If you’re picturing the Tatra Mountains bike trail as a grueling, sweat-drenched experience with deadly climbs and treacherous paths, you’re in for a surprise. I know the idea of cycling around the Tatra Mountains might seem intimidating, but trust me, this trail has something for everyone.
Whether you’re a casual cyclist or a seasoned pro, you’ll find a section of the trail that suits your skill level. There are gentle recreational stretches for those who just want a leisurely ride, and more challenging climbs for those seeking a bit of a workout.
If you want to take on the entire trail, go for it. But if you need a more manageable experience, you can break the trail down into shorter, easier sections. I am convinced that no matter which part of the trail you choose, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the majestic Tatra Mountains and a glimpse into the fascinating history of the Polish-Slovak borderland.
A Scenic Cycling Adventure Through Tatra Mountains
I believe you must be wondering, what is the Cycling Route Around the Tatra Mountains? Well, it’s a remarkable Polish-Slovak project within the Euroregion „Tatry” that showcases the historical, cultural, and natural beauty of the region. This cycling route takes you through stunning landscapes, such as Podhale, Orava, Liptov, and Spisz, all located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. The trail starts and ends in Nowy Targ, following the crossroads of ancient trade routes.
↳ 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
Map of The Route Around Tatras (Online + GPX)
Charming Towns and Breathtaking Nature
As you ride along the bicycle route through picturesque highlander towns and villages in Poland and Slovakia, you’ll be captivated by the magnificent nature, breathtaking landscapes, and attractions like historic churches, castles, and palaces. With each kilometer, the landscape transforms, revealing picturesque fields, fragrant meadows, green valleys, mysterious forests, blue lakes, and towering mountain peaks. The rich culture of the Polish-Slovak borderland further enhances the experience.
Currently, the Route Around the Tatras features over 150 km of bicycle paths out of the planned 250 km. The majority of the paths are asphalt, and you’ll find plenty of parking shelters, self-service stations, and comfy rest stops along the way. Plus, within a maximum distance of 10 km from the trail, you’ll come across cyclist-friendly establishments like restarants, inns, accommodations, and bicycle services and rentals.
A Great Option for Active Recreation
The Tatra Mountains bike trail is a fantastic way to stay active and offers an interesting alternative to mountain hiking. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life! Along the route, there are gentle recreational sections for casual cyclists and demanding climbs for more advanced riders. If you want to take it easy, you can choose to explore shorter, less challenging segments of the trail. Keep in mind that the trail is also suitable for roller skaters, runners, and even cross-country skiers during winter.
I covered the bicycle trail around the Tatra Mountains with its slight modification in 4 days. I covered 316 fantastic kilometers on asphalt bicycle paths, a gravel route separated from car traffic, as well as ordinary roads. In places we had to overcome several steep climbs (mainly in Slovakia), several times I was caught by a downpour on the route. Nevertheless, for us as cycling enthusiasts, it was a great adventure .
Push Your Limits and Enjoy the Ride
Sure, there might be times when you’ll have to push your bike uphill, but let me tell you, those sections are few and far between in comparison to the kilometers you’ll cover. And trust me, all the effort pays off with the breathtaking views of Slovak Roháče from Orava, Gerlach’s walls from Liptov, and the majestic Łomnica from Spisz. The adrenaline rush will definitely keep you going!
If you’re physically fit, I am convinced that you should have no problem tackling the entire scenic trail. But if you’re unsure, you can always choose one of the sections described below or visit the official website of the Historical, Cultural, and Natural Trail around the Tatra Mountains to find a recreational route that suits your abilities. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Now, let me share a personal experience. The Tatra Mountains trail was my first bike trip ever. I had never ridden cross bikes with bags before or gone on any velo rides. My longest rides were about 16 km from home to work and some 10 km trips around Krakow on city bikes. I won’t lie, there were moments on the Trail Around the Tatra Mountains when sweat poured down in streams, heavy rain dampened our spirits, and my muscles were burning on the second day.
Embrace the Adventure
But if you ask me if it was worth it, I would answer without hesitation: absolutely! It was one of the most incredible trips of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again someday. So, if you’re up for an adventure and ready to put in the effort, give the Tatra Mountains bike trail a try. I know you’ll love it just as much as I did!
Day 1: Nowy Targ – Dolny Kubin (Podhale and Orava)
My adventure on the historical, cultural, and natural trail around the Tatra Mountains began in Nowy Targ, just 1 km from the beautifully renovated railway station. The first 35 km of the trail takes you to the Slovak Trzciana along an asphalt bike path separated from car traffic. This section of the Route Around the Tatra Mountains was built on the embankment of a former railway line leading to Sucha Góra.
