Tatra mountains in Poland – “I had no idea that Poland looked like this!”, quite a few people responded to my photos of the Tatra mountains. And to be honest, for a long time I also knew little of Poland and it wasn’t really on my travel radar. However, a few years ago a friend told me about this great trip she took to Poland hiking some spectacular mountains. Ever since then I’ve been longing to visit. I realized Poland is a mecca for adventurous, independent travelers. You can explore the mountains in the south, the lakes in the east, and the Baltic Sea beaches in the west. Or travel back in history with Soviet buildings, World War II remnants, and medieval castles.
Unfortunately, my time in Poland was limited and I only had the chance to explore the Tatra National park and Krakow. As you can already guess: I loved it and it was the perfect ‘mountain city trip’. So, in case you need any more convincing, here are nine reasons why you should check out the Polish Tatras!
- 1. It’s as beautiful as the Alps, but much more affordable
- 2. It’s easily accessible and only a 2-hour drive from Krakow
- 3. It’s easy to hike independently since the trails are well-marked
- 4. The mountain huts are fantastic: beautiful locations, affordable, and comfortable
- 5. There are many mountain lakes ♥
- 6. Explore the Tatra’s gateway town Zakopane
- 7. Enjoy delicious Polish food on the way!
- 8. You can easily combine it with a city trip to Krakow
- 9. And last but not least: It’s just absolutely stunning!
1. It’s as beautiful as the Alps, but much more affordable
The Polish Tatras are often referred to as a miniature Alps since the landscape is quite similar. However, in contrast to a trip to the Alps, a trip to the Tatra mountains won’t break the bank. A comfortable private room in a mountain hut or hostel is about 25 euro per person and lunch or breakfast costs only about 5-6 euro! This means more money for more pierogi!
2. It’s easily accessible and only a 2-hour drive from Krakow
The Tatra mountains are only a 2-hour drive away from Krakow. So, you could even do a day-trip! They are also building a new highway at the moment, which should make the drive even faster.
3. It’s easy to hike independently since the trails are well-marked
Although mountain guides can be vital (or obligatory) in some cases, generally it just more fun to figure everything out yourself. In the Tatras it’s quite easy to hike on your own as the paths are very well-marked. If you stay on the paths, it’s pretty much impossible to get lost!
4. The mountain huts are fantastic: beautiful locations, affordable, and comfortable
Staying in a mountain hut is a great experience when trekking in the Tatra mountains. The rustic, cosy and charming mountain huts offer both shared and private rooms, some with spectacular views. It’s the perfect place to relax and sit back with a beer after a long day of hiking!
5. There are many mountain lakes ♥
The Tatra National Park has over 30 mountain lakes, which are called staw (Polish: pond). Morskie Oko is het largest lake. If you hike the Five Lakes route you will pass Czarny Staw (Black lake), Zmarly Staw (Little lake), Wielki Staw (Great lake), Przedni Staw Polski (foremost Lake), and Morskie Oko.
6. Explore the Tatra’s gateway town Zakopane
Zakopane is a friendly, easy-going town on the foot of the Tatra mountains. You can admire the traditional architecture, shop mountain and ski gear, or take the cable car up to Kasprowy Wierch.
7. Enjoy delicious Polish food on the way!
You don’t have to worry about losing calories during your hike, as both Zakopane (the gateway town of the Tatra mountains) and the mountain huts offer delicious food. Try pierogi (dumplings), pancakes, zapiekanka (Polish pizza) and the local Tatrys specialty ‘oscypek‘ (smoked chees from salted sheep milk). Visit the Przymlynie restaurant in Zakopane for traditional Polish food.
8. You can easily combine it with a city trip to Krakow
Don’t forget to spend a few days in Krakow before or after your trekking. The second city of Poland is incredibly picturesque with cobbled alleyways, medieval castles, and colorful houses. Explore different neighborhoods by foot with one of the many free walking routes. Go the cool Rynek underground museum, Schindler’s factory or visit the nearby Wieliczka salt mine or Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s also a foodies heaven and this year Krakow is European Capital of Gastronomic culture! If you’re looking for a more luxury hotel experience I would recommend the hip Puro hotel with a great spa and super comfy beds!
9. And last but not least: It’s just absolutely stunning!
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See you in Poland soon?