Poland may not be a skier’s paradise, but you can still have a good skiing holiday if you know where to go and what to expect.
There are no perfect ski resorts in Poland. For years, skiers have been complaining about organisational problems, high prices and bad snow. And yet, each year, Polish mountains are overcrowded with skiers. I have taken a close look at Poland’s ski resorts and chosen five which seemed to me to be the most attractive. My choice was influenced not only by the quality of the pistes and tourist facilities, but also by what kind of apres-ski is on offer. Our recommendations are tried and tested and you are sure to have a good time in each of these places even if the weather is not up to par.
THE PIENINY MOUNTAINS
The Pieniny are a charming mountain range at any time of the year. Szczawnica and KroScienko are among Poland’s largest health spas, and the castles in Niedzica and Czorsztyn on the shore of Czorsztyn Lake are big attractions. There are three noteworthy ski resorts in the region. The chair lift from the centre of Szczawnica takes you up to Palenica, which has a FIS-approved piste. The views extending to the Lesser Pieniny and Pieniny ranges from the summit are magnificent. Over to the west, by the lake there are two smaller resorts: Kluszkowca and Niedzica (Polana Sosny). For such low-lying ski resorts, they both have surprisingly diverse pistes offering good skiing as well as places for hiking. Another attractive option is touring or cross-country skiing.
http://www.szczawnica.pl http://www.szczawnica.info http://www.niedzica.compl/narty.html http ://www. czorsztyn-ski.com.pl
THE JAWORZYNA RANGE
Ever since the completion of the gondola lift to the summit of Jaworzyna Krynicka in Krynica (Czarny Potok), the famous spa has turned into a bustling ski resort. If you’re just learning to ski, the best place to do it is in Slotwiny. The slopes of Jaworzyna are for more advanced skiers with several red pistes, including one FIS-approved. A trip on cross-country skis along the red or green trail to the Nad Wierchomla shepherd’s hut, where other trails from the Wierchomla Mala resort and forest trails lead to Szczawnik, is worth a try. The real highlight of the trip is a visit to Szczawnik and neighbouring Zlocko. Both villages have wooden churches (one time Greek-Orthodox, now Roman-Catholic) with surviving iconostasis and polychrome paintings. To return to Krynica, you can take a train or bus from near-by Muszyna. However, if you are a real amateur of cross-country siding, it’s worth climbing up to the top of Pusta Wielka (1062 m), which affords one of the most breathtaking views of the Beskidy range.
http://www.krynica.p1/?id= gondola http://www.wierchomla.com.pl
THE BESKID SLASKI
Wisla has everything that a post-socialist resort can offer, from bed & breakfast, to the gigantic Goiebiewski Hotel. There is no large skiing area, but there are several smaller ones, from Ustron north to the famous lace-making area of 71-OjwieS Beskidzka (Istebna,’ Koniakow, Jaworzynka). There are fairly well organised lift networks in Czantoria, Soszow Wielki, Stozek, Cienkow and Ochodzita. My personal favourite is Czantoria, because of its long pistes. The warm wine served in Lepiarzowka, a mountain lodge situated at the foot of Soszow, is very tasty. Stolek has the most difficult slopes in the region, while the summit of Ochodzita affords vast views of the Beskidy mountain range, though the strong winds in the area often blow the snow away. If you come for a longer stay, there will be enough time to try out the slopes in neighbouring Szczyrk (Poland’s largest skiing area — over 20 km of slopes — some run by GAT, all are accessible with one ski pass). Other mountains worth a visit are Szyndzielnia and Klimczok. A trip to Mikuszowice Slaskie (a district of Bielsko Biala) to see the wooden church of St. Barbara with its 17th century polychromes is a must.
http://www.czantolia.corn.pl http://www.soszow.pl http://www.stozek.wisla.pl http://www.nat.pl http://www.ochodzita.pl http://www.wisla.pl
The Polish Tatra’s highest skiing region – Kasprowy Wierch. The skiing is good there as long as its not too crowded, and weather permitting, the views of the Tatras make up for any organisational snags and high prices. Zakopane also has Poland’s most difficult ski slope – the black Nosal run (from the very summit). The pistes on Gubalowka are best for less demanding and less experienced skiers. Zakopane also has a rather impressive gastronomic culture, both in terms of quantity as well as quality of its restaurants. There is something on offer for every taste and budget. There is a growing network of ski lifts in the area, particularly in Bukowna and Bialka Tatrzariska, though the resorts are not well integrated with each other. On the other hand, it is easier to find cheaper good quality accommodation in the region.
Karpacz and Szklarska Poreba have become serious competition for the Tatras and Beskidy ranges. Karpacz is my favourite of the two, for purely subjective reasons – I like the nearby Wang church, the Snierzka peak and ‘Samotnia’ lodge by Maly Staw. I also enjoy the skiing area of Kopa Mountain. Moreover, the Karkonosze Mountains are an excellent place for cross-country skiing -there are magnificent views on the trails along the main crest and downhill slopes to the Czech side. You have to be careful though, as some places are avalanche-risk areas. The neighbouring Czech resorts are an extra feature. If there is not enough snow on the Polish side, all you have to do is cross the border to Pec pod Sneikou, Spindlerav Mlyn or Janske Lazni, where snow conditions are usually better. For cross-country skiing with an instructor, the Mountain School at the ‘Samotniar lodge organises special packages.
Links: http://www.kopa.com.pl http://www.samotnia.com.pl