Exploring the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia

in #photography5 years ago (edited)

When I was traveling in Eastern Europe, I slowly migrated west to check out some countries I haven’t fully explored. Slovakia happens to be one of them. I once visited its capital on a quick 2-day trip when I was living in Budapest. It was alright - I’ve already seen grand European cities like Prague and Budapest. The castles are cool, I even checked one out in Trencin. However, a buddy of mine who’s from Slovakia told me that what makes Slovakia stand apart from other European destinations are its mountains in the High Tatras.

So, what's an adventure seeking dude supposed to do?

Hike The Tatra Mountains!

After my long stint in Budapest was coming to an end, I booked a one-way ticket for a train to the Tatra Mountains without anything planned and just "wing" it. I looked at the map and determined I will make the city of Poprad my headquarters for all my High Tatras excursions - the city is located in a pretty centralized location with bus and trains going out to various spots in the area.

Hiking the High Tatra Mountains
Hiking the High Tatra Mountains

I booked a cheap pension/hostel on the outskirts of town that were just five minutes by foot from the train station. There, I would converse with staff or random travelers about where to hike and what they recommend. Turns there were many options for hiking but the season was already winding down. It practically rained 80% of the time I was there. I wanted to trek the whole mountain range and summit the peak of Gerlachovský Peak (the highest peak in the High Tatras).

During the times when it was raining, I made a few quick trips to the surrounding attractions, like the castle Spis – which is the largest castle in Central Europe. I took the train and did a few mini hikes around Štrbské Plesso – which is one of the prominent lakes in the region. I explored what little there is to explore in the city of Poprad.

But, my heart was elsewhere.

The mountains are calling and I must go.

As luck would have it, John Muir heard my call because the next morning the forecast was as clear as day. I went over to talk to the receptionist, asked what cool hike I can do for the day and was told there were several connecting trails around the Popradské Pleso.


I took a train to Popradské Pleso got off with a wide grin on my face because I will finally get to check out the allure of the Slovakian Alps. With no real plans, I was just going to wing it the mountains and figure out what trail to tackle. Now, I’m not advocating you do the same – I have enough wilderness survival training and actual real-world experience being out in the mountains that I feel comfortable doing what I was doing. For you guys, safety first!

First, I thought I would just be walking on a boring asphalt street. It was a well-developed road that slowly climbed up to a resort next to the lake. What’s cool about this section is the wild raspberries that lined the side of the road. There were fields of berries and I couldn’t help but detract myself by picking as much as I could and eating as much as I can. I must have spent 2 hours just harvesting berries on the side of the street.

High Tatras Raspberry

The road eventually ends at a resort overlooking a lake and marks the beginning of an unpaved trail. The trail goes along the resort and the base of a mountain where a rocky outcrop begins where you can see faint signs of a switchback if you looked up. The trail slowly meanders on a rocky switchback with the occasional epic views from steep outcrops of the lake below.

Along the trail I encountered a rare sight, I came across a Slovakian Chamois! It's sort of like a mountain goat or some kind of mammal, I don't know. All I know is that it wasn't shy - it peed just a few yards away from me. I attempted to get closer to it and take a few photos but it ran off into a steep ravine below before I could snap some more.

Slovakian Chamois
Slovakian Chamois

Eventually, I reached the apex to where Popradske Pleso was still visible. From here you can see awesome views of the Štôlska Valley, I didn't take many photos because it was a bit hazy that day and I wanted to see what else lay ahead. I continued my trek for another 40 minutes and came across another lake, Batizovské Pleso.

Batizovské Pleso
Batizovské Pleso

At the time, I didn't know what lake it was. I only looked it up on Google maps (at writing) so I can give it a name. As mentioned earlier, I didn't have any plans - I was just going to follow the trail and see where it lead. I was running out of the water so I filled my canteen and took a little break to snap a few pics before heading out. I talked to a few people taking a break along the trail to find out what's up ahead.

