Slovakia for the weekend: The High Tatras region and its most interesting attractions

Ah, Slovakia! Such a beautiful, breathtaking place at your fingertips. 

Slovakia has a lot of hidden gems – unique folk architecture, fascinating medieval castles, and above all, beautiful nature and a whole range of outdoor activities that you can enjoy here all year round. For neighboring Poles, it is a great alternative to Polish mountain areas, because Slovakia is still not so crowded. In my opinion, this is its greatest advantage and the luxury it offers – the possibility of enjoying stunning views and monuments of High Tatras Mountains (Slovak: Vysoké Tatry), but in silence and often in solitude. I spent a few days in the High Tatras region in June and I enjoyed every single day of the trip.

The High Tatras – a natural gem of Europe

The High Tatras are the highest mountain range in Slovakia. In order to protect the amazing landscape, the Tatra National Park (TANAP) was created on their territory. It is the oldest protected area in Slovakia, established in 1949. Today, however, together with the Polish Tatra National Park (TPN), it forms the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In the High Tatras there is the highest peak of the country – Gerlach, reaching a height of 2655 m above sea level. Another important peak is Krivan, and its famous curved profile is an important symbol in Slovak art and culture. Many lakes were formed here in the post-glacial boilers, of which the Štrbské pleso is the most popular and easily accessible to tourists.

The highest peaks in Slovakia are in the High Tatras and many of them lie along the border with Poland. The popular Mount Rysy, lying on the border between Slovakia and Poland, is the highest peak in Poland, and seventh highest peak in Slovakia.

In addition to the world-famous ski resorts, the High Tatras region has more than 600 kilometers of hiking trails. If you are into mountain hiking, you will love the Tatranská magistrála trail which is 72 km long and connects the eastern tip of the High Tatras with the westernmost points of the region.

In the National Park, you can only walk on designated hiking trails. A dense network of trails, along with many mountain huts, allows you to really discover the majestic beauty that the High Tatras are offering. 

Good starting points for the hikes in High Tatras will be the towns of Tatranská Lomnica and Smokovec with a very well-developed tourist base. Both places are also popular in winter because of the ski resorts. Tatranská Lomnica is especially appreciated among tourists. Thanks to the use of gondolas and a slightly older cable car  you can easily get to the Lomnicki Peak (2634 m above sea level) – the second, highest peak of the High Tatras any time of the year. In addition, both these towns have a wonderful mountain climate and it is a pleasure to stay here, even for a while. 

Ready for an amazing trip to the High Tatras? So let’s start planning!

How to get to the High Tatras

There are two most convenient ways to get to the High Tatras – by plane or by car.
Flight to the High Tatras
The easiest and fastest way to get to the Tatra National Park is by plane. There is an airport in the historic town of Poprad, which is only 30 minutes from the High Tatras. The small Poprad-Tatry Airport (TAT) offers regular flights all year round. From Poprad airport, the Poprad-Tatry railway line takes you to the High Tatras in about 25 minutes. Bus connections are also available. Poprad is the closest airport, but larger airports tend to offer better prices and more flights. Other airports within a reasonable driving distance include
  • Košíce Airport (Slovakia) – 2h drive
  • Kraków Airport (Poland) – 2h 45min drive
  • Bratislawa Airport (Slovakia) – 3h 30min drive
  • Vienna International Airport (Austria) – 4h 25min drive
  • Budapest Airport (Hungary) – 4h 25min drive
High Tatras by car
I was going to Slovakia by car from Wrocław and it took me about 5 hours. It was a very enjoyable, scenic ride. Approximate access from other major cities will be as follows:
  • Kosice to the High Tatras via E50 – 2h drive
  • Krakow to the High Tatras via Zakopianka – 2h 45min drive
  • Bratislava to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 3h 30min drive
  • Vienna to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 4h 25min drive
  • Budapest to the High Tatras route 21 – 4h 25min drive

The best time to visit the High Tatras

Ski resorts usually open in mid or late December and stay open until March or April. If you are planning a skiing trip to the High Tatras, the best snow and weather conditions will be in January and February.

