Skiing in Krakow – the best skiing in Poland?
In the last decade or so, Poland has risen from obscurity to become one of the top alternative skiing destinations for folk looking to escape the Alps and don the salopettes somewhere new. It’s championed for its range of small-scale resorts and accessibility, but most of all for the price – a day’s lift pass for skiing in Poland will cost you just a fraction of what they do in France or Austria. What’s also great is that the bulk of the best winter sports are in the south, making a snow holiday in and around Krakow a real possibility.
In this ultimate guide to skiing in Krakow, we’ll take a look at all the ups and downs of the nearby resorts, the character of the pistes, the ski towns, the very best hotels (say ‘hello’ Polish spas), and everything else in between. Enjoy…
What is the skiing in Krakow like?
Simply put, the skiing close to Krakow is the best skiing in Poland. But before we get carried away with that, remember that being the best is a relative thing. While the offering of pistes in Polska has certainly gotten better in the last decade, it’s still important to manage expectations about what you’re getting when you trade in Chamonix for the Polish peaks.
This is not the Alps. Repeat: This not the Alps. Do not come skiing in Poland expecting kilometre counts in the 100s and the niftiest chairlifts man can muster. Don’t come looking for huge vertical drops and above-treeline bowls.
That’s not to say that there aren’t moments when the skiing in Krakow is awesome. There are, especially if you hit the Tatras and manage to catch the bigger resorts when they aren’t too busy. And there’s loads here for the casual skier or beginner looking to find their snow feet. It’s just worth saying that this isn’t Whistler. Black runs will be more like tricky reds in the Alps, the snow coverage can get patchy when the winter isn’t the coldest (though that hasn’t been a problem recently), and you’ll probably find yourself skiing the same runs several times a day.
If those aren’t the sort of things that bother you, then it’s likely you’ll love what else skiing in Krakow and skiing in Poland generally brings to the table. The resorts are all uber-family-friendly. Ski tuition is cheap and almost universally multilingual. The pistes are well groomed and there’s excellent snow-making outside of the national parks.
Beginners will have loads to get through – in fact, I’ve been saying for years that Poland is the single best place in Europe to learn to ski. Intermediates get some nice challenges and loads of extra ski time to hone their skills, largely thanks to late opening hours when virtually all of the resorts are floodlit.
The other thing to note about Polish ski resorts that they aren’t really resorts in the Alpine or North American sense of the word. There’s no such thing as a linked ski area in Poland. Instead of getting chairlifts leading in all directions over the mountains, it’s more likely you’ll get a slope with just one or two chairlifts in total. They are typically owned by totally different company to the slope right next door, which means there’s no big terrain to ski here. There are some exceptions to the rule – like Kasprowy Wierch and Kotelnica (more on those later) – but it remains the bane of real winter sportsters skiing in Poland that there’s been no concerted effort to connect and join all the disparate ski fields. (There are always whisperings that something will happen to turn Zakopane into a ski town a la Chamonix but there’s no solid evidence on the ground. Just watch this space, I guess.)
In short, there’s loads to love about skiing in Krakow but it’s also important to keep your expectations in line with a place that’s still really developing as a winter sports hub.
Where to stay for skiing in Krakow
So, you’re planning a ski trip to Poland? Great choice. One of the first things you’re going to want to consider is exactly where to base yourself. We’ll have more info on the various ski fields there are to pick from later, but for now, let’s consider the various towns you can opt for. Where you will choose will depend on whether you’re after a holiday laden with some of the best skiing in Poland, or if you’re after a city break with some skiing on the side…
At the centre of the modern Polish skiing boom is the small mountain town of Zakopane. This charming and compact place boasts the honour of being Poland’s Winter Capital. It’s true that the town goes into overdrive from December to March, filling up with skiers and boarders. Anyone who’s come in summer will see that the title is a slight misnomer, though – Zakopane is equally busy in the dry months with hikers hitting the trails of the Tatra National Park.