Apparently, there's a 4-star hotel Horský Hotel Sliezsky dom where I can catch a taxi or hitch-hike back down to Tatranská Polianka where I could catch a train back to Poprad. I took it as good news too because it was already getting dark and I was getting tired.

I noticed some dark clouds building up in the skies as the sun began to set. Getting caught in a downpour during the dark was the last thing I wanted so I picked up the pace towards the hotel, ignoring any possible sunset photo shoots. I reached the hotel just as it was about to turn completely black and caught a taxi to the train station in Tatranská Polianka. I could have walked the whole 7 kilometers back to town but seeing nothing by car headlights didn't seem attractive. In all, I would have trekked further up towards Bradavica if I had more time. It would have to wait when I return in the future.

So that's my little ad-hoc hiking story in the High Tatras. If I was a more prudent hiker I would have done my research ahead of time and not after the fact. So, now that I have done the proper research, you reap the benefits.


I only got to hike a small portion of the High Tatras and if I had my way, I would stay for a month straight and hike most of the trails. Hiking season runs during spring and summer but I have seen this in the fall and the weather was still alright with the occasional rain.

The Tatra Mountain range encompasses Poland and Slovakia and offers plenty of hiking opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. I've only covered the Slovakian side and it's got some awesome views of its highest peak Gerlachovsky Peak (2655m) and its most famous peak Lomnicky.

The Tatras National Park (TANAP) comprises mountain and high-mountain plants like dwarf pine, pine forests, and a terrific flora. Rare animal species like the eagle, bear, or marmot reside here as well. You will have a very high chance of running across a chamois, the emblem of Tatras. It is among the most unique species, as it evolved in isolation during the ice age.

The High Tatras area also offers an unusually rich range of the architectural monuments, climatic spas, and non-mountain organic beauties. They're represented by open-air museums, manor houses, castles, city monument reserves or thermal spas and caves.


I suggest you stay in the bigger town of Poprad and use it as your base for other hikes. It has enough things to do if the weather doesn't agree for a hike. You could stay in towns closer to the trails but you'll be bored if you get caught during inclement weather. Poprad is about five hours by train from Bratislava, about eight hours from Prague, and about 10 hours from Budapest - you will change trains in Kosice coming from Budapest.

Poprad, Slovakia
The quaint little town of Poprad is a good base for your High Tatra adventures.

On the Polish side, there is Zakopane. It's a fantastic place if you're into buying tacky souvenirs and running into other tourists. It can be reached by train or bus from Krakow. There is an HI hostel in Zakopane with lots of private rooms if that's your thing. I have a preference for Poprad as it is quieter and not as busy as Zakopane.


From Poprad, take one of those small trains to Stary Smokovec or a different resort. If you would like to start from Strbske Pleso this takes 1.5 hours though; going there by bus or by changing trains in Strba (online to Bratislava) will probably be a good deal quicker. From Zakopane take a bus to Lysa Polana (on the boundary) or into the Morskie Oko car park - you will have to pay a park entrance fee.

There are lots of cable cars and chairlifts. The most significant cable car goes from Tatranska Lomnica, among the Slovak hotels, to Skalnata lake, and will save you a tough and boring walk up. From here you may take the red trail down or up, choose another cable car to Lomnicky stit, the second highest mountain in the Tatras. You might end up waiting in line for hours to get the ticket and then waiting some more. It's better you begin to queue first thing in the morning as it's not likely that you'll find another ticket. The better option is to take the chairlift up to Lomnicky hreben because it's cheaper, faster and the views are better.

July and August are extremely busy, so it is nicest to go in June or September. If you would like to cross the border after scaling Mt. Rysy, bear in mind that this is only permitted until the 30th of September -- they do not check this, but it is for your own security; we did it on the last day and there was so much ice it was likely quite risky already.

High Tatras Trail
July through August offers great weather but it can get busy.

