Julie Slovakia 21 Comments

The High Tatras of Slovakia are an outdoor paradise. Jagged mountains, emerald green lakes, rugged hiking trails, and cable cars all come together to form the perfect adventure destination. Go on short, easy walks around alpine lakes, ride a cable car to one of the highest peaks in Slovakia, and hike to Rysy, the tallest mountain in Poland. Come explore this quiet little corner of Europe.

Quick Facts about the High Tatras of Slovakia

Called Vysoké Tatry in Slovakian, The Tatras are a mountain range that straddle the border of Slovakia and Poland.

The High Tatras are located in the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathian Mountains are the second longest mountain range in Europe, stretching from the Czech Republic, across Poland and Slovakia, and reaching Serbia, Romania, and Moldova.

The highest peak in the High Tatras (and the Carpathian Mountains) is Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 meters. Lomnicky štít (2,633 meters), the third highest peak in the mountain range, is easily accessible by cable car.

If you are really lucky, you can spot a Tatra chamois, a highly endangered animal resembling a mountain goat. You can also see fox, brown bear, lynx, and alpine marmots. The Tatras are registered as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to protect the wildlife in this region.

High Tatras of Slovakia

The High Tatras seen from highway D1

How To Get to the High Tatras

By Car. This is the easiest and most convenient way to get to the High Tatras. Having a car gives you the most flexibility to drive to the small towns, get to the hiking trails, and take day trips.

Most likely, you will either drive here from Bratislava, Krakow, or Zakopane.

Driving Distances from Nearby Cities:
  • Bratislava, Slovakia: 335 km, 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Zakopane, Poland: 58 km, 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Krakow, Poland: 144 km, 2 hours 45 minutes

By Train. Trains connect Poprad with Bratislava, Kosice, Prague, and Budapest. From Poprad, you can transfer to a second train and travel to Tatranská Lomnica, Stary Smokovec, or Štrbské Pleso, although these trains are slow (taking a taxi or bus from Poprad to the smaller towns is much faster).

By Plane. The closest airport is in Poprad, the largest city near the High Tatras.

Once you are in the High Tatras, you can use the public bus system to get from town to town.

Best Time to Visit the High Tatras

If you are planning to visit the High Tatras to go hiking, the best months are from June 15 through September. Some trails stay open until the end of October, depending on snowfall.

In the winter, the ski resorts are open.

Best Hikes High Tatras

Slovakian Terms

Before we go any further, it helps to know a few Slovak words. Learning these words will help you better understand Slovakian maps and street signs.

Štít:  peak
Dolina:  valley
Pleso:   lake
Zelene:   green
Vel’ká:   big
Malá:   small
Chata:  lodge, cabin

Best Things to do in the High Tatras in the Summer

Without a doubt, hiking is the best thing to do in the High Tatras. With short, easy walks and strenuous hikes to mountain peaks, there is something here for everyone.

Great hikes to put on your list:

Rysy. Stand on the tallest peak in Poland but hike to it from Slovakia. This challenging day hike climbs up through the rugged, rocky peaks of the High Tatras. Just before the summit you cross the border into Poland. Read all about it here.

Rysy Hike

Kara Rivenbark

Hiking to Rysy

Kriván. Called Slovakia’s “most beautiful mountain,” this is one of the most popular hikes in the High Tatras.

Gerlachovský štít. This is the tallest mountain in the High Tatras. The only way to the summit is with a certified mountain guide.

Vel’ká Svišt’ovka and Zelene Pleso. A cable car lops off the first big climb. From Skalnaté Pleso, hike to peak of Vel’ká Svišt’ovka, have lunch at the lodge next to the beautiful Green Lake, and walk back to Tatranská Lomnica. Read all about it here.

Zelene Pleso Slovakia

Zelene Pleso (by drone)

High Tatras Hike

The trail from Vel’ká Svišt’ovka to the Green Lake

The Great Cold Valley. This popular trail takes hikers through a wide valley filled with wildflowers in the summer months.

More Places to Visit:

Štrbské Pleso. For an easy, scenic stroll, take a talk around Štrbské Pleso. This is also the starting point for the hike to Kriván.

