top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristin

High Tatras National Park - Slovakia

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

When we crossed the Tatras Mountain range from the Polish to the Slovakian side, it was a little hard to believe that we were still in the same is mountain range. The High Tatras here in Slovakia are tall and rigid – very much reminding us of the Rocky Mountains near our recent home of Calgary, AB. However, not only were the mountains different, the look and feel of the mountain towns felt different (more like an Alps ski town), there wasn’t lots of traffic or people, and the weather was nice most of the time! This was a big win for us after 3 rainy days in the Polish Tatras. We jokingly said there were over 600,000 people in the Tatras each day, and 520,000 of that was on the Polish side. We had a great time in High Tatras National Park in Slovenia with some great hikes and exploration outdoors.

One difference between Tatras National Park on the Slovakian side vs. Polish side is that there is no entry fee at the beginning of the trails.

Kid-Friendly Hike: Hrebienok to Zamkovskeho Chalet

There are a couple of different options on how to start this hike. First, you can either start hiking from the large paved pathway from Stary Smokovec; OR you can take the Funicular from Stary Smokovec to Hrebienok at the top, and start the hike from there. The total hike to Zamkovskeho Chalet would be about 5.1 km one-way, so we decided to take the Funicular to help save the kids legs and thought it would be a fun treat for them. The Chalet is at 1475 m above sea level, and the elevation of Hrebienok (where the Funicular drops you off) is 1,272. Whereas starting at Stary Smokovec has an elevation of just over 1000 meters, so it definitely saved a couple hundred feet of elevation.

Funicular from Stary Smokovec to Hrebienok
Hrebienok at the top of the Funicular

The signs say that it should only take about 1 hr. 10 mins to hike to the Chalet at the start of the Cold Valley. However, it took us much longer than that – probably closer to 2 hrs. as we stopped to admire the 3 different waterfalls along the trail there and snack breaks for the kids. All three waterfalls were beautiful, large and interesting in their own accounts.

The kids also had a couple of discoveries along the way – including finding a frog and some tadpoles in a small area of sitting water.

The trail surface was really large rocks pieced together, which seems to be standard for the trails here. However, it can be a little tough on the feet, especially after mainly hiking on fine gravel or dirt most of the time back at home. The difficulty with these is that we had to make sure our youngest (4 years old) was holding our hand, especially on the way down, because he occasionally tripped or slipped.

It was a longer hike for a 4 year old so we gave Connor occasional piggyback rides.

After the third waterfall the path got much steeper, so that slowed down the little legs as well. I did have to give Connor a piggyback ride for the last little bit as it was a bit too much for him and he was tired. However, he and Clara got their second wind when we arrived at the Chalet and there was a full-sized play structure there! They played, we ate our lunch and we had some coffees (served in full glassware). We called it the fanciest hike we have ever been on.

Zamkovskeho Chalet - Mountain Mid-point. Enjoy the playground and refreshments or continue onto to other hikes.

I would say it was the best hike for kids, purely because of the playground at the top. Honestly, I think more hikes need more playgrounds at the summit – it definitely helps with the motivation factor for kids! Lol.

Strbske Pleso

One of the most popular spots in the Slovakian Tatras is the lake of Strbske Pleso. We were a little concerned after our experience trying to get to the most popular hike on the Polish side, but we had no problems at all at any point trying to get there and back – and we took a mountain train this time to get there! This was when we realized that the crowds are significantly less in the Slovakian Tatras than on the Polish side. The train ride from our place in Nova Lesna took about 50 mins to get to the Strbske Pleso stop. However, it was super cheap – only about 2 Euro per adult and 1 Euro per child, so cheaper than what parking would have cost us.

Train to Strbske Pleso

Unfortunately, Connor really had to go to the bathroom, so we had to get off a stop early. However, the next train didn’t come until almost an hour later, so we lost a bit of time. But it started raining at that point and we hadn’t brought most of our gear with us (lesson learned to always check the weather again before heading out) so we were a bit out of commission anyways. We finally arrived in Strbske Pleso and got some coffee to buy some time to let the rain stop. It was still cloudy, but the moisture was gone, so we started our walk around the lake. There is a full loop trail that goes all the way around. The trail offered quite a bit of variety, so we spent about 3 hours around the lake. Although there were a good number of people around, the trail was never crowded like a couple of the trails we had done in Poland. Maybe the rain kept them away??

Iconic Boat Ride Out on Strbske Pleso

First, we rented a boat for 19 Euro for 40 mins. and headed out on the water. It was so peaceful and quiet out there and it offered some great shots of the surrounding area, which the photos will do better justice than my words.

Boats lined up to take people out on Strbske Pleso.

Lots for Kids to Do Around the Lake

The kids never really complained about the 2.5 km walk around the lake as there seemed to be something new and different around each corner. They enjoyed the boat ride, but there were also ducks and some fish that enjoyed being fed, so they kept busy doing that. Clara found a baby duck and one other duck ate right out of her hand, so she was definitely impressed by that. Then there was even a playground, which had a carousel swing! They spent a good 20-30 minutes just going around and around on that! They have also placed outdoor exercise equipment around the lake, so they would sometimes try to hang from them, etc. as well as just climb the biggest rocks they could find!

There is lots to do in Strbske Pleso – coffee shops, restaurants and food shops as well as extra outdoor based activities. At the end of the day, we let the kids do the rope course at Squirrel Rope Park. They have a larger course for older kids and adults (where you are tethered) but then they have a smaller one for younger ones where for 4 Euro each they can go an unlimited number of times.

To see where we broke up our hiking days while visiting the High Tatras, visit our other post about Spis Castle - it was just a short 35-40 minute drive away from the base of the mountains.

After our patience-building experience on the Polish Tatras, we really enjoyed our time on the Slovakian side of Tatra Mountains. We found it easy to get around in a vehicle, there were tons of hikes to choose from and lots of variety in the area. They also have a large selection of ski resorts in the area that would be fun to explore in the wintertime. It was definitely top-notch in High Tatras National Park in Slovakia.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page