In this blog post I would like to present you the best hikes in the Tatra mountains in Slovakia. I guess there are lot of people who are not going to agree with me, but this is just list of my favorites. If you are planning to go hiking into this area, you can take this list as an inspiration. All these hikes are of medium or difficult level and they require certain level of fitness. However to make them easier, you can walk just a part of it. Some of them involve scrambling too, so you should be confident on those parts.
I recommend you to start hiking as soon as possible in the morning, let´s say at 7 o´clock. Especially in summer when the weather is not so stable with high chance of lightning storms in the afternoon. At that time you want to be already on the way back or already back in the hotel.
You will be passing by numerous lakes during these hikes. But remember that swimming in lakes is strictly forbidden, because of protection. You know, we all use various deodorants, sunscreens, etc, which definitely don´t belong in crystal clear water of the lakes. The water in lakes is too cold anyway, so don´t be sad. 😉
The best time for hiking in Tatra mountains
In my opinion, the very best time to go hiking and walk these hikes is the Indian summer. But because we never know, when it´s going to happen, I would just recommend to come and hike in September. The weather is not so hot, is more stable with less unexpected lightning storms and the trails are less busy.
The disadvantage is that there are almost no flowers or forest fruit to try. So in this case you should come in late July to still see some flowers, but most importantly have some fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
Closure of hiking trails in Tatra mountains
You also have to keep in mind, that all of these hikes are open from 15th June till 31st October. If you walk these hikes before 15th June or later than 31st October, you are going to break the law and you can get a fine.
Where can we have a lunch?
3 of these hikes are passing by a mountain hut or hotel, where it´s possible to have lunch or just a drink. I mention how to handle your lunch for each hike separately.
Now, finally let´s get to our list of top 5 hikes.
1. PEAK KOPROVSKY
Length: 21 km │ Level: Difficult │ Est. time: 8 hrs
Peak Koprovsky (2 374m asl) is situated right in the middle of Tatra mountains and you are going to have an amazing panorama view from its top. You will see the West Tatras in the west and High Tatras peaks in the east. The trail goes along the biggest and deepest lake in Slovak Tatra mountains – Lake Hincovo pleso. Great spot on the way to the top to have a break. This place might be even your final destination, where you can turn around and go back if your break will be longer than it should be and you will not feel like going any further. 😉
The starting point is in Strbske Pleso and the way up is the same as the way down. Strbske pleso is an interesting place in itself. It´s because of a beautiful lake with same name as the village – Lake Strbske pleso. Strbske pleso is reachable by tram, which operates in the Tatra mountains and go through small villages.
Peak Koprovsky is an alternative hike to very famous Peak Rysy. They don´t lie too far away from each other, but the views are very similar. Peak Koprovsky is not so crowded, therefore I like it more. Peak Rysy is the highest peak of Poland and lies right on the borders of Slovakia. There are too many hikers on top, because they are coming up from both countries.
LUNCH – Have enough food and water with you, because there is no place to stop for lunch at lunchtime. You can just stop for food on the way back in the afternoon by Lake Popradske pleso in one of the restaurants situated there.
2. VELKA SVISTOVKA AND LAKE GREEN
Length: 16,5 km │ Level: Moderate │ Est. time: 6 hrs
This hike is one of my favourite. It´s because approximately in the middle you will come to a beautiful Lake Green (Zelene pleso), surrounded by 2500m high majestic peaks. There is a hut with great food, drinks and terrace with spectacular views. But before you get there, take a cable car to Skalnate pleso from Tatranska Lomnica and then walk up to peak Velka Svistovka (2034m asl). From the peak, walk down to the lake and walk all the way back to the village of Tatranska Lomnica.
The one way cable car ticket from Tatranska Lomnica to Skalnate pleso costs around 16 EUR/person. Skalnate pleso is a place situated in the altitude of 1700 m and lies right below the second highest peak of Slovakia – Peak Lomnicky. The cable car operates from 8:30.
If you are going to be fast and would like to make this hike longer, it´s possible. And to do so, you can continue hiking further from Lake Green (Zelene pleso) to Lake Big White (Velke Biele pleso), which lies in-between the High and Belianske Tatras. Over there you will need to turn right and follow the blue trail in direction Tatranska Lomnica. This extension will make your hike about 30 minutes and 1,5 km longer.
When you will be walking around peak Velka Svistovka, try to look for chamoix (mountain goats) or as we say in Slovak “kamzíky”. Often it´s possible to see them in this area. Not every time, but pretty often.
You should also keep in mind that there is a part secured with chains, when going down from peak Velka Svistovka into Valley of the Green Lake. Unfortunately this part is at the very bottom of the descent, so you can´t go, have a look and decide after. You would have to go all the way up, what would be pretty demanding. You can´t be afraid of heights to go down this part!
