If you're lucky enough to be in Zakopane during the early summer what could be better than a stroll in the Tatra under the beautiful blue skies.
I recommend an early start and heading straight to the Kuznice cable car (by foot or taxi) for the easiest way up 1987m Mt. Kasprowy Wierch to enjoy the views while saving your limbs! Then follow the blue route down through the flowering mountain meadows surrounding the Five Lakes Valley before heading on to Lake Morskie Oko where you can cool your weary feet in the emerald green waters.
From here you can descend down to Polana Palencia by foot and horse drawn cart before returning to Zakopane by bus. Don't underestimate it, it's a long strenuous day in the mountains but you'll certainly enjoy your well earned beer and golonka in the evening!
A bus trip out of Zakopane followed by a yomp up to Morski Oto lakes snuggled among some of the highest peaks in the Tatra mountains.
Took the horse and trap down, which included a "pit stop" for the driver to find a butterfly net - activity from the horses - and lets just say it was good for the garden.
Missed the last bus so for a few zlotys joined a workmans van to the hotel to rejoin our week long vodka tasting.
Take the ordinary bus from Zakopane.
Google map: bit.ly/13VcsmH
We had a fun cheap ski holiday in Zakopane over new year. I would recommend it more if you are keen for a fun experience and less if you are a pro skier, but for something different it's great. It's very atmospheric with cute wooden houses and sleighs driving about the streets. And best of all, on New Year's Eve they have a great street party on the main street, with fireworks and mulled wine. Just make sure you dodge some of the precariously-fired fireworks!
Rising to 1123m and more than 300m above Zakopane, Gubalówka offers magnificent views of Zakopane itself, the Tatra mountains, the Podhale region and the Beskid mountains beyond it.
During the spring and summer months, Gubalówka is a great starting place for a Zakopane visit. Offering a few kilometres of hiking trails, breathtaking views, as well as eating establishments, you can easily spend a day here exploring the native beauty.
Several gentle and rough hiking trails starting in Zakopane will get you to the top of Gubalówka. Alternatively, for 10 months of the year (except May & October) there is a rail line to the top from the market in Zakopane.
Although Mount Rysy is not as high or spectacular as, say, Mont Blanc or the French Pyrenées, it is Poland's highest peak and a national symbol.
At 2503m, the hike up from Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw is arduous but is well worth it for peering across into Slovakia and back across Poland. The sunset over the peak is
Mount Rysy lies within the Tatra National Park and on the border between Poland and Slovakia.
If you want to cross the Polish/Slovakian border after climbing Mt. Rysy, keep in mind that this is only allowed until the 30th of September due to the high risk of avalanches.
A bus from Zakopane to the Slovakian border at Łysa Polana will get you to Polana Palenica car park, from there it's a good half days trek up to Mount Rysy via Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw.
Note that there is a 2 złoty entrance fee to enter the national park.
Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea) and Czarny Staw (Black Pond) are the most popular tourist attractions on the Polish side of the High Tatra mountains, but go after July when the foreign tourists have gone and the breathtaking views of domineering Mount Rysy and the peace of both of the lakes are yours alone. It's a shame though that all you can do is admire the lakes instead of swimming in them but make the most of the fresh air!
Morskie Oko and Czarny Staw both lie within the Tatra National Park. A bus from Zakopane to the Slovakian border at Łysa Polana will get you to Polana Palenica car park, from there the local Górale inhabitants will take you up the 1440m climb to the lakes in their horse drawn carriages for 35 złoty each in 1 hr 45 mins, otherwise it takes 2 hours to cover the whole 9km on foot (but the path is concreted). Note that there is a 2 złoty entrance fee to enter the national park.
If you are going to go all the way to Krakow then you should seriously consider staying in Zakopane, which is set in the picturesque peaks of the Tatra mountains.
The people are friendly and the cultural traditions of this part of Poland are kept alive for all to admire and enjoy. It costs nothing to walk the peaks of Poland's highest mountain - Rysy and to breathe in the pure fresh air.
Zakopane and the Tatra mountains lie 150km to the south of Krakow. You can either take the train or the bus. The bus is quicker (2.5 hours) and a lot cheaper than the train;
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