A highlight of any trip to Zakopane is visiting the peak of Mt. Gubałówka, with panoramic views of the Tatra mountains and lots of things to do and eat. Read on for our walk-through of the experience, with practical information for visitors.
The Tatra Mountains
Zakopane may be considered Poland’s winter capital, but that doesn’t stop this gateway to Tatra National Park being a year-round destination. An essential part of any trip to the town is to ascend to the 1,123m peak of neighbouring Mt. Gubałówka. From here, you get stunning views over the town and beyond to the snowy peaks Tatra mountains.
You can hike to the summit, if you’re feeling strong. Most, however, choose to take the 5-minute funicular railway journey directly up the side of the mountain. Once you reach the top, there are restauranats, cafes, and bars – all with outstanding views, as well as a gravitational slide, skiing and snow tubing, and the chance to the top of Kasprowy Wierch via chairlift.
Most day trips to Zakopane from Kraków include a visit to Mt. Gubałówka as part of the deal.
Read on for a full walk-through of visiting Mt. Gubałówka in Zakopane, followed by all the practical information you need.
What To See On Mt. Gubałówka
The 1,123m ride up the mountain is fun but it’s the view itself that everybody is here for. There are a number of different terraces to capture different aspects and the Widokówka – or Viewer’s – Restaurant is set a bit higher for the best panorama while you dine. They serve regional specialities, like pierogi with oscypek or bryndza cheese, at prices that are still reasonable compared to many other European destinations. Alternatively, there is the Tarasy Restaurant for outside dining on finer days.
The Gravitational Slide runs from April to November, a cart for parent and child that curves around and down a section of the mountain at speeds of up to 23km per hour. There is also snow tubing during the snowy season, which is exactly as it sounds – sliding down downhill in a fat rubber ring.
Passes are available if you wish to ski, and a drag lift. You can take classes and skiing competitions. See the official website for full information.
There’s a road behind all the cafes and restaurants with market stalls selling local cheeses and toys, as well as horse and carriage rides.
You can also take the 40-minute walk from the summit across the mountain-top trail to Butorowy Wierch, with fantastic views the whole way. Then you can take the chairlift down to Kościelisko, roughly 5km from Zakopane.
What To Expect On Mt. Gubałówka
Once you’re in Zakopane, finding the funicular station is simple enough. If you start from outside TK Maxx at the bottom of Krupówki, then continue down hill for a few minutes until you reach the busy road called Kościeliska. It’s safer to cross via the subway. Take Na Gubałówkę once you’re on the other side, and follow that down through the big market.
The market has a lot of local specialities, such as smoked sheep’s cheese. It’s a good place for unique souvenirs.
Pass under a flyover and across a river. As you keep walking straight ahead, you’ll soon see the big sign for Gubałówka on the outside of the departure station.
Mt. Gubałówka funicular station
The ticket office is in the middle, with toilets to the right, and access to the funicular on the left. There’s also a restaurant and brewhouse.
Departure to the left
You can book tickets online up to two months in advance and have them sent to your phone. Scan your ticket to get through the turnstiles.
Scan your ticket
If the train has more than ten passangers, it will leave within five minutes. Otherwise, you may have a wait of up to 30 minutes. Try to get one of the seats at the very back, so you can see the view emerge below. The entire trip takes about four minutes each way.
The view from the funicular changes dramatically depending on the time of year. You’ll see hikers who are making the journey by foot.
View from the window
This is the view of the Tatras, looking back from the very top of the ride. Note the pull lift to the left, which pulls skiers up during the winter season.
View from the top
Once you emerge from the funicular, you’ll see a complex of buildings, terraces, and balconies in front of you. There’s a lot packed into a very small space. It’s quite flat, with wide viewing spaces, but there are quite a few stairs to reach some of the facilities.
There are plenty of things to do and it’s easy to spend a couple of hours here, particularly if you eat at one of the restaurants. Good signage means you will always know where everything is.
Things to do
The Gravity Slide starts part way down the mountain. You can see it snake out of the picture. Note also the ski lift and funicular tracks to the right and the viewing platform to the left, with Zakopane spread out below.
There are wide terraces for outdoor eating and drinking, and the interiors have panoramic windows. It’s a great place for lunch or to watch the town sparkle at twilight.
How To Vist Mt. Gubałówka
Spring season opening hours
Mt. Gubałówka Funicular Station address: ul. Droga Zubka 4, 34-500 Zakopane, Poland
Getting to Zakopane is easy from Kraków and will generally take just over two hours. See our guide for How To Travel From Kraków To Zakopane for full details.
An organised day trip from Kraków is an excellent option. You will be picked up at your accommodation and driven in a comfortable minibus. Any tickets and attractions, including the Mt. Gubałówka funicular, will be taken care of in advance and you don’t need to worry about getting yourself home at the end of the day.
The Mt. Gubałówka funicular runs from 9am daily, until either 7pm, 8pm, or 9.30pm, depending on the season – please check for the day you intend to visit in advance, as these are open to last-minute changes and there can be closure for maintenance. Service may also be limited on public holidays, although the vehicle does usually still run. The car runs every 5 minutes if there are 10 or more people onboard, or every 30 minutes if there are less than 10 passengers.
You can buy tickets up to two months in advance online and they will be sent to you via email or text message. You need only specify the day and you can travel up and back whenever is most convenient. You simply need to scan the barcode for access to the car.
There are many different prices, depending on season, age of traveller, and whether you are entitled to concessions – children under 4 can travel free, for example. You can also buy a combined ticket for Butorowy Wierch.
Full details of prices and a booking link can be found on the Gubałówka website.
Tips For Visiting Mt. Gubałówka
- Weather is obviously the big factor here. The temperature is always at least a couple of degrees cooler than at the base of the mountain. The view is obviously best on a clear day. Conversely, it can be bitterly cold during the winter. Dress accordingly. The official website gives an up-to-date forecast for the top of the mountain, as well as webcams, so you can see how clear the view is
- If you just want to see the view and have a quick look around, you can be up the mountain and back within 30 minutes. But it’s a nice place to stop for a drink or something to eat. And, there are fun activities, especially if you have kids with you. Similarly, you might decide to walk back down. Regardless, 90 minutes seems like a reasonable amount of time for the visit
- There are plenty of places to sit, especially if you’re buying some kind of refreshment, but wear comfortable walking shoes and many impressive viewpoints, if possible. Especially if the weather is bad
- There is an extra fee for large luggage and bikes
- Obviously photography is allowed
- There are some good activities for children, including the Gravity Slide and horse and carriage rides
- Most of the mountain top is paved, which is good for accessibility, although there are stairs between different levels, which makes entry to the restaurants difficult
- There are no restrictions on bringing your own food and drink up the mountain, but there are also plenty of options once you arrive. There are toilets at both the food and peak of the mountain
- You can pay for everything with a card
Visit Kraków Zakopane Map
Plan your Zakopane visit with our comprehensive Zakopane map to explore Zakopane’s attractions, restaurants, sightseeing and hotels.
Each type of landmark has a different colour marker on the map:
- YELLOW: Zakopane Sightseeing
- GREEN: Zakopane Transportation
- DARK RED: Restaurants In Zakopane
- LIGHT RED: Zakopane Bars / Clubs / Music Venues
- BLUE: Zakopane Hotels
- PURPLE: Shopping In Zakopane
Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out.
Click on the icon in the top left corner for an index of every location, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want. Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example.
If you are using the map on your phone, open the Visit Kraków Zakopane map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.