How to Get Between Poprad, Ždiar and Zakopane in Poland

Start out from Poprad on an exciting cross-border journey! ©englishmaninslovakia.com

Start out from Poprad on an exciting cross-border journey! ©englishmaninslovakia.com

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It’s a topic that’s thrashed out on travel forums again and again, because the online info is always conspicuously lacking in some of the necessary detail: how to take the beguilingly scenic trip across the east of the High Tatras between Poprad (Slovakia) and Zakopane (Poland), the two big mountain supply towns on either side?

I was the same, back in the day, frantically scrabbling online for decent info on this, but having done the trip a couple of times I thought I’d share my thoughts here. This is more an adventure/experience than  it is an essential transport artery so I’ve included it in this Tatras “things to do” section.

First off: the trip is amazing – a timeless foray ascending into and traversing the most gorgeous High Tatras mountain scenery (this part is known as the Belianske Tatry, studded by beautiful little Goral villages like Ždiar) before, on the Polish side, running into dense forest and eventually descending to Zakopane. For those on round-Europe trips, this one’s a good’un.

Chances are if you know anywhere in Poprad you’ll know the main railway station. Right alongside is the bus station. Whilst you can take the Tatras Electric Railway for part of this trip (as far as Tatranská Lomnica) you’ll have to change to a bus there anyway so it’s probably best to take the bus for this journey from the beginning.

The Direct Way

From (usually stand four) Poprad bus station, a direct bus runs across the border at Lysa Polana to Zakopane BETWEEN JUNE 15th AND OCTOBER 15th. Departure times from Poprad’s bus station are at 8:50am, 11:50am, 4:50pm and 5:50pm (times in the other direction from Zakopane bus station are at 6am, 9am, 11am and 4pm). The journey takes approximately one hour and 45 minutes and costs a bargain 5 Euros. If you’re in a group of over 10 people, you’ll get a discount which will knock the price down to about 3.50 Euros (but you’ll have to book this in advance – this is best done through the Zakopane-based ticket office – email them at biuro@nosal.pl.) In order from Poprad, buses go through Tatranská Lomnica, Ždiar (maybe stop off here for a few days – we recommend the Ginger Monkey Hostel) the Bachledova ski area (10km shy of the border) and Tatranská Javorina 2-3km before the border.

Outside of these dates, travel is a bit more problematic.

Poprad-Zakopane in the Off-Season

Getting from Poprad to the border is easy. Direct buses leave Poprad bus station for Lysa Polona at 5:40, 9:10, 12:45, 14:10 and 18:45 for the one hour twenty minute journey. You’ll be dropped on the Slovak side near a convenience store. Follow the road as it twists across the border passed the old (and no longer used) control point to the bus stop and bus timetable sign on the Polish side. Here, wait. This is a very beautiful but fairly remote spot and buses on the Polish side are more erratic (although Polish schedules from Zakopane ironically suggest there should in fact be more connections from there through to Lysa Polona, every 40 minutes to one hour) . One should turn up within an hour, but they have been known not to run so frequently in winter. (I’ve done this journey in March and in November and, starting with one of the early buses from Poprad which gives you flexibility to make alternative plans if something goes wrong, I’ve always made it to Zakopane waiting no more than an hour at the border). The reason given is usually bad weather conditions. Still, you wanted an adventure, right?

Zakopane-Poprad in the Off-Season

Buses according to this schedule leave Zakopane bus station every 40 minutes to one hour, the first at 7:40am and the last and 6:40pm. They will likely be signed to Morskie Oko (a mountain lake up a long, lonely side road, so communicate to the driver you want the stop nearest to Lysa Polona). Don’t plan this journey finely (i.e., aim to begin the journey around 8 or 9 which gives you scope for coming unstuck). Some of these buses won’t run – largely because there’s often no passengers. Or bad weather. Or something. Once dropped at the border, you’ll have to walk around the curving road to the Slovak side, where you’ll see the bus stop by the convenience store. Buses from this side of the border leave at 7:05am, 10:40am, 2:30pm, 3:30, 5:05 and 8:15pm for Poprad (even on Sundays).

