Slovak Paradise

Our Experience in Slovak Paradise National Park

Julie Slovakia 16 Comments

While researching what to do in the Slovakian Tatras, I stumbled across this cool little spot called Slovak Paradise. Located in Slovensky Raj National Park, this is a very unique outdoor obstacle course. With long, wooden ladders and metal catwalks attached to vertical cliffs, you can spend days hiking and climbing through gorges and up waterfalls.

It looked like the perfect place to take a break from hiking the Tatras.

Unfortunately, I could not find much information on the internet to help us plan our visit. Even so, we decided to give up one of our valuable Tatras days to explore this park.

So, with absolutely no plan, we just showed up and stumbled through Slovak Paradise. We made a bunch of mistakes and didn’t quite have the awesome experience we were hoping for, but we learned a lot along the way.

I am going to share with you what we learned so you can have a much better experience.

Slovak Paradise National Park

Slovak Paradise National Park also goes by the name Slovensky Raj National Park and Narodny park Slovensky raj. It is located just a few kilometers south of Poprad and it’s just a short drive away from the Tatras.

There are over 300 km of hiking trails here and 350 caves! The Dobšinská Ice Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located here.

The Hornad River and tributaries have carved away gorges and canyons in the park. These gorges are equipped with ladders, bridges, and platforms, which create the unique hiking experience you get here.

Tyler Rivenbark

The trick to having the best experience is choosing which gorge you want to explore.

This park is a lot larger and the hiking trails are a lot longer than we expected. We visited Slovak Paradise in between big hiking days in the Tatras. Today was our “break,” and even though we cut our hike short, we still ended up hiking over 11 km (7 miles).

Best Things to do in Slovak Paradise

Prielom Hornádu

This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Slovak Paradise. It’s also one of the longest.

This is the trail that we hiked. I chose it simply because it looked awesome on Google image searches. The metal platforms and wooden ladders looked like a blast.

Hiking Slovak Paradise

Long Ladder

But I was also surprised to learn how long it is. It wasn’t until we started hiking the trail that we learned what we were in for. It’s almost 18 km (11 miles) round trip with an estimated hiking time of 5.5 hours. Normally, that wouldn’t bother us. But we were desperately ready for an easy day, since we did two big hikes leading up to this with plans to hike to the summit of Rysy tomorrow. Choosing one of the longest gorges in the park was one of our “mistakes.” We did figure out how to shorten the hike and I give the details of our experience later in this article.

Tomášovsky Viewpoint

Located along the Prielom Hornádu trail, this viewpoint offers awesome views over the park and out to the Tatras.

Kysel

This was my first choice for a hike in Slovak Paradise. However, a portion of the hike is a via ferrata, so you will either need proper gear or you will need to hire a guide.

We asked about hiring a guide at the main ticket booth. However, the ticket attendant only spoke Slovakian. Another hiker who spoke limited English translated for us and we were told that the earliest we could hire a guide was 7 pm the same day. 7 pm to start a long hike? I think something got lost in translation.

This was posted at the ticket booth…more information about the via ferrata. We did not call the number because we did not have SIM cards for our phone. You could try calling this number before your trip, or, if they only speak Slovakian, your hotel staff may be able to assist you.

Kysel Guide Info

Sucha Bela

In hindsight, this is the gorge I wish we hiked through, instead of Prielom Hornádu. It takes about 3.5 hours round trip and you get to climb long, skinny ladders along waterfalls. Looking at photos online, expect to get your feet wet!

Piecky

This beautiful gorge features the longest ladder in Slovak Paradise.

Dobšinská Ice Cave

This is one of the largest ice caves in the world. Unfortunately, we missed seeing this. Learn more here.

To get here, it is a 40-minute drive from the main entrance and parking area for Slovak Paradise.

Expedition Slovakia has an excellent list of the best hikes to do in Slovak Paradise if you want more information.