When the railway lost its importance post-war, the stations fell into disrepair and the tracks were dismantled. This sparked the idea of creating a bike route along the same path. The goal was simple: provide locals with an easy way to commute to work and school and improve access to the unique sights and natural wonders on both sides of the border.
Thanks to the dedication of local governments in Poland and Slovakia, I was able to enjoy a well-prepared, 35 km recreational bike route from Nowy Targ to Trzciana in Slovakia.
Historical Remnants Along the Trail
As you leave Nowy Targ, the bike trail takes you through the wet Kombinacki Forest and past the abandoned building of the former Nowy Targ Fabryczny railway station. This station once connected to a leather industry complex called „Podhale,” famous for producing winter boots called Relaks. If you remember, almost everyone in Poland wore these quirky boots during the Polish People’s Republic era. Interestingly, the factory employed mostly women and even had a nursery, kindergarten, medical clinic, and swimming pool!
Other old railway stations along the route are worth checking out, such as those in Czarny Dunajec or Podczerwone. The latter is currently being renovated and will soon cater to the needs of cyclists. Let’s hope the other stations receive similar treatment in the future.
Discovering Unique Attractions Along the Trail
If you’re fascinated by unusual rock formations, take a detour near Rogoźnik to visit the Skała Rogoźnicka Reserve, which is listed on the UNESCO Geological Heritage List. In the Czarny Dunajec area, the trail takes you through the Natura 2000 site, and a side branch leads to the Orawsko-Nowotarskie Peat Bogs, estimated to be around 10,000 years old. Riding the entire main asphalt bike path, you’ll pass flowery meadows, grazing sheep and cows, and take in stunning views of the Tatra Mountains, Babia Góra, and the Gorce Mountains. Don’t miss the beautiful historic bridge suspended over the Czarny Dunajec River. It’s truly a sight to behold!
A Must-See Village of Chochołów
One absolute „must-see” on this part of the Route Around the Tatra Mountains is the village of Chochołów. Just before reaching the Polish-Slovak border, take a short detour off the main trail to discover this special place. Chochołów is unique because it consists almost entirely of original wooden highland cottages.
The village is also home to the beautiful Church of St. Jacek, the Chochołowski Uprising Museum, and the Peatland Promotion and Protection Center. Plus, storks love living here and can be seen nesting in the village.
Continuing the Journey Across the Border
From Chochołów, follow the same route along the bank of the Czarny Dunajec River back to the main trail. From here, you’re just a step away from the Polish-Slovak border (don’t forget your ID card or passport).
The Orava section of the route on the Slovak side of the Route Around the Tatras offers an initial downhill stretch, so you can take a break from pedaling. Along the former railway embankment, you’ll find more unique attractions. In addition to breathtaking views of Giewont, Małołączniak, Ciemniak, or Wołowiec, take note of the white chapel „Za Borem” in the village of Liesek. Next to the chapel, there’s a small spring believed to have healing properties.
Cycling Through Trzciana and Beyond
Upon reaching Trzciana (Trstena), the asphalt path will lead you along the Oravica River before it ends at the 35-kilometer mark in the city center. The section from Nowy Targ to Slovak Trzciana is not demanding at all. It is suitable for rollerbladers and cross-country skiers in winter, and it follows a well-prepared asphalt path away from car traffic, complete with numerous bus shelters and resting spots. You should be able to cover this stretch without any major issues.
From Trzciana to Dolny Kubin, you’ll cycle along the picturesque Orava River. For the most part, the trail follows a road with normal car traffic, but in places like Twardoszyn, Niżna, or Podbiel, it briefly transitions to a typical bike path located between the river and housing estates. In this section, we recommend pushing through the few slight ascents and taking a longer break in Oravsky Podzamok.
Oravsky Podzamok – A Must-See Castle in Slovakia
Oravsky Podzamok is home to one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. Perched on a rock shaped like an „eagle’s nest,” the castle proudly towers over the swift river below. Trust us when we say that the castle makes an electrifying impression! Its current appearance is thanks to the Thurzo family.
Today, it houses the Orava Museum, where you can explore various exhibitions, including archaeological, natural, ethnographic, and historical collections. Fun fact: one of the episodes of „Janosik” was filmed at the castle (famous polish tv series).
After admiring the castle in Oravsky Podzamok, it’s time to continue your journey, as you still have approximately 10 km to cover before reaching Dolný Kubín. Along the way, you’ll encounter a significant uphill stretch on a gravel road through the mountain just before the village of Knazia. After this climb, the route will gradually descend and conclude with a downhill ride on a regular road in Dolný Kubín.
