Zakopane is a destination for winter enthusiasts. It is the perfect place for solo travelers, couples, groups of friends or families. Although the thought of winter activities in Zakopane may come easily to mind, I must say that there are several attractions worthy of special mention during the winter months.
Hit the Slopes: Where to Ski in Zakopane?
Zakopane is a paradise for both skiers and snowboarders. There are numerous slopes for all levels of ability. Everyone can find a slope that suits their abilities, from professionals to amateurs.
From my experience I can say that one of the most popular ski slopes in Zakopane is Kasprowy Wierch. Skiers love its natural snow and the fact that it’s the only alpine slope in Poland! Kasprowy Wierch has several ski trails: Goryczkowa (length: 1770m), Gąsienicowa (length: 1200m), the ski trail from Hala Gąsienicowa (length: 8500m), and the ski trail from Goryczkowa (length: 3500m).
Probably the most popular ski resort in Zakopane, Polana Szymoszkowa offers breathtaking views of the Tatra Mountains. There are two ski lifts here: the first takes experienced skiers to the top of Gubałówka, where they can relax, enjoy hot tea and lunch, or admire the mountains. The second ski lift takes skiers to the middle of the slope, which is perfect for beginners. At the bottom station there is KidsPark Szymoszkowa for children’s skiing and snowboarding lessons.
↳ 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
With six routes available, skiers and snowboarders have plenty of options at Harenda. Advanced winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy an 800m FIS-compliant route or a slightly longer 900m medium difficulty route. Less advanced skiers can try out two medium-difficulty 100-meter runs, while beginners have two easy runs of 200 and 250 meters to choose from. There is a ski kindergarten for children. Refreshment points are located near the bottom station and the drag lifts.
Nosal is another popular destination for skiers, especially beginners and children just starting out on their ski journey. There are six different routes: Tatrapoma P1 (length: 200m), Tatrapoma P2 (length: 145m), Tatrapoma P3 (length: 250m), Tatrapoma P4 (length: 240m), Tatrapoma P5 (length: 200m) and T5 band (length: 33m).
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, consider visiting nearby ski resorts such as Kotelnica Białczańska, Rusin-SKI (Białka Tatrzańska), Długa Polana, Zadzial (Nowy Targ), or Czortyn-ski (Kluszkowce).
For More information about this topic, check this article I wrote: Skiing in Zakopane: Best Slopes for Stunning Scenery and Views
Cross-Country Skiing in Zakopane: Glide Through the Snow
Cross-country skiers can also find suitable routes in and around Zakopane. Three routes within Zakopane include:
- 1 – Central Sports Center (professionally prepared route near the sports stadium and Wielka Krokiew ski jump),
- 2 – Na Równi Krupowej (ideal for beginner runners, located a few minutes from Krupówki in the city center), and
- 3 – Biały Potok (a 5 km route for intermediate runners, situated near Wielka Krokiew).
Just outside Zakopane, there are two other trails worth exploring. The first, Siwa Polana, runs almost the entire length of the Chochołowska Valley and offers a fairly easy 7 km route. The second one is Kościelisko. It is located at the stadium of the Biathlon Center and is connected to the Chotarz route when conditions allow. This course is suitable for beginners and has a few small hills, which makes it a pleasant challenge for beginners.
Hot Springs For Cold Days
Zakopane and its surroundings have many thermal spas that can be used all year round. Some of the most famous are Bukowina Tatrzańska, Termy Bania, Termy w Białka and Termy w Szaflary. These sprawling complexes often have saunas and SPA zones. Here you can indulge in relaxing massages or beauty treatments. They’re also a great choice for families. There are several types of pools for children.
Brine pools, salt caves and slides are just a few of the many attractions these thermal spas have to offer, with thermal water temperatures reaching up to 36 degrees Celsius. I must say, the unique combination of relaxing in warm water while admiring snow-capped mountains and trees is an experience not to be missed! Outdoor pools offer an incredible sensation as you’re wrapped in the embrace of winter while basking in warm water.
Please read more about Hot Spring here: Discover the Healing Powers of Hot Springs in Zakopane, Poland
Winter Outdoor Fun for Everyone
Here are a few examples of outdoor activities that you can do with your family.
Hit the Ice Rinks
Skiing or swimming is not your thing? Don’t worry! Zakopane has plenty of other winter attractions. Consider visiting the city’s open ice rinks, where you can rent equipment, skate to music and admire the Christmas lights.
Snowlandia Snow Maze: A Winter Wonderland
This fascinating, winter-only attraction is made entirely of snow. When the temperature drops at the foot of Wielka Krokiew, a snowy town appears. There is a labyrinth, a castle and a palace. Children will also love the toboggan run and the winter mini zoo. I admit, both children and adults will find this experience satisfying.