Our Experience Hiking Prielom Hornádu

We arrived at Slovak Paradise at 8 am. We parked, bought our entrance tickets, unsuccessfully tried to hire a guide to hike Kysel, and then picked out our second option from the large trail map near the entrance.

It’s a 1400 meter walk to get from the park entrance to the trailhead for Prielom Hornádu. Most of this walk is on a flat, asphalt and gravel road. When the road ends, keep following the blue trail through the woods.

Wide Trail

The trail starts on the far side of this blue, metal bridge.

Bridge at start of trail

Slovak Paradise Trail Sign

Most of the Prielom Hornádu trail is simply a singletrack trail through the forest. When we did this, the trails were very muddy and slippery. I don’t know if it’s normally this way, but Slovakia did receive a lot of rain prior to our visit.

Muddy Trail

Hiking along the Prielom Hornádu gorge is mostly a walk in the woods with the occasional obstacle. The obstacles are lots of fun and the metal catwalks over the river were our favorites. But these obstacles are few and far between. You have to be prepared to hike many kilometers in the woods with occasional obstacles.

Prielom Hornadu Ladder

Slovak Paradise with Kids

Metal Steps

Slovensky Raj

After awhile, it gets repetitive and even a little boring, at least in our experience. And this is why I wish we picked a shorter gorge.

Fortunately, there are “bail out points” so you don’t have to hike the entire 18 km loop.

We took the bail out 1 hour into the hike, at Kláštorska Roklina. We chose the yellow trail, a shorter and steeper trail than the green trail. Both end at the Kláštorisko Lodge. At Kláštorisko, there are also the ruins of a 13th century monastery. From here, it was a long, monotonous, downhill hike (1.5 hours) towards the main entrance.

Klastorisko

Slovak Paradise Green Trail

We ended up back on the asphalt road. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant called Ranc Podlesok. It had outdoor seating and a wonderful view of the Tatras. The pizza was pretty good and this was our first experience drinking Kofala, Slovakia’s version of Coca-Cola.

Planning Your Visit

Slovak Paradise is located near Poprad. The main entrance is located off of route 3227. On Google Maps, the main parking lot is labeled Parkovisko Hrabusice Podlesok. We paid €3 to park.

Slovak Paradise Entrance

Driving Distances from Nearby Towns:
  • Poprad: 16 km, 20 minutes
  • Tatranska Lomnica: 36 km, 35 minutes
  • Strbske Pleso: 51 km, 40 minutes

There is a ticket booth next to the parking lot. We paid a total of €4 for our family of four (€1.50 per adult and €.50 per child).

Slovak Paradise ticket booth

We also paid €5.50 for a map of the park.

Walk 100 meters into the park and you will see the large map of the park. Take a photo of it with you phone or camera in case you need to reference it later. There is also a restaurant and bathrooms here.

Slovensky Raj Map

Map Legend

Pro Travel Tip: The distances and times on the map legend are one-way estimates. You also have to factor in the time and distance it takes to walk to the start of the gorge. We thought we were doing a 3-hour hike. It wasn’t until we were at the trailhead that we learned it was double that length. It was a big, unpleasant surprise!

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Plan on spending most of the day here. Even the shorter gorges will take 3 to 4 hours of your time. If you also want to visit the ice cave, it takes 45 minutes to drive there from the main entrance into the park.

There is a chance your feet will get wet. For some gorges, it looks as if you hike through the water.

I read online that the gorges are one-way only. However, we saw a number of people doing this in the opposite direction.

Purchase a hiking map at the ticket booth. They are cheap and a nice resource to have if you change your plans mid-hike like we did. I took a photo of the main map before we started, but it didn’t offer enough detail to help us navigate through the park once we changed our plans.

We saw a lot of kids on the Prielom Hornádu trail. Young ones, too…maybe as young as 5 years old. The youngest kids needed a lot of assistance from their parents, but they were doing it. Some kids loved the obstacles and others seemed a little scared. If you are traveling with adventurous kids, this is a place that may be worth exploring.

