Did you know that Zakopane is called the winter capital of Poland? It’s because there are so many things to do in Zakopane in winter!
The entire town is literally buried in snow (zakopane means burried). I mean… even the sidewalks are covered with snow, that’s why if you are with kids, it’s better to use sleighs than strollers!
Here’s my ultimate guide to the Zakopane winter wonderland and the video I made from our trip!
What’s The Weather In Zakopane During Wintertime?
Most of the time, it’s cold and snowy.
The first snow shows up in Zakopane in October or November. It may stay there until May!
So if you wonder does it snow in Zakopane in December, January, or February, the answer will probably be YES!
The winter temperature in Zakopane is between 5°C (41°F) to even -18°C (-0.4°F)!
What To Pack For A Winter Trip To Zakopane?
Warm clothes! Insulated, waterproof pants, warm jacket, and shoes.
If you are with kids, take extra pairs of gloves, and hats because it’s very likely your child will get wet in the snow.
Make sure to pack face and hand creams because your skin will get dry when it’s freezing outside.
You don’t need to bring cash, as you can pay by card in most places. Plus, there are ATMs all over the town, so you can always withdraw some money!
Tips For Visiting Zakopane In Winter
It may be VERY CROWDED!
Crowds in December are quite obvious, because of Christmas break. New Year‘s Eve is wild because on of the NYE events in Poland is taking place in Zakopane.
January and February are two months of winter breaks in Polish schools. Each voivoideship (there are 16 in Poland) has ferie (winter break) for 2 weeks in different time.
That’s why Zakopane is always crowded in winter.
My biggest tip for visiting Zakopane in winter is to buy all tickets online!
You will save time waiting in long lines.
Things To Do In Zakopane In Winter
Here’s my general post about things to do in Zakopane all year-round (follow the link).
Sleigh Ride With Bonfire And Live Music
For our family, the sleig ride with bonfire and live a music was a highlight from our Zakopane winter trip!
There are 2 routes available:
Gubałówka Sleigh Ride
It’s more popular and cheaper. You will ride among the mountains and the views will be breathtaking… if the sky is clear.
Since the weather is changing rapidly in the mountains, we decided for second route.
Chochołowska Valley Sleigh Ride
Although a bit more expensive, this route is always spectacular, depsite the weather. You will ride among the snow-covered trees in one of the most beautiful valleys in Zakopane.
Typically, both routes include hotel pick up and drop off.
The sleigh ride takes 1 hour. Then, you have one hour to enjoy bonfire with live music, and unlimited food and drinks (also alcoholic drinks).
In total, the tour takes 3-4 hours.
We were traveling with Janosik company and it was really good.
If you are in Zakopane with kids, don’t miss the sleigh ride. Our kiddos (aged 2 and 5 during that time) loved it!
Skiing or Snowboarding
Zakopane is a winter capital of Poland, that’s why skiing and snowboarding is one of the best things to do there when it’s cold outside!
There are many slopes available in the town and around. To find the best one for you, read this post.
Good news is, Zakopane recently announce a Góral Skipass. One card that will allow you to use 4 different lifts.
Sledding And Ice Skating
Since Zakopane is literally covered with snow during wintertime, you will find free slopes all around the town.
If you don’t have your own sleds, don’t worry! You can buy them everywhere, especially on Krupówki street.
When it comes to ice skating, the best place to go is Tatra Ice.
Zakopane Winter Hikes
For unexperienced hikers
Winter trails are obviously easier than the summer ones. Here are the best Zakopane winter hikes:
- Kalatówki (the shortest route that will take just half an hour)
- Białego Valley (easy, 1-hour walk)
- Kościeliska Valley (beautiful 1h 30min walk)
- Strążyska Valley (my favorite valley in Zakopane; the walk takes 1 hour)
- Morskie Oko – The route is easy it’s just long (3 hours). If you get tired, you can always take a carriage. Morskie Oko is one of the most beautiful lakes in Poland, so it’s worth going up the mountain just to see it!
- Droga pod Reglami (3-hour walk on the black trail)
- Rusinowa Polana (nice 3-hour forest walk)
Thermal Baths in Zakopane
When it’s freezing outside, what can be better than warming up in the hot thermal water?
Zakopane is famous for the thermal baths. There are 5 thermal pools in the area! That include:
- Chocholowskie Termy Baths (the biggest one)
- Bania Thermal Baths
- Bukovina Thermal Baths
- Gorący Potok Thermal Baths
- Zakopane Aquapark (the smallest one)
Are they different? Not really! They are located in different places, so just check out which one is the closest to you.
Truth to be told, the maze was too difficult for us to get out and kids were complaining they were too cold, we we just left at the entrance.
After warming up, we want to see the snow and ice sculptures that are just next to the maze.
Snowlandia is located at the foot of Wielka Krokiew mountain.
There are many things to do around including:
- sliding down the mountain next to Snowlandia (sleighs are available to rent)
- visiting Dino Park
- hiking up or taking a lift up the Wielka Krokiew ski jump
- visiting Tatrzańskie Zoo
All the attractions mentioned above are within the short walking distance to Snowlandia.
Walk Down The Krupówki Street
Krupówki is the most famous street in Zakopane. It’s quite long! At the end of Krupówki, there is an entrance to Gubałówka mountain.
Why it’s worth to walk down this street? There are many shops, and restaurants there.
It’s where you can try the famous grilled oscypek with cranberry sauce, and buy some souvenirs.
Go Up Gubałówka Mountain
Gubałówka is the most famous mountain in Zakopane. It’s located at the end of Krupówki street.
You can either hike up or take a train up to the mountain.
The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking!
Gubałówka is a commercialized mountain, so there are some restaurants, and souvenirs shop on top.
Fun fact: there is a guy dressed up as a white bear on Gubałówka. You need to pay to take a photo with him but I think it’s worth it!
The tradition of taking photo with white bear on top of Gubałówka is VERY OLD. There is a photo of my grandma with white bear in my family album. It was taken in 40s or 50s!
There are many indoor museums in Zakopane that are worth visiting in the winter, especially when it’s freezing outside.
Some of the best are:
- Myszogród – a must-visit place for kids! it’s a mini-world inhabited by mice;
- Oscypek Museum – it’s dedicated to the famous Polish highlander’s cheese
- Upside Down House – the experience to see the world upside down is crazy (and to be honest, I didn’t like that!)
- Be Happy Museum – colorful place, perfect to take some Insta-friendly photos;
- Retromaniak – a toy and computer games museum;
- Wax Museum– the Polish version of the famous Madame Tussauds
- Museum Tatrzańskie – it has many different branches in the town; visit them to learn about the Polish culture and the history of Zakopane;
Try Delicious Polish Food And Drinks!
If you are in Zakopane in winter, be sure to try the following food:
- grilled oscypek (cheese) with warm cranberry sauce
- grzaniec – Polish mulled wine
- bigos – hunter’s stew
- kwaśnica – Polish sauerkraut soup
- pierogi– the famous Polish dumplings with various fillings