If you're thinking about skiing in Poland then you will consider the south of the country. There's Zakopane ski resort but it's crowded and relatively expensive.
Where to ski in Poland?
Are there any other ski resorts in Poland near Krakow?
Yes - there's Szczyrk mountain resort which seems to be a better option than crowded Zakopane.
Szczyrk is a picturesque town located in Silesian Beskidy mountains in southern Poland, in the region of Upper Silesia. It's one of the best travel destinations in Poland for nature lovers and travellers looking for outdoor adventures.
Szczyrk is located just a 2-hour drive from Krakow city so it's also one of the best day trips from Krakow.
Here are a few advantages of visiting Szczyrk mountain resort:
- low prices - ski pass, chair lift ticket, hotels and restaurants are significantly cheaper than in Zakopane (not to mention Western European mountain resorts)
- convenient location - it's situated 2-hour drive from Katowice airport and 1.5-hour drive from Krakow airport
- modern infrastructure - Slovak company keeps modernizing the infrastructure and adding new ski slopes
- lots of other attractions in the region - Szczyrk is located in southern Poland which is the most interesting region in our country.
In winter Szczyrk attracts skiers and snowboarders from all over Europe and in the summer it's a hiking paradise - there are lots of hiking trails in the area. The chairlifts and cable car work all year round.
If you're a nature admirer and looking for great landscape, then Szczyrk mountain resort might be for you one of the best places to visit in Poland.
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SZCZYRK SKI RESORT
In 2014 Szczyrk mountain resort was bought by Slovak company Tatry Mountain Resorts AS. They are the same folks who acquired and modernised some of the best Slovak mountain resorts: Jasna Chopok (Low Tatras National Park) and Tatranská Lomnica (High Tatras).
I think Slovaks have been doing an excellent job - they keep developing the infrastructure and improving the ski slopes. Slovak company has already invested over 260 million PLN in the infrastructure.
Since Szczyrk mountain resort changed the owners, it became one of the best ski resorts in Poland near Krakow.
There are eight ski lifts in total:
- three chair lifts
- three t-bar lifts
- one cable car
There are 18 ski slopes of a total length reaching 25 kilometres. The majority of ski runs are easy (marked blue) so Szczyrk might be the best ski area in Poland for beginners and families with kids.
The highest point where you can get is 1211 metres (Male Skrzyczne mountain).
Szczyrk ski resort is open from the middle of December until the beginning of April. When it's not snowing, the slopes are covered in snow by machines.
Lifts are operating from 8:30 AM until 4 PM. Night skiing is possible on ski runs number 1 and 3, from 6 PM until 9 PM (Szczyrk is one of a very few places to ski in Poland where night skiing is possible).
PRO TIP 1: arrive as early in the morning as possible to avoid looking for parking space and standing in lines. Skiing in Poland usually starts in the morning and the ski slopes get empty after 2 PM.
SKIING IN SZCZYRK - VIDEO
Nothing shows a travel destination better than a video 🙂
Have a look at our YouTube video which shows an awesome day spent on Skrzyczne slopes.
Szczyrk is one of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe - a day of unlimited skiing costs only 23 EUR (19 EUR at the beginning of the ski season until December 23rd). The more days you buy, the cheaper it gets.
However, these prices are for ski pass bought online - it's a bit more expensive if you buy the card at the ticket office in the resort.
The card is called GOPASS. Here are a few ways to purchase it:
- Ticket offices - it's best to arrive as early as possible because queues get long after 10 AM. Opening hours: 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM. It's slightly more costly than buying the card online.
- GOPASS online shop - for me it's the most convenient way (I can forget about standing in queues to the ticket office). You can purchase the card here.
- GOPASS POINT - self-service ticket machine located near the boarding points.
- GOPASS mobile app - for topping up your GOPASS card. There's no need to top it up the day before - it works immediately. The app also presents a diagram of your ski performance and shows the kilometres you skied. It's available for free download on Google Play Store and App Store.
IS SKIING SAFE?
Well, skiing is fun but it's definitely not the safest outdoor sport. Bartosz had a serious accident while skiing and had a dislocated shoulder. The treatment lasted 8 months.
