Welcome to Krakow, Poland. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Your leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these ready. If you’ve arrived early, consider wandering through one of Poland’s largest and oldest cities to spot some of its numerous architectural monuments or maybe hunt down some pierogi to snack on before the meeting.
Located a mere 1.5 hours out of Krakow, the first stop on your tour will be the ‘Painted Village’ of Zalipie. This famous art covered town is a fascinating location - every structure you pass; be it homes, bridges, churches and even the beehives are all covered in brightly coloured painted flowers. This tradition has stuck around for more than a century, beginning when every female resident in the town began and yearly repeated the task of painting their homes with floral motifs to cover up external faults on the structures. Enjoy a free afternoon wandering around the ancient village, marvelling in at the details and variety of the art as you stroll on by.
In the morning, travel by bus (2.5 hours) or train (3.5 hours) to Zakopane, located in the rolling foothills of the Tatra Mountains. Despite being a beautiful landscape of rolling green hillsides in the warmer months, the region around Tatra is just as stunning when coated with pure white snow. Zakopane itself is known as the winter capital of Poland, and the Tatras are well known to be a great spot for mountaineering and skiing thanks to the well marked hiking tracks and numerous cross country ski runs nestled in the surrounding hillsides. You’ll get to explore these in part during your stay, starting with an orientation walk of Zakopane when you arrive, followed by a snowshoeing adventure through the Tatra National Park with a knowledgeable local guide.
The origins of the old Polish winter tradition of the Kulig (the sleigh ride) dates back to the days of the szlachta (nobility) – and today you’ll get to experience this historical practice from the back of a wooden, horse-drawn sled as you wander along the snow-swept trail to Koscielsko. Before looping back to Polana Szymoszkowa, you’ll stop at a mountain hut and fill up with a traditional feast. Fill up with a hot meal of delicious grilled polish sausages, lard with crisp cracklings, pickled cucumbers and bread – then wash it all down with a nice cup of tea. Once you arrive back at Zakopane, you’ll have a free day to explore the popular tourist town. If you’re still feeling the need to explore the surrounding countryside, hunt down one of the local nature trails through the Tatra National Park – or maybe explore the popular local market for clothing or even some varieties of sheep cheese.
Situated in the Low Tatras, the next part of your journey sends you across the border into the Slovakian town of Jasna. Jasna is home to one of the best ski resorts in Central Europe, boasting close to 35kms of ski trails for multiple skill levels. You’ll begin your adventure in Jasna’s town, taking a small orientation tour through its unique structures of stone and wood before filling up with an optional lunch. Later in the afternoon, you’ll get a chance to witness Jasna’s famed slopes on a guided cross-country ski expedition through this jewel of the Tatras.
Today grants you free time to explore the Low Tatras to your heart’s content. If you like, head back up the slopes and gaze across the rolling landscapes below as you glide along on your skis. Otherwise, you might want to take one of the many walks or cycling trails through the idyllic mountainsides.
Transfer back to Krakow and prepare yourself for some home cooked delights. Although Polish food might not be as well known as other European cuisine, dishes such as pierogi (Polish dumplings), oscypek (traditional smoked cheese) and polish kielbasa (sausages) all serve as great examples of heartier flavours the Polish have to offer. You’ll get an insight into the broad spectrum of Polish cuisine on a food tour, held in the comfort of a local cook’s house. Enjoy a final night with your group as you feast on this sumptuous meal.
Today marks the end of your Winter Tatra adventures.