Prielom Hornadu

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Villa Meribel in Tatranská Lomnica. This place is awesome! We had a two bedroom two bath apartment with a small kitchen and living area. Tatranská Lomnica is a great home base for hiking the Tatras. There are several restaurants and a grocery store in town. There is also a toboggan, a great place to take kids if you are traveling as a family.


Have you been to Slovak Paradise? We would love to hear about your experience and I am sure that our readers would love it too. Comment below about what you did and feel free to add any advice.

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Slovak Paradise Best Things To Do

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Comments 16

  1. Hi!

    First of all thanks for this article – it helps a lot!
    My and my boyfriend are planning on going there in a month. But we have one question. Since we are going to drive we are going to leave the car in the parking area. From there we will buy the tickets needed to enter the park. Does the gorge finish in the same place i.e. the main entrance? Or are we going to end up in a different (and far away) area pls?

    Many thanks for your feedback!
    Alessia

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      Author

      Yes, there is one entrance into the park and everything starts and ends here. Depending on which gorge/walk you choose to do, it will be a short or long walk from the main entrance to the start and finish of the gorge.

      If you learn anything along the way and want to share your experience, don’t hesitate to write back in after your trip.

      Cheers, Julie

      1. Many thanks for your reply! Ok, because I wasn’t sure if we end the gorge in the same main entrance or somewhere else so I thought it would be best to ask you. Thanks once again !
        Yes, I will gladly write a feedback on our experience, no problem 🙂

    2. One extra hint: you can use a local transport (bus) to get you around. One perfect possibility is:
      http://www.slovenskyraj.eu/uploads/wysiwyg/doprava/BUS%20%C4%8D.810436_leto%202019.pdf
      For ex. if you park your car at “Podlesok”, you could take the bus at 9:21 from “Hrabusice, Podlesok” (https://mapy.cz/s/3vprg ) to “Hrabusice, Pila” and from there take “Piecky” and then back by foot to Podlesok. We did the following (Piecky, Klastorisko (potable spring there!), Prielom Hornadu): https://mapy.cz/s/3vpqK (15km, 500m, 5hod)
      Or you can go the other direction to “Cingov, parkovisko” and then take that whole “Prielom Hornadu”, There are other possibilities too…
      Regards,
      Radim (radim.halir at volny.cz)

