It’s been one of my dreams to see white winter in the Giant Mountains in Poland also known as the Karkonosze Mountains. The extended weekend I spent in the Giant Mountains was special also because I travelled with two other blogging (blonde!) friends. In this post, I will share with you some of my ideas on what to do in Giant Mountains in winter.
Three blond bloggers in the Giant Mountains, Poland
One of the biggest advantages of running a travel blog (or any blog to be precise) is meeting people who share your interests. I’ve known Ela (niesmigielska.com) for about two years and I have been following Paulina’s (obrazkiblondynki.pl) blog for over a year now. It was high time we finally met, especially that it was mostly Paulina who convinced me I can hike the Laugavegur trek in Iceland solo and Ela actually lent me her tent which I later pitched in a plot of mud.
What to do in Poland in the winter? Go to the Giant Mountains!
Not sure why, maybe the climate change is to blame, I haven’t seen snow for a long time. That’s why I got absolutely crazy about the idea of visiting the Giant Mountains (Karkonosze) and spending there a few days just hiking around and enjoying beautiful winter.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous which you can see in the photographs. That weekend in Giant Mountains was simply amazing both when it comes to things we did and how well we got on with one another.
I am a huge fan of outdoor activities, hiking being on top of my list. Giant Mountains (Karkonosze) in Poland, is not the only place where you can enjoy yourself and find some awesome hiking spots. Near EACH big city in Poland you can find really good natural gems and here’s some inspiration. It’s not about hiking precisely, but about cool cities in Poland which can be your jumping base to explore more off-the-path places.
How to get from Jelenia Góra to Karpacz – jumping base to the Giant Mountains
Even though a tourist might sometimes find it difficult to receive the practical information on how to move around Poland, you can be sure that there will ALWAYS be someone who will help you. Ela, Paulina and me arrived in Jelenia Góra by train. As soon as we left the train station, an owner of a private taxi offered to take us to Karpacz, a small town located at the foot of the Śnieżka mountain, the highest peak in the Giant Mountains range. It took us only 40 minutes to get to Karpacz and we paid 12 zl (around 3 Euros) for the ride.
Chair ski lift ‘Kopa’ on Śnieżka mountain in Poland
There are a few ways to get to the top of the Śnieżka mountain in Karkonosze. You can either hike or take a chair ski lift, Kopa, nearly to the top of the mountain. Since all of us were getting pretty hungry, we decided to take the quicker and more comfortable way and bought tickets for the chair ski lift. The ticket is 28 PLN one way or 35 PLN if you buy the return ticket at once.
The chair ski lift to Śnieżka mountain takes about 15 minutes from where it’s a stone’s throw to the mountain shelter, Dom Śląski. If you are that type of person who likes to see sunrise or sunset from the top of a mountain, I can recommend staying in Dom Śląski – the conditions are good and it’s the closest to the top of Śnieżka.
Once you get off the chair ski lift, you’ll see Karpacz and other surrounding towns at your feet. In the distance, there’s the magnificent Śnieżka mountain with the weather observatory at the top.
Winter sunset at the top of Śnieżka mountain in Karkonosze National Park
It’s one of those moments when the reality is even better than expectations. The girls and I were not even planning to see the sunset from top of Śnieżka, but once we reached Dom Śląski, had dinner and discovered we still have a lot of time before it gets dark, we decided to give it a try.
The sky was cloudless on our side. On the Czech side, the clouds were actually below us and this was a really cool view. We climbed Śnieżka at our own pace. We didn’t want to hurry and took plenty of time to just stop, enjoy the moment and take photographs. That’s what I have been missing during out trips with other people. All in all, photographers usually have similar priorities: catch those moments into our cameras.
Climbing Śnieżka in the winter can be tricky when the weather is bad and when there’s too much ice. Luckily, we had brilliant weather, but the surface was still somewhat slippery. There are chains to hold on to, though, so even if you are afraid of heights, climbing Śnieżka should not be a big challenge.
The best thing to do in Karkonosze Mountains in Poland – watch the SUNRISE!
I’m not the morning person. Nevertheless, seeing a colourful sunrise in the Karkonosze mountains is motivating enough to make me get up early in the morning. After we got ready and ate a quick breakfast, we left Dom Śląski. The sun was slowly rising and the sky was pure pink. It was incredibly beautiful. It was also quite windy which gave us the impression of hiking in the Arctic and not in our Polish mountains. We followed the Students’ trail toward Lucni Bouda on the Czech side of Giant Mountains.
Breakfast at Lucni Bouda in Czech part of the Giant Mountains
Lucni Bouda is yet another mountain shelter that you can consider staying at. It’s located around 30 minutes away from Dom Śląski. It also can host more people and is more luxurious. Apart from apartments, it also hosts its own brewery!
It took us quite a lot of time to finish breakfast. We took sweet local buns, sandwiches, coffee. Breakfast for tourists who are not guests of Lucni Bouda costs 180 Czech crowns.
Czech side of the Giant Mountains
After breakfast, we decided to explore the Czech part of Giant Mountains a little bit more. We walked wherever we saw something interesting and took a lot of time taking photographs. At one point, we decided to climb a mountain facing Śnieżka and it was a really bad idea – don’t do that.
We went there even though there were no other people hiking there. I find it strange now that this didn’t make us suspicious. After we climbed down, a ranger caught us and said that we just entered a protected zone of the Karkonosze National Park. We felt extremely ashamed, so here’s the lesson: walk on the trails only.
Hiking around the Czech part of Karkonosze Mountains took us so much time, that we decided to visit Lucni Bouda once again, this time to drink coffee and eat some sweet buns.
The second best thing to do in Karkonosze Mountains in the winter? The second sunset!
In the afternoon, we decided to walk around the Polish side of Karkonosze Mountains and see the famous cliffs. I can now tell you that it’s not the best idea ever. First, the cliffs are covered in snow and the views are less accessible. Second, the snow capes cover the earth and the cliffs and you can’t really say if you are walking on the ground or only on the snow. It can be slippery as well. My advice would be to stay away from any kind of cliffs if you are not certain that there’s solid ground under your feet.
Once we were hiking, we decided to make an “artistic project” and created a word CHUJ out of our bodies. You might now ask, what does “chuj” mean. Well. It means “a dick”.
If you click on this link, you’ll see the word. ;-) CHUJ.
Portrait session in the Giant Mountains
Paulina is a photographer by profession and she also can pose like a model. The next morning, on Sunday, we didn’t have much time to enjoy the mountains. Therefore, we did a quick portrait posing session and walked back to the ski chair lift that would take us to Karpacz.
From Karpacz to Jelenia Góra by bus
Even though there is not much information in the Internet about busses going from Karpacz to Jelenia Góra, once you reach a larg car park near the ski chair lift, you’ll easily notice a bus stop. There are many private taxis or small busses scheduled but they are usually a bit more expensive than public transport. Bear in mind that travelling by bus from Jelenia Góra to Karpacz can be cheaper than going from Karpacz to Jelenia Góra.
Weekend in Karkonosze Mountains – the best thing to do in winter in Poland
It was a really magnificent weekend. It’s not possible to include all the funny incidents that happened in Karkonosze Mountains during that weekend, but I hope that at least the photos will encourage you to give it a try.