I took a bus operated by a private company called Szwagropol both to and from Zakopane. From Krakow, I went to the main bus station there and jumped on bus, which was comfortable and not overly crowded. It took two hours to get to Zakopane, which is much faster than if you take the train. The ride only costs 13 zl and you just pay the driver when you get on. The countryside is attractive as you get closer to Zakopane and into the foothills.
Another alternative is to take the National Bus (PKS), which might be one or two zloty's cheaper, but probably takes an extra thirty minutes at least.
I suppose most tourists going to Zakopane go from Krakow -- the bus is the best bet and should take about 2 hours although at weekends and peak times it could take much longer -- services are frequent both by PKS (Polish state buses) and independent companies.
The bus station (Dworzec Autobusowy PKS) is next to the train station at the end of Kosciuszki -- to get to the centre from the bus station, come out of the main entrance and turn to your right -- it's about a 10 minute walk down the main road.
In my photo, the bus station is at the back, behind the trees -- directly opposite, over the road, are the minibuses that take you to the various tourist destinations. The tourist office is behind the minibuses, just to the left of where I took this photo from.
From the main bus station in Zakopane you can catch a number of different shuttle buses to nearby town and to various hiking/skiing attractions. You can also catch shuttle buses from the south eastern end of Kuprowk near the intersection of Tetmajera. In order to get to Mt. Kasprowy Wierch, I caught a shuttle bus from here to Kuznice, for which I only paid 2 zl.
The cable car ride from the town of Kuznice to Mt. Kasprowy Wierch is fun, but be sure you call ahead and make a reservation. I waited in the line for 90 minutes or so for the ride that costs 29 zl for the roundtrip. It's also possible to hike to the top, but that would not be an easy hike.
You'll go halfway up and stop at an intermediate station before continuing in another car to the top.
This tip could also be a tourist trap. These guys are camped out on Kuprowki looking for tourists, but I never saw anyone taking the bait. Zakopane isn't really big enough to justify using a carriage. I also noticed that the carriages will take you to Kuznice where you can catch the cable car to Mr. Kasprowy Wierch, but the road that leads there isn't especially interesting and you're better off taking the faster cheaper shuttle bus.
The train station is virtually next to the bus station at the end of Kosciuszki -- to get to the centre walk along Kosciuszki for about 10 minutes.
Trains from Krakow take about 4 hours.
Here's a link in English for the Polish trains (PKP) :-
To and back Krakow-Zakopane way I made with bus service. Buses are quite comfortable and not expensive to use whem at all (about 11 zloty one way). I catched them in Krakow bus station - very frequent schedule. Zakopane has its own bus station as well, but there are one street, where buses stand just like that, not at bus station (maybe because of different bus companies).
On my bus trip back to Krakow I met one nun. We found what we are from Baltic states - she was from Latvia, but being in Zakopane Catholic monastery. On the bus trip she wrote me a wish in Latvian language on religious thematic postcard, was quite fun trying to talk in Latvian as well:)
It is easy to go around with the local buses and they are quite cheap. Luckily there is no restricted transportation system, so you find a lot of private mini-buses connecting Zakopane with the small villages and different start points for hiking tours. And if you come down the mountains in the early evening and feel like not walking one single step anymore, you can just wait anywhere on the road and give a passing car a sign; if they have a seat free they will pick you up.
To get to Zakopane from Krakow we tried to go on the train. We bought tickets for about $10, but then, when we looked at the train station, the number of our train was in black, instead of red. This means that it's a local train, and it would take about six hours to get to Zakopane (it should take only two hours). Since it was already late in the evening, and we were only going there for a weekend, we decided that we had to find a quicker mode of transportation. We returned our train tickets after waiting on line for what seemed to be an eternity we finally got rid of the tickets (they kept 20% of the ticket price - our penalty for returning them). In front of the train station there's always busses standing around with destinations written in their front windows. These are privately owned busses - people buy them, and give the nationalized transportation system some competition. Here we were able to buy tickets for $2.50 on a clean, brand new bus, and it was only going to take two hours to get to Zakopane! Plus, the bus was almost empty, so we got to stretch out on two seats each. Good deal!
To get from Krakow to Zakopane via public transportation, you have the choice of the train or bus. Counterintuitively, the bus is actually faster; the train can take 4-6 hours. However, note that construction on the main road between Krakow and Zakopane can cause significant delays; while the scheduled travel time is 2 hours, allow for at least 3 hours to get to your destination.
Even among the buses, you have a number of choices. In addition to the public bus, there are several private buses, all departing and arriving at the same bus stations on either end. All buses cost the same (Zl 18 per person one-way); the only difference is the private buses are a bit more comfortable. However, if you can catch the "express" public bus, it can save you roughly 20 minutes travel time. My advice is to show up at the bus station and grab the first bus departing for your desired destination. You can buy your ticket in the station (or ticket office for the private buses), or pay cash to the driver before departure.
