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Visiting Zakopane with kids is an adventure the whole family will love, with so many things to do in Zakopane throughout the year. This popular vacation destination in Poland is extra magical in winter though!
Discover the best things to do in Zakopane with kids, from mountain visits to the Polish Tatra Mountains to hiking and outdoor sports, to water parks and holiday season fun.
This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2020.
- The Best Things To Do In Zakopane With Kids
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Zakopane?
- What To Do In Zakopane In Winter
- The Best Things To Do In Zakopane With Kids All Year
- Tips for Visiting Zakopane With Kids
The Best Things To Do In Zakopane With Kids
There are so many things to do in Zakopane with kids… or without them, and it is a destination that can be enjoyed in summer, and in the beautiful Zakopane winter.
So to give you plenty of reason to visit Poland, we share the top Zakopane things to do, to help you plan an incredible visit with the family!
We have put together a list of favourite things to do in Zakopane with kids.
While some of these are Zakopane winter activities that are only possible during the snow season, most can be enjoyed year-round with enough to entertain the kids no matter the season.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Zakopane?
A few years back, we had our first white Christmas in Zakopane and it was magical.
Zakopane is a popular holiday destination, not only for the rest of the world (at least those who have gotten word of it), but also for Polish natives, who come during the winter months for skiing, snowboarding and other family activities.
In the cooler months, Zakopane transforms into a winter wonderland, becoming one of the most picturesque towns in the world.
The unique wooden architecture the area is known for is made even more beautiful with snow-capped roofs and roads, giving the entire town a festive vibe.
This makes it very popular during the winter months of December to February.
However, there is just as much to do when the weather is warmer, with scenic heights, mountain day trips, family fun and pampering too.
Some of these things can only be enjoyed when the weather is fine.
What To Do In Zakopane In Winter
One of the best things to do in Zakopane, or anywhere in Europe, in December is the Christmas markets!
But that’s not all that’s on offer in the winter months!
Some of the best activities in Zakopane are only after the snow season has arrived, making it the perfect destination to hit the slopes.
Here are some of the best things to do in winter:
1. Learn to Ski
There is no doubt one of the best things to do in Zakopane in winter is skiing!
Zakopane was home to the Winter Universiades in 1956, 1993 and 2001, along with other major ski events over the years. It ss known for its great ski slopes.
They even had a bid in for the 2022 Winter Olympics, so when it comes to finding a great place to learn how to ski, Zakopane delivers.
The Zakopane snow season typically falls between December and April. The busiest time for skiing and winter activities is during February and March.
There are many places around Zakopane that offer ski lessons, from beginner to advanced.
Plus there are mini slopes used to teach young kids, so that the whole family can get involved in this fun winter activity.
Or if your kids happen to already be skiing pros, you will find endless options for places to practice this around Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains.
2. Horse and Sleigh Ride
Popular during the winter holidays when Zakopane transforms into a tourism hotspot are the horse-pulled sleigh rides.
Known as kuligs, they tend to hang around in the main part of town or up the top of Mt Gubalowka.
We had a kulig ride on the night before New Year’s Eve when attending an event somewhere on the outskirts of town.
It was in the dark, and with minimal light pollution in the area, it is truly dark in the forest. We could see very little apart from the ghostly white snow-capped trees along the edge of the road.
A very memorable experience though and one we enjoyed, especially with the entertainment, hot food and drink at the end.
The horses are massive and beautiful!
3. Learn to Snowboard
Maybe you’ve already mastered skiing or simply want a different kind of winter sport challenge. If so, snowboarding might be just the thing.
Like ski lessons, there are options for snowboarding lessons in Zakopane, away from the ski lessons so you have plenty of room to master the art of manoeuvring on a snowboard.
During our holiday, we attempted snowboarding and all I can say is that I am just not that coordinated. It was somewhat of a disaster and I remember spending far too much time in the snow than on it.
(Thankfully there’s no photographic evidence).
Simon was not much better however his two younger brothers had more success.
His little brothers also had a skiing lesson on one of the mini slopes on Mt Gubalowka a few days earlier which gave them an advantage.
Or simply the fact that a lot of kids seem to pick these skills up quicker than us adults!
Still, it’s fun to try and the kids are bound to enjoy it.
While the Summer Toboggan Run is a great year-round family travel attraction, snow tobogganing is an experience not to be missed for things to do in Zakopane with kids.
The toboggans can be purchased or hired for cheap around town, or in our case, we were lucky enough to borrow the toboggans from the owners of the Airbnb house we were staying in.
There are a few places you can do this. The hill near the bottom of Mt Gubalowka is very popular.
There were always people there flying down the hill on their toboggan then making the big walk back up again.
We had a go and it was an exhilarating, if not terrifying experience.
If you are a fan of funny home video shows, you may even want to have a video camera on the ready. We witnessed some hilarious outcomes on the toboggan hill.
One such incident closely resembled bowling when a child toboggan rider failed to stop and knocked a group of unexpecting adults off their feet.
But really… who turns their back to a toboggan run?
