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The Tatra mountain range is located on the border between Poland and Slovakia. One of the most beautiful hikes from the Polish side is to Kasprowy Wierch mountain near the popular tourist town Zakopane. The peak is easily reachable by a cable car or it can be conquered by foot.
Hike to Kasprowy Wierch
I have been Kasprowy Wierch several times and in different cable car/hiking combinations. It is possible to take the cable car in both directions, but then you get to spend only forty minutes at the top enjoying the magnificent views. If you want to be in the mountains longer a good option is to hike in one direction and take a cable car for the other.
Recently I hiked up to the Kasprowy Wierch and took a cable car going down, and I would recommend this combination to anyone who enjoys a good hike in the mountains.
If you are staying in Zakopane, you probably don’t have to worry about parking, as the beginning of Tatra trails is easily reachable either on foot or by public transportation.
However, if you are traveling by car, take into account that Zakopane is a popular tourist city, and on the days with good weather, there are quite many people at the most famous spots.
I haven’t seen any option for free parking near the beginning of Tatra trails in Zakopane, but there are many official or privately owned parking spots nearby. We parked around here and paid about 5 Euros per day.
Kasprowy Wierch can be reached by multiple hiking trails. They differ in difficulty, surrounding views and the time it takes to reach the top. Luckily, there is a convenient app marking the main trails in Tatra mountains so you can easily plan your route.
I hiked the marked trails, which weren’t the easiest ones. The main goal was to see the bigger lake – Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy. In the beginning, there was a climb through a forest, with much sweating and no rewarding views. After the forest, there was a panorama view of Poland beneath the mountains.
Later the trail wasn’t so steep and it led to the Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy lake. It was magnificent, especially when the wind calmed down and the sun shined above. The color of the water was in all shade of green and blue, and the surrounding mountains were mirrored in the water.
After a quick picknick on the shores of the lake, it was time to ho in the direction of Kasprowy Wierch. The trail has a sharp ascent, which was killing the feet and the lungs of everyone in our company, as we aren’t used to walking around in the mountains. But it wasn’t that long and on each hairpin of the trail, we were rewarded by breathtaking views.
There is a legit excuse to stop every 5 minutes to soak in the beautiful landscape. And to catch a breath.
From the top of the black trail, it’s possible to see Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy lake on the one side and Zielony Staw Gąsienicowy with several other lakes on the other side.
The trail then gives an opportunity to exercise other leg muscles as it is descending in the valley. You can actually walk between the lakes which seemed so far just a few minutes ago from the top of the black trail.
In between the lakes, there is the last turn to the trail leading to Kasprowy Wierch. It seems misleadingly short and moderately ascending. In reality, the feet are so tired by now that each look at the top doesn’t seem to bring it closer at all. It takes some motivation to reach the cable car house, but it is totally worth it.
At the Kasprowy Wierch, you can see a panorama view of the valley that you climbed up from and seemingly endless mountains to the other side. And the coolest part? You don’t have to walk down, there is an easily reachable cable car waiting for you just a few meters ahead.
Kasprowy Wierch cable car prices and working hours
If you hike up the mountain and take a cable car down I’d suggest to just buy the tickets when you arrive at the cable car. It’s not worth to try to buy them online, as it seems more expensive, and there isn’t a long queue in the evenings at the top anyway.
I’d also suggest not to rush the climbing starting time. We started around eleven in the morning and managed to do just fine. The earlier you start, the higher the probability that there will be crowds of people.
What to take with you
There are some things that you need to take with you when you go:
- Cap/scarf to protect yourself from the sun
- Hiking boots or sports sneakers
- Drinking water, at least one liter
- Windbreaker, as it gets cold at the peak
- Some money for the cable car
Where to stay in Zakopane
I stayed near Zakopane, but not exactly in the center of it. Our guest house Polakówka was quite cheap, but it had several bonuses:
- It was clean and the rooms were nicely furnished;
- There was a kitchen area with a pool table for common evenings with our friends;
- It was quite close to Zakopane, but far enough that we didn’t have to wait in the usual traffic jams to get out of Zakopane if we wanted to go to Dunajec rafting or Slovakia side of the mountains;
- There was one big cat with two babies, which were the cutest!
Overall if you are traveling with friends I’d suggest taking a house like this outside of Zakopane itself (if you have a car) or checking out Airbnb’s in the city center. If you use this link, you will get around 20 Eur discount for your first stay (and I will get a few Eur as well, which is a win-win).
There are many options for tours to Kasprowy Wierch.
If you are staying in Krakow and want to visit Zakopane for just one day, you might want to check out this itinerary.
It is also possible to find guided tours when you just walk on the famous Krupowki Street and watch for offers of the local tourist organizations.
Other day trips from Zakopane
These are some other things I recommend seeing and doing during a vacation near Zakopane: