A few hours' drive from Krakow is Zakopane, which is a city of stunning mountain scenery, thermal springs, ski slopes and delicious traditional food. It is a popular destination, considered a must-see by many tourists.
So, if you don't know what to see and do in Kraków, a good option is to join an excursion to Zakopane. You can walk along a kilometre-long pedestrian street, visit the region's museum and national cemetery, climb to the top of Gubalowka Mountain by funicular or on a trekking route, among other activities.
1. Take a bus trip to Zakopane from Krakow with trekking activity on the Gubalowka Mountain
If you are an enthusiast of outdoor hiking and mountain scenery, then during your visit to Krakow you should take a short two-hour bus ride to the Zakopane region. There, accompanied by a specialised guide, you will trek up the Gubalowka Mountain and then walk along the main street of the city.
To start this activity you will meet your guide at a pre-arranged place in the centre of Krakow. Afterwards, the whole group will board a comfortable bus and while the driver drives to Zakopane, the guide will tell you a little bit about the history of the region you are heading to.
Once in Zakopane, the first stop will be at the Gubalowka funicular station, which is located just at the end of Krupówki Street. There, you will find a path to ascend the mountain.
It may take 45 minutes to go up and 30 minutes to come down, depending on your physical condition. It is approximately 2 kilometres and at least 300 metres vertically.
In addition to admiring the panoramic view of the city and the Tatras mountain range from the top, you can eat, drink and rest a little in the restaurants in the area. You will also see some small hills ideal for skiing.
You will then descend to the second stop of the tour, the Krupówki pedestrian street, where you will find shops, restaurants, cafés and bars along one kilometre. You can explore this area at your own pace for about two hours before returning to Kraków.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 80 euros per person.
- Duration: 10 hours (Approx.)
- Means of transport: The tour takes place in an air-conditioned bus.
- Advantages of this option: You will enjoy a real mountain experience, thanks to the built-in trekking activity.
- Disadvantages of this option: This excursion does not include door-to-door service. Therefore, you will have to make your own arrangements to get from the hotel to the meeting point and back.
2. Enjoy the city of Zakopane and the Chocholowskie Thermal Baths on an excursion from Krakow
A great option to incorporate into your 2-day sightseeing itinerary is a trip to the city of Zakopane and the Chocholowskie Thermal Baths.
You'll enjoy a comfortable two-hour bus ride, stunning mountain scenery and the hottest water in the region at 82ºC to relax in.
Upon arrival in Zakopane, you'll make your first stop at the Gubalowka funicular station to climb up to the mountain of the same name.
This is a fun experience, offering views of the city from different angles. Also, before descending you will see the ski slope and some restaurants at the top.
The tour continues with the second stop at Krupowki Street, a pedestrian area with a length of about one kilometre, which is considered the main street of Zakopane.
There, you will find numerous shops for souvenirs and mountain clothing. You will also find restaurants and food stalls, where you can enjoy traditional food, bars and cafes for hot drinks and snacks.
Afterwards, you will get back on the bus to return to Krakow, but on the way the driver will make a last stop at the Chocholowskie thermal baths, which are located 23 minutes away from Zakopane.
At this resort you will have three hours to soak in waters rich in microelements (magnesium, sulphur, sodium). You can choose between sports pools, children's pools or pools with massage jets. Definitely an experience to add to your list of things to do in Krakow with children.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 199 euros.
- Duration: 10 hours (approx.)
- Means of transport: The tour takes place in a luxury bus and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.
- Advantages of this option: With this tour you will not only get to know the city of Zakopane, but you will also be able to relax in a quiet resort.
- Disadvantages of this option: This tour does not allow pets of any kind, including pets.
3. Join a tour of the historic centre of Zakopane from Krakow
If you still don't know what to see and do around Kraków, then this trip to Zakopane is a good option.
It is a tourist town located approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from the city, where beautiful mountain scenery and many historical sites await you.
Once in Zakopane, you will get off the bus to follow the itinerary together with your guide. It starts with the ascent of the Gubałówkam mountain by funicular railway, from where you will get a nice view of the mountain range and the city in general.
At the top of the mountain you will have a great view and you can visit the restaurants and food stalls. There is also a ski hill, which will be of interest to ski enthusiasts.
After descending, it is time to visit the historic centre of Zakopane. You will see:
- The Pęksowy Brzyzek National Cemetery, built in the 19th century.
- The Trata Museum, with its imposing facade and large collections.
- The Jaszczurówka Chapel, with sculptures, stained glass windows and a wooden structure, characteristic of the city's architecture.
Before returning to Kraków, you will have some free time to stroll along the famous Krupówki pedestrian street. You can buy souvenirs, taste the local cuisine (smoked cheese, veal cutlet, trout, duck, soups), have a drink in a bar or sit in a café and relax.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 74 euros.
- Duration: 8 hours and 30 minutes (Approx.)
- Means of transport: You will be transported in a spacious, comfortable and air-conditioned bus.
- Advantages of this option: Despite having a guide at your side to guide you, you will have some free time to shop, eat and visit some areas of the city.
- Disadvantages of this option: The tour does not include entrance to the ski hill at the top of Gubałówkam Mountain, so you will have to pay for it separately.
4. Half day tour to Zakopane from Krakow
This half-day tour to Zakopane is ideal for those who have two days in Krakow, but don't want to miss out on the most attractive tourist destinations.
Join this adventure and enjoy an amazing view from the top of Gubalowka Mountain. You can also sample local foods, buy some souvenirs and return to Krakow to hop on a sightseeing bus, join one of the best food tours or do any other activity on your itinerary.
