Julie Slovakia 11 Comments

For stunning mountain views and a visit to several vividly green alpine lakes, the hike to the summit of Vel’ká Svišt’ovka is a good one to add to your Tatras hiking list.

A cable car lops off the first major ascent, so this hike is easier than many of the hikes in the Tatras. Even so, this hike is not to be underestimated. This is a long hike, with a surprisingly difficult downhill section, parts of it requiring the use of chains. To get back into town, you also need to be prepared for what feels like a never ending walk through a pine forest on a rocky, uneven trail.

Despite my warnings, this is a great hike. The views are gorgeous and the green lake was well worth seeing. Plus, sections of this hike are pure fun, which makes up for the long, monotonous walk at the very end of this hike.

Hiking Stats

Distance: 13.2 km (8.2 miles)
Difficulty: Moderate, with some rock scrambling and the use of chains
Total Ascent: 365 meters (1,200 feet) gain (starting at Skalnaté Pleso)
Elevation Loss: 1,200 meters (3,930 feet)
Length of Time: 6 to 8 hours
When to go: There are several signs posted along the trail that state that this hike is possible from June 16 to November 1. During the remainder of the year, the trail is closed, to prevent damage during the months when snow is present.

Velka Elevation Profile

Elevation profile

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.


Green Lake Tatras

The Green Lake (Zelene Pleso)

Hiking to Vel’ká Svišt’ovka

Cable Car to Skalnaté Pleso

This hike starts at Skalnaté Pleso, a green, alpine lake located up in the High Tatras. To get here, you can hike up or you can take the cable car. I recommend taking the cable car. It’s fast, it’s scenic, and it shaves off roughly 2 to 3 strenuous hours of hiking.

The lower station of the cable car is located in Tatranská Lomnica. There are three parts to the cable car. The first leg consists of two separate cable cars that take you right to Skalnaté Pleso (1,751 meters). To do this hike, this is what you want.

Cable Car Map

However, if it’s a perfectly clear day, you can pay more and journey all of the way up to Lomnický Štít, one of the highest peaks in the High Tatras. If you have clear skies, I think it would be worth the money (it’s expensive!). We were not so lucky. Low clouds hid the mountaintops on the day we did this, so we only went to Skalnaté Pleso.

To get to Lomnický Štít (2,634 meters), tiny cable cars on very long cables slowly climb up to the peak. This cable car can only transport 45 people per hour, which is not much! In general, these tickets need to be booked 2 to 3 days in advance, since there are very few tickets available.

From Skalnaté Pleso, you also have the option to ride a chairlift up to Lomnicke Sedlo. This doesn’t take you as high as Lomnický Štít, but with an elevation of 2,190 meters, this is another way to get those high alpine views.

If you follow this hike how we did it, you will only need to purchase a one-way ticket up to Skalnaté Pleso. If you choose to ride the cable car or chair lift up the mountain from Skalnaté Pleso, you can book this leg of the journey round trip. At the ticket office in Tatranská Lomnica, you can buy your tickets for the cable car. You can also purchase tickets at Skalnaté Pleso, if you choose to go higher once you are there.

Cable Car Prices

To Skalnaté Pleso (one-way): 19€
Round trip to Lomnický Štít from Skalnaté Pleso:  27€
Round trip on the chair lift to Lomnicke Sedlo from Skalnaté Pleso: 9€

The prices above are current as of 2019. Get updated pricing on the official website.

At Skalnaté Pleso, there is a small restaurant, souvenir shop, and bathrooms.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The official website recommends that you purchase your tickets several days in advance, because they do sell out. I tried to do this and could not get the website to work. But we had no issues getting tickets on the morning of our hike. We did this on a gorgeous Sunday in July. At 9 am, ticket lines were small and there were no lines to get onto the cable cars. I would recommend getting here at opening time, which is 8:30 am. This way, you skip the crowds and get a head start on the hike. Thunderstorms can roll in during the afternoon, so it’s a good idea to start your hike early in the day, if possible. Trust me about the thunderstorms…you’ll hear about those soon!