Nevertheless, Zakopane remains the focal point of the main skiing in Krakow – and the skiing in Poland for that matter. Aim for here and you’ll find yourself right in the mix, surrounded by ridges with single-run resorts, and just a short drive from some of the most accomplished ski resorts in Poland as a whole.
We could write loads about the charm and character of Zakopane all on its own. It’s a beautiful place, set in crack in the middle of the Carpathians. Its streets are awash with timber-built lodges and handsome little cottages, smoke twisting and turning from their chimney stacks. The main street is Krupowki, which you’ll want to be close to for the apres – taverns, vodka bars, and jazz shows all meet there.
Great hotels in Zakopane
Going skiing in Zakopane? There are plenty of hotels waiting all over this self-proclaimed winter hub. Spa hotels are everywhere if you’re after a touch of luxury. And there are cosy boltholes that channel a little of the classic gorale (Polish mountain culture) character, too – look for those in timber-built chalets with steep-sloping roofs and carved wood frontages. Some of our perennial favourites are:
|Luxury||Aires Hotel & SPA||We simply can’t get enough of Aries Hotel and Spa. It’s swish and you’ll need to loosen the purse strings a little for it but there’s really nothing like sliding off the pistes and into a herbal steam room, a bubbling outdoor Jacuzzi surrounded by snow, or a lobby where a crackling wood fire warms the whole place.|
|Med-Luxury||Grand Hotel Stamary||The pool and saunas here are lovely, the breakfast is super-filling (it’s easy to steal lunch, too) and the location is just a stone’s throw from the train station.|
|Midrange||Czarny Potok||A little dated but with a good, central location, Czarny Potok has its own small pool and bubbling hot tub. You might need to hop in a taxi to get to the ski slopes, but you can look forward to a good breakfast spread and welcoming service.|
|Budget||Good Bye Lenin Hostel Zakopane||You might have to venture further from Krupowki Street and the main restaurants to find this one, but it's still a hostel worth writing home about. Hidden in the woods in the shadow of the Tatras, it's near to the Zakopane skiing at Kasprowy Wierch and channels a charming log-cabin vibe. Rooms are uber-cheap.|
Of course, you could also opt to base your ski holiday in Krakow itself. It’s a choice we love, letting travellers fuse together some winter sports, great food, UNESCO history and buzzing nightlife, all in the very same trip. There are small resorts around Krakow, which should take just 30 minutes or so to reach by minibus. But you also won’t be limited to them – a two-hour transfer can get you to Zakopane or Bialka, meaning day trips to the very best skiing in Poland are possible.
There are some downsides to consider when basing yourself for skiing in Krakow. Traffic can get unbearable on the main road leading from the city to the mountains, which means you can sometimes waste a whole half day sitting in the car. (A new highway is being built to remedy that but it’s likely to take years to complete).
If you’re not planning on renting a car, you’ll also be limited to the buses and trains that leave from Krakow. That’s fine if you’re going to Zakopane – there are departures every 15 minutes or so. But it’s less good if you’re looking to go to Bialka Tatrzanska for just a day – last time we checked, there’s only a couple of morning departures, and only one or two returns late in the day. It is doable though, but for the most determined.
