If you're thinking about skiing in Poland then Szczyrk might be a better option than crowded Zakopane.
Szczyrk is a picturesque town located in Silesian Beskidy mountains in southern Poland. It's a perfect travel destination for a summer vacation, winter holidays or weekend getaway. 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.
If you're a nature lover and looking for outdoor adventures, 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 modernized some of the best Slovak mountain resorts: Jasna Chopok (Low Tatras National Park) and Tatranská Lomnica (High Tatras).
I think Slovaks have been doing a very good 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 gondola
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.
PRO TIP: 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.
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.
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.
→ 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.
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.
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.