Europe > Central Europe > Slovakia > Eastern Slovakia > High Tatras
Vysoké Tatry (High Tatras) is a National Park in Slovakia, mostly consisting of the High Tatras mountain range. As the mountains form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland, a smaller part of the mountain range is located in Poland where it is Tatra National Park.
- Javorina Spiska
- Štrbské Pleso
- Tatranska Kotlina
- Tatranska Lomnica
- Starý Smokovec
- Tatranská štrba
High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) stretch in the northern part of Slovakia bordering Poland and belong to Carpathian mountain range. High Tatras are divided into three parts Western, High and Belianske Tatras. High Tatras belong to the national park (TANAP) and also are registered in UNESCO because many protected animals and plants are found in High Tatras. High Tatras consist of peaks, mountain lakes and basins. The highest peaks are Gerlachovský štít (2655), Kriváň (2494), Rysy (2499) and Lomnický štít (2632m). Gerlachovský štít is the highest peak in Slovakia rising to 2655m above the sea level.
In November 2004 a huge storm destroyed a part of the forest and disturbed natural fauna and flora, but most of the damage has been cleared away. The trees that used to protect the soil from erosion are gone now and the topsoil is being exposed to rain and erosion. The disaster did not have such catastrophic impact on tourism, and all ski centers, hotels and cottages go on providing their services. To High Tatras indisputably belong Poprad that is a town stretching below High Tatras offering a beautiful town center, various types of accommodation, small air port for tourists and incredible view at High Tatras scenery.
As most towns in the region are connected to the rail network, this is one of the fastest and most convenient ways of getting into High Tatras. There are 9 express IC standard trains operating between Bratislava and Košice, the 'Tatran' ,'Kriváň', 'Gerlach', 'Rysy', 'Chopok' and another 4 untitled IC trains which all stop in Poprad-Tatry.
If you're coming from Prague (Czech Republic), and want to get as much time in for sightseeing as possible, consider the overnight trains. EN 'Slovakia' leaves Prague in the evening (get a full day in Prague), and you can get a very cheap ticket for a sleeper booth, plus you wake up in the Tatras with the whole day in front of you. EC 'Košičan' leaves Prague in the morning and comes to Poprad-Tatry in the afternoon. Both operating between Prague and Košice.
From the same station Poprad-Tatry operates tram connection directly to Stary Smokovec, Strbske Pleso and Tatranska Lomnica with many stops along the way. All of that stops are in Vysoké Tatry region.
From Czech Republic Austria, west and east Slovakia you can use a motorway 'D1', from Hungary roads of 1 class and part of motorway 'R1'. Connection from Poland is a bit more complicated, with only one road connecting Zakopane and the Slovak part of the High Tatras through the border check point in Lysá Poľana.
For those wishing to travel from Krakow:
There are many buses, every twenty minutes of so during daytime, to take you from Krakow to Zakopane on the Polish side. Journey is about 2.5 hours.
From there, there are buses connecting Zakopane on the Polish side of the border with Stary Smokovec and Poprad. These run from out-front of the bus station where you will be deposited. However, many only run in peak season (which, in the summer, starts from June 16). The bus company's name is Strama. You will see the signs out front of the bus depot. Check their website for exact times. Last one is about 5PM. There are approximately four daily.
When these busses do not operate, simply go across the road from the bus station, and get a bus to Lysa Polana, which costs about 10 zł. Takes about 20 minutes. From where you will be dropped off, cross a small bridge up 50m and to the left and you will be in Slovakia - there is a small restaurant, gift shop, and another small shop on the border, where you can change remaining złoty for Euros, should you not yet have any. There are no ATMs.
From there, there is a bus which waits at the top end of the carpark which runs through the Vsyoke Tatry to Poprad, about once every hour or two. It costs €2.2 for a single ticket. Journey time is about 30 or 40 minutes to Stary Smokovec.
There are also flight connections available through the Poprad Airport.
If you are on a hiking trip, it is possible to cross from Poland on foot at several places.
Transportation and orientation in High Tatras is very easy. Trains, cog railway, cable railways, and trams these are possibilities how to get to any locality in High Tatras. If you want to see High Tatras from bird's perspective you can take the cable railway from Tatranská Lomnica to Lomnicky štít or take a tram and travel under the highest peaks and take delight in magnificent nature. The easiest access to High Tatras is from Poprad or Tatranská Štrba where are two main railway stations with an access to cog railways or trams leaving for the mountains.
The trains running between Strbske Pleso, Poprad and Tatranska Lomnica are an inexpensive way to get around, although the schedules are not the most convenient. Trains run mostly one per hour, and unfortunately the schedules do not always overlap. Coming back to Strbske Pleso from Tatranska Lomnica can take nearly two hours on account of the schedules. For convenience sake, either rent a car or stay in Poprad as all the trains come through High Tatra towns and then onto Poprad on a regular basis.
While trams are often the most convenient option, the villages and towns in the region are also connected by roads, so driving is always an option, though you might have to pay for parking.
There is a great variety of hiking and cycling trails as well.
The purchase of the tourist map of High Tatras is highly recommended, as they are cheap and show a very detailed map of High tatras with all the hiking trails marked along with the time it takes to walk them. There are numerous opportunities for hiking, depending on the fitness level of the hiker, ranging from an easy stroll to a difficult all day hikes.
Popular all day trips include:
High Tatras do not just offer opportunities for hiking but also for different kind of sport activities. Snow conditions during the winter are perfect for skiing or snowboarding. Funiculars are accessible to many alpine localities, such as Solisko (1840m) or Skalnata chata (1751m) where tourists can take another funicular and go to Lomnicky štít (2632m) and see whole Tatras below. In High Tatras it is possible to ski in nine localities and each one consist of two to nine slopes. Cycling is other activitie that is very interesting for people who love adrenalin. Cyclists can choose either between asphalt or field roads. Different kind of roads with various level of difficulty are suitable for less or more demanding people.
Skalnatá chata in Skalnatá dolina, Zamkovského chata in Mala Studena dolina, Téryho chata in Malá Studená dolina, Bilíkova chata in Hrebienok, Rainerova chata, Mountain hotel Sliezsky dom in Velická dolina, Mountain hotel at Popradské pleso, the highest cottage Chata pod Rysmi offer accommodation to hikers on the road. Among others, these cottages are located in high altitudes above the sea level. Each cottage offers accommodation and food and most of them offer their service just during the summer because of bad access condition during the winter.
The most attractive cottage is a cottage Chata pod Rysmi (2250m) for hikers who look for a difficult ascent. This cottage was built in 1932 and in 1977 was enlarged and now offers 14 beds for 300sk each. Teryho chata (cottage) (2015m) is situated in Mala Studena Dolina and is the highest cottage accessible all year round. This cottage is attractive for tourists who want to see incredible scenery either in winter or summer. The cost for one bed is 360Sk or emergency accommodation in your sleeping bag for 260Sk. Sliezky Dom is the highest situated hotel in Slovakia 1670m above the sea level and offers 123 beds. (www.vysoketatry.com)