Hotels to consider for skiing in Krakow
One of the great bonuses of choosing to base your skiing in Poland in the city of Krakow itself is the sheer wealth of hotels. From historic hotels in the Old Town to sleek modern 5-star pads, there are stacks and stacks. A selection of just some of the best and the reasons why they suit skiers is below:
|Luxury||Hotel Pugetow||Looking to get a taste of Krakow's rich history as you ski in Poland? This heritage hotel won't disappoint. It's in an old 19th-century palace gatehouse, with sumptuous rooms with heated mirrors and sausage-brimming Polish breakfast buffets.|
|Midrange||Lwowska 1||Chic and stylish Lwowska 1 has spacious suite options with their own lounges and flat-screen TVs. It's also located towards the south side of the city, which is great if you want to break out to the ski resorts of Zakopane with ease.|
|Budget||B&B Hotel Krakow Centrum||A simple B&B-style option that's just on the outskirts of the Old Town and Kazimierz areas of Krakow, this one's got parking and access to main roads and bus stops that link with the main ski resorts in Poland to the south of the city.|
You will already have seen us mention the resort of Bialka Tatrzanska. It’s one of the biggest destinations for skiing in Krakow and the biggest resort for skiing in Poland overall (as of 2019). There’s more information on its pistes and facilities below, but for now suffice to say it’s another option for a base when skiing in Krakow.
It’s linked to a small, stretched-out village that’s got an ever-growing number of mountain taverns and guesthouses. It’s quaint and much quieter than Zakopane (no apres at all, really) but is the prime pick if you’re a beginner or just want to be the first on the slopes come morning.
Hotels in Bialka Tatrzanska
In the small village setting of Bialka Tatrzanska, you can find an ever-increasing number of top hotels and even spa resorts with ski-in access. Some to consider within easy reach of the lifts are:
|Luxury||Hotel Bania||There's no better spot in town than this high-quality spa resort. It sits right at the base of the main ski run and the main gondolas, so you can be carving just moments after leaving your suite.|
|Lux-Midrange||Novobilski||Another ski-in, ski-out option that's tucked just behind the Bania hotel at the bottom of the main slopes, Novobilski is modern and contemporary, and comes with uber-filling breakfasts as standard.|
|Budget||Zajazd Białczański||A mere 950 meters from the nearest ski lift, the cosy and charming mountain inn of Zajazd Białczański has a number of stripped-down and often affordable rooms|
The top resorts for skiing in Krakow
Roughly speaking, the skiing close to Krakow can be split into four groups. First there are the resorts in and around Zakopane. There are the resorts between Zakopane and Krakow. And then there are the places that let you ski closest to Krakow of all. Lets deal with each, and their pros and cons, in turn.
And for those feeling even more adventurous? You can add some cross-border action to your skiing in Poland by choosing to mosey across the Slovak border. There are some excellent resorts there, all within a doable drive from Krakow.
The skiing in Zakopane – the most popular skiing in Poland
Zakopane is considered the epicentre of not only skiing in Krakow but also skiing in Poland as a whole. It owns the epithet of The Winter Capital of Poland, has the bulk of the most famous ski resorts close to Krakow, and even had a (withdrawn) Winter Olympics bid in its name.
It’s for all those reasons, and more, that we’d recommend it as the best base if you’re looking for a ski trip here. This is where to go if you want to hit the slopes and have a bit of Krakow on the side – as opposed to vice versa. Its resorts range from high-up mountain bowls to single-slope options for beginners. And there are some of the top hotels going in this attractive and downright fun town (many of them in hearty highland chalets with unique timber design).
This is the only truly alpine ski resort in all of Poland. It’s also the only place to offer skiing within the borders of the Tatra National Park. That brings both pros and cons. On the plus side, it’s high – clocking up altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. It’s also relatively big, packing in a whole bowl of good black runs (veterans of the Alps should read “challenging red runs”) and another mountainside of long and winding pistes that go from above the treeline right down to the valley bottom.
On the con side, the restrictions of the national park mean snow-making isn’t allowed, which can be disastrous during bad seasons but also great when there’s been a fresh dump, depending on your outlook. Because of the height, Kasprowy is also susceptible to high winds and cloud coverage that can sometimes be enough to close the lifts. I visited in January this year and found pretty nice conditions, some clouds gathering, some winds, but also stretches of sunny and snow-doused pistes. On another occasion, heavy snowfall shut all the lifts and all fun was called off. You’ve just got to plan ahead.