It's always good to prepare well for the ski season and stay cautions on the slopes:
- start exercising well in advance
- check your gear before you hit the slopes
- be careful while getting on and off the lifts
- remember about your limits
- stay hydrated
- start on easy ski runs before you try the more difficult ones
Here are emergency numbers you can call if you have an accident:
- 112 - general emergency number
- 985 - mountain emergency number in Poland
- +48 601 100 300 - mountain emergency number in Poland
BEST TIME TO SKI IN POLAND
December and March is the cheapest time to ski in Europe and it also applies to Poland. But in recent years weather was kind of weird and capricious and ski conditions weren't good in December.
The most optimal ski conditions in Polish mountains are in January and February. Temperature is at lowest in those months and it's snowing very often. Also, the days are a bit longer than in December.
To sum up, the best time to ski in Poland is the second part of January and first half of February - at those times we have a guarantee of good ski conditions.
HIKING TRAILS NEAR SZCZYRK
Szczyrk mountain resort is located at the foot of Skrzyczne - the highest mountain in Silesian Beskids. Skrzyczne reaches 1257 metres and is a popular hiking destination in the area.
On the mountain top, there's a view tower from which you get to admire a beautiful panoramic view of Beskidy mountains and, when the weather is favourable, Tatra Mountains. We even had our wedding outdoor photoshoot on Skrzyczne mountain.💙
On Skrzyczne peak there's also a mountain hut which provides food and accommodation. The windows overlook the mountains and there's also a huge terrace. Skrzyczne mountain shelter is open all year round.
I like this place for great views, cosy atmosphere and delicious food.
There are numerous hiking trails in Beskidy mountains, so let's have a look at the best of them:
- Skrzyczne mountain (summer trail)
Route: Szczyrk → Becyrek → Pod Skrzycznem → Skrzyczne mountain hut → Pod Skrzycznem → Szczyrk
Time (breaks included): 4 hours
Height difference: 770m
Trail color: green, red, blue
Here's our YouTube video presenting one of the hiking trails to Skrzyczne. It was a winter hike but I think the video gives a good idea about the routes leading to the highest mountain of Silesian Beskids.
However, this hiking route isn't available during ski season as it runs along ski slopes.
- Skrzyczne mountain (winter trail)
Time (breaks included): 5.5 hours
Height difference: 830m
Trail color: yellow, green, blue
If you would like to hike to Skrzyczne mountain during ski season, this is the best option. Other hiking trails run partly along ski slopes but this one is completely safe to hike (also in the summer).
This loop hike is one of the most picturesque trails in Silesian Beskids - there are two beautiful vantage points on the way and hikers get to admire the panorama of Beskidy mountains. A very nice option for a day hike.
The additional bonus is the place where the trail starts - Ostre village is one of the most beautiful small villages in Poland.
- Klimczok mountain
Route: Szczyrk → Klimczok mountain hut → Siodlo pod Klimczokiem trail fork → Klimczok mountain → Siodlo pod Klimczokiem trail fork → Przelecz Karkoszczonka Pass → Chata Wuja Toma mountain hut → Szczyrk
Time (breaks included): 5 hours
Height difference: 730m
Trail color: blue, black, yellow, red
Loop trail which starts in Szczyrk. This hiking route includes two mountain huts so all we really need to carry is outdoor clothes, a map and a bottle of water. 😉 A nice option for a hike both in the winter and summer.
- Barania Gora mountain
Route: Wisla, Czarna Wiselka → Przyslop pod Barania Gora mountain hut → Wierch Wisełka peak → Barania Gora peak → Wisla, Czarne → Wisla, Czarna Wiselka
Time (breaks included): 6 hours
Height difference: 720m
Trail color: black, red/green/blue, blue
This is one of my favourite hiking trails in Silesian Beskids. The route starts in Wisla mountain resort near a picturesque Czernianskie lake.
On our way, we visit Przyslop pod Barania Gora mountain hut where we can have a bowl of delicious tomato soup and then we hike to Wierch Rownianski mountain (1160 metres) and Wierch Wiselka mountain (1195 metres).
