The Slovak Paradise is a hidden treasure in Europe that offers a perfect getaway for a short weekend trip. If you haven’t heard of it, let me introduce you to this amazing destination. Contrary to its name, the Stracenskie Mountains (Dead Mountains), the Slovak Paradise is actually a vast karst plateau filled with natural wonders and beautiful valleys.
The Slovaks have crafted thrilling routes through these valleys, complete with ladders, bridges, chains, and more. If you’re up for an adventure, it takes about 2-4 hours to reach the top of a valley, and then you can easily return to the starting point. Now, the big question is, where exactly is the Slovak Paradise? Well, it’s located southeast of Poprad, and trust me, it’s where the magic happens.
Getting to the Slovak Paradise
The most convenient way to reach the Slovak Paradise from Poland is by car, as it’s not too far away. Aim for the town of Hrabusice, the accommodation center of the Slovak Paradise, which is about 15 km from Poprad. From Krakow, it’s less than a 3-hour drive (around 170 km) through Nowy Targ and the border in Jurgów, with only 65 km left to your destination.
By Public Transport
Unfortunately, public transport options are limited, and there are no direct buses from Poland to the Slovak Paradise. You’ll need to switch buses a few times, which can be time-consuming. First, you have to get to Poprad. From there, it’s easiest to continue by bus to Hrabusice. If you decide to travel by rail, passenger trains stop at the Vydrnik station, which is just 2.5 km from Hrabusice and another 2 km from the dreamy trails. You can use this online search engine to plan your journey.
↳ Before you head to Tatra Park, I highly recommend reading my complete guide to Tatra Mountains. I showcase the most scenic places you won't want to miss. Make sure to check it out, so you don't overlook anything interesting: Tatra Mountains – An Insider’s Guide to All Attractions and Info
From Krakow to Slovak Paradise
From Zakopane to Slovak Paradise
During the holiday season (June 16 – October 15), a daily bus from Strama goes to Poprad. The ticket costs PLN 24, and the journey takes 2 hours.
Off Season Transportation
Although more time-consuming, it’s still possible to get to Poprad during the off-season. First, get to the border crossing at Łysa Polana by bus from Zakopane. After crossing the border on foot, find the bus stop and look for a Slovakian SAD bus to Poprad. Use the universal connection search engine in Slovakia to plan your trip.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Slovak Paradise?
The ideal time to explore the Paradise Trails is between early spring and late autumn. But lets be honest, the Slovak Paradise can get pretty popular, so it’s wise to avoid long weekends – both Polish and Slovak.
During peak times, as many as 1,000 thrill-seekers might flock to the most popular trails daily, causing long queues and extending the time it takes to complete the valleys. If you leave early, not only will you have a more peaceful walk, but you’ll also avoid the entrance fee.
In autumn, the trails are much quieter, but be aware of morning mists that can make the paths wet and slippery. Wet wooden footbridges combined with foliage can be particularly treacherous, so you need to be cautious.
On the other hand, the Slovak Paradise in winter is a whole different experience. Trails become slippery, icy, and dangerous, so you’ll need crampons for shoes, belaying equipment, and possibly even a rope to navigate safely.
Where to Stay in the Slovak Paradise
The go-to accommodation area for the Slovak Paradise is Hrabusice, a charming small town with a grocery store, bar, and restaurant. From there, it’s only 2 km to the park gates. You can find lodging through a Slovak search engine or booking websites.
↳ Check the available accommodation in Hrabusice on this booking website.
Camping in the Slovak Paradise
I believe the great accommodation option is also the campsite located right at the gates of the Slovak Paradise Park. The campsite is spacious, offering two sanitary facilities, a children’s playground, and even cottages for those who prefer not to sleep in a tent. A small grocery store, restaurant, and souvenir shops are open during the season. But remember, wild camping is not allowed.
- Interested in camping? Read this article too: The Ultimate Camping Sites in Zakopane for Adventure Seekers
Exploring the Slovak Paradise Trails
The Slovak Paradise National Park, established in 1988, boasts over 300 km of hiking trails and about 150 km of bike routes. The northern part of the park is the most popular among tourists, featuring attractions like Sucha Bele and Hornad Gorge.
The trails often run along the valley floor, following the path of a stream. You’ll need to wade through water at times, so good footwear is a must! Trust me, nobody wants to spend half a day in wet shoes.
As you explore, you’ll encounter bridges, wooden platforms, ladders next to waterfalls, metal buckles, and chains. That’s why I recommend bringing gloves, even just cycling gloves, for added comfort. If you don’t have a fear of heights, these trails are suitable for most able-bodied walkers. Keep in mind that most routes through the valleys are one-way.
