5 Reasons to Go Hiking in Slovakia’s High Tatras

Our week spent in the High Tatras in Slovakia was not quite the hiking extravaganza that we thought it was going to be for one simple reason: it rained. A lot.

And by “a lot”, I mean that it rained 5 of the 6 days that we were in the area, some of those for the entire day.

When it wasn’t raining, the weather spent most of its time creating a thick fog that obscured the mountain range so thoroughly, we often couldn’t tell that there was a mountain right in front of us!

jeremy storm hiking high tatras slovakia, overlooking a valley
Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Basically, a pessimist could sum up our week hiking in the High Tatras as shoulder season travel doesn’t always pay off (which in and of itself is a great travel tip for Europe), and perhaps we would have been better off checking out other great places in Slovakia instead or even sticking around Bratislava longer than the couple days we did (especially considering how inexpensive Bratislava is!).

We don’t choose to look at it that way, though.

Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Beyond: Epic Central Europe Itinerary

While we did get wetter than we planned, hike fewer miles than we planned, and walk away with fewer pictures than we planned–we still adored hiking in the High Tatras.

Here’s why we loved Slovakia’s High Tatras–and why we recommend mountain lovers visit the High Tatras (though not necessarily in the shoulder season like us!).

strbske pleso with rowboats in the foreground and hotel in the background

The High Tatras are incredibly gorgeous.

Forget foothills–the High Tatras rise up out of the ground suddenly, leaving acres of flat farmland abruptly interrupted by the insertion of beautiful mountains.

It makes for quite the sight when driving toward the High Tatras National Park (“Vysoke Tatry” in Slovakian), and the views inside the park continue to get better.

21 Offbeat + Cheap European Destinations to Visit

We hurried outside during every second of sunlight we received, eager to bask in the views of the mountains at their prettiest: sunlight reflecting off the mountain lakes, flowers lit up colorfully, and the mountains cleared of fog all the way to the top, leaving their peaks exposed and ready to be admired.

These are the kinds of mountain views that inspire hiking quotes and stories, and they’re well worth visiting.

alpine lake as seen when hiking high tatras slovakia

The wildflowers are stunning.

We spent so much time stopping while hiking in the High Tatras to take photos of these beautiful flowers!

The Ultimate Europe Bucket List: 75 Fun Things to Do in Europe

With the mountains hanging out behind them, a field of these flowers easily resembles something out of a fairytale.

By the time we visited the High Tatras in September, the flowers were a bit past their peak–but there was still plenty of colorful beauty to go around.

slovakia high tatras on a sunny day with pink flowers in the foreground

Hiking in the Slovakian High Tatras is very affordable.

Both lodging and food are very affordable in the High Tatras of Slovakia.

We paid just $22/night for our amazing Airbnb (a cozy one-bedroom apartment that we had all to ourselves, located about a 15-minute drive from the park), and less than $75 in groceries to feed ourselves for just under a week.

How to Budget for a Trip: The Easiest Travel Budgeting Method (+ Tips!)

Other than those two things, our only expenses in the High Tatras were parking (about $2.40 an hour in most places, with a max rate of $7-10/day), and one chairlift ride that we took to save time (about $15/person round trip).

views along hiking trail high tatras slovakia in late summer

We loved checking out the mountain lakes.

Crisp mountain air and beautiful lake views–it’s hard to imagine a better combination!

55 Epic Road Trips in Europe (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

The stunning mountain lakes in the High Tatras are an unforgettable sight, and one of the best reasons to visit the High Tatras outside of the ski season.

We visited both Popradske Pleso and Strbske Pleso while in the area, and caught sight of many smaller lakes while hiking in the High Tatras–we even saw one small pond that was still partially frozen over!

kate storm sitting in front of Popradske Pleso slovakia

You won’t have to fight the crowds.

Visiting in early September, we experienced the High Tatras without any crowds at all: while businesses were still open for the most part and there were people around on most trails, there was absolutely no congestion.

21 Epic Hidden Gems in Europe: Secret Spots + Offbeat Highlights

Even in the summer, though, visiting the High Tatras will be an extremely peaceful experience compared to hitting up more popular places to hike in Europe.

Outside of Hungarian, Slovakian, and Polish families, the High Tatras are still a relatively unknown travel destination that is fairly untouched by heavy tourism.

lake surrounded by mountains in slovakia high tatras

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path summer destination in Europe, be sure to check out the High Tatras of Slovakia.

If we walked away with such a wonderful impression after drawing the short straw with the weather, I feel pretty confident stating most other outdoor lovers will love hiking in the Slovakian High Tatras as well.