  2. I am a local living next to Slovak Paradise and I have stumbled upon this, so let me address few points that were raised here, maybe it will help someone in the future.
    Prielom Hornádu is for us, local people, something of a “felt like having a walk in the forest after Sunday lunch” kinda trail, so yes, it is not terribly exciting nor it is trying to be:) We usually do it in portions, walk as much as we want to and then turn back or take a bus to one starting point and just walk to our house on the other side. Prielom Hornádu is two way but the other gorges are absolutely not and for a good reason, so please do not try to cross them the other way. It is dangerous and I am sure you are not interested in paying the fine either. Yes, the walk back is tedious, especially after you have just spent hours crossing amazing gorge, and I do not particularly enjoy it either but it can’t be helped.
    Kyseľ- I have personally never been there because the gorge has been closed for many years (from before I was even born) due to a huge fire in the area in 1976…they opened it again in 2016 and yes, the only way you can cross it fully is via ferrata. You do not need a guide for this ferrata but you can get one, mostly to tell you all about the place while guiding you (not sure if you can get English speaking one though) but it will cost you 50EUR (max 9 people group and max two groups a day) and you need to do a reservation beforehand. Plus you need to pay the entrance ticket which is 5EUR per person. Having the guide won’t excuse you from renting the ferrata set, unless you bring your own. So I would say, skip on the guide and go to one of the places renting the needed gear located in parks main entrance points like Čingov or Podlesok. Another important thing to point out is, that as the only gorge in Slovak Paradise, Kyseľ has seasonal closure, which is similarly as in High Tatras, from November 1st to June 15th.
    Suchá Belá- without a doubt the most popular gorge in the whole national park and in majority of cases the only gorge any short-term visitor will go and see. And because of that, it can actually get crowded. I would advise to avoid it especially if you are coming during the summer months. For us locals it’s always the last choice even though it is beautiful. But so are the other gorges. The plus point of this place being so touristy is, that you can rent a bike on the top and make it down very quickly.
    Piecky- the ladder is not only the longest but it is also the scariest. Not because it is long but because it’s long AND completely vertical. I do not have particular fear of heights but when it comes to this ladder, I get scared anyway, so it is one of the reasons why you don’t find me in Piecky very often. Definitely not advisable for people who have fear of heights (but I could say the same the same about the whole park…some people chicken out even on much shorter ladders).
    Personal recommendations: My favourite gorge is actually Veľký Sokol, which is the longest gorge in the park and due to smaller number of visitors, it is also more wild. And if you want something quite easy and short but still with waterfalls and ladders, head to Zejmarská roklina, which is located on the southern side of the park. The same side on which the ice cave is located. By the way, the ice cave is the most impressive when it gets opened after the winter closure.
    As for your feet getting wet…all the gorges is you going up the water stream, so yes, if you do not wear proper hiking shoes, your feet will most likely get wet. It’s not as bad during dry days but when the water levels are high you absolutely will need to step on water. In some places people attempted to make some kind of route from rocks and wood (but do not step on wet wood otherwise it won’t be only your feet that’s going to be wet haha…been there done that) but usually it’s just up to you to try to figure out how to cross. Though when the water levels are high, the waterfalls are also more amazing, so there is that.
    For info http://www.slovenskyraj.sk is your best bet probably, a bit messy but there is multiple languages you can switch to. Or you can always try to find locals like me on the internet and ask them:)

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      Author

      Hello Martina. This is awesome!! Thank you so much for all of this valuable information…it will help out our readers so much. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi,
    We are group of 4 people travelling this weekend to slovak paradise national park .
    We are interested to do hiking over there for 1 day.
    So, could you please help us out with few queries:
    -> Do we need to book any hiking/trekking tours in advance?
    -> If yes, then where can we find the details of the timings & tour guide?
    -> Do we need special trekking shoes & any other amenities?

    Please revert back ASAP.

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      Author

      I recommend hiking shoes for the trails and a backpack for water and snacks. Sorry, I do not have any info about tours in this park other than what is written in this post. Cheers, Julie

    2. Hi,
      I with my family have just returned from the Paradise. For one day I would recommend to go to the parking place Podliesok (3e) buy entrance tickets (1.5e/adult, check http://www.slovenskyraj.eu/uzitocne-informacie/navstevny-listok/ ev. use Google Translator) and then go up through Sucha Bela (green turistic mark, one way) and either directly back via yellow and red marks or (longer, but recommended) take yellow to “Pod Vtacim Hrbom” as before, but then take red to “Klastorisko”, blue down to Hornad and then the second part of “Prielom Hornadu” by blue mark back to Podlesok. Don’t forget to visit some of the pubs at Podliesok and order traditional “bryndzove halusky” or “langos”, preferably with a slovak bier (“dark Saris 11” was quite good there) The whole trip is depicted there: https://mapy.cz/s/3vpf7 , it’s about 14.5 km and 550m superelevation, est. 5 and 1/4 hours. BTW: touristic maps at http://www.mapy.cz is quite nice resource
      Special (or “any”) trekking shoes are highly recommended, you basically go through the stream’s bed. Nothing else (than some water) is needed. Regarding water, there is a spring called “Pramen svateho Bruna” at Klastorisko (https://mapy.cz/turisticka?x=20.4217755&y=48.9441783&z=17&source=osm&id=149281745&gallery=1 ). Be aware that there are no other possibility to get water or buy anything except that “Podlesok” at the very beginning/end. Former restaurant at Klastorisko is closed! Not to forget: you don’t need to book any tour in advance in the whole Slovak Paradise, the only exception is that via ferrata at Kysel (where you need to have (or rent, for ex. at Podlesok or Cingov, 5e) a climbing set plus buy a ticket (IMHO 5e too – but I haven’t took that trip). And regarding the “one way paths” – nearly all of the trips through gorges are “unidirectional, from bottom to top”. You would see these paths marked with direction arrows at mapy.cz. So for ex. Sucha Bela (green) is only from Podlesok to top (“Sucha Bela – zaver”), or you can get green from Hornad to Klastorisko via “Klastorska roklina” (with bridges and ladders near waterfalls), but for going back you must take the yellow path instead. Only the (quite long) path around Hornad called “Prielom Hornadu” (W-E direction on N part of Slovensky Raj, marked blue) are bi-directional, but still equipped with bridges, ladders and platforms.
      Hope this helps,
      Radim (if you need more details, feel free to contact me directly: radim.halir at volny.cz)
      PS: There is quite dry at Slovak Paradise right now. But there was some rain yesterday and there could be more in forthcoming days. Finally, there are some pictures for your motivation (click at the blue marks for other waterfalls to get more 😉 https://mapy.cz/turisticka?x=20.3871858&y=48.9402004&z=14&source=base&id=2058491&gallery=1

