Zakopane's location in the Tatra Mountains has created a culture all its own known as the "Polish Highlander" culture. The major traditional differences here that distinguishes highlander culture from the rest of the regions in Poland includes the folk costumes, the music, and the architecture. The architecture has a distinct style literally known as "Zakopane style". 

Since the foundation of the city, the focus has been on the natural surroundings. The climate and air, upon being deemed as beneficial to one's health, pulled in people who wanted the pure air of the area and those who wanted to live in a mountainous playground. The city's people are active all year round; they are very proud of their home and very tough with their winters.

Aside from visiting with the locals and checking out museums while here, the ultimate way to learn about the highlander culture is to come during the  Zakopane International Festival of Highland Folklore which began in 1962. The festival was created to extend tourist season and celebrate the incoming autumn season, taking place the third week of August. A circus tent goes up in the downtown of Zakopane and competitions begin. Folk artists fill the streets performing music, poetry, dance and more. Exhibits set up showcasing local art and food specialties. It provides a chance to hear the traditional highlander music " goralska muzyka" taste the food, see the dancing, and meet a lot of people.