Like something plucked from a Dr. Seuss book, the quaint and curious town of Zakopane has twisted-finger street lamps, gabled cottages, high chimney stacks, and a setting in the midst of the Tatra Mountains. It’s the sort of place where you might just expect the Grinch to descend from Mount Crumpit and crash the Christmas celebrations. Before he does, be sure to try the smoked sheep’s cheese and cranberry from the street stalls. Then, head to a local karcma (tavern) for beers and highlander music by the fireplace. Stop here on your European interrail trip. Stay forever.
Move over Alps, there’s awesome skiing in Poland too, you know? And the best news is that the cream of the crop is only a short drive away from Krakow. In fact, the so-called Winter Capital of Poland is a mere two hours to the south in the car. Surrounding it are the pistes of Kasprowy, Szymoszkowa, and Harenda, while cozy taverns warmed by flickering fires sit at the base of the runs. Even closer to Krakow is Białka Tatrzańska, which is the largest ski field in the country with modern lifts and nearly 20 kilometers of marked slopes.