The High Tatras is a breathtaking mountain range where you can enjoy hikes on epic trails! In this ultimate guide for planning a trip to the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, you’ll learn all about exploring the High Tatras: how to get there, what to do, and essential information to know before you head out on your grand adventure!
Table of contents
About the High Tatras
How to get to the High Tatras
Best time to visit the High Tatras
How to get Around the High Tatras
High Tatras Map
Where to stay in the High Tatras
Where to Eat in the High Tatras
Things to do in the High Tatras
Dangers in the High Tatras
Interesting Facts about the High Tatras
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About High Tatras
Slovakia is known around the world for its unique folk architecture, grand medieval castles, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure sports, particularly ski resorts. Its excellent infrastructure makes it a very accessible country for international travelers, and information in English is widely available especially at tourist attractions such as tours, trails, and transportation centers. Slovakia is an excellent adventure travel destination.
The High Tatras range is the smallest alpine mountain range in the world, although it is also considered a part of the larger Carpathian range. The jewel of the High Tatras is Mount Kriváň (2,495 m), and its famous curved profile is an important symbol in Slovak art and culture. When the Slovak people voted to choose a national symbol for the back of the Slovak Euro coins, Mount Kriváň came in second place.
The highest peaks in Slovakia are found in the High Tatras, and many of them are along the Polish border. The popular Mount Rysy, straddling the border of Slovakia and Poland, is the Poland’s tallest peak, although it is only the seventh highest in Slovakia.
In addition to world-renowned ski resorts, the High Tatras region boasts over 600 km of marked hiking trails. Long-distance hikers enjoy the Tatranská Magistrála trail, which stretches 72 km and connects the eastern edges of the High Tatras to the westernmost points of the region.
A visit to the High Tatras is very affordable when compared to other parts of Europe. End the day with a tall, cold glass of beer for only €2.50. You can also enjoy a meal with generous portions in a local mountain chalet near Zelene Pleso, for example, for about €7. Get more adventure on a smaller budget with a trip to the High Tatras!
Ready for an amazing High Tatras adventure trip? Let’s start planning!
How to get to the High Tatras
The High Tatras are remote enough to offer spectacular wilderness, but the area is still easily accessed thanks to a well-developed infrastructure.
Flying to the High Tatras
The easiest and fastest way to reach the Tatras National Park is by flying. There is an airport in the historic city of Poprad that is just a 30-minute drive from the High Tatras. The small Poprad-Tatry Airport (TAT) offers regular flights year-round to and from London’s Luton Airport (LTN), as well as seasonal service from Riga and Kiev.
From the Poprad airport, the Poprad-Tatry train line can take you to the High Tatras in about 25 minutes. Bus routes are also available, but since these typically don’t save time or money, we recommend the train.
While Poprad is the closest airport, larger airports can usually offer better prices, broader schedules, and many more destinations. Other airports within a reasonable driving distance are:
- Košíce Airport (Slovakia) – 2h drive
- Krakow Airport (Poland) – 2h 45min drive
- Bratislava Airport (Slovakia) – 3h 30min drive
- Vienna International Airport (Austria) – 4h 25min drive
- Budapest Airport (Hungary) – 4h 25min drive
Driving to the High Tatras
If you are planning to drive to the High Tatras, use this information to help you plan how your driving time and basic route from the following major cities:
- Košíce to the High Tatras via E50 – 2h drive
- Krakow to the High Tatras via Zakopianka – 2h 45min drive
- Bratislava to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 3h 30min drive
- Vienna to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 4h 25min drive
- Budapest to the High Tatras via route 21 – 4h 25min drive
Best time to visit High Tatras
Plan your trip around the activities you’re interested in and the typical High Tatras weather.
Ski resorts typically open for the season in mid-to-late December and remain open until March or April. If you’re planning a ski trip in the High Tatras, the best snow is likely to be found in January and February.
For hiking and other adventure sports, plan your visit for sometime between mid-June and late October. The famous Tatranska Magistrala trail as well as trails to most mountain huts and several beautiful lake hikes are open all year, but most trails are closed between November 1 and June 15. If you plan your visit between June 15 and October 31, you will have more opportunities to experience the best of the Tatras.
Keep in mind that the Tatras is a popular destination in the summer and many of the best locations can be crowded. Despite the crowds, many people enjoy the events and festivals that are held during the summer months. It is also worth noting that higher peaks, such as Mount Rysy, are often still snow covered until mid-July, so more hiking options are available later in the summer. If you want to avoid the peak season crowds, you’ll find excellent weather and smaller crowds by visiting In September.
How to get around in High Tatras
Getting around in the High Tatra mountains is easy and convenient thanks to the Tatra Electric Railways system. All mountain resorts including the larger city of Poprad are connected. The trains run frequently and stop in every small village in the area, so you can always reach the trailhead you’re looking for with a simple walk from the train station.
