With the winter season – by all measures – coming to a close, time for some conclusions. Or fashion statements, at least, to influence the next holiday planning session in the family.

Discussions on preferred winter hangouts will go on, but that’s not the reason you should not have an opinion. Having experienced some comparison this winter, I’m really quite sure what to think. Zakopane clearly beats theAlps, and there are probably at least a dozen reasons.

Here’s just my Top Five:


  • Variety

Most of the ski-lifts are quite modern, and the slopes vary in style and difficulty. But that’s not all – in and around Zakopane you can go hiking, explore the valleys, use the sports centres and take part in cultural events. Skiing is just one of the things you can do in Polish mountains.

Nothing like this in Alpine areas, where walking routes are practically closed in winter and spring, and the resorts consist of a slope and a bunch of hotels.


  • Freedom from the ski-pass

The typical 6-day skipass in theAlpsused to be a bargain. Now it’s more like a very special penalty. No matter how you feel and what your friends are planning – you move with the group, ski with the group and return for the arranged dinner, sometimes in a hurry, if the whole 60-room hotel must take a shower at the same time.

Even if you don’t travel groupwise, it’s still hard to escape that trap, as one-day passes are quite expensive. One starts wondering – is it a holiday or an ill-designed boot camp? At least you are not a ski-pass slave at home.


  • The tourist mix

In the good old times, Alpine holidays guaranteed some decent English-language encounters. Even if your skiing passion had ups and downs, you could always rest assured that a good conversation is on the way.

No more! Go toTirolor to the Swiss Alps if you want to practice your Russian. And the Dolomites? Don’t even mention. I have never met as many Polish-speaking waiters and barmen as in Madonna or Marileva last year.

Then there is a troublesome snobbery factor. If you ask me, I really prefer the old Magyars in Zakopane to the new Russians in Zell-Am-See. And given our competence in Hungarian, the chance for an English word or two is growing.



  • Accessibility (or the Wi-Fi factor).

Abroad, if lucky enough, you will have a chance to tap to the wi-fi at your hotelpension. But elsewhere, in emergency, you’ll probably have to pay through your nose for roaming.

Nothing like that in the Tatras – my daughter could never find a spot where her smartfon would NOT alert her to a dozen available networks, free of charge.


  • Distance

Not that important if you can afford 10 days out of home. But if you only plan an extended weekend break – the distance matters.

We were lucky enough to get straight to the Alps on a night train this year. But what if the booking is late or if you can’t afford it? You’d better go for a closer option.