Draped over the rising foothills of the Tatras and visible from the main road into Poland’s Winter Capital, the Harenda ski slope is one of the first that travellers encounter on their way into the Zakopane. Small and compact, Harenda still packs a punch. It boasts a range of runs for every level of skier and a smattering of family-friendly amenities to match. Tempted? Read on…

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This is a splinter of our ultimate guide to skiing in Poland.

What’s the skiing like in Harenda?

Don’t be fooled: Harenda is never going to match up to the likes of Poland’s larger resorts; Kotelnica; Karpacz. However, this neat little collection of runs still has plenty to offer. For instance, despite a humble total of just four kilometers, there’s still enough room here to fit in a challenging black piste (even if this is only challenging by Polish standards), a fine intermediate piste and several small beginner pistes.

Drag lifts form the backbone of the action, with three individual pulls serving the smaller runs. Meanwhile, a single, four-person chairlift now serves the top station. That takes you to the top of the longest 2,000-meter run.

Due to Harenda’s location on the edge of Zakopane it also tends to be a little less busy during the peak of the season and during Polish holidays than other nearby spots. That makes it great for budding learners and intermediates. An on-site ski school is also fantastically equipped and well-priced.

There is a small snow park on offer at Harenda, complete with rails, boxes and some small airs. Just be warned that it’s not maintained throughout the whole season.

The ski season in Harenda

The season here typically runs in line with the other resorts of the Zakopane valley (late-December to March). However, Harenda’s relatively low altitude and small size mean that it’s often closed earlier and opened a little later. We’ve driven past and seen pretty dire snow conditions here, even when Zakopane is under plumes of the white stuff. Strange, but be sure to check ahead.

Zakopane design

Where to stay

Thanks to the huge proliferation of low-cost accommodation options dotting the base of the Zakopane valley, bedding down relatively close to Harenda is easy.

That said, skiers here can expect to be just a little further away from the action of Zakopane town. To avoid that, and to get a little luxury, you could plump for hotels like the Rezydencja Nosalowy Dwór and the absolutely fantastic Aries Hotel & SPA. The drive to the lifts from those is about 15 minutes, perhaps less.

Prefer to be right at the base of Harenda’s lifts? Check out the charming little Harenda B&B. It’s got clean and good-value rooms near the slopes. Homey u Słodkiego is another great choice that’s just down the road.

Where to eat

A smattering of hearty Polish taverns and pubs cling to the base of the slopes at Harenda. They make it a relatively lively little place for some after-skiing dinner. Nearby, there’s a large McDonalds for those who fancy something a little less adventurous.

For the best restaurants there can really be no substitute for heading into Zakopane town. The action is really on Krupowki street. Or, you can look for luxury fine-dining options like Casa Mia Restaurant.

The apres ski in Harenda

Despite a handful of mountaintop beer bars dotted around Harenda’s four-person chairlift, this one relies entirely on the town of Zakopane for its après scene. Situated just down the road, this lively little town is hailed as Poland’s winter capital and really does live up to the hype. There are micro-breweries, craft beer bars, cocktail joints, rooftop cafes and plenty more to keep the party going once the skis are off. For some of the most popular après spots here, check out the lively little underground bar of Morskie Oko or happening Cafe Piano.