LUNCH – Have enough snacks, fruits and water. You are going to be passing a mountain hut at around lunch time where you can have some proper food.
3. LOOP HIKE THROUGH MLYNICKA AND FURKOTSKA VALLEYS
Length: 15,9 km │ Level: Difficult │ Est. time: 6:30 hrs
We are getting to 3rd hike, which is a circle hike. This trail starts again at Strbske Pleso, similar as the first hike. The trail takes you through Mlynicka and Furkotska valleys, along waterfall Skok and couple of crystal clear lakes and also through a mountains pass – Bystra lavka (2314 m. a.s.l.). The mountain pass is secured with chains and involves little bit of scrambling. This trail is anticlockwise, so you should walk from Mlynicka to Furkotska valley. However there are always some people, who either don´t know about this rule or they simple don´t respect it.
The waterfall Skok belongs to the most impressive waterfalls of Slovakia. It´s about 30m high but quite big especially in late June and beginning of July, because of melting snow.
There is an option, how to make the hike easier. When you will be already walking back down from the mountain pass through Furkotska valley, you can actually turn left when you come to signpost Skutnasta polana and after about 15 mins you will get to top station of a chair lift below peak Predne Solisko and above the village Strbske pleso. If you feel tired, you can simply buy one way ticket for the way down and just enjoy the ride.
On the other hand, if this hike is going to be too easy, you can go to the place with a chair lift anyway, but instead of going down with a chair lift, you can hike up to peak Predne Solisko and then walk back down and back to Strbske pleso. It´s just an idea.
LUNCH – Have enough food and water with you, because there is no place to stop for lunch at lunchtime.
4. LOOP HIKE THROUGH COLD VALLEYS
Length: 23,5 km │ Level: Very Difficult │ Est. time: 9:30 hrs
Attention! The mountain pass – Priecne sedlo (2 352m asl) is secured with chains with loads of scrambling and really exposed and rugged terrain. People afraid of heights or children should avoid going through this mountain pass, because it´s really dangerous. But if you are an experienced hiker, you will probably enjoy it. According to a general rule, you should walk from Mala to Velka Studena dolina (from Small to Big Cold valley), not in opposite direction.
The whole hike is spectacular. Get ready to walk along numerous smaller and bigger lakes, majestic peaks and also couple of mountain huts. If you don´t feel like going through the mountain pass, you can divide this hike into 2 days and hike to each of the valleys on different days.
While walking this trail, you can try to look for a fox, which is friendly to hikers and usually it´s possible to meet her nearby Rainerova chata hut. Later when hiking in higher altitude of the valleys, you will be probably able to see mountain goats.
To make this hike shorter and easier, you may use the funicular to get to Hrebienok from Stary Smokovec. It operates from 8:30 in the morning till 18:30 in the evening. The return ticket costs 9 EUR/person.
When you will be at Hrebienok, you can also go and see the waterfalls of Cold Stream – Vodopady Studeneho Potoka. It´s just a short extension, but worth of seeing.
LUNCH – Have enough snacks, fruits and water with you. You will be passing 3 different mountain huts, where you can stop for food.
5. ALONG THE BELIANSKE TATRAS
Length: 20 km │ Level: Medium │ Est. time: 6 hrs
Belianske Tatras is the easternmost part of the Tatra mountains and you can walk all along this mountain range within one day. Belianske Tatras looks different from the rest of the Tatra mountains. It´s because it consists of dolomites. It´s home to colonies of marmots, herds of chamoix (mountain goats) and rich flora. It´s not such a rare sight to see a herd of chamoix crossing your way, so keep your eyes open.
Usually I start this hike in Tatranska Javorina and I walk to Tatranska Kotlina through valley Zadne medodoly and mountain pass – Kopske sedlo. There is a cozy mountain hut on the way called Plesnivec (Edelweiss). The name is inspired by the flower Edelweiss, which grows in Belianske Tatras.
To do the hike this way, you will need to use public transportation. Recommended way is to drive your car to the car park in Tatranska Kotlina, get on a bus in direction Lysa Polana and get off in Tatranska Javorina, which is the starting point.
The logistics of this hike is more complicated, but I like it because of changing landscapes and also because of the terrain. Unlike in the rest of High Tatras mountains the trails are completely covered with big rocks and stones, the terrain of this trail is almost without any big stones, what makes hiking there very pleasant.
LUNCH – Have enough food and water with you, because there is no place to stop for lunch at lunchtime. Later in the afternoon you will be passing mountain hut Plesnivec.