When it comes to hiking and other outdoor sports, it would make most sense to schedule your visit between mid-June and the end of October. The famous Tatranská magistrála, as well as trails to most mountain huts and some beautiful lakes, are open all year round, but most trails are closed between November 1 and June 15. If you plan your visit between June 15th and October 31st, there will be much more opportunities to experience the best of the Tatra mountains.

Now, after the pandemic, when tourism is gradually recovering, even in the high season, in summer, Slovakia will not be as crowded as you may expect. So go ahead and enjoy the summer high in the mountains.

How to get around in the High Tatras

Moving around the High Tatras is easy and comfortable thanks to the Tatra Electric Railways system. All mountain resorts, including the larger city of Poprad, are connected. Trains run frequently and stop at every little village in the area, so you can always reach the desired trails simply by walking from the train station.

A single trip with the Tatra Electric Railway costs only EUR 2 one way, but if you plan to use it more frequently, it is worth buying a weekly ticket for EUR 14. 

If you are going to use car, please note that parking lots near popular trails are not free (they cost up to € 10 for 4 hours of parking). 

What you absolutely must-see while in the High Tatras region

Štrbské pleso

One of the most picturesquely situated and famous places on the southern side of the Tatra Mountains. Strbske Pleso is the second when it comes to lake areas in Slovak Tatras. It is situated at an altitude of 1,347 meters, has an area of 19.8 hectares, and a depth of 20 meters. There is a wonderful view of the Tatra peaks from the shore of the lake. It allows you to admire Kriváň from the west and Končistá and Gerlach in the east.

If you are going to the mountains for beautiful views and peace, this is the perfect place for you. There are no crowds like on the Eye of the Sea in Polish Tatras, and the views are unforgettable. Stunning hiking trails lead around the lake, which is why it is an ideal place for hiking. After an active day, you can rest a little and dine in the nearby restaurants. Štrbské Pleso is a must-see when visiting Slovakia. It reminds me so much of Canada! The color of the water, snow-capped peaks in the background, and conifers around. A truely beautiful place.

Poprad Pleso 

The first hike in the High Tatras must be a hike to the Poprad Pleso. You can get here from Štrbské Pleso following the red marked tourist trail. Another possibility is the blue trail from the Tatra Electric Railway stop called Poprad Pleso. From Poprad Pleso you can go further to Ostrva or Rysy.

Tatranská Lomnica

This is definitely an option for those who are into more demanding trails and great views from the summit. Lomnica is the second highest peak in the Tatras. There is a viewing platform on it, from which you can admire the impressive Tatra panorama. The cable car ride consists of several stages, we can stay at the top for 50 minutes. 

In winter, Lomnica turns into a ski resort (along with cable cars), and in  months when there is no snow it is an excellent base for mountain hiking. 

Skalnaté pleso 

On the way to Lomnica, be sure to stop at the Skalnaté Pleso cable car station, located at an altitude of 1751m. This fantastic glacial lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks is stunning. This is one of my favorite places out of all I visited. 

Make sure to have enough time to dine in the restaurant at the cable car station. Typical Slovak stew with dumplings – delicious!

Vodopád Skok 

There are many waterfalls in the Tatras, but the most impressive is definitely the Vodopád Skok, which is the third-largest waterfall in the High Tatras. You can see it from the Štrbské Pleso. However, it is best to go up and continue through Bystrá lávka back to the Štrbské Pleso. The trail is no more than 15 kilometers long and can be covered in less than 6 hours. 

Other attractions in the High Tatras

Cable car to Lomnica

Visiting the Lomnicky peak, the second-highest peak in Slovakia, by cable car should be on your to-do list. The view from the top is considered the most beautiful place in Slovakia. The historic train ride takes approx. 9 minutes. In high season, I would recommend booking your ticket in advance. The price of a two-way trip is EUR 39. 