Kasprowy Weirch is served by a single gondola that goes from the small village of Kuznice just outside of Zakopane. That takes you up to the summit where four runs start. Some are on the north-west facing side, with a single chairlift linking the bottom of a bowl to the top. Others go down the north-east side, running from a ridge on the border with Slovakia to the base station. We’d recommend getting to the gondola as early as you can because it’s not just for skiiers – a ride to the top of Kasprowy is popular year-round with travellers, too. Oddly, that can have the effect of keeping Kasprowy nice and quiet and it’s quite unusual to ever have to queue once you’ve made it to the top station.
Where to stay near Kasprowy Weirch
Stays close to Kasprowy Weirch can be on the northern side of Zakopane, closer to the small base station of Kuznice. We’ve unearthed a few good and some excellent places to stay over the years. Hotel Nosalowy Dwor could be top of the list, what with that swish spa and lovely modern pool facility. There’s also Hotel Crocus, which has clean rooms with lovely Tatra views, not to mention a nice pool hidden behind its mountain-style facade.
That said, there are regular shuttle buses running from the main station in the heart of Zakopane town. Staying around that is a great idea if you want to have the restaurants of Krupowki Street nearby in the evening. The bus connection takes about 15 minutes and costs just 3 PLN (40p or so). And it means you can consider bedding down in Grand Hotel Stamary. Always been a favourite of ours, you get a gorgeous pool, a top spa, and even Prossecco at breakfast!
You can see Polana Szymoszkowa‘s duo of pistes from all over Zakopane town. They rise straight from the northern edge of the centre, off a wide street that acts like a sort of ring road. That makes them nice and accessible, if a little prone to crowds when the season is in full flow.
Szymoszkowa isn’t big. It’s got just two marked runs and even they are really the same one, marked hopefully as a pair on the ski map. Still, there’s plenty to be said for this resort. Firstly, it’s got excellent tuition. It’s the place I first learned to ski in Poland, and since then the tutors have taken care of family members and friends. What’s more, the ski pass is cheap. It’ll cost you around just 60-80 PLN (£12-16) for two hours. Then there are the gorgeous views of the Tatra Mountains that unfold from the top station – they are wonderful, perhaps the best of all skiing in Krakow.
Szymoszkowa has no dedicated terrain park or cross-country tracks, although there is a designated slalom section open for the high-season months and an area for younger skiers. The entire resort is floodlit for night-time skiing and is open late most days – great for catching the sunset over the mountains and skiing to views of Zakopane town.
Because Polana Szymoszkowa is located outside of the national park, snow making is alive and well. That means this one has a longer season and can stay open even when conditions go bad. The two chairlifts are getting a little dated but new electronic gates and a few upgrades in 2018 helped to keep things ticking along nicely. It’s still a solid choice for skiing in Krakow, especially if you’re finding those snow feet.
Polana Szymoszkowa 2, 34-500 Zakopane, Poland, +48 18 201 72 30
Where to stay near Polana Szymoszkowa
If you think Polana Szymoszkowa is the skiing in Krakow for you, then we can really recommend two hotels, both of which we’ve stayed in and had great service. The first is Villa Jan, It’s just a short walk from the base of the slopes, has parking and a lovely family-run vibe, plus beautiful views over the Tatras. The second is Villa Orla. You walk up a cobbled street across the river straight to the ski lifts from there. The home-cooked breakfast is lovely, and the suites are cosy with touches of mountain charm.
As far as ski-in, ski-out stays go, there can only really be one option: Hotel Mercure, which sits neatly right at the base. Unfortunately, the whole building is something of an eyesore: a relic left over from the times when Soviet VIPs would come for the mountains and skiing in Poland. Still, the inside is well-appointed and the building is a little quirky (not to mention complete with a pool).