While it is possible to travel by car, it can be difficult to find available parking near the popular trails and parking can be very expensive (up to €10 to park for 4 hours). Parking a car at a trailhead can also be complicated if you’d like to hike a trail that ends in a different place than it starts. Most hikers prefer to leave their cars parked at the hotel and use the train to save time and money.
A single one-way ride on the Tatra Electric Railways costs only €2 EUR, but if you are riding frequently it is worth purchasing a week-long free-ride pass for €14. If you’re staying long enough to take advantage of it, a month-long pass is just €16.
High Tatras map
Use this map to help you plan your trip as you see what attractions are available and how you can get between them.
Where to stay in High Tatras
There are three major resort locations in the High Tatras where travelers come to relax and play: Štrbské Pleso, Starý Smokovec, and Tatranská Lomnica. You can find quality High Tatras hotels in all of these locations and any of these three is a wonderful choice for your stay in the High Tatras.
Hotels in Štrbské Pleso
Štrbské Pleso is a scenic resort town in the western Tatras near a breathtaking lake with the same name. It is popular with families and there is plenty of great hiking near Štrbské Pleso.
Popular hotels in Štrbské Pleso are the Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras, which is the only 5-star hotel in the High Tatras region, and Hotel Patria which is often featured in pictures of Štrbské Pleso due to its unique design resembling Mount Patria. Both hotels are in beautiful locations.
Hotels in Starý Smokovec
Starý Smokovec is another popular resort town, conveniently located in the central region of the High Tatras. There is a hub here for the Tatras Electric Railway that makes it easy to explore the whole region. In Starý Smokovec the place to stay is the Grand Hotel Stary Smokovec. You’ll enjoy the finest hospitality and art nouveau style at this historic hotel built in 1904.
Hotels in Tatranská Lomnica
On the eastern side of the Tatras, Tatranská Lomnica is a resort town that’s famous for its world-class skiing. The area around Tatranská Lomnica is home to the highest peaks in the High Tatras as well as a cable car to Lomnický štít. You have two great options for a memorable stay in Lomnica: Hotel Slovan, which is a traditional Slovak-style 3-star hotel, or the Kukučka Hotel, which is a newly-built 4-star hotel featuring timber-style mountain decor and wellness facilities.
Other great options to stay in the Tatra Mountains
While the major resort towns have a lot to offer, budget travelers can significantly reduce their expenses by avoiding these tourist hubs and choosing to stay in a small village. There are a number of small villages along the electric railway line that are very convenient.
We can personally recommend the Privát Nataša Hotel in the village of Nová Lesná. In Stará Lesná, the Penzion Deni hotel is another wonderful and affordable option. Consult the electric railway map to discover which lovely small villages are convenient for exploring the Tatra mountains region.
Mountain chalets are great options for multi-day hikes and they are typically a great value for the price. The Rysy Mountain Chalet is popular with hikers due to its location about halfway along a trail between Poland and Slovakia. Téryho chata is another beautiful mountain that offers a bit of a challenge to reach it.
City lovers can stay in Poprad and be in the mountains within 30 minutes. When selecting a Poprad hotel, be sure to stay close to the Tatra Electric Railways station for convenience. We like the Penzión Slávia Hotel in Poprad. It is in a great location and offers clean, cozy rooms for a very affordable rate.
Where to eat in the High Tatras
In Štrbské Pleso: For families traveling with children, don’t miss Furkotka. This family-friendly restaurant features a kid’s corner and a children’s menu. They also offer vegan and vegetarian options. Another great option is the Koliba Patria, located inside the Hotel Patria. Select from a great selection of local cuisine while you enjoy stunning lake views.
Starý Šmokovec: The Central Restaurant is a steakhouse that delights meat lovers with steaks, burgers, barbecue ribs, and more. The Koliba Kamzik serves great European and Slovak food and features live folk music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tatranská Lomnica: In Tatranská Lomnica, the Grill Pub Restaurant is a great option, offering both European staples and traditional Slovak food at affordable prices.
Other Locations: If you want to try authentic Slovak cuisine in a cozy, traditional restaurant don’t miss the Koliba Žerucha in Tatranská Štrba. Be sure to try the tripe soup. In the village of Nová Lesná, try the Koliba Tatry, a small restaurant where you can also find authentic local dishes for affordable prices.
Things to do in High Tatras
Outdoor enthusiasts will find many things to do in High Tatras. The most popular activities are hiking, skiing, and climbing, but you will also find some truly unique experience available in this wonderful region as well.
Hiking in the High Tatras
There are so many great hikes in the High Tatras that you could never try them all on one trip. Whether you are looking for something short and easy or a longer challenge that will test your skills and endurance, there are multiple options available.
Challenge seekers shouldn’t miss the incredible Mount Rysy hike. On the border between Slovakia and Poland, Mount Rysy is the highest peak in the region that you can climb to without a guide. For a test of your endurance, the Zelené Pleso hike takes you over 20 km of some of the most beautiful scenery in the Tatras. Beautiful landscapes and views are also available on a much easier stroll along the Štrbské Pleso Lake trail. There is truly something for everyone, so don’t visit the High Tatras without take a hike!