Shortly after we arrive at Barania Gora mountain top from which we get to admire a panoramic view on Beskidy mountains. There's also a steel view tower which adds an additional 15 metres to the altitude.
This trail is a fantastic option for a relaxing day hike.
- Szyndzielnia mountain
Time (breaks included): 4.5 hours
Height difference: 630m
Trail color: green, yellow, red, blue, yellow/red/black
This nice and easy hiking route starts in Bystra Slaska village and includes two mountain huts. When we climb to about 1000 metres the forest gets less dense and we get to hike along a beautiful mountain meadows.
Serene surroundings, inviting trails - Szyndzielnia mountain is a great option for a day walk.
However, if you're not up for walking, you can get to Szyndzielnia by cable car from Bielsko-Biala town. I'm writing about this tourist attraction below.
HIKING IN POLAND - GOOD TO KNOW
→ Beskidy mountains are divided into several mountain ranges. The start in the west in Czechia, run along southern Poland and end in the east in Ukraine. The total length of these mountains reaches 600 kilometres (372 miles)!
→ The highest peak of Beskidy mountain is Babia Gora - it reaches 1725 metres and belongs to Babia Gora National Park. In 1977 this picturesque mountain region was added to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
→ Hiking trails in Beskidy are easy and suitable for all kinds of hikers and nature lovers. Trails are wide and safe and well-marked. The majority of hikes are perfectly OK for families with kids.
→ There's no avalanche risk in winter.
→ There are lots of mountain huts in Beskidy so you don't need to take too much food with you.
→ In Beskidy there's the densest net of hiking trails in Poland - it's quite easy to plan the route and change it during the hike because of numerous trails.
→ Colours of trails are only of identification, they don't indicate the route's difficulty.
→ Even in such low mountains, the weather can change abruptly. Check the weather forecast before your trip.
→ Here's the best weather website (even paragliders like it): windy.com.
→ It's always good to carry an extra layer of windproof clothing, waterproof outer layer, hiking boots and sunglasses. Here's a list of hiking essentials.
→ Emergency numbers in Polish mountains: 985 or +48 601 100 300.
→ Remember to take a paper map with you - smartphones aren't very reliable in the mountains.
→ Prepare well and avoid those common hiking mistakes.
HOTELS IN SZCZYRK
There are many great places to stay in Szczyrk mountain resort, so let's have a look at the best options.
→ HOTEL ELBRUS SPA SZCZYRK
A stylish hotel located in Szczyrk centre. Nice and comfortable rooms with mountain view, friendly staff. The hotel has SPA facilities, fitness centre and swimming pool. The food served in the hotel restaurant is great and they also have vegan and gluten-free options.
You can check the Hotel Elbrus Spa & Wellness here:
→ SZCZYRK HOTEL META
Comfortable SPA hotel located right next to COS OPO chair lift in Szczyrk (about 2 kilometres from Szczyrk mountain resort). Spacious and cosy rooms, attentive staff. Babysitting service available. The breakfast is served in a buffet form and will satisfy every foodie. The hotel offers numerous SPA facilities: sauna, jacuzzi, steam bath, salt grotto, aromatherapy and beauty treatments.
You can check the Hotel Meta Resort & Vine SPA here:
→ SNO APARTMENTS
Great location close to ski jump. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony. Apartments are spacious, clean and comfortable, overlooking the mountains. Beautiful wooden decor.
You can check this place here:
→ WILLA NA GORCE
Located just 700 metres from Szczyrk centre. Rooms have access to a fully equipped kitchen. Each room has a private bathroom. The guest house offers also breakfast. The owners are super friendly. In the summer there's an outdoor swimming pool available for guests.
You can check this guesthouse here:
There are many interesting places to eat in Szczyrk but vegans will have a hard time finding decent food there. I guess Poland needs one more decade to introduce vegan restaurants in tourist resorts.
OK, let's have a look at some of the best restaurants in Szczyrk (for non-vegans).
→ KARCZMA CIOSANA
A perfect option if you're looking for traditional Polish food. Food portions are big for reasonable prices. The best dish I've had there was fried Pilzner cheese with a creamy sauce and fries.
