THERE’S MORE LIKE THIS ON OUR NEW SITE – POLANDIAN.COM
Zakopane is a small town (population: 28,000) in the extreme south of Poland situated in a valley at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. Few people outside of Poland have ever heard of it, but it is the number one tourist destination for Poles in their own country. About 3 million of them go there every year (genuine figure). This May Day holiday weekend saw about 250,000 of them descend on the place from all over the country. Nobody seems to be exactly sure why though.
I’ve never been to Zakopane for the following reason: whenever the subject comes up in conversation it always seems to go something like this:
Polish person: It’s a holiday weekend, everybody will be going to Zakopane. It’s such a small crowded place and there’s hardly anything to do there. Have you ever been?
Polish person: You should go!!
Maybe I’m missing something, but if these conversations tended to include the words ‘fun,’ ‘delightful,’ ‘fascinating,’ or ‘relaxing’ more often I might feel differently. Every winter holiday and more or less every other public holiday seems to bring out some bizarre lemming-like herding instinct in the Polish people. They pack up their cars and head to Zakopane. The main road heading to the town, the infamous Zakopianka, is inevitably choked with barely moving traffic for days on end. It takes hours to get there even from Krakow, which is barely 100 km away; it must take days from Warsaw.
I’m sure the mountains are very pretty, but southern Poland is stuffed full of mountains; there must be other towns with equally dramatic backdrops?