Related Reading: White Christmas in Zakopane
5. Ride the Kasprowy Wierch Cable Car
Another impressive natural wonder in the area is Kasprowy Wierch, which is popular for views on a clear day and for skiing during snow season.
Kasprowy Wierch has a peak of 1,987 metres. Massive!
This is an all year round activity, but especially during the colder months!
Be warned, because of the appeal for skiing, hiking and a range of other winter activities, the line-up for the cable car can be massive during the holiday season.
We waited almost 2 hours and it was absolutely freezing when you are standing almost still for that long in a Polish winter.
But it was worth it!
The ride up the top in the Kasprowy Wierch cable car takes 12 minutes. The whole way you have amazing views of the expansive mountain scape and lands that would be rarely explored.
Up the top you can enjoy the scenery and walk up the peak if you’re feeling energetic.
In winter, everything is completely covered in snow and a complete winter wonderland.
Through summer, there is lush greenery.
There are also restaurant and other facilities available. We enjoyed some pretty amazing pizzas while we defrosted a little.
6. Play in the Snow
“Do you want to build a snowman?”.
If you have young kids who love the movie Frozen, I have no doubt you just sang that in your head! Sorry.
But seriously, how much fun is snow for family travel and it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Zakopane with kids if you are travelling during winter.
Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make snow angels or just experience it in it’s full freezing glory.
Maybe you come from a place that already snows often, in which case this may not be as exciting for you, but for us from Australia’s ‘sunshine state’, snow is exciting and we made the most of it!
You may want to head back to one of the great restaurants in town for some pierogi or smoked pork belly after all that time in the great outdoors though.
Nothing like a full belly to warm you up!
Here are our favourite foods in Poland for you to try during your visit!
7. Dog Sled Ride
During winter the kids will love the chance to have a dog sled ride in Zakopane. You can often find them at the top of Mt Gubulwka.
Hopefully you don’t run into that guy during your ride though!
This fun tourist attraction is sure to delight kids as they get to ride behind the adorable sled dogs.
The ride will take them over 1 to 2 kilometres through the snow track in a cosy warm sleigh.
Book your dog sled ride online
Snowlandia is Zakopanes winter amusement park. With unique winter attractions, this is a place like no other!
There is a snow labyrinth and castle, toboggan run, igloos and heaps more of fun that the kids will absolutely love.
There is a mini zoo with an adorable array of wildlife:
- Polish mountain sheep
- Arctic fox and silver fox
- Eagle Owl
- Harris’s hawks
They also have kid-friendly ski slopes and a chair lift for fun outdoors.
The Best Things To Do In Zakopane With Kids All Year
While you can, of course, visit the incredible Kasprowy Wierch by cable car any time of year, for the chance to enjoy the Tatra Mountain views, that’s only the beginning of places to visit in Zakopane.
There is plenty of fun to be had all year round in Zakopane with kids, with both indoors and outdoors attractions, and some incredible day trips too!
Here are some family-friendly Zakopane activities for any time of year:
9. Visit Mt Gubałówka
Above Zakopane, in the Gubalowskie Foothills is Mt Gubalowka.
This is a popular tourist attraction providing breathtaking views of the Tatras. On a clear day, you can see so far and the sight is enough to impress the whole family, as you prepare to feel dwarfed by their size.
You will find the entrance to Mt Gubalowka a small walk beyond the centre of town, where you can catch the funicular (even the name sounds fun).
It’s essentially a small train-type carriage to take you to the top of the hill.
This is much quicker than walking and much more fun to travel with kids. It is a super quick trip but definitely a way to save some energy so you are ready to explore what is at the top of the mountain.
At the top, you will find a village, with more beautiful wooden homes the area is known for, as well as plenty of tourist-friendly activities such as cafes and stalls serving delicious local food.
You can also buy traditional Polish souvenirs, do ski lessons or go for a dog sled ride.
We went up Mt Gubulwka on Christmas Eve and it was one of my fondest memories of our Zakopane day, as it was relatively quiet as everyone prepared for the traditional Christmas Eve feast – Wigilia.
Although even in Australia, this is part of our family tradition too as Simon’s parents are from Poland.
10. Aqua Park Zakopane
If you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, but are still looking for a family-friendly travel idea, the Zakopane Aqua Park is a fun option for everyone.
It’s a great place to visit for adults and kids alike. And at the time of writing, it is apparently the only water park in Poland. Although this may have changed.
With an outdoor swimming pool that offers views of the Tatras, as well as heated indoor pools, jacuzzi tubs, and five water slides.
The Aqua Park caters for younger children too, with a paddling pool and water sprays.
Check out this video below to see some of the cool features:
And the thermal pools are a great way to soothe aching muscles after all that hiking, skiing and snowboarding that you might get up to when visiting Zakopane!
Also a great way to cool off in Zakopane in summer!
11. Visit Morskie Oko
Deep within the Tatra National Park in Poland, within the Rybi Potok Valley is Lake Morskie Oko.
Surrounded by mountain peaks of up to 1,000 metres high or more, Morskie Oko is the largest lake in the Tatras and forth deepest.