What I love about this place is the interior - beautiful wooden decor immaculately refers to the mountain region. It goes hand in hand with a folksy atmosphere - Karczma Ciosana is an informal place where you can let your hair down. Location is here.
→ PIEROGARNIA BRACKA
This restaurant serves one of the most popular Polish food - pierogi. Pierogi are stuffed dumplings which can be boiled, fried, grilled or baked. They come in many different versions - savoury and sweet, vegetarian, meaty. Pierogarnia Bracka offers a wide range of these dumplings so that everyone will find something to his/her liking.
My favourite pierogi there are those stuffed with lentils. Food portions are OK - good value for money. The restaurant doesn't serve strong alcohols, beer only. Location of Pierogarnia Bracka is here.
→ REGIONALNY ZAJAZD 'BIALY KRZYZ'
Another great regional restaurant in Szczyrk serving traditional Polish food. Beautiful mountain style interior with a big fireplace in the middle of the dining area. Homely feel, a perfect place for families with kids.
Great food, large portions. The best dish I had there was kwasnica - sour cabbage soup, typical for mountain regions in Poland. I also liked potato pancake with sour cream - they are baked and not so greasy as the fried version. It worths to order mulled wine - it's delicious! Location of Regionalny Zajazd 'Bialy Krzyz' is here.
THINGS TO DO IN SOUTHERN POLAND
There are lots of things to do in southern Poland. Historical sites, castles, lakes, breweries - all types of travellers will find fantastic places to visit.
Let's have a look at the best attractions close to Szczyrk mountain resort.
→ Zywiec Brewery
Located in Zywiec town, half an hour drive from Szczyrk.
It's one of the biggest attractions in Silesian Beskids. Opened in 1856, Zywiec brewery produces large quantities of different kinds of beers exported all over the world. The museum is open for tourists since 2006.
There are numerous exhibits presenting the history of local beer production. Lots of expositions, historical advertisements, beer glasses and gadgets. Visit in Zywiec Brewery is a great option for every beer lover.
There are two options to visit Zywiec Brewery:
- museum - takes about 1 hour + 30 minutes for beer/refreshments degustation
- museum + brewery production - only for adults. Takes about 2 hours + 30 minutes for beer sampling
Tuesday - Sunday: 10 AM - 6 PM
On Mondays the museum is closed
Ticket prices for the museum:
Adult: 30 PLN
Children above 4 years of age: 15 PLN
Children up to 4 years of age: free admission
Ticket price for museum + brewery production: 40 PLN per person
→ Zywiec lake
Something for water sports enthusiasts. A picturesque lake where you can rent a pedalo, kayak or a boat, or just chill on the beach.
There are two nice beaches available for tourists. Both offer water sports equipment rental:
→ Szyndzielnia cable car
A modern cable car taking visitors to Szyndzielnia mountain (1028 metres). There's a nice lookout tower near the upper station from which you can admire panoramic view on Beskidy mountains.
high season: 9 AM - 7:30 PM
low season (September - April): 9 AM - 5:30 PM
Adult one way: 18 PLN
Adult return: 25 PLN
Children and students one way: 14 PLN
Children and students return: 18 PLN
Children up to 4 years of age: free admission
Aleja Armii Krajowej 366 street
→ St Nicholas' Cathedral in Bielsko-Biala
Located in the centre of Bielsko-Biala town (location here), about half an hour drive from Szczyrk.
A nice option for architecture aficionados. The beginnings of the cathedral date back to the 15th century but the church was completely rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century.
Because of numerous refurbishments, St Nicholas' Cathedral isn't characterized by one style - it's actually a mix of gothic, renaissance and modernism styles.
→ Tychy Brewery
The biggest brewery in Poland, located in Tychy city, one hour drive from Szczyrk.
The beginnings of Tychy Brewery date back to the 17th century. It's one of the most important tourist attractions in Upper Silesia. Tyskie beer is well-known all over the world and the brewery keeps developing the brand by adding more types of beers and improving the recipe.
The brewery itself is a modern facility where you can visit not only the historical museum but also the beer production sections.
If you would like to get a skip-the-queue ticket and visit Tychy Brewery with a professional guide, you might be interested in this guided tour:
→ Pszczyna Castle
About 45 minutes drive from Szczyrk. This beautiful classical palace was built in the 13th century and is one of the most prominent architectural gems in Upper Silesia. For me, it's the most impressive museum in Poland.