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        Author
  4. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for this article – my boyfriend and I found it super useful for our Slovakia trip just gone.

    We actually did a large section of the long canyon trail you started. Maybe it was the time of year (we were there in March) but we found the river and views stunning (although admittedly the obstacles were virtually non-existent).

    On your advice we did Sucha Bella (would 100% recommed). Most of the water coming downstream was snowmelt and it ran crystal clear. There was still some snow about so the obstacles were a little more scary but doable.

    We attempted to go backwards along Piecky (I know, very naughty) but abandoned it as the ladder of the Terasovy Vodopád was slick with ice. We did however loop back round later and were able to climb the longests ladder at Vel’ky Vodopád.

    Because of how out of season it was we didn’t see another person for the whole day. We had the gorges to ourselves and were able to identify animal tracks in the snow and saw deer and many birds. However, there was snow and ice on the obstacles which made things a bit scarier (and our feet got wet and cold – bring spare socks!!)

    Thanks again for the tips! Hopefully this can help someone else in turn

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      Author

      Thank you so much for writing in with your experiences. It’s sounds like you had a great time…wow, to be on your own like that, what a wonderful day! Thanks again! Cheers, Julie

  5. Rich B., do you have anything more helpful? If so, please enlighten us.

    Julie, thank you very much for the write-up. I’m hoping to go to Slovak Paradise tomorrow as I’ve been in Slovakia for work all week. I tried going to the ice caves last weekend, only to realize they’re closed for the season. Long drive for nothing! I agree with very little information on this park on line. It was nice to read about someone’s experience and get a feel for what it might be like.

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      Author

      Hello Sean! If you learn any new info about the park that you would like to share, comment back or email us. Have fun in Slovak Paradise! Cheers, Julie

  6. An article with the title “How to pla.n…”, followed by an ample demonstration of the result of poor planning and surely unrealistic expectations. A “review” of the trail after just one hour on it before bugging out. An extremely poor effort written by someone with an inadequate level of ability in my view. Not information I would take note of if planning to visit this area.

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      Author

      My “poor planning” is a result of very little information online. Prior to our trip, I spent hours on the internet trying to learn about this place. I even emailed and spoke to our hotel staff months before our visit to the area and they could give us very little information. So of course we had “unrealistic expectations”…we had no idea what to expect, other than the few photos I found online. Once in the park, almost everyone spoke only Slovakian. We tried speaking with the staff here, but since we do not speak Slovakian, could not communicate with them. We spent most of the day here in the park, we bought maps and learned about the different trails, so we could share what we learned here in this post. It may not cover all of the details of a visit here, but it’s a lot more information than we had to go off of. Cheers, Julie

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