Dolina Kościeliska is the second, alongside the road to Morskie Oko, most popular walking route in the Polish Tatras. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful valley of these mountains. A trip there means a six-kilometer walk along a winding and roaring creek. At the end of it, there’s tea and food awaiting the tourists in one of the most famous Polish shelters.
Kościeliska is not only the most beautiful, but also the largest Tatra valley in Poland. Lots of interesting environmental facts – beautiful views of the Western Tatras, mysterious caves, narrow rocky gates over the road, picturesque halls, an atmospheric shelter at Hala Ornak.
Today, the valley is fully protected – it is located in the Tatra National Park. However, it was once inhabited. In the mid-nineteenth century, the steel industry flourished here. Traces of forges, a church, sawmill and cottages, although hardly visible, can be found in the glades. The robbers’ shrine, which tourists pass on their way up, was funded by the former inhabitants of the valley. Wooden shepherds’ huts and shepherds, speeding flocks of their sheep remind of the traditional occupation of local highlanders – pastoralism.
Beautiful landscapes of the Tatra valley: clearings, rock gates, or narrowing of the valley, views of the surrounding mountain peaks, Sheep specials straight from the huts at Wyżnia Kira Miętusia, Remains of the steel industry in Stare Kościeliska, The Pisana Glade - a beautiful episode of the Second World War Panorama of the Western Tatras from the Smreczyński Pond, Valley caves ... Mroźna, Raptawicka, Mylna
A trail leading through the Kościeliska Valley begins in Kiry, a town located next to Zakopane. The entrance to the valley can be found easily, next to the "Harnaś" inn, there is a barrier, behind which a green walking trail leading through the valley begins. The easiest way to get there is by bus from Zakopane, from the bus station. Buses run very often. You can get as far as Kiry by car, where you park in one of the car parks not far from the beginning of the trail. By foot - the most beautiful route to the Valley leads through one of the mountain trails. During the summer, in good weather, you can descend from Kasprowy Wierch. How to prepare? On the trail of the Kościeliska Valley, you will have the opportunity to visit several caves. It is worth taking a warmer outfit, even on the hottest summer days. Be sure to also bring a flashlight. Important! When going into the Tatras, regardless of the season, remember about the proper clothing. The weather in the mountains can change, so bring a suit adequate to the temperature, do not forget about a raincoat. Remember about mountain footwear, especially if you are going high up.
The Kościeliska Dolina Trail is one of the few easy year-round walking routes in the Polish Tatras. The peak of the season usually falls on the holiday period, as well as the periods of Christmas and Easter. In this season, thousands of tourists reach the valley every day. The best time for a trip around the valley during this period will be morning hours - the sooner you leave, the better. If you can, try to spend the night in the shelter at Ornak hall - a morning in the mountains will provide you with an unforgettable experience. Remember that the Mroźna cave is open only in the summer season, from May to October, between 9 and 17. We recommend a visit on clear days, off-season - for example in October or in November. On some days, for example on November 1, Dolina Kościeliska (as well as the entire Zakopane) literally depopulates. Remember that in winter, the road can be icy and snowy, therefore the passage time of the entire trail can be significantly longer. The trails leading from the valley to the surrounding mountains can be snowed and icy, which makes them difficult to cross. This also applies to the caves in the valley, especially Raptawicka. If you do not have the right equipment and outfit - do not stray from the trail.