The first cable car seats just four people and takes several minutes to get to the transfer station. At the transfer station, you get on a much larger cable car that can hold up to 15 people. On a sunny day, these cable cars get hot because of the greenhouse effect. It was wonderful to step out into the much cooler air at Skalnaté Pleso.

Getting to the Trailhead

Once at Skalnaté Pleso, exit the cable car and walk towards the restaurant. Walk to the left, around the restaurant, and in front of you will be Skalnaté Pleso (the lake), the cable car station to Lomnický Štít, and off in the distance, an observatory.

Skalnate Pleso Hike

The trail starts on the other side of the lake. There is a short section of planks that head up the hill towards the observatory. This is where your hike starts.

Skalnate Pleso Hiking Signs

For this hike, you will follow the red trail. Estimates are given in times, not distance.

The trail to Vel’ká Svišt’ovka

Skalnaté Pleso to Vel’ká Svišt’ovka: 2.5 km (1.6 miles), 330 meters (1080 feet) elevation gain, 1.25 hours hiking time

A short but slightly strenuous climb takes you uphill, in the direction of Lomnický Štít. This first climb takes about 15 minutes and then the trail levels out.

Don’t forget to look back! The views over Skalnaté Pleso and the towns of Slovakia are gorgeous from here.

Skalnate Pleso


The trail undulates as it heads east towards Vel’ká Svišt’ovka. A large portion of this part of the hike takes you across a giant field of boulders. It’s a lot of fun, if you like this sort of thing, or it can be nerve-wracking, since some boulders can shift and slide under your weight.

Slovakian Hiking Trail

Boulder Field

Red Marker on the Trail


Once across the boulder field, the trail starts to climb some more. Now you can see Vel’ká Svišt’ovka off in the distance. It really doesn’t take too long to get here from the cable car.

Trail Marker Slovakia


It’s one final, strenuous climb to the peak of  Vel’ká Svišt’ovka. The views from here are the best of the day. Now, you can look down at Chata pri Zelenom plese (the restaurant and lodge next to the lake), Zelene Pleso (the green lake), and the valley far below. This lovely valley is surrounded by the high mountain peaks of the Tatras. And that’s where we are heading next.

Velka Svistovka Peak

Looking up at the peak of Vel’ká Svišt’ovka from the saddle.

Vel'ká Svišt'ovka

The view from the top of Vel’ká Svišt’ovka, looking back at the saddle and down to Zelene Pleso.


Hiking Slovakia

Alternative Finish to this hike: You can turn around at Vel’ká Svišt’ovka and hike back to the cable car the same way you came. This will make the hike a lot shorter, but you will miss more of the views over the valley and the visit to the gorgeous, vibrantly green lake next to Chata pri Zelenom Plese. If you choose this option, you will need to purchase round trip cable car tickets to Skalnaté Pleso.

Hiking Down to Chata pri Zelenom plese

Vel’ká Svišt’ovka to Zelene Pleso: 4 km (2.5 miles), 500 meters (1640 feet) elevation loss, 1.5 to 2 hours hiking time

Once we reached Vel’ká Svišt’ovka, we could hear occasional rumbles of thunder off in the distance. Clouds were moving in and being on a mountain peak is the last place you want to be during a thunderstorm. And I had read that the storms can be wicked here in the Tatras.

So we had to really get moving.

The hike from Vel’ká Svišt’ovka to the Chata pri Zelenom is, in my opinion, the most challenging part of this hike. It’s a long, steep descent on uneven, rocky trails. We were already sore and tired from hiking up Koscielec in the Polish Tatras yesterday, so this steep, downhill descent really had our thighs burning and our knees aching.

Next part of the trail

Hiking in Slovakia

Hiking the Tatras

So, even though you are now going downhill, don’t be misled and think that this is easy. It’s not dangerous, it’s just tiring. And at times it feels like it will never end.

Towards the bottom of the descent, you will climb down through a gorge. There are chains to use here, since the rocks are very slick. Traffic jams can occur if the trail is busy.

Chains on Velka Svistovka Hike

Tyler Rivenbark

Then, it’s just another short downhill section. Once the trail levels out, you have just a few more minutes of walking until you get to the lodge.