Average summer weather means clear skies in the morning, and then more clouds appearing (and descending) through the day. It is advised to begin at least one hour after sunrise and get into a city or hut at least one hour prior to sunset. It can be very chilly and sometimes windy from the higher regions throughout the year, so bring warm clothing even if it's bright and warm in the valley.

You will need a good pair of shoes, a raincoat and a water bottle (water from streams or resources is generally safe to drink). It is safest not to try the harder trails on your own. If you wish to go hiking from hut to hut but not having a huge pack, leave it in the left luggage office in Poprad train station and choose what you need in a backpack.


Mlynicka and Furkotska Valley
This is a moderate hike that can take anywhere between 6 to 8 hours to complete round-trip. Some of the coolest things you’ll run across on this trek are Strbske Pleso, Furkotska valley, Wahlenberg lake, and Solisko chalet. You pretty much this from June through the end of October.

Mengusovska Valley
Another moderate hike the same as the above. It gets a little more lasting snow so the hike can only be accessed from July through the end of October. Big Hincovo Lake – the deepest lake in the High Tatras and Koprovsky Peak are the main highlights here.

Views of a Slovakian Valley - Hiking the High Tatra Mountains
Views of a Slovakian Valley

Krivan Peak and Vazecka Valley
This hike is a little tougher the previously mentioned hikes. It can take up to 8 hours or more to complete but offers great views from the of Krivan Peak. You’ll also pass through Jaske Pleso and Furkotska Valley along the way. Accessible from early July through the end of October.

Tatranska Magistrala

This is a red-marked route that crosses the Tatras from east to west, beginning at Velke Biele Pleso from the east, and continuing beyond the boundaries of the High Tatras map at the west. If you're doing a hut to hut hike this is the way to go with 6 mountain huts you can choose from along the way. This hike is open all year round.

Strbske Pleso to Tatranska Polianka
A moderately difficult hike lasting 6 to 7 hours. This trek is available year round and gets you through Popradske Pleso as you ascend the Pod Ostrvou pass. Batizovske Pleso and Velicke Pleso lake are also notable highlights.

Strbske Pleso Slovakia High Tatras
Strbske Pleso

Velka and Mala Studena Dolina
This is not an easy hike that can easily take 8 hours to complete. You can hike it from July through October. Studena creek waterfall and Tery chalet are notable highlights.

Velicka and Velka Studena Dolina

A difficult hike that's accessible in early July through the end of October. You can see the Frozen Lake, Velicky lake and waterfall during the 8 hours it takes to complete the trek.

Hrebinok to Slavkovsky Peak
Probably the easiest peak to summit in Tatra range. It's open all year with cool views from the Slavkovska viewpoint.

Velka Studena and Bielovodska Dolina
This hike can easily take up to 9 hours to complete meandering across Cold Creek, Prielom pass, and the Frozen Lake. It's open from July through October.

Valley of the Kezmarok White Water
Salviovy spring and Velka Svistovka pass are the notable highlights on this trail. It's a moderate 8-hour round-trip hike that is available all year.

View from the High Tatras
View from the High Tatra Mountains

Tatranska Lomnica to Skalnate Pleso

Generally, a moderate hike that can take up to 8 hours to complete and is available to hike year round. You've got White and Green Lake, Zadne Medodoly and Javorova valley to keep your eyes entertained.

Valley of the 7 Springs and Valley of the White Water
Rocky doors and Bujaci mountain ridge is the notable views you get from this moderate hike. The trail is open all year with the Valley of the 7 Springs and Big White Lake as additional destinations.

Mt. Rysy Peak
Climbing Mt. Rysy is a popular thing to do in the High Tatras and marks a border between Slovakia and Poland. The Slovak side is relatively easy to scale while the Polish side is significantly steeper. However, on a sunny day, you will get terrific views from the top.


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Great post from you!
Well done on the pictures, beautiful style .. creativity
Thanks for sharing..

Amazing 😃😃

the scenery is very beautiful, the atmosphere of the mountains are cool and fresh can reduce the weight of the head ....

you received an up vote from danlupi with voting power of 12.07%. Estimated dollar amount of $0.74

Awesome awesome work! Loved your photos, looking forward to more of these. I'm now a follower.

By the way, I was able to review your Minnowbooster application and approved it. You should be able to use high MB votes now. Congrats! :)

Awesome, thank you :)

Hi, thank you for contributing to Steemit! I upvoted and followed you; follow back and we can help each other succeed :)

Ohh, Tatra mountains are so beautiful. During Annapurna circuit trek few month ago we have met few guys from Slovakia and they told us so much about Tatra mountains. You were so lucky to be there during berries season, perfect timing. We're definitely going to hike there, once we will return to Europe.. Best of luck to you - Yan and Juta!

Slovakia was full of fruits!

beautiful pics thanks

nature is amazing

woooow! fantastic shots.

one of the most beautiful blog posts I've seen

This post has received votes totaling more than $50.00 from the following pay for vote services:

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Glad to finally give you a good upvote @adonisabril. :)

Keep up the good work !

If you want to chat a bit we created a discord group : https://discord.gg/W2KyAbm

You should also visit Slovenia :)
We have nice mountains as well and whole country is beautiful and diverse.
Otherwise another great post from you side. Thanks for sharing...

Been there too, just the coast though all 37 km of it :)

Nice to hear that... Every year more and more tourists are visiting our country.
From coast to our Alps there is just an hour drive... Amazing fact! You can see the sea from mountains as well :)
I am expecting post about Slovenia in the future ;)

Going to such places makes the mind calm. Get a chance to connect with nature.


Holy shit, the views are crazy up there.

It was indeed.

Amazing to come across this blog post. I worked on a major motion picture in Slovakia, and several of the places you mention were the locations for the film set. Look up "Dragonheart" from Universal Studios. What an experience. Thank you for sharing, makes me want to go back....

Dragonheart was filmed in Spis! Yes, I've been there too :)

Great article. It really deserves an upvote. 👍🏼
I'll take it as an inspiration for one of my next trips. I really liked the hiking pictures. ⛰

Slovakia is a country with natural beauty. You have proved it on your photos. I fall in love you visit this country. Meanwile, I am watching your heartbreaking photos of Slovakia. Thanks for sharing.

Yeah... The castle Spi, I've read about it and Chamois. Are they friendly?
I see had quite a very wonderful travel
Hiking seems cool around there. Travelling releases us from the daily box of experience

Not friendly lol

amazing, this is a very nice place to calm the mind, I really want to enjoy it of course the air is still fresh

such close to nature and you find it so beautiful and relaxing from day today tensions, hurdles you must net be feeling like coming back

The place is like heaven and photography is awesome.

We do have such mountain slope and natural beauty here in India on the downhill of Himalayas where it's mostly covered with ice.

Thanks for sharing and good day :)

You are most welcome :) There are 1000's of tourists every year here in India into different tourist attractions.

Hey, @adonisabril Wonderful work! your photo shot is simply amazing...

Great photos man.you should hope over to greece meteora and check out the hill top monestarys.i was there a few years ago and loved itgq.JPG

I never eat berries before. You have done extreamly a travel blog.

Your trip is amazing for us in Asia, I am very infected by your post to explore the High Tatra Mountains, hopefully one day will be achieved this desire. Thanks @adonisabril, this is a very interesting post

You got a 19.57% upvote from @postpromoter courtesy of @adonisabril!

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What a beautiful picture. The first one

This is just amazing! You should visit my country Saint Lucia next.


A professional article, great pictures. And the Tatras themselves are fabulous.

Heart touching....very beautiful, great job :)

Glad to finally give you a good upvote. :)

Keep up the good work !

