Morskie Oko lake is a must-see of
the Tatra National Park.
Tatra Mountains, known as 'Polish Alps', and the town
of Zakopane, Poland's ultimate mountain resort.
Alps-like Tatra Mountains, or the Tatras (Polish Tatry),
is the highest range of the Carpathian Mountains and lie
along Poland’s border with Slovakia. Two hour’s drive from
one finds stunning views and pristine nature as well as the
best skiing in winter and hiking, rock climbing, cave
exploration, cycling, paragliding, etc. through the rest of
the year. As tourism has been the area’s main business for
over a century, visitors are thoroughly catered to. Annually
some three million of them turn up in the Polish alps,
mostly getting along well with wildlife preservation which
is paramount seeing that twin national parks cover the whole
of the Tatras both sides of the national border.
The Tatry Mountains' features.
The Tatra Mountains rise to the greatest elevation in the
entire northern half of Europe, with the 2655-meters (8711
ft) Gerlachovsky Stit in Slovakia and the 2499-meters
(8198ft) Rysy peak in Poland. The range is 53 km long and
takes up 785 sq km, the bulk on the Slovak territory. Three
distinct parts make up the Tatra Mountains – the High Tatras,
the Western Tatras, and the Bielskie Tatras. The High Tatras,
with their dramatic vistas, steep peaks, sharp rocks, deep
glens, and crystal lakes are the most attractive. At the
same time the Western Tatras’ lower slopes clad in pine
forests offer wider horizons, diverse wildlife, and somewhat
less demanding tracks.
Visitors to the Tatras largely head for Zakopane, the biggest
mountain resort in Europe north of the Alps. The town of 28,000
receives about three million holiday-makers a year. Due to its
central location on the verge of both the High Tatras and the
Western Tatras, and its accessibility, Zakopane is the best
gateway to the whole area. The town also abounds in varied
hotels, inns, and boarding-houses, restaurants and cafes, shops
and art galleries, sport facilities and nightclubs. Zakopane is
a major center of winter sports of all sorts.
The townsfolk take pride in their own brand of the traditional
Polish highlander culture – Poland’s highlanders are as
emblematic to other Poles as Scotland’s to the British, albeit
more colorful by far.
Noteworthy is the region’s old wooden architecture.
The Tatras' musts.
The Morskie Oko (“Sea Eye”) lake with its more elevated
twin, the Czarny Staw lake – for great views, hiking and
climbing. The Kasprowy
peak (1985 meters above sea level) – for a cable car, great
views and skiing. The Koscieliska Valley – for great
views, easy hiking and wildlife. Dolina Pieciu Stawow
(“Five Tarns Valley” ) – for hiking. Hala Gasienicowa –
for hiking. The
Rysy peak (2499m or 8198ft) – for the exclusive view on
hundred peaks and twelve major lakes after an exciting climbing
up the Polish highest mount and the most visited one in the all
Tatras. The Orla Perc (“Eagle Ridge”) trail – for the
thrills of quite demanding if amateur climbing. The
Valley – for easy hiking, cycling, and wildlife. The Regle
dales (when you are in Zakopane town) – for relaxed hiking,
wildlife, and accessibility.
Top station of the cable car near the peak of Kasprowy Wierch
mountain (1985 meters above sea level) in the Western Tatras.
Weather in Zakopane and in the Tatry Mountains.
The Tatras’ mountainous climate is cold due to high altitude,
with much precipitation. What might produce superb ski
conditions for many months–most of the year, actually, on some
elevated slopes–proves unwelcome to non-skiers. Anyway, even in
foothill Zakopane allow for a drop in temperature of 2C to 5C
vis-a-vis lowlands, and the higher the colder. Fierce rainstorms
or snowstorms all of a sudden are common, as gales.
Poland's part of the range, Slovakia's mountain trails in the
Tatras are off limits to tourists from November till May.
Wildlife in the Tatry Mountains.
Besides species common also elsewhere in Poland, such as deer,
roe, fox and badger, the Tatras boast rare animals–lynx, brown
bear, eagle, heath-cock, and alpine chamois and marmot.
Tips for visitors to the Tatry Mountains.
Skiing December through May, and hiking May through
September. Many do the latter October to April as well
but slippery tracks make it dangerous even for
experienced mountaineers with special equipment.
Book well in advance if you want to come on Christmas,
New Year, Easter, Polish national holidays, during
school recesses, or on any weekend December through
September. Allow for slow traffic on the afternoon
before and on the last one.
Those who shun crowded resorts may well give up Zakopane
hotel and opt for quieter–and cheaper– lodgings in any
of the region’s villages. There are also resorts on the
Be extremely careful on mountain tracks, notably in
The Tatras’ local snack is oscypek, a piece of
smoked sheep cheese.
Czarny Staw (Black Pond), the
austere sister lake of the nearby gorgeous Morskie Oko.
Krakow is Poland's tourist mecca, and also a gateway to many
other must-see sites in the region.
Polish national parks near Krakow
City of Krakow map
nation, geography, climate, wildlife, visitors,
Poland's prime tourist attraction and a must in Central
Europe boasts numerous world-class monuments, charming vistas,
delightful atmosphere, and the best restaurants.