Zelene Pleso, the Green Lake

Our timing could not have been any better. Once the lodge came into view, big, fat raindrops began to fall. We got under cover right when the rain really started. We found an open table inside the restaurant and ate lunch, all while the skies opened up and torrential rain fell. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the people still out there on the trail.

The storm lasted about 30 minutes and then, what do you know, the skies cleared and the sun came back out. We now got to see the vivid green color of the alpine lake and the lucky ducks who get to call this home.

Zelene Pleso


Tim and Tyler took a few minutes to fly the drone and this is what they captured. Wow!

Aerial View of Zelene Pleso

Slovakian Hike Drone

Tatras Drone

Final Leg of the Trail

Zelene Pleso to town: 6.7 km (4.2 miles), 2.5 to 3.5 hours

Hiking Times from Chata

Hiking times from the lodge back to town. Now, you will follow the yellow trail.

From the lodge, it’s a long but easy walk back to civilization. It’s a steady, downhill walk, mostly along a river, so this part goes fast, which is good, since you have another 7 kilometers of hiking ahead of you. Most of the walk is under the cover of trees, so it’s cool and pleasant. But at some point, if you are like us, you will just be ready for it to be over.

Towards the end of the trail, you have an option. You can hike 20 minutes to the Biela Voda parking lot, located on route 537, the main road that runs between the towns along the Tatras. There is also a bus stop here, so you can take the bus back to Tatranksá Lomnica and the cable car station. This trail is shorter, if you just miss the bus (like we did), you could end up waiting 30 minutes until the next one arrives. Instead of waiting, we had the very nice man who runs the parking lot call a taxi for us. Five minutes and five euros later we were back at our hotel.

Hiking Signs Tatras

Biela Voda Parking Lot

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Buses run roughly every 30 minutes and stop near the lower cable car station. I do not have prices but my guess is that it costs about one euro per person.

Option number 2 is to take the trail towards Tatranske Matliare. This trail continues on to the cable car station. It takes about 45 minutes to hike to the cable car station from this fork in the trail.

Video of the Hike

Want to see a video of the entire hike? This includes some awesome views of the Green Lake captured by drone.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Start early! Try to be at the cable car at opening time. This way, you can avoid the lines and you get an early start to the hike.

Watch the weather. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, you may want to save this hike for another day. It can be very dangerous to be on a mountain peak during a storm. There is no cover from the time you leave Skalnaté Pleso until you get down to the valley to the lodge at Zelene Pleso.

Bring lots of water, sunblock, hiking poles, lunch and/or snacks. Wear hiking shoes or boots. It’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket, just in case you get caught in the rain. It can also be chilly on top of Vel’ká Svišt’ovka, so having a jacket is a good idea.

If you plan to take the cable car all of the way up Lomnický Štít, bring warm clothing. It can be considerably colder up there than in Tatranská Lomnica. And don’t forget to buy your tickets in advance!

The Round Trip Hike from Tatranská Lomnica

You can skip the cable car altogether and hike up to Skalnaté Pleso from the lower cable car station. Simply follow the green trail up to the lake. We saw quite a few people doing this and we didn’t regret skipping this part of the hike at all. You are simply walking up a path along the cable car tracks, a rather boring hike with the same views that you get from the gondola. Hiking to Skalnaté Pleso adds 2 to 3 hours, 4 km (2.5 miles), and 855 meters (2808 feet) of climbing to this hike.

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. From Villa Meribel, it was only an 8 minute walk to the cable car station, a brilliant location for this hike. 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.

Does this look like a hike you would like to do? Comment below if you have any questions or advice for our readers.

More Information about Slovakia

Read all of our articles about Slovakia in our Slovakia Travel Guide.

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High Tatras Slovakia Green Lake


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Comments 11

  1. Hello,
    Me and my wife are planning our next trip to the Tatras, your website was very useful it helpd us a lot in the itinerary.
    We are having a huge debate on taking our little french bulldog to the hikes or not. He has really good condition we did hikes with 24km length and he did awesome, but reading the description of the hike we can’t decide if the trail is suitable for him.
    We are thinking of taking a dog backpack for the difficult parts.

