Zakopane is a lovely town situated at the foothills of the majestic Tatra mountains. It has a population of 30,000 inhabitants. The unusual location of the town, hidden between a gentle range of Gubałówka and the rocky Tatra summits was a decisive factor in its career as a tourism centre. As early as at the end of the 18th century Zakopane, a small and remote village located at the southern end of Poland, started to attract the first summer holidaymakers. The visitors arrived mainly from Cracow in horse carts, often carrying various domestic equipment, which they couldn't find in the modest highland peasant cottage. In 1889 Zakopane obtained the status of a health resort attracting patients suffering from tuberculosis. When, in 1898 the construction works on a railway track were finished, the first train from Cracow reached the town. This resulted in a rapid increase in the number of tourists from 1600 in 1898 to over 10,000 in 1900 (over 3 million at present).
The cheapest way to get to Zakopane and vicinity from Krakow Airport is to take a fast train from the Balice airport directly to the railway station in the city centre which takes about 15 minutes. Next to the railway station in Krakow you will find a bus station with frequently bus connection with Zakopane. It takes more than two hours to get by bus to Zakopane. It is also possible to go to Zakopane from Krakow by train but this journey takes even longer and costs a bit more. We do recommend to take a train instead of a bus during the very high season - New Year period, long weekends in May (1-3) or in August (15th) because of the traffic on the roads.
In winter the days are short and cold, but skiing conditions usually are good. From the second week of January until the end of February school children have their winter break at schools, so there are more tourists and skiers everywhere in the town and on slopes.
In Spring there's still snow on the peaks. April is known for thousands of tiny crocuses blooming on the Tatra clearings. May is a real spring month. Just make sure not to come on the May holiday (the first weekend) for between the 1st and 3th of may Zakopane is overcrowded. In June Zakopane gets quiet, the days are long and mostly sunny, the mountain paths welcome tourists tired of the crowds.
July and August, the two summer months are the peak season. The easier trails get very crowded, and on sunny days at the most popular peaks there are queues of people waiting to climb the top. There is a lot going on in the town in summer - cultural and recreational events are organised, the most distinguished of all being the Mountain Folklore Festival, held the third week in August for over 50 years now. Septemberis a very good month for hiking trips, the days are still long enough, the weather usually good but there are no more crowds.
October might both be very sunny and chilly with the first snowfalls in the mountains. November is a rest time after a busy tourist season. From the very beginnings of december some of the ski slopes are open and well prepared for skiers and snowboarders.