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, and alpine marmots. The Tatras are registered as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to protect the wildlife in this region.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zelene Pleso (by drone)
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.
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.
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.
Slovak Paradise. Located in Slovensky Raj National Park, Slovak Paradise 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Slnecny Dom Restaurant
How Much Time Should You Spend in the High Tatras?
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.
More Information for Your Trip to Slovakia
TATRAS: If you like hiking, consider spending a few days in the High Tatras. Learn how to hike to Koscielec from Zakopane, how to hike to the summit of Rysy (the tallest mountain in Poland), and whether you should visit the Tatras from Poland or Slovakia.
BRATISLAVA: If you have plans to visit Bratislava, take a look at our article Best Things to Do in Bratislava.
POLAND: Learn about the best things to do in Krakow, how to spend 2 days in Warsaw, and the best things to do in Gdansk. Put this all together with our 10 Day Poland Itinerary.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: Get more travel ideas in our article 10 Days in Europe itinerary, which has 10 itineraries for your next trip to Europe. If you have less time, we also have an article that lists 25 different ways to spend one week in Europe.
Planning a trip to Slovakia? Read all of our articles in our Slovakia Travel Guide.
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Hello, We are staying in the Tatras for three days, and one day we will hike Slovensky Raj, one day cable car to Lomnisky Stit and on day three we would like another hike, but is Rysy too long of a hike? Or would you suggest another hike?
Rysy is 20 km (12.5 miles), which is a long hike, but we didn’t think it was too long. The other hike that we really liked was the Zelene Pleso hike, which you start from the cable car that you will be riding (but don’t do all the way up to Lomnicky Stit). There are more hikes in the area but these are the ones we did and are familiar with. Cheers, Julie
I loved your posts! I am going to be in Slovakia from May 20-25, 2022. I love hiking in higher elevation and I am willing to do longer hikes around 20-35km. However, I know the conditions are a bit unpredictable with snow in May.
Do you have any suggestions for hikes higher in elevation that will be doable in May, but avoid the use of chains or ladders? If not, are there any you can suggest that are around 20km with stunning views?
Hello Olivia. From what I know about hiking in the Tatras, many trails do not open until the end of May or even until mid-June. I am not sure how this is enforced, and I don’t know if these dates change based on spring snowfall. For example, for the Velka Svistovska hike we did, there are signs along the trail stating that it does not open until mid-June. Again, I don’t know how this is enforced or where you can get more information before your visit. There may be some guiding companies in the area that you can contact for more info, or maybe contact the hotel where you are staying? I’m sorry I can’t give you more information than this. Cheers, Julie
Well, it is rarely enforced, but it could be and you could be fined for hiking on officialy closed hiking trails, which open on the 15th of June.
This is very helpful. I have a few questions, before we travel to Slovakia in July 2022. Regarding Slovensky Raj, what was the trail that you hiked and where did you sleep the night before or after your hike? Poprad? Tatranska Lomnica? Or in the Slovensky Raj park?
Here is our post about Slovak Paradise and the trail we hiked, plus more info about the park. We stayed in Tatranska Lomnica. Cheers, Julie