Draped over the rising foothills of the Tatras and visible from the main road into Poland’s ‘Winter Capital’, the Harenda ski slope is one of the first resorts that travellers encounter on their way into the Zakopane valley. Small and compact, Harenda still packs a punch, boasting a challenging, if short and speedy, run that’s a good breeze through the Polish hills.
The skiing in Harenda
Don’t be fooled: Harenda is never going to match up to the likes of Poland’s larger resorts; Kotelnica; Karpacz. However, this one’s neat little collection of runs still has plenty to offer. For instance, despite a humble total of just four kilometers, there’s still enough room here to fit in a challenging black piste (even if this is only challenging by Polish standards), a fine intermediate piste and several small beginner pistes. Drag lifts form the backbone of the action, with three individual pulls serving the smaller runs, while a single, four-person chairlift now serves the top station, providing access to the longest 2,000-meter piste in the resort.
Due to Harenda’s location on the edge of Zakopane it also tends to be a little less busy during the peak of the season and during Polish holidays than the runs accessible from the centre of town. That makes it a great spot for budding learners and intermediates looking to find their feet, while the on-site ski school is also fantastically equipped and well-priced.
There is a small snow park on offer at Harenda, complete with rails, boxes and some small airs, however this isn’t maintained right throughout the season.
The season here typically runs in line with the other resorts of the Zakopane valley (late-December to March), although Harenda’s relatively low altitude and small size mean that it’s often closed earlier and opened a little later.
Accommodation near Harenda
Thanks to the huge proliferation of low-cost accommodation options dotting the base of the Zakopane valley, bedding down relatively close to Harenda is easy. In the heart of Poland’s winter capital (a short five-minute bus ride from Harenda itself), you can choose from luxury spa hotels like the Rezydencja Nosalowy Dwór and the Aries Hotel & SPA. Both of these come highly regarded, while the latter has outdoor Jacuzzi baths, saunas, a pool and an excellent breakfast spread (just check out the huge hams!).
To be closer to the piste at Harenda, consider looking to the simpler (and slightly more affordable) accommodation choices of Harenda House (a simple, family-owned chalet with real fire and pet-friendly policies) or clean and modern U Suchowiana, which has contemporary rooms with private bathrooms all just a short walk from the slopes.
Restaurants near Harenda
A smattering of heart Polish taverns and pubs clinging to the base of the slopes at Harenda make it a relatively lively little place for some after skiing dinner, while nearby by there’s a large McDonalds for those who fancy something a little less adventurous.
For the best restaurants there can really be no substitute for heading into Zakopane town, where luxury fine-dining options like Casa Mia Restaurant rub shoulders with traditional Polish eateries, like Marzanna.
Apres in Harenda
Despite a handful of mountaintop beer bars dotted around Harenda’s four-person chairlift, this one relies entirely on the town of Zakopane for its après scene. Situated just down the road, this lively little town is hailed as Poland’s winter capital and really does live up to the hype. There are micro-breweries, craft beer bars, cocktail joints, rooftop cafes and plenty more to keep the party going once the skis are off. For some of the most popular après spots here, check out the lively little underground bar of Morskie Oko or happening Cafe Piano.
If you want more information on skiing in Harenda, skiing in Zakopane or other close by resorts, be sure to ask away in the comments below, or check out our Poland section.