Situated in northern Slovakia, the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) contains majestic peaks and mountainous views that go on for miles. As one of us is Slovakian, you could say we are slightly bias but nevertheless, the Tatras is one of our favourite places to visit. The tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains with some peaks measuring above 2500m.
We’ve been in the rain and the sunshine and it never ceases to take our breath away, whether it’s blue skies or a thunderstorm in the distance. Having only been there for some challenging hikes and lovely mountain air, we are unable to comment on the skiing side but that’s supposed to be equally as fun!
How to get there and when to go?
The easiest way to get to the mountains is by flying to Poprad-Tatry airport then getting the train. The airport has really good links to the train and the whole High Tatras region has a modern low floor electric tram system provided by ZSSK that makes travelling around really easy.
The three main areas where you will find the most restaurants, supermarkets and connections to hiking trails are Štrbské Pleso, Starý Smokovec and Tatranská Lomnica. If you can, it’s great to stay in one of these three however as the trams run regularly and throughout all the stops, it doesn’t really matter where you stay along the route. It can also be a bit cheaper to stay in one of the smaller areas so you can plan your trip around your budget.
You can buy a daily ticket from the ZSSK machine and use it as much as you like for €4. The other option is to pay by distance but the daily ticket gives you the most freedom. Always remember to stamp your train ticket with one of the stamping machines as soon as you begin your journey - the ticket is only valid with a stamp. For more information please visit Slovak Rail.
Depending on what it is you want to do will dictate when the best time to go is. From November to mid-June, the highest trails are closed due to snow. July and August are the warmer and busiest months whilst June and July can be much rainier. To take advantage of off-peak prices and fewer people, the best time to go is October to November or April to May.
Where to stay?
There’re a number of options for accommodation in the region ranging from budget to complete luxury. As more budget travellers, we tend to go for affordable/budget with the hope of an upgrade.
One place that really stands out is Apartmanový Dom TatraTravel Smokovec, we were lucky enough to stay there when it was pretty unknown so managed to get a great deal. It’s a bit more expensive now but well worth it. There’s an amazing hot tub in the building that you can use at any time and the views from the apartments are stunning. As two vegans, we mainly stay in apartments so we can cook for ourselves when needed, which is most of the time.
Set up by a couple of travellers, the Ginger Monkey hostel offers up more budget accommodation with dorm rooms available from £12 ish a night. You can easily find budget hotels for about £30 a night or splash out on more luxury with the iconic hotel Patria, looking out onto Štrbské Pleso, for around €127 per night.
What to do?
Now it’s time for the hiking. There are plenty of options to satisfy a range of abilities. If you want a bit of a head start, you can take the cable cars part way up the mountains then hike the rest, it’s all very flexible. With about 600km of labelled tourists routes, there is an abundance of trails that are easy to find and completely free! Grab a walking map from the tourist information and start exploring!