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How much time in Zakopane

I'm planning a trip to Poland now, and had a 4-day tour to Bialowieza Forest booked for the first weekend in September. Due to some unsolvable problem, the tour company had to cancel it, so now I'm looking at options. I knew this would be an possibility, so planned on being in Krakow right before in case I had to use Zakopane as a backup. Other days may move around a bit to fit in a possible day tour to the forest from Warsaw or Torun, so how many night should I plan for Zakopane? There is a range recommended on the forum.

Is two nights enough? So go up from Krakow and be there in the afternoon, then have one full day for hiking (pending weather), and then leave? Or are two full hiking days needed? For reference, I like hiking but will only have Keen sandals that I can wear with socks for hiking comfort, but won't carry big hiking shoes for just this. And I'm traveling alone so probably won't go crazy with wandering off into the wilderness. I've been to the Dolomites for day hikes in October, but the trails were well marked and had enough people passing through that if I had some problem, someone would find me eventually. Wondering if a full day of hiking (maybe the Morskie Oko mentioned on here) gives a good feel for the area or if two days are needed (preferable probably, but necessary?).

I'm also researching renting a car and going to the forest myself, but I think I ruled this out due to cost of car/gas, and the stress of having to read Polish road signs. These mountains look like a good alternative rather than adding more cities to the trip. Thanks!

Posted by
1862 posts

Hello, if you just want to see the main sights in Zakopane, I would say that 2 nights are sufficient. One day you could explore main town of Zakopane and see the Tatra Museum. The other day you could do the relatively easy hike up to Morskie Oko and maybe later the funicular up to Gubałówka mountain for the views. You can extend one night if you are more into hiking.

I agree about shying away from driving in Poland... Polish drivers can make it quite a stressful experience ;)

Posted by
255 posts

Hi Carlos, I have a similar question, except that I won't be hiking. If I add thermal baths (2 baths--Chochołowskie Termy and Termy Gorący Potok) to the mix of activities, do I need 1 night or 2 nights? I intend to spend about 3 hours at each bath and will rely fully on public transit.

ALso, where exactly is the Zakopane main bus station for buses from Krakow? I can find the train station from Google Maps, but not the bus station.

Finally, many have mentioned scammers in Zakopane. What are their scams? Do these affect personal safety?

Posted by
1862 posts

@Barkinpark - I would still say two nights, just with replacing a day of hiking with a day of spa/bathes. The second day can still be spent seeing the town/museums and taking the funicular up to Gubałówka mountain for the views, which does not involve hiking.

Not sure about the main bus station for Zakopane, I drove from Krakow.

I have not heard of nor personally saw anything whatsoever about scammers in Zakopane. I would be wary of where you get this information as the town is perfectly safe.

Posted by
661 posts

KC, we spent 2 nights in Zakopane. We took the bus from Krakow. We bought a good map at the tourist office on our way to our hotel. We did a couple hour hike the first day, starting from town. We did not bring hiking gear either. The trail was quite rocky and we found the rocks to be slippery in our regular touring shoes. Maybe if we were more agile, or had our poles and boots, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but we decided that we would do an easy hike the next day. The weather was not very good when we were there, low clouds and rain, sometimes a pretty hard rain. If the weather had been better, we may have done something more ambitious, but we enjoyed Zakopane even with the rain and clouds. It was fun to see a popular Polish resort.

Barkinpark, the bus station is right outside the doors of the train station. We didn’t encounter any scams.

Posted by
230 posts

Thanks, Carlos and eef. Planning the changes now to get in a couple nights in the mountains.

Posted by
41 posts


The most interesting place in Zakopane is Tatra mountains. If you're going to hike in sandals then Chocholowska Valley, Koscieliska Valley or Morskie Oko should be fine. I'd not go into higher parts without hiking boots.

I think two nights in Zakopane should be fine.

Bialowieza is far away from Zakopane, so maybe you would consider other Polish mountains in the south? If you wish to travel to Bialowieza it'd be better to take a train to Warsaw and then travel by bus, but it will be tiring and time-consuming.

If you're interested mainly in Polish nature, have a look at this article: