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Skiing and snowboarding in Zakopane

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During wintertime, Zakopane becomes a mecca for winter vacationers. Whether you’re a downhill skier, a snowboarder, or a fan of cross-country skiing, you will have a great time in Zakopane, the winter ski capital of Poland.

However, winter vacationaer should not expect empty slopes. One of the reasons for Zakopane's popularity is that the resort caters for skiers of all abilities, with technical runs for experts and easier slopes for beginners as well as cross-country ski opportunities. The resort is also a perfect place for families giving their children the opportunity to learn at the ski schools with the assistance of professional ski and snowboard instructors.

Another reason for the town's popularity is that skiing in Poland is cheaper compared with skiing in some western European countries.

Since Zakopane is an attractive place itself, it is a great ski resort for those to whom skiing represents only a part of their winter holidays.

There are around 50 ski lifts available in the Zakopane area. For beginners - there are many slopes situated very close to hotels and by major ski-lifts, which is ideal for families with children. Some popular ski slopes include:

Mount Kasprowy Wierch

Situated about 3 km out of town, Kasprowy Wierch (1987m. above sea level) is probably the most popular Polish mountain for skiing and snowboarding. Its location, in the centre of the Tatra Mountain range, creates perfect conditions for winter sports as well as admiring the alpine views. You can reach the summit by the cable car from Kuznice. Once you get to the top you will enjoy a long ride down. Mount Kasprowy Wierch offers the best slopes in Zakopane for advanced skiers and snowboarders. It is fairly difficult, hence not reccomended for beginners. Since Kasprowy Wierch is so popular, it's better to reserve your cable car tickets in advance.

Mount Nosal

Located only about 35 minute walk from Kuznice, Mount Nosal is one of the most popluar skiing areas in Zakopane. The best quality and amount of (artificial) snow can be found here. It is FIS certified slope to hold Special Slalom and Giant Slalom. It features a chair-lift and over 10 T lifts. The top affords scenic views. It's a good slope for beginners and intermediates, and has decent facilities such as ski rentals and places to eat. It is great for families with kids wanting to learn skiing. However, apart from small green runs for beginners, Mount Nosal offers a pretty challenging red slope for more advanced skiers. You can also ski in the late evening due to electrical lighted slope. There is also a professional ski school at the foot of the mountain. The slopes can get crowded during weekends.

Nosal ski slope

Mount Gubalowka

Another mountain for skiing is Gubalowka (1123 m. above sea level), located in close proximity to the town. It affords a vast panorama of Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains. You can reach the top by railcar or one of many T-bar style lifts. The mount offers excellent skiing and snowboarding facilities for all levels of expertise. The slopes are lit at night, so you can enjoy night skiing, which provides spectacular views. Additional thrills on Gubalowka is a 750 m metal slide, where you can sledge down in a special sledge at the speed of up to 40 km/h.

Polana Szymoszkowa

Szymoszkowa Clearing (1130 meters above the sea level) is a modern ski complex located close to the Kasprowy Hotel. It is equipped with modern ski lift system and artificially snowed. It features mild slopes good for beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There are restaurants at the top and bottom of the slopes, ski rentals and schools.

Winter sports rentals

Ski hire is available everywhere in the centre of town and near most ski lifts. The prices can vary slightly from place to place and can be higher during school holidays. The average cost of hiring skis/snowboard is 35-50 pln for a day.

Ski Passes

All day ski pass costs around 60-80 pln.

Ski schools

There are plenty of ski sachools in Zakopane. The licensed ski schools are located in the bottom of the main ski centres - the biggest ski schools in Zakopane are „Katarzyna Strama" at Mount Nosal, „Ski Tatry” at Szymoszkowa, „Harenda Ski” at Harenda and „Gaj Ski” on Mount Kasprowy Wierch. There are also ski schools in the neighbouring villages: „Fun Ski” at Witow and Male Ciche, „Ski School Stok” at Kotelnica ski centre in Bialka Tatrzanska. In all of the shools there are also snowboard instructors.

The price for one to one ski lesson is about 55 PLN per hour (45 - 60 pln in different slopes). Since the schools get busy during the season, it's recommended to book the lessons with English speaking instructors in advance.

Useful tips
  • The skiing season begins in Zakopane from the end of December till the end of March.
  • The slopes can get very busy, especially during weekends, so be prepared for a long wait to get onto the chairlift.
  • The ski pass systems vary from slope to slope.
  • Any taxi driver will take you to a ski slope. You can also take a mini bus.
  • It's best to get a snow report from the Tourist Office or the Ski Schools before you go because conditions can be variable.
  • If you are a fun of cross-country skiing, try the Krokiew area by the massive ski jumps.

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