Hiking in Poland is a fantastic adventure!
If you want to travel Europe cheap and discover some of the best day hikes in Europe, you might want to visit Tatra mountains.
We like to go to Tatra mountains at least twice per year. It does not matter if it is Polish mountain range or Slovak part – all Tatra peaks are equally alluring to us! 💙
Because weather in winter in Tatra mountains is rather harsh, we like to hike there in the summertime - Tatras are one of the most stunning places to visit in Europe in summer.
Before we get to know the most beautiful places in Tatras, let's have a look at some basic information about those spectacular mountains:
- Tatras are part of Carpathian mountains
- Tatra mountains are divided between Poland and Slovakia
- Polish mountain ranges are Western Tatras and High Tatras
- the highest mountain in Poland is Rysy - it reaches 2499 metres
- there are eight mountain huts in Polish Tatras
- these mountains are protected as Tatra National Park
Let's have a look at the best places to visit in Tatra mountains. Those are not the most popular spots like Morskie Oko or Five Lakes Valley. We focus here on sites a bit less known for international travelers.
Times of the hikes given below include breaks.
Table of contents
1. Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy Lake
And here is the view of this lake on a sunny day:
Route: Kuźnice (Zakopane) → Murowaniec mountain hut → Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy Lake → Kuźnice
Time: 5-6 hours
Height difference: 800m
Trail color: yellow, blue
For me, it is one of the best hikes in Poland, mostly because of the stunning Gąsienicowa Valley.
There are several trails leading to this picturesque lake, but we will focus here on the shortest option which is technically easy and suitable also for beginners.
We start hiking on the yellow trail. A nice path leads us through the forest. Easy and relaxing walk.
After about 1.5 hour yellow trail merges with a blue trail. We continue walking for 20 minutes and we get to Murowaniec mountain hut.
It is quite a big mountain hostel with spacious dining room, but it tends to get crowded during the day. If we want to order some food at the restaurant, it is better we start our hike early in the morning to avoid crowds.
After our break, we continue hiking on the blue trail. The views are getting better with each step, and after a few moments, we are in Gąsienicowa Valley.
This is the best part of our hike - the landscape is breathtaking! We get to admire majestic peaks of High Tatras, the most outstanding of which is Kościelec mountain. It is also called Polish Matterhorn because of its resemblance to this famous Swiss mountain.
Getting to Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy lake from Murowaniec hostel takes half an hour. If we still have time and energy, we can stroll on the blue trail which encircles half the lake.
Climbing down to Zakopane Kuźnice lasts 2 hours. On our way down we hike the blue trail.
2. Kasprowy Wierch peak
Route: Kuźnice (Zakopane) → Myślenickie Turnie → Kasprowy Wierch → Przełęcz pod Kopą Kondracką Pass - Hala Kondratowa mountain hut → Polana Kalatówki → Kuźnice
Time: 7-8 hours
Height difference: 1200m
Trail color: green, red, green, blue
One of the most rewarding Tatra National Park trails.
This hike is rather long - it takes about 7 hours, but it is so gratifying! It is technically easy to hike, but a certain level of fitness and stamina would be necessary here.
Getting from trailhead to Kasprowy Wierch peak takes about 3 hours. The mountain reaches 1987 metres and is one of the most popular places in Western Tatra range.
We begin out trip in the most popular trailhead in Zakopane - Kuźnice.
We start hiking the green trail. The first part of the trail leads in the forest. After about 2 hours the forest ends and we get to a viewpoint. It is nice places to have a break and soak in the scenic view.
We continue hiking the green trail. The landscape gets better with every step.
Finally, we climb Kasprowy Wierch! Now is time to take some astounding photos which will make us proud of ourselves.
There is a restaurant and toilet on Kasprowy Wierch summit, but prices there are as high as the mountain.
After our break, we set off on the red trail towards Kopa Kondracka Pass. The path is spectacular and for me, it is one of the most beautiful places in Tatra mountains. It leads on a mountain ridge but is wide and safe to hike.
On our left, we see the impressive High Tatras, on the left, there is a panorama of Zakopane and Beskidy mountains.
We get to Kopa Kondracka Pass (1863 metres) in about 1 hour. Here we begin climbing down the green trail to Kondratowa Valley hut (1333 metres). The path is quite steep, so a lot of caution is needed on a rainy day.