Once you are picked up from your hotel, you will embark on a 2 hour and 20 minute drive to the town of Zakopane. During this transfer time, you will be able to view the scenery through the bus window and listen to the driver's commentary about the history of the town you are heading to.
Upon arrival in Zakopane you will have approximately two hours to explore the town and enjoy the scenery. You will be able to:
- Walk along the famous "Krupowki" street. This is a pedestrian street with a distance of one kilometre, where you will find a lot of commercial activity: shops with souvenirs, clothes, shoes, and mountain accessories. There are also restaurants, bars, cafes and much more.
- Take the funicular up the Gubalowka Mountain. This is a ride that will take you only a few minutes, but will give you a privileged view of Zakopane at all times. Once you are at the top, you can take a short time to admire the scenery and take some amazing pictures before descending.
After this short but unforgettable adventure through Zakopane, everyone on the tour will have to get back on the bus. The driver will then depart for Krakow.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 143 Euros per person.
- Duration: The tour of Zakopane lasts 2 hours (approx.)
- Means of transport: The transfer to and from the hotel takes place in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus.
- Advantages of this option: You will be able to see Zakopane and enjoy the scenery despite the short time available.
- Disadvantages of this option: You will not be accompanied by a specialised guide.
5. Visit Lake Morskie Oko and the town of Zakopane from Kraków
Among the best tours and excursions from Krakow, this tour takes you to Lake Morskie Oko and then to the town of Zakopane, right at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. You will discover beautiful natural scenery and a peaceful atmosphere in which to relax.
This tour usually takes a maximum of 12 hours. From Krakow you will travel in a comfortable bus with a professional driver. It takes about two hours to reach the Zakopane area.
On the way, the driver will tell you some stories about the magical destinations you are about to visit.
When you arrive at the car park, you will get off the bus and start walking towards the Morski Oko Lake. This is a two-hour walk through dense forest.
You will enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery and the calm blue waters of the lake. You will also have the opportunity to take some pictures or even, as I did, see some impressive deer.
After you have seen the lake, the bus will drive you to the town of Zakopane. Depending on the tour, you may have the opportunity to take a funicular up to the top of Gubalowka Mountain for a great view of the Tatra Mountains.
Afterwards, you will descend again and, before returning to Krakow, you will walk along the kilometre-long pedestrian and shopping street Krupowki, where you will find a large number of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafés and bars.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 107,17 Euro per person.
- Duration: 11 to 12 hours from the time of hotel pick-up.
- Means of transport: Air-conditioned bus.
- Advantages of this option: Tickets for the funicular and the Morskie Oko Lagoon are included in the tour.
- Disadvantages of this option: The tour does not include food and beverages, so you will have to buy any food you want on your own.
6. Visit Zakopane from Krakow and discover this beautiful region at your own pace
This tour to Zakopane from Krakow is aimed at people who enjoy exploring new places at their own pace without a guide or a large group of people. You can discover the city, beautiful landscapes, taste traditional food, see the local architecture, relax in hot springs and much more.
The adventure starts at the door of your hotel in Krakow, where you will board a minivan and be transferred to the tourist town of Zakopane. There, you'll have plenty of time to wander the streets of the city and stop at the shops to shop, have breakfast or lunch in one of the restaurants, sit in a café and enjoy a hot drink, and more.
Usually, this type of free tour offers tickets for some additional visits in Zakopane, so if you want to discover more of this popular winter destination, don't miss these activities:
- Take a ride on a funicular, which will take you up the Gubalowka Mountain. This will give you a privileged view of Zakopane.
- Soak in a thermal pool in Chocholow for about three hours and enjoy the benefits of the water for your skin while you relax.
- Visit the Tatra National Museum and learn interesting facts about the unique wooden architecture style of the region.
- Go to the Wielka Krokiew Hill, which is a famous ski slope used for world-renowned competitions.
Finally, you will meet the minivan driver at a previously arranged time and place. You will then be driven back to your hotel in Krakow and continue with the activities on your 1-day Krakow sightseeing itinerary.
- Price: The average price of this tour is 48 Euros per person.
- Duration: Up to a maximum of 24 hours.
- Means of transport: The tour offers an air-conditioned minivan with comfortable seats.
- Advantages of this option: You will be able to tour Zakopane at your own pace and, if you wish, enjoy some additional activities.
- Disadvantages of this option: The tour is not suitable for wheelchair users.
Tips for an excursion to Zakopane from Kraków
If you are planning a trip to Zakopane from Krakow, there are a few basic tips to help you get the most out of your trip:
- Wearwarm clothes. Keep in mind that the temperature in Zakopane is lower than in Krakow, especially at the top of the mountain.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will have to walk a considerable distance during the hike and you don't want to get tired.
- Take with you the right accessories for each activity. So, for trekking you can't forget your walking stick, hiking boots and hydration, while for soaking in the hot springs, you will need a swimming costume and towels.
- If you do the tour on your own, you will need to make a small itinerary of the attractions you want to visit and make sure you know the timetable and the method of purchasing tickets.
What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting Zakopane from Krakow on your own?
Opting for a guided tour to visit Zakopane from Krakow saves you time and money. For example:
- You will have transport to and from your hotel or a meeting point in the city of Krakow.
- During the tour you will be accompanied by an experienced person, who will take you directly to the sights and tell you about the history of the place.
- You don't have to worry about tickets for a certain attraction selling out at the last minute, as these tours usually include them.
The opposite is true when visiting Zakopane on your own, as you will have to travel by public bus or taxi, which leads to an increase in travel time and budget. Also, when you arrive in town, you may feel a bit disoriented as to where to start your tour.