The biggest attraction of Pszczyna Castle is its interiors from the 19th century. There are awe-inspiring aparments of emperor Wilhelm II, gothic basements and armoury. Lots of valuable exhibits and original furniture. Decorative chandeliers, mahogany toilet seats, priceless cabinets - the majority of objects in Pszczyna Castle were purchased from masters from Western Europe.
The Castle is a real treat for history and architecture lovers. What I like the most about this place is the fact that all the furnishings and amenities are original which doesn't happen very often in Polish museums.
If you would like to visit this place with a knowledgeable guide, you can have a look at this option:
→ Auschwitz concentration camp
Terrifying Nazi death camp visited by thousands of travellers each year. An important Second World War monumental - it reminds us all that there's no worse thing in this world than war. Over 1.1 million people lost their lives here (including women and children).
Auschwitz concentration camp consists of two parts: Auschwitz and Birkenau. Auschwitz former camp was used for criminal experiments, executions, and central jail for all prisoners and headquarters of camp's commandant.
Birkenau is where the Nazis conducted mass extermination - they murdered about one million prisoners in gas chambers. In Birkenau, there are ruins of the gas chambers, crematoria, prisoners barracks and places filled with human ashes.
I think that visit with a certified guide allows a better understanding of the history of WW2 and all those horrible events which took place in Auschwitz concentration camp.
If you would like to get a skip-the-line ticket which includes a guide, have a look at the below tour:
→ Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the most famous attractions in Poland - it's visited by over a million tourists each year. Located 2-hour drive from Szczyrk, it's definitely worth a visit.
Wieliczka Salt Mine was built in the 13th century. Since 1978 it's on UNESCO World Heritage List. Visitors climb down 135 metres under the ground to admire impressive chambers and lakes, majestic wooden constructions and unique salt sculptures.
Comfortable shoes and warm clothes are necessary - there are almost three kilometres of underground corridors to walk and the temperature in the mine is about 17°C
The visit in Wieliczka mine isn't suitable for people with claustrophobia - the underground corridors get a bit narrow at some points.
Since Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the main tourist attractions in Poland, I recommend getting a skip-the-queue ticket to save time.
Truth is that travelling between cities in Poland using public transportation is rather easy - there are trains and lots of buses to choose from. But when it comes to travelling to small villages in Poland (or mountain towns), transport options become rather narrow.
Especially if you would like to explore other places nearby Szczyrk, then renting a car seems to be the only reasonable option.
There are two international airports near Szczyrk mountain resort.
→ KATOWICE AIRPORT
Located just 2-hour drive from Szczyrk.
Wolnosci 90 street
How to get to Szczyrk from Katowice airport?
- car rental - the easiest and fastest way. You can check deals on car hire here:
- BlaBlaCar - very popular carpooling website in Poland. Seems like everyone uses it so there's a good chance there will be available drivers. Most possibly you'll first need to get to Katowice.
- Buses - there are a few options to choose from but you have to travel to Katowice. You can check the shuttles here. The buses shuttle from Katowice main bus station in the city centre - you can check the location here.
How to get to Katowice city from the airport?
It's very easy as the airport is well connected to the nearest city. There are several options:
- Private buses - there are regular shuttles to Katowice city centre. You can choose Flixbus, Matuszek or Ekspres Transfer buses. All those buses wait in front of the arrival gate at the airport.
- Public transportation - there are two public buses going to Katowice centre. Timetables: AP2 and AP3.
- Private transfer - you can book your private transfer to Katowice city here.
→ KRAKOW AIRPORT
Located 1.5-hour drive from Szczyrk.
Kapitana Mieczysława Medweckiego 1 street
How to get to Szczyrk from Krakow airport?
- Car rental - the only direct option. You can check the deals on car hire here:
- Private buses - they all go to Krakow first, and then from Krakow bus station to Bielsko Biala town. From Bielsko Biala, there are direct bus shuttles to Szczyrk. You can plan your journey here.
If you want to travel through Poland, the below articles might be of interest for you as well: