Do you love National Parks, but hate the crowds? If so, I think you just might love Tatra National Park in Slovakia. The High Tatra Mountains are stunningly beautiful. Most American travelers have probably never considered a trip to Slovakia’s High Tatras, but I think you should.
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit the countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary) as a guest of the tourism departments of these countries. They wanted to show a select group of travel advisors the tourism potential of these countries.
The High Tatras actually span both southern Poland and northern Slovakia. We approached from the Poland side but spent the night and went exploring on the Slovakia side. I’ve been working on improving my landscape photography and this was a perfect place to hone my skills. I took this shot from a moving vehicle not long after we crossed from Poland into Slovakia.
There were so many beautiful views. I could have stayed there for a lot longer, but during my short stay, I identified five things that I recommend you do on a High Tatras trip.
1. Ride up the High Tatras in a funicular or cable car
While the views from anywhere are beautiful, I highly recommend going up the mountain to appreciate the panorama from a higher altitude. We rode up in a funicular. One car rode up the mountain on a track while the other car was coming down. They pass each other at the halfway point.
In other towns in the High Tatras, you can ride in a cable car.
2. Go hiking in the High Tatras
Once you ride up the mountain, you could just sit and enjoy the prospect. But if you’re the active, adventurous type, you’ll definitely want to do some hiking. We saw some spectacular vistas.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the easiest trail. There were a lot of rocks you could trip over if you were looking at the scenery instead of the path in front of you!
We discovered a waterfall on our hike.
And there was a serene meadow covered in wildflowers.
I LOVE wildflowers. I made sure our group knew that I stop to take pictures of wildflowers. I call it a Wildflower Safari and like to make a composite image of the flowers I find on a hike.
I love getting out in nature and seeing the beauty of God’s creation–both the stunning vistas and the details of the wildflowers. It makes me happy. 🙂
3. Taste some traditional Slovak food
I know from my growing up in an area with a lot of Central European immigrants that Slovak food is similar to the Polish food my mother and grandmother cooked. And that means I knew I would like it. I know that chicken noodle soup sounds pretty American, but I have to start with it because it was just so good! In Slovakia, they call it Kuracia Polievka.
One of the national dishes of Slovakia is Bryndzové halušky. It is soft potato dumplings coated in a sauce made of soft sheep’s milk cheese and topped with bacon and onions. It’s every bit as comforting as macaroni and cheese.
I’m not sure of the names of all these dishes, but this was a plate of food from a Slovak buffet feast that we enjoyed one night.
And for dessert (or for breakfast), you must try either a poppyseed or a nut roll. I’m not going to try to name these delectable slices of rolled dough spiraled with filling. I posted this picture on my personal Facebook page and my friends had about a half dozen different names for it, depending on which part of Europe their ancestors came from. While they couldn’t agree on what to call it, they all agreed they like it. 🙂
4. Listen to traditional Slovak folk music
While we enjoyed that delicious Slovak feast, we were entertained by traditional folk musicians. Since a picture just won’t do, here’s a video:
5. Experience a wellness resort and spa in the High Tatras
We stayed in a beautiful resort in the High Tatra Mountains.
Wellness and health are a big focus of the resorts in Slovakia’s High Tatras. I didn’t have enough time to experience the spa myself, but you can bet I will the next time I’m in the High Tatras.
Would you like to visit Slovakia’s High Tatras?
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