Undoubtedly one of Europe’s most underrated destinations for outdoor adventurers, expect a breathtaking experience when hiking in Slovakia . This nation is dominated by lush nature reserves and mountains begging to be climbed. From the High Tatras in the north to a slice of paradise in the south. There is so much to explore here in the heart of Europe.
Facts about Slovakia:
- 40% of Slovakia is forested, and it’s a hotbed for natural thermal springs!
- There are more than 6000 caves across the country
- It has the world’s highest number of castles per capita
- Slovakia has nine national parks and amazing wildlife such as bears
- As an EU member, the currency is the Euro
Hiking in Slovakia: A hikers paradise
There are nine national parks throughout Slovakia, and with three-fifths of the country covered by mountain ranges, it’s a veritable hiker’s paradise. We tell you our six best hiking in Slovakia routes a little further down this article. All are located in the nature reserves, which have their own unique charm:
Starting from the north, there is Pieniny nature reserve, which is a perfect blend of history and nature, then Malá Fatra – Little Fatra, is ideal for waterfall chasing and gorges.
Then we come to the High Tatras (small alpine mountains) and the untouched beauty of the Low Tatras. The Rysy hike is a great one to try – we tell you more about that in the next section – but there are many fantastic walks in this nature reserve. A great hiking in Slovakia book – like this one – has dozens of trails.
Head west to the center of Slovakia to visit Veľká Fatra – Big Fatra, littered with gorgeous valleys.
Further east is Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj), before heading south to Muránska planina – Muran Plateau for a more tranquil setting.
Further south is Slovenský Kras – Slovak Karst, with its unfettered beauty, and finally go east to discover Poloniny where Slovakia meets Poland and Ukraine.
Hiking in Slovakia: Six amazing hikes to do in Slovakia
Rysy – High Tatra Mountains
Rysy is the most popular hike in Slovakia because of its unforgettable views and the bonus of crossing over to Poland.
The Rysy is made up of three peaks, with its highest coming in at 2499m above sea level. The northeast peak is situated in Poland and is the country’s highest peak. Meanwhile, the minor peak is 2473m and lies to the southeast.
Start the hike from lake Štrbské pleso and head towards Mengusovská dolina, which will give a glimpse of the three peaks – Patria, Satan, and Bašta. The hike takes in gorgeous lakes and rock structures, but the last leg is quite demanding and technical, with ropes and chains to navigate.
It does take a full day to complete, but there is a stop on the way for food and overnight stays at the chalet Chata pod Rysmi.
Zadielska plateau – Slovak Karst National Park
The hike begins in a wonderful small village called Turna nad Bodvou, complete with fascinating castle ruins.
Continue through woodland and picturesque meadows following blue markers, and finally, you will arrive at the edge of the Zadielska plateau. In front of you is Zadielska gorge, a 3km valley.
The path continues through the valley, where hikers can enjoy impressive waterfalls and hidden caves while rock climbers can tackle the high rock cliffs.
This is a family-friendly hike, but do take snacks and drinks with you. It does also make for the perfect day trip hike from Kosice.
Liptovske revuce loop hike – Velka Fatra Mountains
The Velka Fatra, while popular with locals, isn’t as frequented by tourists, so it’s an excellent off-the-beaten-path hiking destination. An absolute must Slovakia hiking trail!
This 18km (6 hours) hike begins in Liptovske reduce village and follows the yellow markers to reach the Chyzky mountain pass.
On your journey, you will come across a chalet – Chata pod Borisovom where overnight stays are possible, but there it’s back to basics with no electricity. You will be able to grab food and drink here so that you can bring fewer supplies on your back.
From the hut, the trail leads up a mountain called Ploska which will reward hikers with spectacular views before looping back round to the starting position.
If you are here at night, Velka Fatra is famous for its dark-sky parks where there is almost no light pollution for an unforgettable view of the stars!