Everyone who enters Zakopane on the main road leading in from Krakow will see Harenda ski resort on the hillsides. Frankly, it’s small and not very impressive but might be a great spot for complete beginners looking to crack their first runs. That’s thanks to the couple of spirit level-flat green runs right at the base. If you are progressing, there’s a steep-looking run above them that’s nice and wide. Harenda ski resort is accessible, with a big car park and a location that means you won’t have to navigate the traffic clogged streets of Zakopane to arrive.
Where to stay near Harenda ski resort
If the simple slopes of Harenda suit your casual skiing the best, you can make the most of the abundance of low-cost accommodation that strings along the entrance to the Zakopane Valley. Low-cost doesn’t necessarily mean budget here. There are some darn fancy places, only they cost less because they are further from the town. We’ve heard good things about Tatrzańska Ostoja, which has modern flats with flat-screen TVs and balconies. And there’s a lot to be said for Domki drewniane Szarotka Górska. Just a kilometre from the entrance to Harenda, they are cute mountain cottages that are sometimes warmed by real-wood fires.
Skiing between Zakopane and Krakow
The journey south from Krakow to Zakopane takes around two hours in the car – more if there’s traffic, and there usually is from December to March. As soon as you leave Krakow behind, you’ll start to see the landscape change. The lowlands start to crumple into hills and wooded valleys. You’ll go up and down on the roads over ridges, going higher but rarely going lower. Eventually, you’ll drop into a wide valley that runs between the town of Gaj and the soaring peaks of the Tatras, which soar like a wall of rock and ice against the Slovakian border. Not only is that section of the drive beautiful but it also wiggles past some of the most accomplished Polish ski resorts, sat sprawled on the Carpathian foothills just 20-30 minutes away from Zakopane itself. Accessible and with lots of options, it might just be the region to consider for skiing in Krakow and vicinity.
Bialka Tatrzanska – Kotelnica
Officially named Kotelnica Bialczanska, though regularly referred to by the name of the small village (soon to be a town thanks to the skiing!) where it makes its home, Bialka Tatrzanska is the largest single interconnected ski resort in Poland.
Upgrades and expansions in the last couple of years have ensured it’s kept that coveted title, with a grand total of 21 groomed runs and 18 separate chairlifts combining to make Bialka Tatrzanska one of the most popular resorts of all for skiing in Krakow.
The skiing is spread over four or five low hills that sit just a whisker away from the rock-ribbed High Tatras, offering beautiful views across Poland’s southern ranges when the air is clear. The runs range from greens to reds, though the reds here are short, snappy pistes that will seem more like a tricky blue to seasoned riders who’ve been to the Alps. The upshot is that Bialka is simply excellent for first-time skiers. There are whole areas dedicated to tuition and nursery slopes fed by short, easy drag lifts. What’s more, lessons are readily available from the on-site ski school and won’t break the bank. (You can expect to pay around 150 PLN (£40) for two hours of private tuition.)
These days, Bialka spreads southwards from the main hub of the resort by the base of the Bania Hotel to link with the smaller ski area of Kaniowka. Regular patrons had waited years for the addition of a small chairlift to connect the two – not for the extra kilometre count but to ease pressure on the entry chairlifts and ticket offices. We’ve not been back in 2018/19 but hopefully the new link has had the desired effect and you won’t be queuing too long before you get a ride.
Hotels near Bialka Tatrzanska – Kotelnica ski resort
You can now base a whole trip of skiing in Krakow in Bialka thanks to the forever-growing range of hotels at the base of the lifts. We can wholeheartedly recommend a few that we’ve stayed in. For the best access to the main station and the lifts, Pensjonat Novobilski is hard to beat. It’s also modern and cosy inside with heating that kept our socks nice and toasty for the next day’s riding. Our only gripe was the meat in the scrambled egg at breakfast!
We also loved Hotel Toprow, especially the neon-lit swimming pool with its air bubbles and fountains – all fun after a day on the slopes. You’ll need to walk maybe 10 minutes to the pistes from that one, because it’s just over the road.
