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Skiing in Poland

Skiing in Poland is on the up. With all-new resorts, plenty of investment and real bargain offering for first-time riders, could this Slavic jewel be the choice for this year’s winter jaunt?

Rolling from the salty waves of the Balitc Sea in the north to the craggy peaks of the High Tatras in the south, Poland is one of the largest nations in central-eastern Europe. Known across the globe for it’s tumultuous past (this one was ravaged by the Nazis and Communists alike), the great Slavic nation that bridges the gap between Germany and Russia is now home to some of the region’s top skiing.

Skiing in Poland centers on the southern areas of the country, with the mountains of the mighty Carpathian ranges proving the top draw. By summer, these bloom with alpine flowers and meadows, oodles of shimmering high-altitude lakes (known here as staw) glimmer under the sun, and thousands of walkers take to the trails that weave to the tops of mountains like Giewont and Rysy (the highest in Poland at 2,499 meters).

But when the snows come  – and trust us, they really do come! – Poland’s southernmost mountains transform into a winter wonderland. The first powder hits around early December, converting cities like the self-proclaimed ‘Winter Capital’ of Zakopane into veritable havens for boarders and skiers.

And while the largest of the resorts are focused around Zakopane city and the Tatras, there are plenty of other smaller places to don the salopettes all over the south. You can ride the runs of the Beskidy mountains, butting up to the border of Ukraine in the east. Or, you can going skiing in Poland where the Czech mountains crash over the border into Silesia.

For the most part, the ski fields are humble, small affairs. A couple of drag lifts and a creaking chairlift sprout from the foothills here; a collection of little magic carpets serve the slopes there. What’s more, despite continued efforts to link more and more runs together, and bring skiing in Poland into more integrated passes (check out the all new Tatra Ski pass and others if you don’t believe us), there’s still a certain disconnect between the independent operators here; one that can leave riders feeling a little hard done by in terms of extent and kilometer count.

Still, Poland has other draws that the Alps can’t muster. For starters, cities like Krakow and Wroclaw and Warsaw all come within easy reach of the skiing, offering world-class galleries and magical fairy-tale Old Towns tagged by UNESCO. There are hearty mountain taverns that burst with equally-hearty Slavic foods: pierogi dumplings; smoky sheep cheese; potent vodka. And then – last but not least – there are the prices: Nice and low.