Put it on your bucket list: Tatra Mountains Hiking
The Tatra Mountains are a range that form a natural border between the nations of Slovakia and Poland. As the highest range in the Carpathians, they occupy an area larger than 300 square miles. Both of the countries appreciate the beauty of these natural settings, so the Tatras are made up of two national parks (one on each side of the border). However, the majority of the range is in Slovakia, so this is also the location of most of the worthwhile hikes. Camping is generally forbidden within the parks, but they have shelters spread throughout the parks for when sleeping is necessary.
As both countries are members of the European Union, most areas are easily accessible because of quality infrastructure. Another benefit is that they aren’t as crowded as more famous areas of the world, but still have quick access to quality medical care should any accidents occur.
This list will start with the longest hike to make everything else seem easy in comparison. This is a 26 mile (42 kilometer) route that travels the western-eastern length of the Tatras. It’s estimated to take around 16 hours to complete this trail, but there are huts throughout the route if you want to spend a night. Additionally, the official start and finish points are small villages with limited accommodation, so you may need to add some extra distance to find somewhere else to sleep. However, it’s definitely worth it to get such an overview of the Tatras in one hike.
This three peaked mountain has points in both countries—one in Poland, and two in Slovakia. To make it more interesting, you will have varying levels of difficulty depending on which side of this 8,212 foot mountain you decide ascend. The Polish side is the more challenging of the two, but it includes a beautiful lake that justifies the extra effort. And if you really feel up to a challenge, you can cross the border from side into the other.
Popradske Pleso to Koprovsky Stit
Although this is a return trip, the amazing views make up for the lack of diverse scenery. It takes you above tree line where you will be able to see some impressive peaks, including Mt. Rysy. The route even travels past the highest lakes in Slovakia that still contain fish.
Hrebienok, Slavkovský Peak
This is a nice journey that starts from a small ski resort and heads up an 8,045 foot peak. There is nothing spectacular about this trek, but it is a very accessible route for those days when you want to do something simple and save some energy.
Veľká Studená and Bielovodská Dolina
For a hike that’s slightly longer and more challenging, try taking a trip up the Bielovodská Valley. It’s a massive valley with a lot of nice views and vegetation. This trip is spectacular for anyone with an interest in photography.
Tatranská Lomnica, Javorová Valley
Heading up this valley lined with limestone peaks can also add a little diversity to your hiking schedule. It’s a medium level difficulty, but it offers you the opportunity to ride a mountain funicular for some extra excitement.
Kriváň Peak is the national symbol of Slovakia, so you can show your respect to national pride by hiking it. When you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with views of both the Slovak and Polish Tatras.