Polana Szymoszkowa Introduction
The pistes of Polana Szymoszkowa carve their way through the fir forests of the Gubałowskie foothills on the northern side of the Zakopane valley, representing one of the most popular skiing options in the heart of Poland’s so-called ‘Winter Capital’ (Zakopane). With just three individual lifts and a combined total of just 2km of piste, the resort is certainly a modest one in terms of size, while the panoramic views of the High Tatras, the rollicking offering of beer bars and eateries – both on and off the mountain – and the unrivalled access to Zakopane’s enchanting centre, mean there’s much more moxy to this one than meets the eye!
Skiing in Polana Szymoszkowa
Okay, so while Polana Szymoszkowa is arguably a study in precisely where Polish resorts have gone wrong over the years – lack of expansion, limited variation in runs, slow lifts – there’s still something undeniably enchanting about donning the salopettes here.
Yes, 2km of piste pales miserably in comparison to neighbouring resorts at Kotelnica and Kasprowy Wierch, but this one’s ease of access is second-to-none, the ski passes are cheap and the runs are fantastically well snowed-up from early on in the season. Oh, and there are some fine on-mountain beer bars with eye-watering views of the Carpathian subranges to go with it all, not to mention a welcoming crowd of local riders and teachers to carve with!
Polana Szymoszkowa can roughly be divided into two parts: upper and lower. Lower Szymoszkowa is served by a single, four-person chairlift, which alights at a point around two thirds of the way up the mountain. This serves a single, easy-going, wide blue run that is often populated with beginners and instructors – a fine place to get your snow feet.
Meanwhile, upper Szymoszkowa is served by a much longer, six-person chairlift that reaches a height of 1,123m and feeds a longer run, which – although rated red – flits between red and blue, getting steeper and shallower and often a little bumpy, until joining lower Szymoszkowa below.
Szymoszkowa has no dedicated terrain park or cross-country tracks, although there is a designated slalom section open for the high-season months and an area for younger skiers. The entire resort is floodlit for night-time skiing and is open late most days – great for catching the sunset over the mountains and skiing to views of Zakopane town.
The season at Szymoszkowa is generally tied to the season of Zakopane as a whole, typically running from late December to late March, although this can go on a little longer when the Polish winters last as long as they used to way back when.
A detailed look at individual runs and lifts along with a ski map can be found here.
Accommodation close to Polana Szymoszkowa
While the skiing is far from Poland’s most challenging at Szymoszkowa, the offering of accommodation is arguably the finest in the country. Everything from isolated wood cabins between the fir forests to five-star hotels on the edge of the town’s bustling Krupówki Street are on the menu, with a healthy smattering of hostels and budget guesthouses bringing up the bottom end.
As far as ski-in, ski-out stays go, there can only really be one option: Hotel Mercure, which sits neatly right at the base of the slope. Unfortunately, the whole building is something of an eyesore: a relic left over from the times when Soviet VIPs would come and enjoy the slopes of Zakopane. Still, the inside is well-appointed, the location is second-to-none for skiing in Polana Szymoszkowa, and the building is a little quirky (not to mention complete with a pool).
A short walk from the base of slope, travellers will also find options like Apartamenty Jan, a cosy and spacious choice which boasts fantastic views over the High Tatras to the south, and Willa Leluja – perfect if you want self-catering along with hearty mountain-style looks.
When it comes to Polana Szymoszkowa though, there’s a lot to be said for not staying near the slope at all. First off, the lifts are served by a regular local bus (taking 4-5 minutes from the centre of town), while it’s also easily accessible on foot from the main drag of Zakopane itself: Krupowki Street.
It’s here that you’ll find uber-luxury choices like Aries Spa, with its bubbling outdoor hot tubs (awesome when the snow falls), its Finnish saunas, and amazing breakfast spreads. Alternatively, there’s the Dom Krupowki, which has enough room for 10 people, a roaring log fire, charming cabin style architecture and a location just behind Krupowki’s charming Slavic church spire.
For more information on staying in the heart of the town, see our section on accommodation and hotels in Zakopane.
Restaurants close to Polana Szymoszkowa
Steaming plate of pierogi dumplings anyone? Smoky Polish sheep’s cheese doused in cranberry sauce? Perhaps a hot beer punctuated with a fruit juice? Cue the curious and enchanting restaurants that pepper the slope at Polana Szymoszkowa.
Most skiers start at the base of the lifts, where a large, traditional mountain tavern boasts a roaring open fire, two floors of indoor seating and a large terrace loaded with deck chairs for the sunnier days. From here it’s a case of moving upwards, to where the lifts of upper Szymoszkowa alight amongst a cluster of timber-clad restaurants and eateries. These typically serve hearty Polish fare, and come complete with sweeping views of the Zakopane valley – fantastic sunset eating!
Back in the town and there’s endless choices. Live Polish music pours out from Karczma po Zbóju (not to mention the free shots in between courses); Stek Chałupa’s got hearty mains, and there are oodles of the ubiquitous pizza and kebab joints to chose from.
Apres ski in Polana Szymoszkowa
Prepare yourself: the Après at this humble little resort is arguably one of the finest in all of Poland. Yes sir, mountaintop karczmas (traditional highland pubs-come-eateries) cling to the slopes all around; vodka bars beckon from the Zakopane town centre and late-night parties don’t peter out until the early hours.
Start by sipping some Slavic beers at Karczma Pająkówka atop the higher ski lift, watching as the sun dips behind the serrated tops of the High Tatras in the west. Then, it’s on to the bustling restaurant bar at the base of the slopes for some closing actions. Finally, Krupowki Street awaits, with bubbling Browar Watra (a fantastic micro-brewery to the north of town), subterranean Morskie Oko and beatnik, Tom Waits-esque Cafe Piano.
If you want more information on skiing in Polana Szymoszkowa, hotels near Polana Szymoszkowa, or restaurants near Polana Szymoszkowa, then be sure to ask any questions in the comments below.