Poliankovo Gallery
The High Tatras region is not only about hikes in the mountains! There are a few really interesting galleries, such as Poliankovo in Tatranska Polianka. This impressive digital gallery presents both travel and wildlife visualizations by the famous Slovak film director and traveler Pavel Barabas. Many exhibits promote environmental awareness and wildlife conservation. 
Belianska Cave

The Bielska Cave, located in the Tatra Basin, is the largest cave in the High Tatras that can be visited. Scientists are not sure how this amazing stalactite cave was created. Its unusual formations have been studied for over 125 years. Visiting the cave takes 70 minutes along over 1,300 m long path.

Boating on the Štrbské Pleso

In high season you can rent a boat and go for a trip on the pristine Štrbské Pleso lake. It is a truly idyllic place to spend time and an alternative to exploring the lake from a different angle than from the perspective of the trail around it.

MTB bikes and a trip around the area
Recently, I enjoy exploring places on electric bikes. As soon as I found out that you can rent an electric bike, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I covered a lot of kilometers around the area and it was one of the most awesome days in the mountains. The High Tatras are beautiful and they make you want to go for endless bike rides. Views along the way, thick forests around, and birds singing. I totally recommend it to you as an alternative to the next hike.

Where to stay in High Tatras: wellness and relaxation after a day in the mountains

During my stay, I stayed at AquaCity Poprad, which is the most modern wellness hotel in the High Tatras. It is noteworthy that it contributes to the protection of the environment by using the latest ecological technologies. It is a unique place that offers a wide range of services for a perfect vacation, an unforgettable family trip, or a business event. The resort offers 3 hotels of various standards – Hotel Riverside, Seasons, and Mountain View. 

The Aquapark has 13 indoor and outdoor pools with thermal water with a temperature of 28°C to 38°C, slides, and over 350 water attractions. The water in AquaCity comes from a natural underground spring and is supplied to the complex, and then in technological processes cooled down from 50°C to 36-38°C. The water in thermal pools comes from a depth of 1300 meters and contains more than 20 minerals that have a beneficial effect on health. It helps in ailments related to the motor, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems and has a beneficial effect on the skin. In addition, there is also a fitness center, a cryo-center, Interklinik Poprad – a health and beauty clinic, a two-story wellness center with an area of 1600 m2, relaxation and massage center, bars, restaurants, and sports fields. Long story short, everyone will find something for themselves here.

Where to dine

Panorama Restaurant Skalnaté Pleso

Located at an altitude of 1751 m above sea level, the restaurant specializes in Slovak and foreign cuisine. Huge windows provide a wonderful view of the peaks of the Tatra Mountains and the surrounding landscape. I recommend the Slovak stew with dumplings – delicious!

Slowenská reštaurácia

My discovery of this trip! The Slowenská reštaurácia in Stary Smokovec attracts not only with its stylish interior inspired by the work of the architect of the High Tatras – Gideon Majunke but above all with its incredible food made of only local ingredients. 

You can try pork from Twardogóra, beef from Važec, meat products from Hranovnica, bryndza cheese, and other types of cheese from Włodawa. I honestly recommend bryndza cheese with homemade bread, beef stew with cranberry, and for dessert, sheep’s milk cream with strawberries and meringue syrup. You just have to come here!

Cukráreň Tatra Cafe

Be sure to come here for a break during the day. The cafe is located in the center of Stary Smokovec and its garden offers a view of the mountain peaks. Poppy seed cake and mascarpone apple pie – yummy!

Alfa Cafe&bistro

Amazing, modern space on the market square, next to the Evangelical church in Poprad. Perfect for a drink and a coffee while exploring the surrounding architecture.

The article was created with the financial support of Ministry of Transport and Construction of the Slovak Republic

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Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

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Author picture

Welcome on my blog about traveling, active lifestyle and chasing all the crazy dreams. I have been on 6 continents and in more than 100 countries so far, but I still have so much to explore :)

< read more >