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Winter Capital of Poland
As Zakopane has been known as the winter capital of Poland for over 100 years now, the accolade is surely no exaggeration. This metropolitan status of the town can easily be felt during even a short stay. The winter season usually starts in the first part of December (although the first big wave of tourists arrives at Christmas) and lasts until May.
Polish skiing was born in Zakopane. The first international competitions were held at the beginning of the 20th century, and the first records were set on the ski-jump slope then. Very soon the town was provided with a perfect skiing infrastructure, which was so modern that Zakopane was compared to Davos in Switzerland. It was then that the cable car to Kasprowy Wierch was constructed. Zakopane has hosted a number of significant sports events, including Student Winter Games and World Championships in Alpine Skiing. January the ski-jumping slope, which is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world, is the venue of a competition in the World Cup series, in which the best ski-jumpers from all over the world take part. But in Zakopane skiing can not only be watched but, above all, enjoyed first hand. There are many ski runs in the town and in the Tatras, which give plenty of scope, but which are usually prepared for those who treat skiing as recreation.
The ski-lifts are generally fairly modern, which is the result of investment made in recent years. The conditions on the runs are not affected by the whims of the winter weather, as they are provided with artificial snow machines. Equipment rental, and instructors, whose professional advice can help overcome difficulties in learning to ski or snowboard, are available practically everywhere.
The early, winter dusk does not mean the end of the day in Zakopane. It can quite easily be prolonged until dawn as the town is well known for the variety of entertainment on offer. Numerous elegant restaurants with refined dishes on the menu, as well as regional inns, pubs and cafes give a wide range of choice. The many cafes attract the biggest number of customers with simple, tasty dishes from highland cuisine, which are often served in an original way. A little space on the floor is of great importance in many highland inns, essential for dancing to the rhythm of live music played by local bands.