The High Tatras is a breathtaking mountain range where you can enjoy hikes on epic trails!
National Park High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) is situated in the north of Slovakia, shared partly with Poland. The only mountains of Alpine type in the whole Carpathian Mountain range are often called “the smallest alpine mountains in Europe”.
The High Tatras range is the smallest alpine mountain range in the world, although it is also considered a part of the larger Carpathian range. The jewel of the High Tatras is Mount Kriváň (2,495 m), and its famous curved profile is an important symbol in Slovak art and culture. When the Slovak people voted to choose a national symbol for the back of the Slovak Euro coins, Mount Kriváň came in second place.
The highest peaks in Slovakia are found in the High Tatras, and many of them are along the Polish border. The popular Mount Rysy, straddling the border of Slovakia and Poland, is the Poland’s tallest peak, although it is only the seventh highest in Slovakia.
(Vysoké Tatry), the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains, occupy a near-mythic place in Slovak hearts. Instantly recognisable, the crooked summit of Mount Kriváň (2495m) has become a national symbol in literature and popular culture, with some Slovaks swearing it’s their national duty to climb it.
Twenty-five peaks reach higher than 2500m and the tallest mountains – like Gerlachovský štít (2654m) – attract the most hikers, revealing Slovakia as a nation of adventurers.
time to visit High Tatras
Ski resorts typically open for the season in mid-to-late December and remain open until March or April. If you’re planning a ski trip in the High Tatras, the best snow is likely to be found in January and February.
For hiking and other adventure sports, plan your visit for sometime between mid-June and late October.
The famous Tatranska Magistrala trail as well as trails to most mountain huts and several beautiful lake hikes are open all year, but most trails are closed between November 1 and June 15. If you plan your visit between June 15 and October 31, you will have more opportunities to experience the best of the Tatras.
Keep in mind that the Tatras is a popular destination in the summer and many of the best locations can be crowded. Despite the crowds, many people enjoy the events and festivals that are held during the summer months. It is also worth noting that higher peaks, such as Mount Rysy, are often still snow covered until mid-July, so more hiking options are available later in the summer. If you want to avoid the peak season crowds, you’ll find excellent weather and smaller crowds by visiting In September.
get around in High Tatras
Getting around in the High Tatra mountains is easy and convenient thanks to the Tatra Electric Railways system. All mountain resorts including the larger city of Poprad are connected. The trains run frequently and stop in every small village in the area, so you can always reach the trailhead you’re looking for with a simple walk from the train station.
While it is possible to travel by car, it can be difficult to find available parking near the popular trails and parking can be very expensive (up to €10 to park for 4 hours). Parking a car at a trailhead can also be complicated if you’d like to hike a trail that ends in a different place than it starts. Most hikers prefer to leave their cars parked at the hotel and use the train to save time and money.
Driving to the High Tatras
If you are planning to drive to the High Tatras, use this information to help you plan how your driving time and basic route from the following major cities:
- Košíce to the High Tatras via E50 – 2h drive
- Krakow to the High Tatras via Zakopianka – 2h 45min drive
- Bratislava to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 3h 30min drive
- Vienna to the High Tatras via E571/E58 – 4h 25min drive
- Budapest to the High Tatras via route 21 – 4h 25min drive
Hiking in High Tatras
Hiking and other outdoor adventures always carry some inherent risks. Safety considerations for the High Tatras are similar to many other mountain regions. Be sure to choose trails that fit your fitness and abilities. Pack a first aid kit and other safety essentials such as communication devices, food, water, and emergency shelter. A few things to specifically pay attention to in the High Tatras region are:
- Beware of any remaining snow on the trails during the first half of the summer. If traveling prior to mid-July, be sure to check the snow conditions at the tourist information center before hitting the trail.
- Keep tabs on the weather forecast. Sudden hail storms and thunderstorms can develop in the mountains even if the day begins sunny and clear. Though such storms are rare, it can be very dangerous to be caught unprepared on an exposed peak.
- Be sure to use sunscreen. Sunburns are more common at higher altitudes, in part because the cooler temperatures can cause hikers to pay less attention to their sun exposure.
- Keep a safe distance from wild animals when hiking, and never try to approach them. It is rare to spot bears or wolves in populated areas but be aware that these animals are found in the surrounding remote areas.