically demanding. There is an instructor on the „deck” of each pontoon. The instructor ensures the safety of the participants and also steers the boat.

Pontoon rafting is ideal for groups of friends, families, or anyone who enjoys physical activity and socializing with others. I must say that the physical exertion is moderate, so you don’t need to be exceptionally fit. The guests range from children to seniors.

The rafting trip starts in Sromowce Niżne and ends in Szczawnica, along a picturesque 14 km stretch of the Dunajec River known as the Dunajec Gorge. The whole pontoon rafting experience lasts about two hours. It is an unforgettable experience thanks to the beautiful scenery and the lively atmosphere on the pontoon.

Prices for rafting on the Dunajec start from 70 PLN per person.

There are few disadvantages to rafting on the Dunajec River. One potential problem is getting your feet wet. But if you bring an extra pair of shoes, you’ll be prepared just in case.

Dunajec River Canoeing Adventure

Second alternative solution is canoe. It is also organized by private operators. Choosing a canoe trip on the Dunajec River is an alternative to the traditional rafting experience. This option is characterized by moderate physical exertion and the need to maneuver the kayak. It’s suitable for those who prefer more intimate trips, either alone or with a companion. Canoeing on the Dunajec River is an excellent choice for a date, personal reflection or quality time with a friend or family member.

While they don’t require extensive kayaking experience on mountain rivers, participants should feel comfortable and confident in a kayak before choosing this form of Dunajec River rafting. The trip starts in Sromowce Niżne and ends in Szczawnica, where we will go through a beautiful 14 km long section of the Dunajec River, known as the Dunajec Gorge. The trip lasts about two hours. It is an unforgettable adventure offering both breathtaking scenery and the intimate nature of kayaking. Operator offers both single and double touring kayaks. For the less experienced we have inflatable kayaks (for two people only).

Double kayak rental is 120 PLN per kayak, single kayak rental is 80 PLN per kayak.

In addition to the undeniable advantages of kayaking, such as solitude and the company of others, there are also a few minor disadvantages. Paddlers must stay focused to avoid collisions with other river traffic, including pontoons, rafts or other kayaks. While the route is not overly challenging, there is no paddle guide (as there is with rafting), so you are responsible for your own safety during the trip.

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Rafting on the Dunajec River on a traditional raft is a unique experience in the midst of untouched, wild nature that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Europe. It’s also an ideal way to explore the Pieniny National Park. The Dunajec River has carved an impressive gorge into the limestone cliffs known as the Dunajec Canyon. The custom of rafting on wooden rafts made of connected narrow boats dates back to the first half of the 19th century. During the trip, the rafters tell stories about Pieniny, tell legends about Janosik and point out the most interesting places along the way.


  • https://www.trzykorony.pl/atrakcje/splyw-dunajcem
  • https://portpienin.pl/blog/splyw-dunajcem-najwazniejsze-informacje-trasy-cennik/
  • https://flisacy.pl/