While plentiful taxis will whisk you to just about anywhere, they're a bad value when you consider the availability of mini-buses. While there are no public local buses, private mini-buses abound. Most depart from the tourist office across the street from the long-haul bus station, though many will also depart from the parking area directly in front of the station. Within Zakopane, there are a great number of marked mini-bus stops: simply determine which stop is closest to your desired destination, then tell (or write on a slip of paper and show) the driver the stop you wish to travel to. Conversely, you can wait at a marked stop, and it should be a matter of minutes before a mini-bus shows up. Cost for transport within Zakopane is between Zl 1.50 and Zl 3.
Many mini-buses will also take you to various villages outside Zakopane (e.g., Kuznice). These short trips will cost between Zl 3 and Zl 5 per person one-way. Some mini-buses will also travel to destinations in Slovakia; these obviously will cost more.
You can go to Zakopane by train, from Krakow, but much better way is by bus, also from Krakow, it would be about 1 hour faster.
There are several private bus lines, like Szwagropol, TatraBus or FREJ, which depart from bus station (PKS station).Tickets you can buy in the bus. The price is about 10 PLZ.
The best way to get to Zakopane (from Krakow for instance) is by bus as it takes less time than by train. There are a few bus companies but I would recommend SZWAGROPOL - a bit cheaper than PKS , reliable and quite fast.
The most popular way to get to Zakopane is road from Cracow called Zakopianka. It is 102 km long and it takes approximately 1,5-2 hours to travel it by car. It's first part is an international road number 7 and second part a national road number 47. In the rush hours and on holidays you may stuck in a traffic jam at the entrance to Zakopane or Cracow.
From Katowice the best way to get to Zakopane is to go to Cracow and then take Zakopianka. There is also another possibility via Bielsko Biała - Korbielów - Slovakia - Chochołów. You can try this when you want to avoid traffic jam on Zakopianka.
From eastern part of Poland you can go via Nowy Sącz to Nowy Targ and then take Zakopianka to Zakopane.
There is also a possibility to get to Zakopane from Slovakia. There are 3 main car border crossings close to Zakopane:
- Łysa Polana - Javorina,
- Chochołów - Sucha Hora,
- Jurgów - Podspady,
- Chyżne - Trsténa.
In the Tatra Mountains also exist the pedestrian border crossings. The state border crossing within the Tatra National Park may only be crossed in a places where the tourists trails of the Polish and Slovak National Park meet, i.a.:
- Kasprowy Wierch,
1. By train:
- departs from Warsaw Main Station or East Station, arrives at Zakopane train station
- duration: 6,5 - 10 h
- you can check the timetable here
2. By bus:
- 3 times a day, one night bus, customized for passengers with disabilities, wi-fi, air-conditioning, toilet
- duration: 7,5 h
- tickets - reservation online
- departs from Warszawa Metro Wilanowska; arrives in the center of Zakopane
- 1 or 2 times a day, a night bus, wi-fi
- departs from West Bus Station, Warsaw; arrives at bus station in Zakopane
The express train from Warsaw (6,5 h) is the most convenient way to get to Zakopane, but it is also the most expensive (130 PLN). 'Polski Bus' is a high standard bus, not very expensive (60 PLN) and trip duration is quite short.
1. By train:
- several times a day
- departs from Cracow Main Station
- duration: 3 1/4 - 4 h
2. By bus:
- busses depart 3-4 times per hour between 4 AM and 10 PM
- departs from Regional Bus Station in Cracow, arrives at bus station in Zakopane
- the best are direct busses like: 'Szwagropol', 'Trans Kos', 'Majer'
- tickets: you can buy at the driver. If you plan to go on friday afternoon or on the beggining of holidays in Poland, it is better to buy tickets earlier.
- ticket price: 20 PLN
The best way to get from Cracow to Zakopane is by bus - it is faster and cheaper.
Find more on my blog - , useful links and more info how to travel from Katowice and from Slovakia.
There are 3 bus companies which travel between Krakow and Zakopane, and each one makes several journeys a day. All leave from the bus station in Krakow, a few minutes walk north of the train station.
We travelled with Trans Frej as they had the next scheduled bus when we got to the station. It cost us 15 Zloty each and the bus was nowhere near full so we had a two seater each. The joureny took just under two hours and there was some nice scenery along the way especially as we got closer to Zakopane in the Podhale region.
The bus station in Zakopane is at the eastern end of ul Kosciuszki, near the train station and about 5 minutes walk from the centre of town.