There are plenty of benefits to planning your trip well in advance. This way, you will save a lot of money and have a wide range of options. And because summer is over, it is high time to plan your next winter vacation. Everyone dreams of sleigh rides, regional smoked cheese with cranberry, and long walks across a valley covered in snow. You can divide your winter vacation into two parts: visiting one of the oldest Polish cities and enjoying active leisure in Białka Tatrzańska or Zakopane. Now, you can start the journey to your skiing destination with a flight to Cracow. The flights are scheduled three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and the flight duration is only 1 hour and 15 minutes. The route is operated by Ryanair, one of the low-cost airlines. Tickets bought in advance cost even less than PLN 50.
What if you broke the pattern and went sightseeing in winter?
Cracow is an amazing city, offering its visitors and inhabitants plenty of attractions all year round. In winter, history buffs will surely enjoy ‘Friends of Cracow’ theme trips, and winter sports lovers can visit one of city ice rinks. Regardless of the season, the highlights of Cracow include the Main Square, the Cloth Hall, Saint Mary’s Church, and the Statue of Adam Mickiewicz. These spots are a must even if you are only passing through the Royal City. Another spot that you can’t miss is Wawel. Visiting royal chambers, the remarkable Cathedral, and St Leonard’s Crypt with tombs of Polish kings is a perfect idea for a winter day. The Main Square Underground is also a huge tourist attraction. On cold days, the place is crowded with tourists as it offers multiple fascinating exhibitions. Thanks to the reconstructions of historical roads and city infrastructure, prints, drawings, and holograms, the Underground is nothing like boring museums with dull exhibitions and felt slippers.
Cracow boasts the best tourist accommodation, and all visitors can find something to their liking regardless of their budget. In the city centre and its vicinity, there are several dozen luxury hotels, including hotels of the largest world chains. There are also lots of other cosy accommodation options, also near the Main Town Square. In particular, plenty of hostels and apartments are located in the district of Kazimierz.
After your visit to Cracow, it is time to head for the mountains, which are only a two‑hour drive away. To get to Podhale, which is a Mecca for Polish skiing, you can use public transport or one of the car rentals, which are recently very popular. The most popular skiing destinations are Zakopane and Białka Tatrzańska, and this is no surprise since these resorts offer plenty of attractions.
Kasprowy Wierch boasts the highest located slope in Poland, which is also the only Alpine slope in the country. Snow on Kasprowy Wierch is a natural phenomenon; the slope is not covered with artificial snow, which is its huge advantage. Kasprowy offers several ski trails: Goryczkowa (length: 1770 m), Gąsienicowa (length: 1200 m), a ski trail from Gąsienicowa Pasture (length: 8500 m) and a ski run from Goryczkowa (length: 3500 m). Another popular skiing spot is Szymoszkowa Meadow in Zakopane, which gives splendid views of the Tatra Mountains panorama. Skiing lovers can use two cableways. The large cableway to the top of Gubałówka is a good option for advanced skiers and tourists who are after spectacular views. On the top, you can also relax, have a cup of hot tea in the bar, or have dinner in the restaurant and admire the views. The slope is also adapted for beginners. To practise your skills, use the smaller cableway going to the half of the slope. The best spot for families with children is KidsPark Szymoszkowa at the lower station, which offers a lift for little skiers and snowboarders. Experienced instructors will help your child to begin their adventure with winter sports and stand on one or two boards for the first time. At Harenda, there are six skiing and snowboarding trails of different difficulty and length. The most advanced skiers can try their hand on the FIS‑compliant trails (length: 800 m) and intermediate trail (length: 900 m). For the less advanced ones, there are two intermediate and easy trails (length: 100 m). Beginners can opt for two easy trails (length: 250 m and 200 m).
There is also a Skiing Kindergarten for children who want to practise skiing or snowboarding. To relax and have something to eat, head for the lower station, where you will find Karczma Harenda, Szałasie u Curusia near surface lifts, or for a bar with a viewing terrace at the upper station of the chair lift.
Kotelnica Białczańska in Białka Tatrzańska is the largest skiing spot in Podhale. It offers 14 kilometres of trails of different difficulty, adapted both for advanced skiers and beginners. The longest trail is 1 900 metres long, while the shortest – 110 metres. There is also a skiing garden for children, 65-metres long and with small sloping. The centre gives beautiful views of the Tatra Mountains. Rusin Ski is a station on Wierch Rusiński in Bukowina Tatrzańska, which offers perfect conditions for winter sports. For skiers and snowboarders, there are plenty of trails of various difficulty: six-person chair lift Porsche Design, four-person chair lift, two surface lifts, and a baby lift (a lift for little winter lovers). The main trails are 1200 and 900 metres long. On top of the mountain, there is an atmospheric and cosy inn. Długa Polana is a great spot near Zakopane. A small skiing centre located at the foot of Gorce in Nowy Targ. It is a perfect spot for skiing and snowboarding beginners. Długa Polana offers three skiing trails: blue (for beginners, 650 m), red (for intermediate skiers, 450 m) and green (for those who have just started their adventure with winter sports, 100 m). Zadział is another skiing centre at the foot of Gorce in Nowy Targ. It is a great spot for a family skiing trip. The lift offers the main slope (550 m), both for advanced skiers and snowboarders and beginners), and a family zone with a lift and learners’ trail, pontoon rides, carousel for children, and a sledging slope. Czorsztyn Ski is a skiing lift on the slope of Wdżar, which – according to some theories – was once a volcano, although there is no evidence for that. The complex includes two chair lifts, three surface lifts, and two lifts for beginners. It boasts eight trails of different difficulty – from trails for beginners to FIS-compliant trails. The longest trail is 1200 metres long, while the shortest – 200 metres long.