Tatranská Javorina, 3km from the border on the Slovak side, has accommodation. It’s probably best to jot down a Zakopane or Poprad taxi cab number before you go, use in case things go pear-shaped. Stuck in Lysa Polona? There’s some fantastic hiking that goes off from here, up the road towards Morskie Oko lake. Having said that, you probably wouldn’t be in the mood if you were waiting for a bus… maybe you’ll have to make do with the Lysa Polona convenience store coffee machine.

MAP LINK:

GETTING THERE: Well this post is all about getting there, but to Poprad it’s best by train from Bratislava’s Hlavná Stanica: trains run every 1.5 to 2 hours and cost 11/19 Euros depending whether you travel first or second class.

NEXT ON THE JOURNEY: 32km north of Poprad on the way to the Polish border is Ždiar where you can stop off and, if you want, embark on Slovakia’s renowned long-distance hike, the Tatranská Magistrala

 RELATED POST: London-Poprad Flights!!

27 Responses to How to Get Between Poprad, Ždiar and Zakopane in Poland

  1. Darren Clarke says:

    Hi there. I really like your blog as I am a fan of this lovely country. I am a fellow Brit living in Krakow, which is a nice place to be but it is Poland and isn’t quite as Magical as Slovakia. I have done this trip mentioned in the post many times. The nicest part of it is getting off the minibus at Lysa Polana and walking across the river into Slovakia. The scenery here is just tremendous! Then there is usually a wait for the SAD Poprad bus so time to nip into the border shop for a can of the good stuff, go back outside, and just take it all in. The bus journey from this point is also amazing scenery-wise any time of year. The High Tatras at the end of it!! A great start to any Slovak adventure.

    • lwaterson says:

      Glad you’re a fan of this journey!! Some really magical scenery en route. To be fair I’d say Krakow perhaps for culture but Slovakian nature is pretty special…

  2. shirley wan says:

    Hi,

    I would like to ask if there’s a connection from Zakopane to Poprad on 13/6/2015?

    Shirley

    • lwaterson says:

      Hiya. Not the direct Zakopane to Poprad bus, no, as this year it starts on 15th June. But on the 13th you can get the Zakopane bus to Lysa Polona, walk over the border, and get the bus from outside the supermarket on the Slovak side to Zdiar/Poprad.Direct buses on this day from the Slovak side at 10:40am, 14:30, 16:55, journey about 1 hour 20 minutes, hope that helps 🙂

  3. Manini Julie says:

    Hey,
    I’m going to Stary Smokovec the 21/05. Do you know if there is a bus Zakopane from Stary Smokovec ?
    THank you 🙂

    • lwaterson says:

      No there’s not. From Zakopane, you could change in Zdiar, then again in Tatranska Lomnica, if you want to do it the adventurous way without going down in to Poprad but going down in to Poprad then taking the mountain railway back up to Stary Smokovec is probably quickest.

  4. Manini Julie says:

    Thank you very much:)

  5. Carlos says:

    Hi, your post is very helpful and since you’re very well informed and I planning to do this route soon, I want to ask you a question. I’ll be in Krakow and I would like to go to Bratislava by bus/train via Zakopane on June 3rd or 4th, is it possible to do it in one day? Any suggestion? Thanks a lot!

    • lwaterson says:

      Possible but you won’t have time to stop off in Zakopane really. Do you just want to do the journey? Or stop off and see places en route too?

  6. Jaroslava Sertlova says:

    what about in the high season in august! Any advice or experience how to get to Zakopane from Poprad? I booked a hotel in Zakopane. I am afraid when I turn up at the bus station in Poprad, there will not be a seat for me. Their web site is saying i can buy a ticket on the bus! but when I looked bus ticket online, the date I want to travel and other later dates in august were busy.

    • lwaterson says:

      That won’t happen. There are local buses to the border and others on the Polish side. The worst that can happen this way is a couple of hours of waiting at the border for the Polish bus. It’ll be an adventure. For Poprad to the border, check cp.atlas.sk (link is also on the blog). For the straight through Poprad-Zakopane connection, their website can be unreliable. And with backup of the local bus schedule (available in English) from Poprad to the border there will be a way through, especially in high season. It will be an adventure!

