The Tatra mountains spread along the border of Poland and Slovakia. The range boasts the greatest elevation in the north of Europe with the Gerlachovsky Stit in Slovakia reaching 2655-metres (8711 ft) and the Rysy peak in Poland reaching as high as 2499-metres (8198ft).
This destination is ideal for hikers, beginner to intermediate skiers, tourists bored with traditional holiday spots in Europe and couples wanting to experience romantic holidays in unique places with breath-taking sceneries.
The holiday would also suit tourists who enjoy experiencing new cultures, violin folk music and unique regional foods such as smoked goat cheese or lamb and sour kraut stew with dumplings.
The Tatra Mountain region is culturally unique with highland-style wooden cottages and highlanders in colourful hand-embroidered flowery costumes offering rides in beautifully decorated horse-driven carts on the streets of Zakopane, the biggest town in the region, located at the bottom of the majestic Tatra Mountains.
The easiest way to get there is by taking a plane to Krakow. Ryanair offers regular flights from the following destinations: Stansted, Edinburgh, East Midlands, Leeds and Liverpool.
In Krakow, tourists have a number of options to get to Zakopane. There is car hire available at the airport for those happy to drive on their own.
There is also an excellent train connection by PKP (Polish Railway), and the local coach service (PKS) runs between Krakow and Zakopane several times a day.
The official language is Polish, though many Poles in the region also speak fluent German and basic English. The Tourist Information in Zakopane offers brochures and maps in English but you may need to ask the information centre assistants for them. This is due to the fact that the region is a popular destination for Polish and German tourists, but it is relatively new to holidaymakers from the UK.
The local currency is zloty (PLN), and the exchange rate is roughly 4.80zl to £1.00. Although local banks provide currency exchange services, local currency exchange offices (“kantor” or “kantor wymiany walut”) usually offer better rates.
In the winter day-time temperatures frequently fall well below 0°C, and may even reach minus 25°C. Tourists can expect snow falls from the end of October till the end of March, especially high in the mountains.
Practically all houses have thick walls, double glazed windows and are fitted with 24-hour central heating systems, so holidaymakers do not need to fear the cold inside.
In the summer temperatures vary from +19°C up to +39°C at the bottom of the mountains, with temperatures as low as +5°C in the highest mountain ranges.
Visitors can enjoy warm and sunny springs (April – May), followed by hot and humid summers (high season: July – mid September).
Autumns (September – October) are usually relatively warm and dry, and provide stunning views of hills and mountains covered in rich golden, red and brown foliage.
Zakopane is the biggest town in the area (c. 30,000 inhabitants) and offers a multitude of shops, restaurants and street cafes.
The longest pedestrian shopping zone with an open market stretches along Krupowki Street, located in the town centre.
On average, 1.5 million tourists visit Zakopane annually to enjoy its vibrant atmosphere and fresh, regional produce.
Holidaymakers can dine in numerous local pubs and restaurants, which stay open till late at night. A great number of pubs and cafés have beer gardens and offer tables outside. Most pubs and restaurants also offer entertainment, which usually involves local folklore bands, fiddlers and highland dancers.
If you love spectacular mountain views, lakes, fresh air, gourmet food and highland folklore, the Polish Tatra Mountains and Zakopane are a fabulous holiday detestation not to be missed!