There’s no question that the most popular place to stay when skiing in Bialka Tatrzanska is the slick and luxurious Bania Hotel and Spa. It’s right by the end of the runs – just a hop and a skip from your bed and you can be skiing. What’s more, it’s built in the sumptuous highland style of Poland, with balconies and wood inlays all over the place. There’s also a thermal spa next door, which – I think – guests get a discount on entering.
Highly-rated as one of the finest of Poland’s small-scale resorts, Jurgow presents a neat little alternative day on the slopes to the pistes of Zakopane and nearby Białka Tatrzańska. What’s more, the prices are cheap, the views across the High Tatras and the Slovak border are nothing short of breath-taking, and there’s easy access to Krakow and Katowice to boot.
Despite its size and relatively low elevation (1,046 meters), Jurgow has a great deal to offer a whole range of different skiing abilities. The bulk of the runs are marketed as red pistes, but the intermediates at Jurgow are more like an Austrian blue. Meanwhile, the single black run is intermediate through-and-through.
For the beginners there are some short, easy runs served by separate drag lifts on the edge of the resort, making Jurgow a great place to come for a quiet lesson away from the crowds of Kotelnica Białczańska just up the road. All in, this one clocks up just under 5 kilometres of runs, with the longest coming in at 1,150 metres total.
In terms of lifts, Jurgow boasts two individual chairlifts with a combined capacity of 4,800 people per hour. These transport skiers to the top station, from where it’s possible to ride a blue (part of the way), red or black down to the bottom station. The resort is made beginner friendly thanks to four separate drag lifts, which each allow for access to stand-alone practice areas and nursery zones.
Jurgow resort has its own partner ski school, Ski Plus, who offer lessons starting at 50 PLN. There are no cross-country tracks on offer and most of the pistes have snow-making, allowing for a relatively long season that typically runs from late December to March.
Where to stay near Jurgow
Jurgow itself is just a small hamlet some five kilometres from the Slovakian border. That means there’s a really limited number of accommodation options at the immediate base of the resort. Pod Limba, a homey little Polish B&B cosy rooms and a garden that’s jut a whisker away from the slopes is a doozy. Many skiers will opt to base themselves in either Białka Tatrzańska (check above), just a short drive up the road, or Zakopane, the main hub for skiing in Poland. That’s some 30 minutes by car through the hills.
Skiing in Krakow and vicinity
While Poland’s finest slopes are unquestionably in the southern Tatra Mountains, around the self-proclaimed Winter Capital of Zakopane some two hours away from Krakow, it is also possible to don the salopettes a little closer to the city. In fact, leave town any time during the winter, venturing into the rising hills that line the Vistula valley, and there’s some riding on offer. Be warned, though – these are small, single-slope affairs at best. We recommend them only as spur-of-the-moment ski trips in Poland, and never for a fully-fledged winter sports holiday!
Krakow Valley, Krzeszowice
Nestled in the countryside just to the north of Krakow town, Krakow Valley is unquestionably the closest option for winter enthusiasts looking to hit the slopes. Accessible by bus from the centre, this summertime golf resort and country club transforms itself during the colder months to make the most of the town’s sporadic snow cover with two separate drag lifts of up to 650 meters in length. Granted the on-snow action ain’t much, and there’s absolutely nothing to cater to more advanced riders, but at just 30 minutes’ drive from the heart of the city, this spot is sure thing for a speedy in and out!
Paczółtowice 328, +48 12 258 60 00
Podstolice SKI, Wieliczka
Just to the south-west of the famous salt-mining town of Wieliczka (the same of UNESCO fame), Podstolice SKI offers up three small and simple pistes on the slopes of Krakow’s soft surrounding hills. Passes cost just 20 PLN (£4 or so) for one hour’s riding. They give patrons access to three separate lifts, which open runs with a maximum length of 350 meters. There’s also an on-site ski school with affordable tuition, along with a classic Polish karczma for those mid-ski pierogi and piwo (beer) needs!
