The allure of the High Tatras first became a reality for us traveling a few years ago on a student budget through Europe. The desire to encounter nature is always part of our trips and that one to Southern Poland and Northern Slovakia was one which has brought us back often.
It wasn’t just the fact that the High Tatras were an affordable winter sports destination, but the raw beauty, the surreal mountains and the authentic local culture we found. Having just returned from another trip to the High Tatras we really think it deserves attention by travelers like us who want unique experiences in some of the world’s most pristine and special places.
Renting a Car from Krakow in Poland or Bratislava/Vienna is a great way to reach high tatras. The roadways are excellent and well cleaned in the heart of winter. Driving can a little challenging when it is actively snowing, but proceeding slowly is always best. The hotels here in the small mountain towns are all small but have excellent amenities and hospitality. The prices again are a steal compared to Switzerland, France and the Colorado.
One of our favorite towns is Strebske Pleso. This is a frozen lake on a mountaintop surrounded by even higher peaks. There are excellent hotels here like Crocus which has apartments and fireplaces or an all luxury property like the Kempinski High Tatras. The lake and its nearby trails are the best cross country skiing in the region. Downhill skiing and snowboarding can be found all around the range.
Food out this far is a rich sampling of Slovakia’s farmlands, the people are friendly and make an effort to help tourists and English is spoken in most businesses. The rentals for equipment is a steal and the nearby city of Poprad at the foot of the mountains has a mall and all sorts of transportation.