Donovaly to Certovica – Low Tatras
For those looking for a long-distance hiking adventure, this five-day trail from Donovaly to Certovica won’t disappoint.
The ridge is 50 miles (80km) in length, and along the way, you can get back to nature and seek refuge for the night in mountain huts.
You can also choose to do part of the journey; a popular route is from Chopok to Ďumbier, the two highest peaks. You do have to take a cable car to Chopok, then from there head to Ďumbier (2043m), which should give you a view over to the High Tatras on a clear day!
From here, you can turn back and head back to the Chopok chairlift to get back down to your starting position. This shorter hike is around 6 hours long to complete and is suitable for less experienced hikers.
Kysel – Slovak Paradise
The Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj) is often described as the ultimate adult playground, but it’s no fun for anyone terrified of heights!
This wondrous valley is awash with hiking trails for thrill-seekers, with wooden ladders and chain walks that have sheer drops with no barriers. The Kysel valley hike is 17.5km in length and has recently reopened after forest fires ravaged the local area decades ago. Proper hiking boots and equipment are needed for this hike.
The Kysel valley has an unsurpassed beauty with hidden streams and waterfalls – expect to get your feet wet! All gorges have one-way systems, and children under five are not advised to go on tours here as they’re a bit too small to reach the chains and climb ladders.
Velky Rozsutec – Mala Fatra mountains
Velky Rozsutec is famed for its beauty and stands proud at 1600m high. Although this hike is 12km in total, it does have a steep ascent making it a challenging climb.
Start your hike from Vratna – Stefanova and walk towards Janosikove diery gorge and follow the loop round. You’ll need the experience to get past the chains at Sedlo medziholie, and don’t do this without proper gear. You will also need food supplies to get through this hike.
The views are worth all the effort and don’t miss that breathtaking gorge. It’s possible to do this hike in winter too, but again proper precaution is needed.
Hiking in Slovakia: Other things to do
In the center of Europe, Slovakia has been a strategically important country for many ruling empires, which is why castles can be found in varying states across the country. Orava Castle in the north near the High Tatras was used as Dracula’s Castle in the film Nosferatu, and other famous castles include Spiš Castle, Bojnice Castle, and Devin Castle.
Thermal spas are another popular pastime for locals, and spas are open to tourists too. The most well-regarded place to go for relaxation is Piestany to its Spa Island. Here there are a plethora of hotels with thermal baths with an array of treatments and beautiful gardens to enjoy.
Slovakia’s countless towns and villages are brilliant to explore. The mining town of Banska Stiavnica is often said to be the most picturesque. Situated in a caldera in the Štiavnica Mountains, there are also places to go hiking, lakes to explore, and the town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Others might be more interested in discovering Slovakia’s lesser-known wine region. The Little Carpathians are located in the Bratislava region and are 100km in length. The wine towns of Modra, Svätý Jur, and Pezinok are great locations to visit vineyards, family wine cellars, a wine museum, and enjoy the annual Vinobranie harvest celebrations autumn.
The Little Carpathians also offer hiking routes, cross-country skiing, and cycling tracks.
How to get to Slovakia
By train, plane, or automobile! There are many ways to reach Slovakia.
Bratislava and Kosice sit on either side of the country, and both cities have international airports. Alternatively, fly into Vienna and catch a bus or train into Bratislava.
Regiojet offers affordable bus travel into Slovakia from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria; they also give away free coffee or tea and provide tv screens for entertainment. Trains offer another way to enter Slovakia from anywhere in Europe.
Where to stay in Slovakia
If you’re focused on just the High and Low Tatras, then look for accommodation in Poprad, Štrbské Pleso, and Vysoké Tatry – Tatraská Lomnica.
If you want to explore the Slovak Paradise National Park and Karst nature reserve, then Košice in the east would be a fantastic base city.
Most nature reserves are located in the middle or the east of the country, but if you are entering via its capital city, Bratislava, in the west, then this is also a good base or starting point. You can easily hire a car for day trips, and it’s well connected by public transport.