Podstolice 260, +48 12 278 58 78
A mere 45 minutes south of the city and draped over the rising foothills of the Tatra Mountains, Myslenice ski resort is one of the better-equipped and more expansive of the options for skiing in Krakow. At the time of writing, riders here enjoy access to two long and winding pistes that make their way through the thick fir forests from the tips of Chełm Mountain to the meandering courses of the Raba River. The views are fantastic, the prices are low and there are even plans to add on a longer blue run that will bring Myslenice right into the forefront of skiing close to Krakow.
Jodłowa 1, +48 509 300 914
This three-run ski station makes its home between the beautiful undulating hills that eventually give way to the Tatra Moutains further to the south of the city. It offers two of the longer pistes of all the resorts boasting close proximity to Krakow. Skiing here is easily accessible and great for beginners and intermediates alike, with the map split between a green nursery slope, a long blue of 1,450 meters, and a more challenging red that weaves between the poles of a four-person ski lift to the base of the valley at Kasina Wielka.
Kasina Wielka 672, +48 18 506 51 00
Boasting some fantastic broadside views of the Carpathian Mountains and the national parks close to Zakopane, Lubomierz Ski touts its selection of short blue to black (although black surely is pushing it here) runs just 65 kilometres from town, making it a great choice for skiing in Krakow. The slopes are wide and well groomed, while all the pistes are well-lit for after-hours riding. There’s also a ski school on site. In short, this one’s a fine option for combining with an overnight outing from Krakow into the Tatra Mountains just to the south.
Lubomierz 186, +48 18 448 85 48
Skiing in Slovakia
While the skiing in Poland is usually enough to fill a whole trip to Krakow with snow-covered runs and lessons, the most adventurers riders among us will likely crave at least a day or two across the border. That’s because Slovakia’s resorts are designed much more in the ilk of the Alpine ones that veterans of France and Austria are used to.
They sit mainly in the Low Tatras, but do spread across to the High Tatras on the border with Krakow. Of the lot, there are really two resorts that stand out from the crowd. They are worth a special mention here because they are linked by direct bus from Krakow, but can also be driven to in a day straight from the city. Oh, and they have some excellent slopes to get stuck into…
Tatranska Lomnica is one of just a handful of ski resorts in Slovakia’s High Tatra range that can really stand up to rival the likes of its Alpine brothers in the west. Not only is it high – the highest in the country, in fact – but it’s also got some nice long red runs that weave for more than five kilometers through the mountains. In a region where piste length is rare, that’s a gift, and so are the breathtaking views over the intermediate valley that carves through this beautiful section of the Carpathians.
There’s an argument for putting Tatranska Lomnica at the very top of Slovakia’s skiing menu, and if it weren’t for the slightly more extensive runs and modern cable ways of Chopok just across the valley, then we’d have absolutely no reservations in doing just that.
The relatively high piste count of more than 11 kilometers, along with an impressive array of no fewer than six individual lifts (three of which are high-traffic gondolas) does the talking on paper. And there’s certainly no denying the good snow coverage that’s afforded by the soaring 2,100-meter-high top station of the ski field here.
In fact, the mountain itself is the second highest in Slovakia, and ranges to a whopping 2,600 meters above sea level. Unfortunately the cable car that leads to the summit is just for view seekers, meaning the skiable terrain starts at a lower altitude. However, once it does begin, riders can look forward to a range of challenging red runs that carve straight down the front of the narrow mountain ridge, all the way to the base lifts below, giving a total vertical drop of 1,300 meters!
The mountain can roughly be divided up into three section: The top station, the middle runs and the bottom runs. The top station is reserved for expert skiers only, with a singly black run over the often-icy surfaces there served by a single chairlift (there’s also a designated free skiing area nearby). The middle runs are all red, come served by good snowmaking facilities and a speedy cable car. The bottom runs are family-friendly, spreading out to form a series of nice blues that drift in and out between the woods and the town.