1 hour more and we are in the smallest hostel in Tatras.
Chances are there are no available seats in the restaurant (Hala Kondratowa hut is very popular, the same as other mountain hostels in Tatras), but there are a few benches outside.
We walk down on blue trail leading to Zakopane Kuźnice. It takes 1 hour to get to our trailhead.
If you think this hike is too long or demanding, you can shorten it by using a cable car. However, it is very popular among tourists and if you arrive at the station at noon, you will need to wait in a line for a few hours.
3. Trzydniowiański Wierch peak
Route: Siwa Polana parking → Polana Trzydniówka Clearing → Trzydniowiański Wierch → Jarząbcza Dolina Valley → Chocholowska Valley mountain hut → Siwa Polana parking
Time: 7-8 hours
Height difference: 900m
Trail color: green, red, yellow/red, green
Another great hike in Western Tatra mountains.
Trzydniowiański Wierch peak reaches 1765 metres and is a great option also for families with children and hiking beginners. Getting to the mountain top from the trailhead in Siwa Polana takes only about 3 hours.
The first part of the trail leads along the longest valley in Poland - Chochołowska Valley. It is about 7-kilometre longThis is a green trail which starts in Siwa Polana parking lot.
Walk in Chocholowska Valley is a great adventure not only for families with children. The views are great and we get to admire the unique, Alpine-like nature of Tatra mountains.
The valley is especially beautiful in the springtime when it is covered with blooming crocuses.
OK, let's get back to the trail 😉.
After about one hour we change the trail and start hiking on the red trail. The path enters into a forest and gets a bit steep, but soon our effort is rewarded with an emerging panorama of Western Tatras.
The trail is nice and safe and leads us through meadows and dwarf mountain pines.
Getting to Trzydniowiański Wierch from Chocholowska Valley takes about 2 hours.
When the weather is favorable, the landscape from Trzydniowiański Wierch does take our breath away. We get to admire spectacular panorama of Western Tatras, which are so different than other Tatra ranges.
The peak is wide and flat and is a perfect place for a picnic. In such places, I like to just lie on the blanket and look at the sky. No unnecessary thoughts, no rush, just peace and quiet and listening to the mountain sounds.
When we get to the top we have 2 options:
- start descend on the red trail (which I chose)
- make our hike longer - we can walk towards Kończysty Wierch peak on the green trail
However, if we want to hike circular route including Kończysty Wierch and Starorobocianski Wierch mountains, then the hike lengthens considerably and we need to be aware it will take us whole day (about 9 hours).
If we choose shorter circular hike on the red trail on our way back we can take a break in Chochołowska Valley mountain hut.
It serves delicious food and refreshments. Chocholowska Valley hostel is also the biggest mountain hut in Tatra National Park, so there are many rooms to choose from. However, it tends to get crowded in the summertime and weekends, as it is very easy to get to.
If you would like to stay there, it is necessary to book well in advance.
4. Grześ & Rakoń peaks
Route: Siwa Polana parking → Chocholowska Valley mountain hut → Grześ → Rakoń → Pod Wołowcem Pass → Chocholowska Valley mountain hut → Siwa Polana parking
Time: 8-9 hours
Height difference: 1000m
Trail color: green, yellow, blue/yellow, blue, blue/green, green
When it comes to hikes in Western Tatra mountains, enough is never enough 😁.
This trail is one of the most picturesque Tatra National Park trails, definitely not short, but perfectly possible to hike in one day.
The advantages of this hike are:
- spectacular view
- mountain hut (Chocholowska Valley again)
- wide and safe trail, no exposure points
- possibility to hike it with children
- 2 - 3 mountain tops on one hike: Grześ (1653 metres), Rakoń (1879 metres) and for eager hikers - Wołowiec (2064 metres)
The route shown on the hiking map does not include nearby Wołowiec mountain. If we would like to include Wołowiec on our trip, then the hike lengthens about 1.5 kilometres which means about 40 minutes longer hike.
We start our hike in Chochołowska Valley on Siwa Polana parking lot. We walk towards the mountain hostel on the green trail. When we get to the hut, we look for a yellow trail (it is on the right of the shelter, a bit hidden in the forest).
The yellow trail leads us in the forest, no landscape to admire. It gets slightly steep at some points, but the trail is technically easy and the forest provides much-needed chill.