    What do you guys think?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Post

      We have not hiked with a dog before but the trail isn’t too bad, aside from the somewhat steep descent with chains. I think a dog should be OK here but I’m not totally sure. But with a dog backpack it shouldn’t be an issue. Two things to consider: (1) if pets are allowed on the trails in the Tatras and (2) if pets are permitted on the cable cars. I don’t know the answers to those two questions so you might have to search more online for the answer. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie, first of all: thank you for this elaborate blogpost, very helpful! We are considering this hike and I was wondering if it takes 6-8 hours even if you take the cable, or is that the time it takes if you don’t take the cable car? Look forward hearing from you!

    1. Post

      Hello Linda. Yes, it does take 6 to 8 hours even with the cable car. You can shorten the hike by turning around Velka Svistovka but you would then miss the Green Lake. Or, if you are a very fast hiker you can do this quicker, but it would be tough to beat the 6 hour estimate. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi, this trails looks amazing. I’m going on august to Slovakia and I wowld like to follow this route. It would be possible to send mi a gpx file or a map to my mail?

    thanks so much

    1. Post

      Sorry, we don’t have a GPX file to offer. For the most part, the trail is very easy to follow. There are lots of signs along the way directing you where to go. And you could print this post or cache it on your phone if you want access it. Have a great hike! Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi there. I plan on being there and doing the hike from Skalnate Pleso – Velka Svistovka – Zelene Pleso-Velke Biele Pleso – Tatranska Lomnica in the week of 21 June 2019. I’ve just been reading though in the Cicerone guide that the section between Velka Svistovka and Zelene Pleso is closed during spring and that it is a very dangerous section. I think this is considered one of the higher routes and, hopefully, reopens on 15 June. Do you have any thoughts? What time of year did you do the hike? Thanks, from Australia

    1. Post

      Hello Terrylea. We did this hike in late July 2018. There are signs on the trail that states the trail opens on June 16. I personally don’t have more information than that, so I would assume that you should be fine on June 21. The only thing that could impact opening dates is the amount of snow they received this winter. I know that there are a lot of trails in the US that sometimes open late if the area received a big snowfall. Maybe this could happen in Slovakia too? Unfortunately, you won’t know until you get there, and I know that can be nerve-wracking. As for dangerous…I wouldn’t really call it dangerous. Strenuous, yes. A bit slippery in spots, yes. For pictures of the section the guide is referring to, take a look at the section in this article titled “Hiking Down to Chata pri Zelenom plese.” You can see a few photos of the gorge, which is the most “dangerous” section of the hike. As long as you take your time and use the chains you should be fine. It’s a great hike and a beautiful area. Enjoy! Cheers, Julie

  5. Hey, what a surprise! I´ve been following you, guys on your travels around the world and now, I see you in my home country!
    I´ve done this hike or parts of it several times as well and these are my points to add:
    1. Yes, you´re absolutely right with the first leg of the hike – you can absolutely skip hiking from Tatranska Lomnica to Skalnate pleso as it is a boring part leading you up through a ski slope. Take the cable car instead.
    2. The storms are real in Tatras so planning a hike for early morning is definitely worth it.
    3. If you can spend one more day here, try to arrange a 1 night stay in the lodge of Zelene pleso and early in the morning do hike up to the mountain of Jahnaci stit which is right above it but takes up to 3 hours to get to the top. Then add another, at least, 2 hours to get down and another 3 hours to Biela Voda. We started the hike up to Jahnaci stit at 6 am, met only 1 person on the trail and several chamois…beautiful.

    1. Post

      Thanks for these tips! We spent three full days in Tatranska Lomnica. We did this on day 1, visited Slovak Paradise on day 2, and then hiked to the peak of Rysy on day 3 (post coming soon). Love it here. So beautiful and we would love to come back and explore some more. The hike up to Biela Voda sounds wonderful…I hadn’t heard of that one so thanks for mentioning it! We also wanted to do Krivan but didn’t have enough time. Hopefully we will be back someday soon. Happy hiking! 🙂 Cheers, Julie

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