Popradske Pleso. This is another pristine alpine lake but you’ll have to walk or ride a bike to get here. From Štrbské Pleso, it is a 4 km (2.5 mile) hike one way to get here. Dine at one of the restaurants and spend about an hour walking around the lake. From here, you can continue on to Rysy or Vel’ke Hincovo pleso.

Popradske Pleso

Popradske Pleso

Lomnicky štít. Ride a series of cable cars to Lomnicky štít. This is the third highest peak in the High Tatras and the highest you can go without a guide. The cable car starts in Tatranská Lomnica and it is best when the skies are clear. Book your tickets 2 to 3 days in advance. The final cable car to the peak can only transport 45 people per hour so tickets frequently sell out.

Lomnicky Stit Cable Car

The tiny cable car to Lomnicky štít.

Skalnaté Pleso. This alpine lake is located near Tatranská Lomnica. To get here, you can hike up or ride the cable car.

Skalnate Pleso

Skalnaté pleso

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. This park is located about 35 minutes south of the High Tatras. Learn more here.

Slovak Paradise Ladder

Slovak Paradise

Where to Stay in the High Tatras

There are several towns to pick as your home base. Tatranská Lomnica, Štrbské Pleso, and Poprad are all good picks.

Tatranská Lomnica

This is one of the largest towns in the region. With a bunch of great restaurants and hotels, plus easy access to the cable car that zips you up to Skalnaté Pleso and Lomnicky štít, this is one of the best places to stay in the High Tatras. In fact, this is where we stayed and we highly recommend it.

Villa Meribel. This is where we stayed and we thought it was wonderful. We had a two bedroom, two bath apartment with a small kitchen and living area. From the hotel we could walk to the cable car station for Lomnicky štít and Skalnaté Pleso and we could walk to the restaurants in town. It’s a small property, only offering a handful of rooms, which is perfect if you want to avoid a “large hotel experience.”

Villa Meribel

Villa Meribel

Hotel Lomnica. Built in 1893, this was the first hotel in High Tatras and it underwent a full renovation in 2016. The hotel offers a restaurant, a spa, and hot tubs. Rooms can accommodate up to 6 people. If you are looking for an upscale hotel that gets rave reviews, check this one out.

Apartment Luna. This was an apartment we considered because of its stunning views of the Tatras. It is located near the cable car station and can accommodate up to five people.

Štrbské Pleso

With just a few hotels located on the lake, this is a gorgeous spot to call home for a few nights.

Grand Hotel Kempinski. Located right on the lake, this is a luxurious property. Have dinner at the onsite restaurant, take a swim in the indoor pool that offers panoramic views of the Tatras, and go to the spa. This is the ultimate luxury experience in the High Tatras.

Hotel Patria. Also located right on the lake, this is another property that gets great reviews. People who stay here love the breakfast and the great location.

Apartmany Crocus. If you are traveling on a budget, this is a good one to consider. Rooms can accommodate up to four people and the location is excellent.


This small city is located a short drive away from the mountains. It may not be as quaint and rustic as Štrbské Pleso or Tatranská Lomnica, but with its wide selection of hotels and restaurants, not to mention its access to an airport and a train station, this is another great option.

Penzion Darinka. This is one of the highest rated properties in Poprad. Rooms are modern, clean, and can accommodate up to four people.

Where to Eat in Tatranská Lomnica

Slnecny Dom Restaurant. Dine on Slovakian food in this cozy restaurant. We had a great meal here after a big day hiking.

Bistro Corner. We liked this place so much that we ate here twice. Soups, salads, burgers, and more all make it onto the menu.

La Famiglia. The place to go for Italian food.

Fiaker Restaurant. Here’s another cool spot, where the booths are shaped like carriages and you can dine on local food.

Where to Eat in Tatras

Slnecny Dom Restaurant

How Much Time Should You Spend Here?

Two days would be the bare minimum that we would recommend. With two days you can either do two separate hikes or spend one day hiking and one day touring the small towns and riding the cable car to Skalnaté Pleso or Lomnicky štít.

Three or more days are ideal. This gives you plenty of time to go hiking, explore the towns, and visit Slovak Paradise, if this looks interesting to you.