There’s also a separate, second ski area that’s offered in the Lomnica ski pass, located just to the west on the mountain of Hrebienok. This is connected in the winter by a single cross-country trail, but it’s best accessed by road from the front of the resort.
Hotels near Tatranska Lomnica
If you’re in search of a ski holiday with a taste of luxury in the evenings, then you’re certainly in luck with the offering of hotels here. Over the last decade or so, regal spa hotels and resorts have been springing up around the base of Tatranska Lomnica by the bucket load. (It all might be down to the fact that Slovakia’s other major resort – Chopok – is situated inside a national park, which means you can’t go building pool complexes and luxury accommodation willy nilly!).
If that sounds like your kind of thing, then look no further than the regal rises of the Kukučka Mountain Hotel and Residences. Sat just opposite the base station, this large resort hotel is packed with fine-dining restaurants and saunas, hot tubs and massage parlours, all hidden in a hearty half-timbered mountain shell. The rooms are also plush and to the highest standard.
One of the closest options to the base of the pistes is the clean and convenient Aplend Resort Beatrice, which comes with refurbished rooms and modern bathrooms, not to mention walking access to the main cable car. For groups skiing and staying together, the stylish Aplend Vila Magnolia might just be the perfect choice. It’s got 5 and 6-person apartments, all newly done out with wood flooring and large sitting areas.
Draped over the third-tallest mountain the Low Tatra range (the peak of Chopok), Jasna has gone from strength to strength in the last decade. It’s been championed by big ski companies as the next best thing to the Alps, and has invested lots in nifty new gondolas and ski lifts.
We have to say that we’ve never been as impressed as we feel we should be when skiing here. That’s not to say it’s not great – the mountain is lovely, those undulating red runs have stomach-churning ups and downs, and the views across the Hron Valley are unrivalled. However, you do lose the wallet-friendly rates of Poland (lift passes can be in excess of 30 euros for the day). And the place isn’t eminently accessible. (Some of the best skiing in Poland is less than two hours from Krakow, but the pistes here are at least 3.5 hours’ drive). What’s more, the top station is notorious for its windy conditions and packed ice, which we’ve endured twice.
As far as the runs go, there’s a whopping 49 kilometres of marked runs to get stuck into. That’s webbed by a network of over 30 lifts. In all, the terrain covers two sides of the mountain, dropping down to the south with blacks and reds and free-ride zones, and dropping northwards with more of the same.
It’s worth noting that the piste difficulty in Chopok is noticeably harder than you’ll find when skiing in Poland and skiing in Krakow. Across in the Low Tatras of Slovakia, red really does mean red. What’s more, those aforementioned windy conditions can really mix things up.
Hotels near Jasna Chopok
If you’re planning on leaving behind the skiing in Poland for Slovakia’s main resort, then there are few hotels worth considering. Remember that the location inside a national reserve makes accommodation a little limited in these parts, so you might need to drive 10-20 minutes or so. That’s not the case if you choose to stay in cute little Demanovska Dolina, right by the bottom of the runs.
There, the Alpine-style cottages of Apartmany Jasna Chopok can host groups of up to five – they are clean, cosy, and have self-catering facilities. To be pampered after skiing, choose Hotel Mikulášska Chata, where you’ll find saunas, steam rooms, spa baths, and rooms with mountain views.
Just remember that Demanovska Dolina is small and isolated. There’s certainly not the same apres or range of restaurants to consider as in Zakopane, for example.
We hope this guide to skiing in Krakow helps you put together the best winter sports holiday possible. If you need extra tips and tricks, or info on good tour providers or hotels for skiing in Poland, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
(In this page, we’ve included affiliate links to hotels in various Polish ski resorts. They all stem from genuine recommendations for accommodations that are near the top slopes or have something unique about them. Using these links to book helps us keep these great guides coming!)