Krakow to Tatra Mountains and Zakopane

by Maciek Bogdanski

Going from Krakow to Tatra Mountains for a two or three-day trip is very popular among tourists coming to Krakow. Tatra Mountains in Poland are often associated with Zakopane – which is the most popular city in this region – and there are several ways of getting from Krakow to Zakopane. There is even a direct bus to Zakopane from Krakow Airport (about 3h, 40 PLN).

Below you’ll find information about the best ways to get from Krakow to Zakopane and getting around Zakopane. In another article, we write about the top things to do in Zakopane once you get there.

Getting from Krakow to Zakopane

There are two very convenient ways of going to the Tatra Mountains from Krakow by public transport: train and bus.

Getting from Krakow to Zakopane by train

Getting from Krakow to Zakopane by train is the most convenient way to reach Tatra Mountains, although not the fastest one. It takes 3-4 hours to get there, and the ticket costs 17-75 PLN depending on the train type. Some tickets need to be booked in advance and trains without reservation tend to be congested on some days (usually on “long weekends” in May and June.

All trains going from Krakow to Zakopane start/end or pass by Krakow’s main Railway station (Krakow Glowny).

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The railroad from Krakow to Zakopane is now undergoing some investments that would allow trains to go faster – in about two hours. Unfortunately, this means that until the end of 2023 trains may go irregularly or be substituted by buses.

Getting from Krakow to Zakopane by bus

This is, at least in theory, the fastest way of getting from Krakow to Tatra Mountains. There are many buses or minibuses leaving Krakow Main Bus Station for Zakopane (if you want to skip Krakow, there is even a direct bus to Zakopane from Krakow Airport). Ticket for most buses costs around 25-30 PLN, and with most of them, the scheduled trip lasts about two hours. But bear in mind, that this may extend a lot on some days, as roads between Krakow and Zakopane tend to be very congested. This may extend the time to 4-5 hours. This may happen usually during winter on summer holidays or so-called “long weekends (1-3 May), or some special events taking place in Zakopane (Ski Jumping, New Year’s Eve).

Traffic on road on Krakow to Zakopane route may be very high on some dates
Traffic on road from Zakopane to Krakow route may be very high on some dates

Getting from Krakow to Tatra mountains by car

This of course gives you more flexibility and is the fastest way to get to Zakopane, but has some drawbacks. The road to Zakopane is under construction, so you might expect detours on your way. Also, parking space in Zakopane is limited, and you need to pay for it. Some hotels have their own parking slots, but it’s uncommon. Also, driving in Zakopane might be tiring, as there are a lot of pedestrians in the city centre.

Parking in Zakopane

Parking zones in Zakopane

There are two parking zones in Zakopane: A and B. Zone A (Podstrefa A) covers most of the city centre, while Zone B is located along Czecha Street near the Ski Jumping area. In both zone prices are 3-4 PLN/hour depending on the time of parking. Paying is possible in parking meters (cash – no change is given, card or Skycash App). You are only required to pay Monday-Friday 8am to 9 pm.

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Private parkings in Zakopane

As there are not enough public parking slots, private car parks were opened. Some of them (mainly those in the city centre) charge per hour, others for the whole day (mainly those close to the entrances to Tatra National Park). Usually, the payment can only be made with cash, and the price varies from 30 to 40 PLN/day.

Parking in Palenica Bialczanska and Lysa Polana (on the way to Morskie Oko)

This is the closest parking to Morskie Oko, one of the most popular places in Tatra Mountains. This parking needs to be booked in advance, and you may only buy tickets on Tatra National Park website. You can’t pay for the parking on site, even if there are free slots.

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