  7. Azizan says:

    Hi there!
    I am planning to travel to Bratislava from Zakopane between 18 and 22 June. Can you suggest me any city to stop over, perhaps for a simple beginner’s hiking / natural park mountains / old city roaming (very flexible). Any recommended website for train/bus booking?
    Thanks in advance mate!

  8. James says:

    Hi, thank you for the post.
    I have booked a ticket leaving Zakopane at 4pm in a couple of Saturdays, and will be going to Poprad on my way to Kosice. I was just wondering if you knew if there were any luggage restrictions on the bus, and if there is somewhere to put a suitcase for example?
    I have looked on the website where i bought the ticket from but unfortunately it is all in Polish, and being an average Brit, i don’t understand a word of it.

    • lwaterson says:

      James, sorry, your comment came at a time when I was in Peru and away from the site for a few weeks. Still need any help with this? Let me know and I’ll post the answer asap. Cheers

    • lwaterson says:

      Hey James – you will be fine mate – unless you’re taking full on ski equipment or the kitchen sink you should have no problem. Just get to the bus stop in plenty of time, and hold your own in the queue so you get on as one of the first!! (time to stash your stuff)

  9. Paula says:

    We are looking to go from Strbske Pleso to Zakopane on a Sunday in September, but Strama’s website won’t let me purchase a ticket. Does that mean the route is not available? I also tried Poprad to Zakopane with the same problem. I was also wondering if it would be possible to go to Morskie Oko on our way to Zakopane. We will have luggage with us, so I’m not sure if we would have anywhere to store it while we’re hiking to Morskie Oko. We will only have 2 days in the area (one night in Strbske Pleso and one in Zakopane). Is it worth going to Morskie Oko or would you advise spending our short amount of time elsewhere? Thank you.

  10. Perla Perla (Uruguay/South America says:

    I read your comments on the area and the Magistrala route and I wonder if it is suitable for a medium trained hiker.
    Our trip
    : Kosice/Red Monastery(rafting- hiking)2 days, Zdiar 1 day,
    One night in each of the following huts:zelenepleso,zamkovskeho,sliezky and horsky popradske pleso
    3-4 nigths slovak paradise
    Enquire: I have not planned anything for the Polish side, but I have 2 days free On the way to Krakow. Where should we get off the bus ?

    • lwaterson says:

      Hey there, Perla Perla – medium trained hikers will be fine doing the Tatranska Magistrala. The mountain houses along the way are at regular intervals – just leave plenty of time and take it easy at first! I only really know Zakopane on the Polish side between Poprad and Krakow. Its a big tourist centre but you could use it as a base for a nice day hike. Enjoy!

  11. Karl Wood says:

    Thanks for this,
    im in poprad from the 11th October til the 16th October, so I should be able to catch the buses to get and visit poland for the day, even if just an hour or so in Zakopane etc.
    I cant wait, my first ever visit to slovakia and poland if i get there.
    Im just worried regarding language barrier .

  12. Taylor says:

    Hi, your blog is very informative thank you. We want to travel from zakopane to poprad via direct bus on 31/8/15. Do these buses fill up?Do we need to book a ticket in advance? If so, how can we do that? Thanks again!

  13. Perla Perla (Uruguay/South America says:

    Thank you very much for the hint. I had an excellent trip far beyond my expectations. Tatranka Mariskala was superb, hotels on the way were great. Slovakian Paradise was also beautiful!!!!!!
    Great location, good value: Chata Piecky.
    I really loved Slovakia!!!!!

  14. Daniel says:

    Thanks for this information! We were in Zakopane last week and loved it, so we are planning to go back at the end of March, but flying into Poprad from London instead of Krakow. We are happy to pay a bit extra for a private transfer – do you have any idea of some companies that would do this? We would be looking to get picked up from Poprad airport and taken straight to Zakopane, then the return trip a week later. Would it be worth factoring in a one-night stay in Poprad on the way back? Is there plenty to see and do for an afternoon/evening? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Daniel

  15. Pingback: From Krakow to Vysoke Tatry with an idiot in tow | Drunk and Jobless

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