It’s impossible to get bored in the mountains! And yet, guests coming to Zakopane often ask me about things they can do with the kids in Zakopane and the surrounding area. In this post I show you a handful of ideas and hints on the best ways to enjoy the “Zakopiec” with your little ones.
To improve readability, they are divided in two sections, mountain trips and “urban” entertainment.
Hiking in the mountains?
The most important question you have to answer before you set off: how old are the children and how will they endure the difficulties of the mountain hiking?
If the kids are small and have never walked in mountains, I suggest to start with two popular and most importantly, easy routes.
A trip to Kasprowy Wierch.
The cable car ride to the top of Kasprowy is an attraction in itself. Beautiful views from the cable car window will amaze every kid. By the way, we have an audioguided tour of Kasprowy!
Once at the top, take a walk from the station towards the summit of Beskid. It is roughly 1 kilometer away from the upper station and it is well visible from there. To get there simply folow the red trail to the East . You will have to climb only 100 meters, and you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Tatras.
Keep in mind that the return hike from Kasprowy is suitable for slightly older children. The younger kids may find the 1000 meter descent a bit challenging.
In my opinion Dolina Kościeliska, or the Kościeliska Valley, is the most interesting of all valleys in Tatras. There are many points of interest on the way, so I encourage you to walk the full length of the valley. The attractions include:
– Caves, including the cave Mroźna with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, or dark caves of Raptawicka and Mylna.
– A karst spring,
– Remains of steel industry, or villages,
– A beautiful Smerczyński Pond, with magnificent views of the West Tatras.
– At the end of the trail, a shelter on Hala Ornak, with a decent restaurant.
Please note that winter caves are closed.
The total length of the trail up to the shelter at Hala Ornak is 6 kilometers. If this is too far for you, you can take a horse-drawn carriage, that will take you to Polana Pisana, halfway to the shelter.
Did I tell you we have an audioguide to Dolina Kościeliska too?
If you want to walk to Morskie Oko, remember that it is a nine-kilometer walk along an asphalt road. 9 kilometers one way. Not all kids will be patient enough to endure it! There are not too many attractions on the way, the most interesting are Mickiewicz Waterfalls, a small waterfall partially hidden from prying eyes. The trail to Morskie Oko in the winter can be difficult due to snow and ice on the road, especially in the upper part.
Hikes for the older children
Numerous hikes are possible if your kids are older. Among the easy routes, the trail to the Valley of the Five Lakes will be the most rewarding. The valley is one of the most popular hiking destinations, so expect crowds especially in the high season. But it’s worth it.
Another nice route is a walk from Kasprowy Wierch down through Czerwone Wierchy either to Dolina Kościeliska, or back to the bottom station of the cable car in Kiry.
If you are looking for a good trail in the lower parts of the mountains, I recommend the “Ścieżka nad Reglami”, or “the Regle Path”. It is the trail along the main ridge of the Tatras, leading in the forest, below the upper forest limit. My favourite part is between the Kościeliska and Chochołowska Valleys. This is a long hike, though. If you walk the full lenght of both valleys, it will total to more than 15 kilometers.
I strongly discourage you from trying to hike the highest trails in Tatras, like Orla Perć, Rysy or Giewont. These are difficult and challenging routes, with ladders, chains, and steep climbs exceeding 1000 meters.
Bania thermal baths.
They are located in Białka, a few minutes drive from Zakopane, right next to the ski resort of Polana Kotellnica. They are a year-round attraction for children and adults. Apart from the indoor and outdoor pools (heated!), there is an indoor Water Park featuring four water slides. Highly recommended especially in Winter, after a full day of fun on the nearby slopes.
Another cool place in winter is the ice rank next to the Krupówki street. Getting there is not difficult at all, and the skate hire is available on site.
Located basically in the center of Zakopane, Gubałówka offers many attractions for kids. You can spend the whole day there, although I find it a bit tiring. Just going up a steep railway can already be fun for many kids. And this is just the beginning, because more attractions are waiting at the top:
– A gravity slide, 750 meters long. Feasible on dry and warm days.
– Rope parks. There are several such parks on the Gubałówka ridge, fans of this kid of activity will for sure be delighted.
– In winter, there is a snow park called Snow Fun. An fun place, the most interesting to me is a downhill ride on a pontoon, as well as a walk in snowshoes.
And of course, we have an audioguide to Gubałówka too.
Zakopane is a great place to try skiing. The slopes are generally mild (except for Kasprowy!), and the infrastructure is just as good as in the Alps. If you do not have ski experience, it is worth to take ski lessons in one of the many ski schools. Equipment is not a problem, there are rentals in most of the big resorts. An additional bonus for the students: in some ski areas students taking skiing lessons and their instructors can bypass the queues to ski lifts!
The largest and the best ski resort is Białka – Polana Kotelnica. It’s almost 20 km of trails, mostly blue, which means easy. The main slope is one of the widest and best that I know in Europe. You can enjoy your after-ski time in the thermal pools nearby.
You can also try smaller resorts, such as the nearby Rusin-Ski. In Zakopane try Gubałówka or Polana Szymoszkowa , the two latter are small, with single ski lifts. But they are less crowded and great if it’s really your first steps.