Horse Sleigh Rides: A Magical Experience
In winter, Zakopane is covered with snow, which makes it a perfect place for sleigh rides. You’ll find these rides offered by various companies. Some even offer them in their accommodation. Torchlight sleigh rides after dark are particularly popular and often include bonfires, sausages, music, singing and dancing.
Check this attraction here: Explore Zakopane’s Winter Landscape with Horse Sleigh Rides
Dog Sled Rides: An Unforgettable Adventure
Although this attraction originated abroad, it has gained popularity in Zakopane. You have two options: You can either sit in the sled while a musher leads a team of huskies, or you can take on the more extreme challenge of becoming a musher and leading the dogs yourself. Be careful though, or you might find yourself stuck in a winter snowdrift!
You may also read this article I wrote about Dog Sled Rides in Zakopane: Dog Sledding Adventures in Zakopane: A Must-Do Winter Activity
Snowmobiles, Quads, and More: Winter Expeditions for the Adventurous
Sledging in the Chochołowska Valley is the most famous and traditional option, taking place in one of the most beautiful settings in Europe. Sleigh rides in Chochołowska offer an enchanting adventure amidst breathtaking winter landscapes. Afterwards, enjoy a feast by the fire with tasty treats and dancing to highland music. Many companies in Zakopane offer sleigh rides, so don’t miss out on this unique experience.
If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, consider a quad ride through mountain trails or even untamed wilderness. More and more companies now specialize in renting quads and snowmobiles and organizing trips, such as Quadoo from Zakopane. They offer sightseeing tours and excursions in Zakopane, Gubałówka, Kościelisko and Witów.
Winter Wonders on Krupówki Street
Krupówki Street, Zakopane’s most famous promenade, is especially charming in winter. This bustling street is filled with local restaurants, cafes and shops. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day on the slopes.
Cheer on Athletes at the Ski Jumping World Championships
For many years, Zakopane has hosted the World Ski Jumping Championships. This event attracts thousands of fans to Wielka Krokiew to cheer on the athletes. The atmosphere is truly epic.
Embrace the Extreme: Winter Ice Diving in Zakopane
If you’re looking for an extreme experience in Zakopane, consider ice diving. This challenging activity requires more effort than summer diving and involves wearing heavy equipment weighing about 30 kg. The dives usually last about 30 minutes. However, ice diving is not for everyone – it requires experience and dedication. This exhilarating activity should only be attempted by those who have completed ice diving training or have previous experience.
Winter Activities For Kids and Grown-Ups Alike
Zakopane offers countless ways to enjoy your winter vacation, with numerous attractions that will put a smile on the faces of tourists of all ages. Here are a few recommendations:
Explore the Upside Down House
The Upside Down House is a fun and whimsical attraction that will playfully challenge your perception of gravity. As you walk on the ceiling, you’ll see all the furniture seemingly defying gravity, attached to the floor above.
Visit the Exotic Zakopane Parrot House
The Exotic Zakopane Parrot House is the largest parrot house not only in Zakopane but throughout Lesser Poland. It’s a fantastic place to relax and interact with these beautiful birds. You’ll find over 100 stunning specimens, which you can feed and pet.
Discover the Underwater World
Another must-see attraction is Zakopane’s Underwater World. Here, you can observe fish in their natural habitat from the shore or a boat, without the need for goggles or snorkels, as you find yourself in the middle of a shimmering shoal of fish.
Enjoy the Be Happy Museum
The Be Happy Museum is Poland’s first museum of happiness and illusion. This fun destination is perfect for those looking for unique photo opportunities in a vibrant and whimsical environment. Ideal for social media enthusiasts and tourists alike, the museum offers dozens of photo-worthy scenes to capture and share.
Experience Mousegarden Zakopane
Mousegarden is a family-friendly attraction that immerses you in a magical, miniature world of tiny rodents. You’ll witness the fascinating lives of over 1,000 mice from around the world, living in fantastic and unusual environments. Marvel at their abilities as they drive cars, fly unidentified flying objects, and more. These mice also have incredible homes, play in trees, and visit cafes and restaurants.
Please find all these kind of attractions here: Discovering the Best Sites of Krupówki: Zakopane’s Old Town
Cozy Winter Evenings in Zakopane Apartments
When the cold is particularly biting and the weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities, it’s important to have a comfortable retreat where you can spend a warm winter evening with your loved ones. Many apartments in Zakopane offer cozy spaces where you can enjoy each other’s company, prepare a meal together, or curl up by the fireplace to escape the chill.
The best option in Zakopane is to have a cosy cottage with a hot tube, read more here: Escape to the Mountains: Chalets in Zakopane with Hot Tubs