Skiing in High Tatras
Skiing in the High Tatras is both affordable and easily accessible. In the three major resort towns, Štrbské Pleso, Starý Smokovec and Tatranská Lomnica, you’ll find a total of 24km of pistes and 60km of nordic ski trails. Snow transforms the High Tatras region into a spectacular winter wonderland, so you’re sure to enjoy incredible skiing in a stunning mountain environment.
Climbing in High Tatras
There is incredible climbing available in the High Tatras with a variety of different types of features and levels of difficulty. The national park regulations state that climbing activities are only permitted for those who are members of a climbing club who have their membership card available upon request. If you’re qualified, climbing is permitted almost anywhere in the park, with a few exceptions. More information can be found directly from the High Tatras National Park.
Other Can’t-Miss Activities in the High Tatras
Lomnický štít Cable Car: Visit Lomnický štít (Lomnický peak), Slovakia’s second-highest peak, by cable car. The historic cable car takes about 9 minutes each direction and holds 4 people at a time. Since a limited number of visitors can be accommodated each day, it is necessary reserve your ticket in advance. For many, the price feels almost as steep as the ride (€39 per person round trip from Tatranska Lomnica) but if your budget allows, you won’t regret visiting the peak that is widely considered to be the most beautiful place in Slovakia.
Poliankovo Gallery: Visit the Poliankovo Gallery in Tatranská Polianka, where you’ll find an impressive digital gallery showcasing both travel and wildlife visualizations by a famous Slovak film director and traveler, Pavel Barabas. Many exhibits promote environmental awareness and wildlife preservation. Enjoy this unique gallery in an intimate location and be sure to stop in their lovely cafe for refreshments.
Belianska Cave: Located in Tatranská Kotlina, the Belianska Cave is the largest cave in the High Tatras that is open to the public. Researchers are unsure how this incredible stalactite cave formed. Its unusual formations have been explored for over 125 years. Cave tours take 70 minutes along a path that is over 1,300 m long.
Boating on Štrbské Pleso: Rent a boat for a relaxing afternoon on the pristine Štrbské Pleso lake. There are 18 wooden boats available to rent, as well as a sport boat. If your adventures have you feeling tired, you can even hire a private rower to take you out on the lake. Don’t be surprised if you spot a few wedding boats during your excursion.
Dangers when hiking in High Tatras
Hiking and other outdoor adventures always carry some inherent risks. Safety considerations for the High Tatras are similar to many other mountain regions. Be sure to choose trails that fit your fitness and abilities. Pack a first aid kit and other safety essentials such as communication devices, food, water, and emergency shelter. A few things to specifically pay attention to in the High Tatras region are:
- Beware of any remaining snow on the trails during the first half of the summer. If traveling prior to mid-July, be sure to check the snow conditions at the tourist information center before hitting the trail.
- Keep tabs on the weather forecast. Sudden hail storms and thunderstorms can develop in the mountains even if the day begins sunny and clear. Though such storms are rare, it can be very dangerous to be caught unprepared on an exposed peak.
- Be sure to use sunscreen. Sunburns are more common at higher altitudes, in part because the cooler temperatures can cause hikers to pay less attention to their sun exposure.
- Keep a safe distance from wild animals when hiking, and never try to approach them. It is rare to spot bears or wolves in populated areas but be aware that these animals are found in the surrounding remote areas.
Interesting facts about High Tatras
How high are the Tatra Mountains?
The highest peak in the High Tatras is Gerlachovský štít which is 2,655 m (8,711 ft) tall. These mountains do not have elevations high enough for visitors to be concerned with altitude acclimatization.
Are there bears in Tatra Mountains?
There are an estimated 800 brown bears in Slovakia, the majority of which live in the mountainous areas of northern Slovakia including the High Tatras. Bears generally avoid populated areas, but take reasonable precautions when hiking and maintain a safe distance should you spot one.
Interesting and Important Information about the High Tatras:
- Learning a few key Slovak words can be fun and useful in preparing for your High Tatras trip:
pleso = lake
štít = peak
dolina = valley
sedlo = saddle
chata = chalet
vodopád = waterfall
- Most tourists in the region are Czech, Polish, and German. Therefore, most tourism services are available in Slovak, Polish, and German. English is less popular but still relatively common.
- Find an opportunity to sample Kofola, a soft drink in Slovakia and Czech Republic. Though Slovaks and Czechs typically like it, It is rare for anyone else to appreciate it. What do you think?
- Every winter, sculptors create a new Ice Dome in Hrebienok with a different theme every year. It’s a free attraction so if you visit in the winter, don’t miss it.
- At the observatory on the peak of Lomnický štít there is a collection of 22 plants that gain the distinction of Slovakia’s highest altitude botanical garden.
You’re now ready to plan a thrilling adventure in the High Tatras mountain range in Slovakia! Have a great trip and be sure to rate your favorite hikes on our trail guides so that others can easily find them!