Krakow, Poland: 7 Reasons You Have to Go

Where We Stayed in the High Tatras, Slovakia

Airbnb: Cozy Apartment Near Tatra Mountains — We loved this adorable one-bedroom flat!

It was clean, had gorgeous views of the mountains whenever the fog cleared, and was about a 15-minute drive from the High Tatras.

The hosts were generous, kind, and took excellent care of us even though we didn’t share any languages. If we head back to the area, we’ll definitely check to see if this apartment is available!

Curious about renting properties on Airbnb? Check out our guide to using Airbnb for guests!

[convertkit form=3127238]

2 photos of slovakia high tatras, white text on a pink background reads "get off the beaten path in the high tatras slovakia"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

24 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Go Hiking in Slovakia’s High Tatras”

  1. That must have been so unlucky to get caught in a period with so much rain. Nevertheless the photos you included here during the non-rainy times certainly back up your written description of how beautiful the place is. What an experience to have, particularly without hoards of tourists there and to appreciate it essentially to yourselves.

    • It was definitely a lovely experience when the sun shined! Even the rain was not that bad, truly–we had a very cozy place to wait it out!

  2. Rain and fog bring a different beauty to an area. Of course, it’s a pain to deal with wet gear all the time. I think I would come for the summer wildflower season and pay a premium. It looks like an area that has amazing solitude even in summer.

    • Very true, they do! I agree that next time, though, summer premium is a better plan (or go the opposite direction and head during the winter season–this is a popular skiing area as well!).

  3. Wow, I’m not a mountain /hiking fan but i don’t mind spending a day on High Tratas. The mountain lake and wildflower would just be perfect for meditation. If I ever get to visit Slovakia, High Tatras is a must for me

    • Oh yes, the mountain lakes are incredibly peaceful–I’m sure you’d love it up there. Definitely an amazing place to center yourself!

  4. I always love reading your posts, but feel so lazy afterwards as I’m not a hiker! Still, these Tatras mountains in Slovakia look a dream, and I’d like to try this and see those lakes too. I like how you list all the expenses too; it’s very useful for travelers on a budget.

  5. After visiting Georgia, Slovakia is always on my wishlist. These mountain slopes of Tratas are so picturesque. I can imagine how pure the air would be there. I really want to breathe pure air in these kind of mountains. Mountain Lakes have won me over. Stunning landscape. Any nature lover would love hiking to high Tratas.

    • Georgia is on our wish list! I’m sure it was amazing. The pure air of the High Tatras was incredible–made for a great place to relax.

  6. It’s good to read about somewhere other than Bratislava in Slovakia. The High Tatras look to have very unique landscapes which made for incredible Instagram shots! I would have enjoyed it just as much in the rain, often that makes surfaces shine and better pictures!

    • Ha, agreed about Bratislava! There were surprisingly few blog posts about the HIgh Tatras when we went to plan this trip, which is of course a good and a bad thing.

  7. Traveling during the shoulder or off-season does have its own set of drawbacks. But at least you got to see the positive things out of it. The photos were still so amazing, especially the ones of the wildflowers and the mountain lakes. It is such a beauty that only a few could afford to enjoy!

  8. I really like reading blogs about their hiking experience as I am really a fond of hiking, too. True enough that rain can suddenly ruin your plans and sometimes gets you out of the mood. But anyway, you were still able to capture the beauty of nature.

  9. We got so lucky today with a picture perfect weather day for our 6-hour roundtrip up to Velke Hincovo Pleso, wayyyyyy up there in the High Tatras. The day before was awful and tomorrow is supposed to be rainy again. We loved the area, too! Glad you got one good day also.

  10. Eastern Europe incl Croatia, Slovak etc are in my plans for 2018. I hope the plans won’t get flopped! Fingers crossed. Lolz. Thanks for this post on what not to miss in Slovak!
    Hiking in rain? Whoa! That requires some serious guts… You’ve put it right. Its indeed incredibly gorgeous. Good to know its budget friendly too!

    • Oh, I hope you have a blast on your trip! Central Europe and the Balkans are two of my favorite regions in the world–Croatia is one of my favorite countries! Sounds like you have a great trip planned.

  11. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I plan to be in the area during end of June next year. Are there chances of getting rain during that time? Thank you, Madhumita

    • There’s always a chance, especially in the mountains! I’d come prepared for the possibility of rain, but hopefully you’ll have better luck with the weather than we did.

  12. Hi, I just wanted to ask where the locations of your beautiful photos are, as I am visiting the High Tatras next week and the forecast is looking very rainy.

    • Thanks so much, Hana! Unfortunately, that trip was a few years ago and ours was almost entirely rained out, and I didn’t end up keeping great notes as a result. I know most of them were taken in and around Popradske Pleso and Strbske Pleso!


Leave a Comment