After about 40 minutes we get to the trail fork and follow the blue/yellow trail. Another 40 minutes and we start seeing meadows with dwarf mountain pines. Western Tatras start to emerge and we feel a new rush of energy.
When we get to Grześ peak it is time for well-deserved rest. The mountain top is flat and quite spacious, perfect for taking a break and absorb the stunning view of Western Tatras.
Now we hike on blue trail towards Rakoń mountain. The path leads us along a gentle mountain ridge. It is so picturesque that the hike may lengthen a bit because we keep taking photos 😉.
Getting from Grześ to Rakoń takes about 1 hour.
After we get to Rakoń mountain top and finish our stay there, we continue our hike on green/blue trail.
After several minutes we get to trail fork and here is where we need to decide - climb Wołowiec mountain following blue trail (the highest mount of all them, but so beautiful!), or descend to Chocholowska Valley mountain hut.
5. Szpiglasowy Wierch peak
Szpiglasowy Wierch reaches 2172 metres and is one of the most beautiful and exciting hiking trails in High Tatras.
There are two options to hike there from:
- Morskie Oko Lake
- Valley of the Five Lakes
I prefer to climb from Five Lakes Valley and return via Morskie Oko Lake - it is easier option.
Route: Palenica Białczańska parking → Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza waterfall → Five Lakes Valley mountain hut → Siklawa waterfall → Niżnie Solnisko Lake → Szpiglasowa Przełęcz Pass → Szpiglasowy Wierch → Szpiglasowa Przełęcz Pass → Dolina za Mnichem Valley → Morskie Oko shelter → Palenica Białczańska parking
Time: 9-10 hours
Height difference: 1400m
Trail color: red, green, black, blue, yellow, red
As we can see from the above map, this is a long day hike which takes 9-10 hours (breaks included). We need to be in good shape to hike it. At the final part, there are also exposure points, so this route might not be suitable for people with a fear of heights.
The first part of the trail leading to Five Lakes Valley is described here.
After we pass the mountain hut, we continue hiking blue trail along lovely Five Lakes Valley. In half an hour we turn left onto the yellow trail.
We hike between two lakes (Wielki Staw Polski and Czarny Staw Polski). Now the real fun begins 😉.
The path gets steeper here, but also the landscape gets more astounding - High Tatra mountains are a real treat for every mountain lover.
Still, the trail is technically easy because it is built with comfortable stony steps.
When we get closer to Szpiglasowa Pass (2110 metres) we see chains to make the hike easier. The rocks are easy to climb and the terrain is not very steep, so the chains might not even come in handy. They are more useful on a rainy day, or when the trail is iced.
Climb from Szpiglasowa Pass to Szpiglasowy Wierch takes only 15 minutes.
The path gets narrow at some points, so it is important to be cautious. This part is not suitable for hikers with a fear of heights.
The last part of the trail are rocks - a bit of climbing is necessary, but it is not technically difficult.
When we climb Szpiglasowy Wierch summit all our effort is rewarded with a phenomenal panorama of High Tatras. Very satisfying experience.
I recommend climbing down the yellow trail to Morskie Oko Lake. This option is easier than descend to Five Lakes Valley.
There are no chains or any other artificial facilitations. After we climb down to Szpiglasowa Pass, the path becomes a nice and wide Tatra pavement and leads down to Morskie Oko Lake.
Where to stay?
Zakopane – the most popular tourist resort in Polish Tatras.
If you are looking for a comfortable hotel with SPA facilities in Zakopane center, then you might be interested in Aries Hotel Zakopane. It's a beautiful hotel built of wood. Rooms are super clean and comfortable, and the staff is friendly. Excellent breakfast with vegan and lactose-free options.
You can check the prices here:
If you prefer more budget-friendly accommodation in Zakopane center, then you might want to choose Top Hostel Zakopane. It is located on Krupowki street, so it's an ideal option for travelers looking for a lovely place close to Zakopane main attractions. It's an affordable place, nice and clean, with breakfast included.
You may check its prices here:
Travelers looking for quiet getaway should head to nearby villages: Murzasichle and Bukowina Tatrzanska.
Both are situated close to trailheads. The prices are also lower than in Zakopane, and those villages are less crowded in the summertime.
You may check available hotels in Murzasichle village here:
Here are available hotels in Bukowina Tatrzanska: