Boasting over 17km of linked runs and some all-new hi-tech lifts to boot, Bialka Tatrzanska remains the home of the largest single ski centre in all of Poland. It’s set just to the north of the precipitous rises of the High Tatras, and a short drive from the so-called ‘Winter Capital’ of Zakopane. In addition, it’s within easy reach of Krakow, even if you just want to do a day’s skiing and return to the city.
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This is a splinter article of our overarching ultimate guide to skiing in Poland. Head that way if you’re after info on more resorts, hotels, and the like.
The skiing in Bialka Tatrzanska
Strictly speaking, Bialka Tatrzanska is comprised of three individual resorts. There’s Kotelnica. There’s small and beginner-friendly Bania. And there’s Kaniowka, just to the south. All are now accessible on the same ski pass and, as of the 2019 season, completely linked by runs and lifts.
Together, this triumvirate of ski fields brings a fantastic range of well-groomed pistes. They go from flat and easy green runs through to lengthy blues and short, challenging reds. More generally speaking, the resort is best suited for novice to intermediate skiers. Experts may find themselves pining for something a little more daring before the day is through.
Complete beginners enjoy access to arguably one of the best places to learn to ski in all of Eastern Europe. You’ve got countless private ski schools based all around; in Zakopane, Krakow and Białka Tatrzańska itself. What’s more, given the gradual graduation from small green to long and shallow blue runs that’s afforded by the lift set-up, this one is simply great for confidence building!
There is a single cross-country track on offer at the top of the Kotelnica end of the resort for Nordic skiers. Sadly, off-piste is distinctly lacking. In an effort to make up for that, there is a rather good terrain park, complete with a series of pipes and rails and a dedicated drag lift – usually open by the second month of the season.
Bialka Tatrzanska ski season
Bialka Tatrzanska ski season times typically go from just before Christmas to the end of April. It’s possible to have piste closures occurring anytime between March 31st and April 30th. Elevation is a modest 910 metres, which makes the fantastically reliable snow-making system now installed here all the more important. The entire resort is floodlit by night and in-the-dark skiing runs throughout the high season until 10pm.
Bialka Tatrzanska accommodation
Unquestionably the most coveted accommodation option in Bialka Tatrzanska is Hotel Bania. It’s a charming new-build which boasts ski-in, ski-out rooms. There are also balconies overlooking the main blue runs of the resort. No wonder the establishment has a four-star rating! However, it’s the adjoining thermal spa facility that really takes the biscuit, with its hot pools in the snow (you do need to pay extra for that).
For something a little more affordable, consider bedding down some streets away from the resort’s entrance. That’s nearer the heart of the village. It’s awash with oodles of smaller hotels and guest houses. Of those, Hotel Toporow is certainly worth a mention for its inordinately excellent pool (seriously, it’s one of the nicest pools we’ve had in Poland!). Meanwhile, friendly Willa Nad Białką has some great deals on bed and breakfast stays.
Restaurants in Bialka Tatrzanska
Like in most all of Poland’s southern mountain resorts, it’s the gorale (highland) cuisine that dominates. That means oodles of pierogi dumplings packed with creamy cheese and topped with deep-fried onions, boiling pots of zurek (a sour broth made with boiled eggs and sausage), the ubiquitous blood-red borscht, and platter upon platter of a certain smoked sheep’s cheese called oscypek.
The town of Bialka Tatrzanska offers a range of restaurants and eateries. They go from the ad hoc hole-in-the-wall kebaby to the fully-fledged Polish diner. For some of the best cuisine in town, head for timber-clad Litworowy Staw. It’s a hearty, homely place which oozes smoky fragrances and a family-friendly vibe right throughout the season. We’ve always had fun there.
Closer to the resort itself and on the mountain, visitors will find a smattering of canteens and cafés. They all serve up the usual Polish staples. But there are also zapiekanki pizza breads, chips, hot chocolates and – of course – frothy Slavic beer. There’s a great little joint beside the Hotel Bania with its own roaring log fire for the end of the day too.
Après in Bialka Tatrzanska
Après wise, there’s really not much to Bialka Tatrzanska aside from a smattering of small and family-friendly Polish karczmas (traditional mountain restaurants). In fact, the resort is little more than a village strewn out along the main road heading south towards Slovakia. Most people looking to party will base themselves in either Zakopane or Krakow itself.