Hiking Through the Valleys
The valleys are typically traversed from their base upwards, crossing numerous rock thresholds. Once you leave a valley, use the marked connectors to reach the starting point or the next valley. You can create various routes and visit more than one valley per day. It usually takes about 2-4 hours to go up one valley, plus the time needed to return to the starting point.
In terms of difficulty, most of the valleys are fairly similar, featuring tall ladders, steps, or other safety measures. The southern trails are less challenging, but they may not be as spectacular as the northern ones. If you’re up for an adventure, the links provided below will take you to some of the most beautiful valleys.
Entrance to the Slovak Paradise National Park
Before starting your adventure, remember that entry to the Slovak Paradise National Park comes with a fee. You’ll find booths at the entrance of the valleys where you can purchase tickets. If you plan to stay for a few days, consider buying a multi-day ticket, available in three and five-day options, to save some money.
You can also purchase a park map for around €4 alongside your entrance ticket. Parking lots are situated at the exits of the valleys and require a separate fee. However, these fees are not too high – in Podlesok, we paid €3 per day.
If you’re interested in the Kysel gorge via ferrata, don’t forget about safety equipment, which can be rented on-site near the Podlesok campsite for €5. Bicycle rentals are also available here.
- Adult ticket: €1.5
- Children ticket (6-15 years): €1
- Children under 6 years: free
- Parking: €3
Slovak Paradise Park Map
While planning your trips, it’s a good idea to use online maps. I highly recommend the mapy.cz app. The website is intuitive, and the app allows offline use, including navigation, route planning, and positioning, after importing the area of interest. If you prefer a paper map, you can purchase one at the ticket booths when you enter the park.
Don’t Forget Insurance
When exploring the Slovak Paradise, keep in mind that all rescue operations are paid, and the bills can be quite high. With slippery and wet surfaces on the trails, it’s essential to have insurance in case of injury. I recommend purchasing insurance in Poland before starting your adventure. The insurance provider available at the Slovak Paradise ticket booths is union.sk.
You can refer to their website for more information. The site is user-friendly, although the insurance cost might be slightly higher than if you buy it directly in the Slovak Paradise.
It’s worth noting that not every valley offers insurance purchase options. In the past, it wasn’t available at the entrances to Dolina Piecky and Veliki Sokol. However, when leaving your car at the Podlesok trail junction parking lot (exit to Hornad Gorge and Sucha Bela), you can buy insurance at the same booth where you pay for parking. Insurance here costs €0.2 per day.
Keep in mind that if you arrive very early, you might not find anyone at the booth. On a side note, if you stay in Hrabusicie or at the Podlesok campsite and have paid the city tax, you might already be insured. But it’s a good idea to double-check if this information is up-to-date.
↳ Check the available accommodation in Hrabusice on this booking website.
Slovak Paradise Excursions
1. Sucha Bela (Dry White)
Undoubtedly, Sucha Bela is the highlight of the Slovak Paradise. As the most popular valley, it offers a series of impressive attractions, including ladders, bridges, and waterfalls, such as the Bear Waterfalls and the Window Waterfall.
You’ll often find yourself walking in the middle of the stream, unable to avoid the water. During peak season, up to 1000 people visit daily! To avoid crowds, set off early in the morning. For those in excellent physical shape, consider hiking up through Sucha Bela and returning through the Hornadu Gorge, which we’ll discuss next.
- Sucha Bela trail description.
2. Hornád Gorge + Tomasovsky Vyhlad (ViewPoint)
This classic trail is so popular that some visitors come to Slovak Paradise just for this experience. The path follows metal footbridges above the roaring river for several kilometers, with the most fascinating part leading through the so-called Iron Gates. Those afraid of heights might find this section challenging.
At the end, a „satanic” rock terrace awaits, situated 666 meters above sea level, offering fantastic panoramas of the Park and the Tatra Mountains. You can reach this spot through the Hornád Gorge or via a shortcut from Spišské Tomášovce in just 30 minutes.
- Hornad Gorge + Tomaszowski vyhlad description of the trail
3. Piecky (Slovak Paradise)
Most visitors to the Slovak Paradise focus on Sucha Bela and the Hornád Gorge, leaving Piecky and the next valley, Velky Sokol, less crowded but equally spectacular. The valley’s name comes from the oven-shaped depressions at the base of the waterfalls, created by falling waters from the streams. Be sure to explore this area.
- Piecky trail description – CLICK for more information
4. Veľký Sokol (Slovak Paradise)
In our opinion, Veľký Sokol is the most beautiful and wild valley. With narrow passages, gorge walls reaching up to 300 meters, and fewer people on the trail, it offers a serene experience. It is one of the longest valleys in the Slovak Paradise. If you ever return to the area, be sure to visit Veľký Sokol again.
