Kasprowy Wierch Introduction
The highest and most challenging of all the ski resorts in Poland is the calling card of experts and upper-intermediate skiers the country over. Set deep amidst the rugged peaks of the High Tatras just south of Zakopane town, the series of black and red runs at Kasprowy Wierch is hardly as challenging as its Austrian and French counterparts but boy does it pack a punch. And while the season tends to be relatively short, there are bonuses aplenty: quiet, wide pistes; an abundance of organic snow (no cannons here); a dramatic cable-car to the summit, and some of the best views in the country (seriously!).
Skiing in Kasprowy Wierch
The character of Kasprowy Wierch is a hot topic of debate among Polish skiers. Some say it’s pure advanced stuff: steep, powdery, fast. Others say it’s nowhere near as difficult as is made out by the ski map. We’re inclined to sit somewhere in-between and say this one’s perfect for the upper-intermediate rider, not least of all because of the absence of all the usual niceties and technology – there’s no snow-making to be heard of and the cable car is a creaking relic of the 50s (no wonder there are queues!).
However, despite its flaws, Kasprowy Wierch brings some fantastic pulls to the table too. For one, it’s by far the highest of all the ski resorts in Poland (at 1,987 meters). That usually makes for an early-starting season, from December onwards. Secondly, the pistes do live up to their reputation for a challenge, and when the snow does fall (and it frequently does), the powder is the best around. Oh, and then there are the views, encompassing the peaks of the High Tatras all the way into Slovakia to the south!
Skiers reach the top of the resort via a single cable car that departs from Kuznice at the base of the mountain. A 10-minute ride to the summit opens up two separate pistes: Gasienicowa and Goryczkowa, at 1.4 km and 2 km respectively. The base of each of these is connected to the top by a separate chairlift, and (when snow levels permit) also joined to the base of the mountain by a series of charming country routes that weave their way through the fir forests for a total of 7 km.
Ski tuition in Kasprowy Wierch is not the best on offer near Zakopane, so if you’re thinking of coming here to find your feet, it’s best to opt for somewhere closer to town (like Szymoszkowa or Harenda). That said, there are a number of ski schools that offer lessons and these can be discovered in the heart of Zakopane town.
A detailed ski map is available here.
Accommodation near Kasprowy Wierch
Apart from a single – slightly isolated – hotel right at the base of Kasprowy mountain (the Hotel Gorski Kalatowki), there’s really no accommodation options with ski-in, ski-out facilities here. The Hotel Gorski has a wonderful location between the fir forests and the peaks of the Tatras though, nestled in its own small valley. The downside is how far it is from the town of Zakopane, and the fact there’s no driving access – you’ll either have to ski-in or hike! The room options range from budget single beds with a washbasin to family rooms with a private bathroom, while there’s also an on-site bistro, a bar, and a large terrace area for relaxing.
Of course, most people riding the runs at Kasprowy Wierch will opt to bed down in Zakopane, Poland’s so-called Winter Capital, which sits just a 10-minute drive from the base of the main cable car. This bubbling, characterful resort town boasts everything from budget hostels to five-star spa hotels, not to mention oodles of self-catering apartments.
It would help if you find somewhere towards the southern side of the city, which is much closer to the base station of Kasprowy Wierch, and enjoys is own clutch of cafe and eateries. Top end choices include the all-new, swish Grand Nosalowy Dwór, which has a huge spa area with saunas, a duo of Jacuzzis and a large indoor pool. The Hotel Murowanica is also close to the cabelcar and offers large apartment-style accomodations with access to a spa facility. And finally, there’s the highly-rated Hotel Crocus – think plush marble lobbies and large suites, not to mention another pool, all for a decent price tag.
Restaurants close to Kasprowy Wierch
In the absence of rollicking Polish taverns and canteens on the top of the mountain (you are in a national park after all!), the closest eating options near Kasprowy are to be found on the outskirts of Zakopane. These include hearty little Marzanna, where potato pancakes flip next to bubbling pots of traditional pierogi dumplings (the perfect post-ski meal!), and enticing Karczma Przy Mlynie, with its platters of cold meats, steaming blood sausages, and wonderful highland décor.
Apres in Kasprowy Wierch
Forget the apres scene around the base of Kasprowy Wierch and opt to head straight for the centre of Zakopane town. Here, the action starts early in the traditional mountain taverns, which cluster endlessly along the edge of Krupówki Street. It’s where skiers fresh from all the resorts in the Zakopane valley coalesce after a day on the pistes; some to sip frothy Slavic beers in Browar Watra, others to dance the night away in club Prestige, or to shoot potent Polish vodka in one of the many other speakeasies on offer.
Getting to Kasprowy Wierch
Kasprowy Wierch is best reached by public transport from Zakopane. Buses go to the base of the main cable car in Kuznice regularly. Just go to the main bus station to catch these. Many hotels also offer free shuttle buses to and from the base station.
Zakopane itself is easily accessible by bus from Krakow (2 hours), Katowice (3 hours) and Wroclaw (7 hours), while overnight connections on the PolskiBus run to Warsaw and Gdansk, too. Be wary of driving into town during holiday periods – there’s only one road in and one road out, so traffic can get stifling.
For more information on skiing in Kasprowy Wierch, or for details on more hotels and restaurants in the area, be sure to ask away in the comments below. Or, check out our section on skiing in Poland.