You got a 31.76% upvote from @upme thanks to @adonisabril! Send at least 3 SBD or 3 STEEM to get upvote for next round. Delegate STEEM POWER and start earning 100% daily payouts ( no commission ).

Spectacular post. Quite complete that provides a colorful and full of nature.

Wow ... beautiful natural panorama with a comfortable natural atmosphere ... Take pictures with perfect technique @adonisabril

Hi, thank you for contributing to Steemit! I upvoted and followed you; follow back and we can help each other succeed :)

Hi, thank you for contributing to Steemit! I upvoted and followed you; follow back and we can help each other succeed :)

Lovely mountains. Great photo composition. Third to last photo is the best.

You got a 9.94% upvote from @upmewhale courtesy of @adonisabril!

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Excelentes paisajes amigo,algún día quisiera hacer trekking por esos lugares el montanismo es lo máximo saludos

beautiful graphics

Me gustaria tener fotos mias asi, amo con locura esos paisajes!!

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I have never been to the Tatras before, they look great. The lake location looks tranquil too.... Not too familiar with Slovakia, although i bet the Winters are good for ski-ing and i am surprised it is not up-there with the other Ski resorts....
Also looks like a decent location for mountain bikers and other outdoor pursuits.
Great post and exposure for the country man...


What an amazing view! Wow! I especially like the second picture where you are sitting at the edge of a rock. The view down to the lake is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the beauty around the world!

I would have never thought these pics were from Slovakia. You learn something new everyday, Amazing photos!

beautiful landscape, I hope and you continue enjoying your trip. Greetings.
And by the way I'm also surnamed Sabril

wow .. @adonisabril I love this publication, I love Budapest when I met her I had thoughts of living in that city for a while, but not speaking. Hungarian I'm very confronted, I'm sure I'll do this trip and the contribution of your trip will be very useful. Thank you that good history and the photography of the lakes is great I felt that I made the journey with you despite not being able to see that sunset because of the early rain.

The place is really lovely and beautiful.

Hello ! Tatra mountains is an amazing place.
I had the opportunity to visit them on the Polish side. I was enchanted by the natural beauty of that region and the exuberance of the plants and animals that grow there.
I congratulate good shots.
Regards 🙂

Whenever I watch news channels or travel through crowded city roads and see too many people there, see too many vehicles making life hell there, I begin to think that this world is not a good place. I dread of chaotic environment of cities. Our modern world has become too ugly. But whenever I see this type of post, in which nothing prevails except nature, my despair ends and life begin to seem full of beauty and grace to me. Such a beautiful place get me out of my dull life. Great post with excellent photographs. I wish to visit this country once in my life.

Perjalanan yang menyenangkan @adonisabril

Wow, Slovakian mountains look absolutely stunning. I can relate when you say "The mountains are calling and I must go". Thanks for that article!

Very beautiful & neat and clean post. Thanks for the nice job.

I am in awe of the natural beauty of this country, its either your camera is really good or the country is just this beautiful.

Wow. Its a beautiful scenery. Maybe i'll visit there someday

Please visit me I have followed you. I also share travel experiences.

Nice views, we are also surrounded with mountains here in our place in the Philippines.

I am glad the roads are well developed now. When I was driving years ago in the area, they were full of pot-holes and I did great amount of damage accidentally getting into them. The worse of this was main road from Poprad to Tatranska Lomnica.

It was also mid-winter and I was there for the ski season. That made the unsalted roads badly marked and unlit roads much worse to drive much more challenging. I remember once a deer jumped out of the woods in front of the car and having avoid it, I drove the car directly into a ditch... with the butt of the rental car right up in the air, that was quite a challenge getting out of the car.
Thankfully the locals who happen to pass by were really friendly and helped me winch the car out of the metre deep (3 feet) snow. :D

Slovakia seems to be a beautiful place with wonderful natures. The fruit you held on your palms, what is it called? Does it have any economic use? Your post is educative.

Very informative post with really some cool images.Thanks for sharing..

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