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Tatra National Park

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morskie oko lakeTatra National Park (Polish: Tatrzański Park Narodowy; abbr. TPN) is a National Park located in the Tatra mountains in the Małopolska Region in southern Poland, bordering Slovakia. It was created in 1954 on an area of 215.56 km², but it is currently slightly smaller, at 211.64 km2 (81.71 sq mi). Of this, 151.91 km² is forest and the remainder mainly meadows. Strictly protected zones account for 115.14 km², of which 61.49 km² are forest ecosystems.

The Park has its headquarters in the town of Zakopane. There is also a similar national park on the Slovakian side of the border, called Tatranský národný park.

The first calls for protection of the Tatras came at the end of the 19th century. In 1925 the first efforts to create a national park, in cooperation with Slovakia, took place. Formally the park was created in 1937, on an area that belonged to the state forests authority. In 1947, a separate administrative unit, Tatra Park, was created. And in 1954, by decision of the Polish Government, Tatra National Park was created. In 1992, the Polish and Slovakian national parks in the Tatras were jointly designated a transboundary biosphere reserve by UNESCO under its Man and the Biosphere programme.

What to do?

goral, wooden, house, traditional, architectureMore than 270 km of hiking trails from very easy to requiring significant skills including climbing. We recommend scenic walk to Morskie Oko lake, breathtaking views guaranteed!

Place of amazing culture and traditions, with traditional lively music played almost everywhere, local cheeses: bunc, oscypek, bryndza, and of course unique, rich, wooden architecture.

Winter sports! Park very good develped skiing infrastructure.

Cableway ride to Kasprowy Wierch.

In the spring, visit Koscieliska Valley, covered in crocuses this time of the year.


The National Park covers the only Alpine mountain range in Poland. The highest peak in Poland, Rysy (2,499 m AMSL), is located here. The Polish Tatra range, which is a part of the Carpathian Mountains, is divided into two parts: High Tatras (Tatry Wysokie) and Western Tatras (Tatry Zachodnie). The landscape consists of sharp-edged peaks and hollows with numerous rock formations. There are around 650 caves, of which the cave system Wielka Sniezna is the longest (18 km) and the deepest (maximum depth 814 m). Six caves of the system are open to public.


There are several streams and around 30 mountain lakes called staw (pond). These water bodies are an important part of the High Tatra landscape. The largest lakes are: Morskie Oko with an area of 349,000 m² and maximum depth of 50.8 m, and Wielki Staw Polski with an area of 344,000 m² and maximum depth of 79.3 m. Longest streams reach 20 km. Waterfalls, such as Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza are popular with tourists. The highest waterfall is Wielka Siklawa at 70 m.

Biology and ecology


Up to 1,250 m there are mainly fir and beech forests. Higher levels, up to 1,550 m, are covered with spruce forests, which turn into grassland at higher heights, which grows up to 1,800 m. The highest level, above 1,800 m, is of Alpine character.


The National Park contains several endemic species and many endangered and protected ones. Animals include: Tatra chamois and marmot, both protected since the mid-19th century, brown bear, Eurasian lynx, wolf, otter, eagle, and falcon.

Human life

The park is home to original culture and folklore preserved by the Polish highlanders (górale). The most important elements of their culture are language (Podhale dialect), clothes and customs. Their past is preserved in oral stories and traditional architecture, such as huts.

tatra2Environment and tourism

The area of the Tatra mountains was exploited by human activities in the past. During summer numerous herds of animals (like goats, sheep and cows) pastured on the meadows and these practices caused erosion processes. In the 18th and 19th centuries several mines and ironworks were built here, and these establishments needed a lot of timber. Tourism has developed since the late 19th century, and the excessive number of tourists is the largest threat to Park’s nature now. Other threats are proximity of the fast-developing town of Zakopane, air pollution from the industrial zones in Kraków, Ostrava and Orava, and poachers.

Tatra National Park covers only 0.07% of Poland, but it is visited by more than 3 million tourists every year, which makes it the most visited national park in Poland. The current infrastructure, such as hotels and car parks, is not sufficient for the current amount of visitors. Some time ago fees for entering the park were introduced.


Always remember to take the right equipment, raincoat, warm clothes, good hiking shoes, map and a compass. Always check the weather forecast regardless of the time of the year, and in winter avalanche warnings. Leave note in your hotel reception where are you planning to go, and get your timing right, it is very easy to get lost after dark.

qr code, gopr, phone, number, rescue, tatras

TOPR - Mountain Rescue Guards

Emergency Phone:  +48 601 100 300  |  +48 18 20 63 444

Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue (Polish: Tatrzańskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe (TOPR)) is a partially volunteer and non-profit Mountain rescue organisation in Poland, helping people endangered while in the polish Tatra mountains.

TOPR as one of the few in the world does not require a mountain of insurance and does not charge payment for the rescue.

Official Website: www.topr.pl

How to get there?

From Krakow to Zakopane (106km)

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From Krakow International Airport to Zakopane (112km)

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Source: Wikipedia
Text available under Creative Commons Licence
Top photo © great_photos - Fotolia.com; Mid photo © PHB.cz - Fotolia.com; Bottom photo © Malgorzata Kistryn - Fotolia.com

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