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 Sports in Krakow, Poland

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Krakow's Sporting Life


Professional Sports in Krakow. 

As in the rest of Europe, football /soccer/ is the favorite sport of Krakow residents, at least the male half: the young play it, grown-ups watch it on TV. And the city’s football teams inspire enthusiasm and loyalty of hordes of their fervent fans. Notably supporters of the Wisla Krakow club have a lot to enthuse about in the recent years as their side has dominated Poland’s premier league and won a string of the country’s championships. Other popular – moderately – team games include basketball, volleyball and ice hockey where Krakow's Cracovia team has been calling the tune in the premier league in recent years. Also rugby and handball have their adherents. American football remains a novelty. 
Few glaring exceptions notwithstanding–e.g. , baseball or cricket–virtually all professional sports are practiced in Krakow’s numerous
sports clubs, with contests regularly held in the city. And many native sportsmen are major players in the country’s or even international championships. Notably, besides team games, Krakow champs stand out in Poland’s tennis, judo, karate, swimming, gymnastics, car racing, parachuting, chess, and table tennis. On top of it the city boasts some of the best Polish athletes, such as the Olympics’ triple gold medalist Robert Korzeniowski (now retired), although track and field sports stay mostly college and university events. 
Among combat sports boxing still seems to gather the biggest audiences, but those practicing kung-fu and even judo hugely outnumber aspiring boxers in Krakow. 
Winter sports
in Krakow proper are practically restricted to skating and ice hockey but Poland’s capital of alpine skiing,
Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains, is just two hours’ drive away. 

Leisure Sports in Krakow. 

Sadly, sport activity is not the routine of an average Krakow dweller. The city abounds in fine jogging paths but few natives take advantage of it. Also bikeways crisscrossing metropolitan Krakow and its environs seem underused despite the city’s vocal group of ardent cyclists. So, hiking remains the most popular outdoor activity, and no wonder seeing that the Krakow region is famous for the beauty of its rolling, wooded countryside and scenic landmarks, which also explains brisk sales of mountain bikes. At the same time Krakow swimming pools are usually overcrowded: outdoor ones in summer, those with a roof over them the whole year round. Also playing tennis in Krakow – on clay courts mostly – is fairly popular pastime among the residents, at least those who can afford it (down the social ladder the table version prevails). In winter downhill skiing largely replaces tennis as winter resorts are scattered throughout the region, with the nearest ski slope just fifteen kilometers south of the city center. Squash, golf (there are two 18-hole courses in the Krakow area) and bowling are quite recent arrivals to the city with relatively few converts to date. Billiards has been traditionally distant second to table tennis among indoor games and played by few, but it gained in popularity in the 1990s as snooker tables in pubs mushrooming all over the city outnumbered their pool and carom counterparts. Gyms in Krakow are quite frequent in the downtown and finding a decent fitness club with the latest equipment isn't hard. Generally, they fall in two categories–aerobics outfits for women of any age and muscle-buildup dens for young men. Hunting and fishing are centuries-sanctioned sports in Poland. And both – especially the latter – retain considerable following in Krakow. 

Extreme Sports in Krakow

Some extreme sports, such as cliff climbing or parachuting, have been around in Krakow for decades. Some are barely few years old. Nowadays the former and the latter are more readily accessible than ever to novices as various establishments offer training and lease equipment if necessary. Numerous steep rocks in the vicinity of Krakow and Alps-like Tatra Mountains some 100 km south of the city have always lured young people to climbing. In the past just preparation for “serious” mountaineering in the Tatras, Alps and Himalayas, cliff climbing now is sport in its own right. It is practiced also indoors on artificial walls. The bulk of Poland’s thousand or so caves are found in the uplands just north of Krakow and in the Tatra Mountains two hours’ drive south from the city. Small wonder there has never been a shortage of passionate cave explorers here. Amateur spelunkers can find a number of caves in the Krakow area outfitted for their absolute convenience. Canoeing on mountain rivers south of Krakow, notably Dunajec in the Pieniny range, is the most gratifying experience though a highly risky one for novices (plus, Krakow boasts a state-of-the-art artificial course for white-water kayaking). The shortest basic course of parachuting takes two days and it costs about 250 euro (one jump from an airplane included, next ones 10 euro or so each). Course of paragliding lasts longer but once accomplished it allows you to sail in the air all on your own (with the help of a friend at the start on an even ground). Sure, some practice scuba diving in landlocked Krakow but certainly it bears no comparison to the exploration of tropical seas, though extreme experience doubtless it is. 


List of sports clubs in Krakow with addresses and contact info. 

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