Zakopane is one of the cities in Poland, maybe next to Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, and Cracow, which has worldwide recognition. It offers numerous attractions that draw tourists from all over the world.
A must for skiing enthusiasts, Zakopane, in the heart of the Tatras ( the only mountains of Alpine character in the Central Europe ) is regarded by Polish people as their country's winter sports capital. Well provided with runs and ski lifts, it offers the possibility of skiing at an altitude of over 2000 meters. Everyone can have fun there as the town offers favorable conditions for experienced skiers as well as for those who are taking their first steps. In summer, Zakopane offers both difficult paths on the spectacular routes of the Tatras Mountains and easier paths in the charming valleys or along the ridges of the hills surrounding the town. As the Tatras lie within the Polish and Slovac national parks, when you visit the mountain range, you are also skirting Slovakia. If you sail down the Dunajec Gorge in the Pieniny, you will have a Polish cliff on one side and a Slovac one on the other.
Many hikers are drawn to the region as well, and its mountains are traversed by well-marked hiking trails. Those who don't want to go hiking in the mountains are content to admire the picturesque scenery from the windows of their cable cars gliding to the summit of Mt. Kasprowy Wierch, or from the funicular railway ascending Mt. Gubalowka. The mountain is, without a doubt, one of the favorite rambles of tourists and locals alike. The summit offers a fabulous panoramic view as well as numerous restaurants and shops located near the cable car terminal.
Another attraction for tourists in Tatras National Park are lakes filled with crystal-clear water, known as “stawy" scattered throughout the park's territory. The most famous and frequently visited is Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea). Many excursions are taken by tourists to this destination.
Nestled at the foot of the Tatras Mountains, in the region of Podhale, Zakopane is not only attractive for its geographic position but for its architectural style as well. The richest in terms of architectural heritage is Koscielna Street, which is considered to be the town's architectural masterpiece. Besides a wealth of traditional houses of the town, it offers Zakopane's oldest church- dating from 1845 along with its cemetery where great number of writers, artists as well as mountaineers, who contributed to the legend of the resort, are buried. In the cemetery, even the funeral monuments reflect the true Podhale tradition as they are decorated with icons painted on glass.
The region of Zakopane is also a place where people preserve and pursue the native tradition and culture: "goral" songs, dancing, speaking in dialect and mountaineer craft- the latter can be found especially in Krupowki Street- the town's most travelled street. Besides lines of cafes, restaurants, luxury hotels, exclusive souvenir shops and art galleries, tourists can visit the market which is a gathering of the regions most traditional handicrafts such as: leather kierpce ( traditional highland moccasin ), woolen highland pullovers, wooden ciupagi ( highlanders' sticks with decorative axe-like handlers ) as well as regional cheeses made from sheep's milk- bryndza and oscypki.
Today, a trip to Zakopane is a must, especially for those who come from abroad to admire the beauty of Poland. Numerous attractions that the town offers contributed enormously to its appreciation as the center of Polish tourism, which has been proved through years as it attracts more and more tourists and holidaymakers every year.