It has even been named one of the 5 most beautiful lakes in the world by The Wall Street Journal.
The lake is approximately 12km from Zakopane’s centre and you can travel to the national park entrance and walk the 9km distance to the lake, which will take you around 2 hours.
Or you can take a horse-drawn carriage to within 2km of the lake instead. The later may be a better option when travelling with kids, unless you are a family who hikes often.
If you do decide to walk, there is lots of beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way during the warmer months. There is also food available near the national park entrance.
Well worth the visit, although during winter following heavy snowfall, access to the lake can be restricted for safety reasons.
This was the case during our trip over Christmas, however Simon visited the lake during spring as a kid and loved it…even with the big walk.
12. Summer Toboggan Run
Open from spring until winter, at the top of Mt Gubalowka is the Summer Toboggan Run.
Also known as the Gubalowka Gravitational slide, this is a local attraction for those of you wanting a bit of a thrill.
This man-made Zakopane toboggan run is perfect when visiting outside of the snow season, when the usual winter activities aren’t possible.
Check out the video below to see the Gravitational Slide in action:
There is an admission fee for the attraction and kids under the age of 8 must ride the toboggan run with an adult.
13. Hiking In Zakopane
One of the best parts of staying near the mountains is the opportunity to enjoy nature walks.
Zakopane hiking tracks are perfect for exploring the beautiful scenery and the crisp fresh mountain air.
Start with a shorter track if your kids are younger, to see how they go.
Find the best walking tracks in Zakopane and details on length and difficulty on the Discover Zakopane website.
14. Explore Krupówki Street
Krupówki Street is the main street of Zakopane, lined with restaurants, shops and entertainment.
The street is around a kilometre long and a fun town centre to explore as a family. There are plenty of places to stop with the kids for fun too, with arcade games or street performers.
Follow it to the base of Mt Gubulwka, visiting the markets along the way and finding some cool handmade Polish souvenirs.
15. Kids Park Janosika
Sometimes parents need a little bit of down time, while the kids need to turn off energy and play with other kids. This is where Kids Park Janosika is the perfect option!
This mammoth indoor play centre is 540 square metres of fun, over two levels.
With a play area just for toddlers and loads of fun for the older kids too. There’s slides, a huge ball pits, basketball court and a pontoon track.
Rainy Day Activities In Zakopane
Sometimes bad weather cannot be avoided so have some indoor activities ready for rainy days in Zakopane.
Here are some indoor things to do with kids in Zakopane:
- Kids Park Janosika
- Ten Pin Bowling
- Aquapark Zakopane
- The Nature Education Centre Of The Tatra National Park
FOR MORE POLAND TRAVEL TIPS FIND OUR ULTIMATE POLAND TRAVEL GUIDE
Tips for Visiting Zakopane With Kids
There are lots of other things to do in Zakopane with kids, especially during the peak tourist seasons when you will find street performers in town, extra food stalls and souvenirs, and other seasonal events.
It is especially amazing visiting Zakopane in December when all the festivities are happening! There are so many Zakopane winter activities on, but plenty to do all year round too.
You could even consider doing as we did, hiring a private home and enjoying a white Christmas and New Years in Zakopane.
And to the delight of kids from countries like Australia, no permit is needed to purchase and let off fireworks.
While this is probably a little on the risky side, Simon’s youngest brother thought this was the coolest thing ever and we did buy a few to let off in a park. At your own risk…
WHERE IS ZAKOPANE?
Zakopane is situated in Poland’s extreme south, at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. It can be reached in approximately 2 hours from Krakow by bus, train or private transport.
The main area of Zakopane is Krupowki Street, where you will find shops, restaurants and other facilities.
There are loads of tours to visit Zakopane from Krakow, as it is only a relatively short distance between the two cities.
Or you can organise tours from Zakopane to see the Tatras and other beautiful sights nearby.
There are buses and taxis available to take you to nearby natural attractions, such as the Tatra National Park and Kasprowy Wierch.
To visit Mount Gubalowka, you will find the entrance to the funicular facing the traditional market area, a short distance from Krupowki Street.
There is a range of accommodation in Zakopane, including private house rentals, apartments and hotels.
AirBnB is a great place to look as there are so many multi-story homes that have rooms or even whole levels or apartments to rent in Zakopane.
This is an affordable way to travel with your family in Poland. You can get credit towards your first Airbnb booking by signing up for an account.
In case you need any other reasons to go to Poland, we have you covered!
- Book your flights – We use Skyscanner to research and book flights. You can set up a price alert for your travel dates, plus it compares most major airlines in one place.
- Book your Accommodation – We use Booking.com or Hotels Combined to book most of our hotel accommodation when we travel. We also use Airbnb for private rentals too. When you sign up, you will get free credit for your first stay.
- Book your tours & attractions – Our favourite attraction and tour booking services are Get Your Guide and Viator. Booking ahead will mean you don’t miss out on popular tours!
It really is a must-see destination when venturing through Poland and one we look forward to taking our own kids one day, so they too can experience the magic of a white Zakopane Christmas.
See more of Poland with these city guides:
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