22/12/2011 | by jcattlin
- Resort Top: 800m
- Resort Bottom: 800m
- Piste/run/trail top:
- Piste/run/trail bottom:
- Pistes: 21
- Beginner Pistes: 17
- Intermediate Pistes: 19
- Advanced Pistes: 3
- Gondolas: 2
- Regular Chairlifts:
- 1 day: PLN60 – PLN80
- 6 day: N/A
- Season: N/A
Food and Drink Prices
- Pint of lager: PLN7
- Cheeseburger & fries: PLN17
- Pizza: PLN23
- Airport: Poprad – 70km Krakow Balice – 100km
- Train: Zakopane
- Bus: Zakopane
Pope John Paul II (aka Karol Wojtyla) skied regularly on Kasprowy Wierch when he was young, and visited Zakopane a few times after he was ordained.
Zakopane is located about 100km south of Kraków and is the main base for visiting the fourteen nearby resorts. The five areas Nosal, Szymoszkowa, Harenda, Witow and Kasprowy Wierch will be where you’ll spend the majority of your time. With the exception of Kasprowy Wierch, all the areas are hills rather than mountains, and advanced riders will want to visit the others more out of amusement than anything else. However, Zakopane is a great place to head to if you’re a beginner or intermediate. You won’t find the polished finish of a Swiss resort, but then nor will you find the prices – this place is a bargain. Having a bit of local knowledge really helps in finding your way around though, so check out UK company Sunshine World who are based here in the winter.
THE PARKS (2 out of 5)
There is a small park at Harenda, and a daily-maintained park at Witow with various-sized rails, boxes and ramps as well as some imaginative features – there’s even an awesome box on top of a van. If you’re into your freestyle then it’s best to head a bit further away to Bialka. The terrain park here usually has a kicker line and various rail features, and has previously hosted a leg of the Burton Am Tour. Sunshine World are running an air bag there this season.
THE POWDER (2 out of 5)
Kasprowy Wierch is the place to head for, without question. The cable-car at the bottom was first built in 1937, but luckily it was completely renovated in 2007, so the queues which once burdened it are now a very reasonable 30 minutes max at peak times. They’re pretty much non-existent if you arrive before 9am or later than 1pm. Once you arrive at the top of the cable-car station, you’ll see two chairlifts, one on each side of the mountain. It’s best to keep high and use the chairlifts until you know the queues at the cable-car are minimal.
One of the chairs feeds a regular piste, the other gives you access to the good stuff. Take a 50-metre walk and head onto the black run in the first bowl. You can traverse directly under the chairlift, but don’t get too close to the corniced cliffs. This is a fun area to explore, with lots of hidden valleys, some steep powder stashes and a few natural halfpipe areas. Continue for a while into the trees, but not so far that you miss the chairlift back up. Back at the top of the chair, you can hike the ridgeline into three further bowls depending on your fitness, and you won’t ever find many tracks here.
Off –piste is officially illegal and if you’re caught then you can face a fine, but this is never really enforced and attitudes to it are changing. However, do make sure you’re suitably equipped and not riding alone if hiking into the bowls as they are unsecured and not patrolled.
THE PISTES (2 out of 5)
The areas only have a few pistes each, so you can forget the idea of clocking up plenty of miles in a day – unless you want to spend most of your time in a taxi pointing at a map. Each area also has its own lift pass, and while some areas do sell day/ night passes, it is more usual to buy tickets for single rides up a lift. This is a bonus for beginners, but can leave you rummaging around in your pockets for the right paper ticket! Polana Szymoszkowa has two very civilised, very fast lifts that will entertain beginners and intermediates for a while.
The lifts are open until 10pm every night, but watch out for the crazy vodka fuelled locals, recognisable by their jeans and their teetering-just-past-the-edge-of- control style. Nosal has a short, super-steepblack run and lots of beginner tows. Harenda is a little out of town, but it’s a decent spot for learning with a nice wide area.
The easy runs are accessed by tows and the chairlift leads to the steeper terrain. Gubałówka is very convenient from town and has a fancy new funicular railway taking you to the top of the hill. It is a top place for beginners, though others will tire of it quickly – but they do offer night riding. Kasprowy Wierch has the longest and most testing pistes but there is nothing here for beginners.
THE PARTIES (3 out of 5)
The Polish have a reputation for beautiful women and enjoying the odd vodka – you won’t be disappointed. Nightlife is pretty good, with enough bars charging very little for you to indulge. The town has a central pedestrian street and most of the action hangs off it. Start your night off in the Paparazzi, or if you fancy a game of pool or a bowl then check out U-Boot, which is beneath the swanky Belvedere hotel. As things start picking up there’s plenty of clubs to choose from. Vavavoom is a swanky club with classy cocktails and music from slick resident
DJ Chill. Dworzec Tatrzanski hosts regular events and guest DJs. Prestige was refitted last year and is a cool, friendly bar. Rockus is a popular cheap and cheerful student hangout, and Morskie Oko is the biggest club in Zakopane. It is usually the busiest place in town, and very occasionally has a bit of trouble. But they’ve built a new laser room and a good pool hall upstairs.
“The Polish have a reputation for beautiful women and enjoying the odd vodka – you won’t be disappointed!”