We spent three full days in the High Tatras. Here is our itinerary:

  • Day 1: Cable car to Skalnaté Pleso and hike to Vel’ká Svistovka and Zelene Pleso
  • Day 2: Slovak Paradise
  • Day 3: Rysy Hike

Our visit to the High Tatras was part of a road trip that started in Krakow, Poland and took us through eastern and central Europe. Before arriving in Slovakia, we hiked the Tatras from Zakopane, Poland. From the High Tatras of Slovakia, we drove to Bratislava and then to Croatia. We visited the High Tatras at the end of July.

Are you planning a trip to the High Tatras? Comment below if you have any questions.

Planning a trip to Slovakia? Read all of our articles in our Slovakia Destination Guide.

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High Tatras of Slovakia Travel Guide


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Comments 21

  1. Hi,

    Great posting! I am taking a rental car here from Krakow and hoping you can tell me how you got a vignette for the car. It looks like you need the car’s info and of course I won’t have that until I get the car. Did you get at rental agency or a local store once in Slovakia? The blogs I’ve read say you need it before you cross the border.


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      We rented and picked up our car in Krakow and dropped it in Bratislava. You can purchase a vignette from gas stations and at the border crossing, or online. Here is more info. If I remember correctly, we did not purchase the vignette until we drove on the highways. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hello! Do you know if there are shorter hikes available than the ones you outlined. We have a 2 year old and don’t mind doing 1-2 long, strenuous hikes, but from what I’ve been researching, it seems most hikes in the area are long and strenuous.
    Thank you for all your info! I’ve used your blog numerous times to help us plan some trips (Iceland, Slovenia, and the Dolomites!).

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      I believe that there are more hikes to do in the area than I list, but these are the most popular hikes and the ones I know of. But yes, most of the trails head up into the mountains. If you want a short hike, you could ride the cable car to Skalnate Pleso, hike around here, and then ride the cable car back down. Or walk around Strbske Pleso. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi, do you have any information about mountain biking in these areas? What you wrote looks great for hiking. My wife and I were wanting to go, but do both hiking and biking for a week. Although I’m having a hard time understanding if people can rent mountain bikes and go around the High Tatras as well.


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      Hello Bobby. No, I don’t really know anything about mountain biking in this region. The High Tatras are awesome but there it is very hard to find online info, I know, from planning our trip. But what a beautiful area to go hiking! Good luck in your info search! Cheers, Julie

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  4. Great post ! I will be visiting the High Tatras in beginning of October. I am planning to stay in both Tatranska Lomnica and Strbske Pleso, but could you tell me how to go from from one of these towns to the other ? I see there’s the train option, would we have to buy our tickets in advance for this ?

    Thanks !

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      Yes, I believe that you can take a train and I think that there is also a bus that connects those towns. We had a rental car so I’m a little fuzzy on how public transportation works, although I know that it exists. Taxis work well too, we used one at the end of a hike. Your hotels would be able to give a lot more details on how to use the bus, train and taxis here. Cheers, Julie

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  5. Such a great and informative post! My husband and I are planning to rent a flat for the month of September and really hope the weather will be still warm enough.
    Have you guys been there only once in July? Any extra tips on Tatras in September?

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      Yes, we have only been here in July. I think September will be a great time to visit. There should be less crowds, which will be nice, although it’s not all that crowded even in July. Temps will be cooler and I don’t know if there will be more rain or clouds than when we where there. All the trails should also still be open. They don’t usually close until later in the year once it starts snowing. I hope you have a nice time! Cheers, Julie

  6. Hi Julie, Tim. Excellent post! Very informative and totally love the words added at the beginning of the post to better understand the names of the places. I had read your posts about Slovenia the last time we travelled there and found them very helpful. 🙂

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  7. Hi, love this post – especially as I am going to be hiking in the High Tatras in a week!! Just wondering if you have advice on what to wear whilst hiking in early August in the High Tatras? Thanks 🙂

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      The weather can be all over the place. We were fine hiking in shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, with a fleece or a rain jacket. However, when we hiked Rysy, it was very cold at the top and we wished we had more clothing. Most people on this hike wore long pants and a long-sleeve shirt with a jacket. So, watch the weather, but even if it is clear, bring an extra layer or 2 for warmth once you climb higher and a rain jacket is good to have in case you get a storm. I think it rained every day while we were there, but usually it was very brief. Cheers, Julie

  8. Hey Tim & Julie, great post. Especially loved the list of Slovak words that you’ve added! I solo traveled to the High Tatras last month and got to hike a couple of different trails. Quite an experience.

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