- Velky Sokol trail description – CLICK for more information
5. Kysel (Slovak Paradise)
Kysel is the most ill-fated valley in the Slovak Paradise. Long protected from explorers, it was later closed to tourists for years due to a large fire. Now, Kysel is home to the only via ferrata in the Slovak Paradise and the second-highest waterfall. The ferrata is an optional route, so if you prefer, you can choose the trail through Mały and Velky Kysel, which does not require special equipment.
- Kysel trail description – CLICK for more information
6. Sokolia Dolina (Slovak Paradise)
Hidden from tourists’ sight, Sokolia Dolina boasts the highest waterfall in the entire Slovak Paradise, the 75-meter-tall Závojový waterfall. Due to its location, this area is typically less crowded, offering a tranquil experience. Consider visiting Klastoriska as an additional sightseeing option.
- Sokolia Dolina trail description – CLICK for more information
7. Klastorisko (Monastery – Slovak Paradise)
Klastorisko is a large clearing featuring a trail junction, ruins of a small monastery, cottages, and a buffet. With a rich history dating back to six centuries before Christ, Klastorisko once housed a Carthusian Order monastery. Today, it offers a serene spot for a short meal, and many tourists consider its panoramic views the most beautiful in the Slovak Paradise.
8. Southern Part of Slovak Paradise
The Slovak Paradise is divided into two parts, with the northern part characterized by numerous karst valleys and the southern part offering a more idyllic landscape. One of the main attractions in the southern part is the Dobszyńska Ice Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a year-round ice presence. Admission is €8, and the tour takes about 30 minutes. Remember to pack warm clothes as temperatures can drop to -4°C.
Other noteworthy spots include Palcmanska Maša, an artificial water reservoir and popular holiday resort, and Hawrania Skała (Havrania Skala), one of the highest peaks in the Slovak Paradise with a beautiful panorama.
Check more information about temperatures in Tatra Mountains here: The Best Times of Year and Weather to Visit the Tatra Mountains
9. Surroundings of Slovak Paradise
While the Slovak Paradise is primarily known for its natural beauty, there are other attractions nearby to enhance your experience. Located just 25 minutes east of Hrabusice by car, the Spiš Castle (Spišský Hrad) is a massive medieval fortress from the 11th and 12th centuries. Covering around 4 hectares, this impressive castle complex is considered one of the largest fortifications of its kind in this part of Europe. Within the castle’s reconstructed sections, you’ll find a small museum.
Adjacent to the castle is the town of Levoča, which, along with Spiš Castle, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town itself offers a charming atmosphere and is perfect for a leisurely stroll past the Town Hall, Cathedral, and city walls.
For those looking for a more modern experience, head to the city of Poprad, where you’ll find the renowned AquaPark. This popular water park offers an exciting way to unwind and have fun after your adventures in the Slovak Paradise.
Slovak Paradise – Itinerary
Navigating the maze of local trails and one-way routes on the map can be overwhelming. We understand the challenge of planning your visit, so we’ve prepared a brief guide to help you make the most of your time in the Slovak Paradise.
- For a one-day visit and if you’re in good shape, we recommend combining two routes: Sucha Bela + Hornad Gorge. Midway, near the Monastery ruins, choose the trail leading to Hornad. The longest version goes through Tomasovsky Vyhlad. If that’s too much, just choose Sucha Bela.
- If you’re staying for a full weekend, add Velky Sokol to the above routes on the second day to make your visit even more magical.
- For those who want to explore most of the park, we’ve prepared an intensive 4-day plan. It’s best to arrive at Slovak Paradise the evening before your first hiking day and start your adventure early the next morning, spending most of each day on the trails. To see the route on the map, please click on each day separately.
- Day 1: Prielom Hornádu – Kláštorská – Sokolia dolina: Route 17.7 km – 6:38 h. Map Click
- Day 2: Piecky – Roklina Veľký Kyseľ: Route 23.3 km – 8:20 h. Map Click
- Day 3: Suchá Belá Gorge – Tomášovský – Hornádu Gap: Route 20.4 km – 7:40 a.m. Map Click
- Day 4: Groklina Veľký Sokol: Route 17 km – 5:45 h. Map Click
Slovak Paradise Practical Information
- Check the Slovak Paradise weather.
- Pack good, waterproof shoes and a sweatshirt
- Don’t forget about insurance!
- Slovak Paradise might not be suitable for those with a fear of heights and open spaces
- Keep in mind that most of the valleys are one-way
- For a Slovak Paradise map, click here.
- Consider bringing a harness for younger visitors
- Wondering about the most difficult trail in Slovak Paradise? The difficulty level of most valleys is quite similar
- Camping in the wild within the park is not allowed
- In case of an emergency, dial 18300 or 112