Day 1 Summary:
- Route length: 89 km
- Start time: 09:00
- End time: 20:30
- Difficulty scale: easy to Trzciana, medium from Trzciana to Dolný Kubín
- Elevation gain: 770 m
- Elevation loss: 890 m
- Overnight stay: Penzion Kuria in Dolný Kubín
Day 2: A Challenging Ride from Dolny Kubin to Štrba
Get ready for a thrilling second day on the Trail Around the Tatra Mountains! Let me say, this day will be definitely more demanding than the first. You’ll encounter numerous uphill stretches, and there might be times when you’ll have to push your bike uphill. I have slightly modified the route for this section, so you have the option to choose the path that suits you best.
The Choice is Yours – Official Route or Modified Route
I am convinced that following the official trail through Malatina will be easier for you, offering picturesque views of the Orava Foothills, Magura Orawska, and the Western Tatras. If you want to explore charming Lesztyn, nestled at the foot of the Chocza Mountains, don’t forget to visit the wooden Evangelical church from 1688, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You may also want to read more here: Exploring Poland’s Cultural Riches: A Guide to UNESCO Cities
On the other hand, if you decide to take the modified route like we did, you’ll eventually reach the official Tatra Mountain Bike Trail near the village of Bobrovnik. This path leads along the right bank of the beautiful Liptovska Mara lake.
Liptovska Mara Lake – A Gem Amidst the Liptovska Basin
This artificial reservoir was created by damming the Váh River, resulting in the flooding of several Liptov villages. I think it’s worth mentioning that some historic residential and farm buildings from these flooded areas can now be seen at the Museum of the Liptov Village in Pribylina.
Liptovska Mara Lake is famous not only for its stunning location in the Liptovska Basin but also for the numerous beaches and thermal baths surrounding it. If you need a break, consider visiting the Aquapark Tatralandia in Liptovský Mikuláš (you’ll pass by it), Termal Raj Liptovsky Jan in Liptovsky Jan, or thermal baths in Bešeňová. While the famous Demänovské Caves, Slovakia’s longest cave system, are nearby, you may not have enough time to visit them this time.
Exploring Liptovský Mikuláš and Beyond
Once you reach Liptovský Mikuláš, you’ll hop onto a bicycle path separated from car traffic. It runs along the right bank of the Váh River and is the first completed section of the Route Around the Tatras in Liptov. I believe it’s a great idea to stop for lunch in town. I can personally recommend the „Route 66” restaurant, which serves delicious American dishes in a cool atmosphere.
- Here are more pictures and the location: Google Maps
After refueling, why not go on a short tour of the city? The stunning St. Nicholas Church is definitely worth a visit. It has been expanded and modified many times over the centuries, and its main altar in the form of a triptych and side altars from the 15th and 16th centuries are remarkable. In addition to the church, you’ll find beautiful Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicist tenement houses and a modern fountain in the center of the climatic market. Near the market square, there’s also a lovely former synagogue, showcasing the town’s diverse history.
Journey Along the Černý Váh River
From Liptovský Mikuláš, the trail takes you along the picturesque Černý Váh River. Unfortunately, during our ride, we encountered a heavy downpour that obstructed our views and soaked our phones. We hope you’ll have better luck with the weather! I can tell you that the route can be bumpy and tiring in places, with alternating vehicles and descents. You’ll pass a water reservoir by a power plant on the river, an atmospheric spot nestled among the mountains, and a monument dedicated to Józef Habsburg, who organized hunting in the local forests.
As you approach Štrba, the end of the route, you’ll leave the Czarny Wag Valley and be greeted by vast wheat fields and stunning views of Gerlach (if it’s not raining, of course).
Day 2 Summary
- Route length: 92 km
- Start time: 08:30
- End time: 21:00
- Difficulty scale: hard
- Elevation gain: 870 m
- Elevation loss: 570 m
- Overnight stay: Accommodation at Vlasty’s in Štrba
Day 3: Štrba to Ždiar – A Journey Through Scenic Landscapes
Get ready for an unforgettable third day on your adventure. The views you’ll encounter today are sure to leave you speechless. You’ll be surrounded by the expansive vistas of the Wierzbowski Foothills and the High, Bielskie, and Low Tatras. Along the way, you’ll visit picturesque towns, castles, mansions, and historic churches. Most of the trail will take you along an asphalt bicycle path, with some sections on less frequented country roads. By the end of the day, you’ll arrive at the stunning Tatranská Kotlina and the picturesque village of Ždiar.
From Štrba to Poprad – A Well-Prepared Bicycle Path
Starting from Štrba, you’ll ride a short section to Svit on a regular road before entering a beautifully prepared bicycle path. Following the Mlynowka River, this path leads to the center of Poprad. Along the way, you’ll find numerous bus shelters, self-service stations, and even a spot for coffee. You’ll be sharing the path with runners and rollerbladers, so keep an eye out!
As you pass through Poprad’s center, don’t miss the beautifully restored market square and the Church of St. Go.
The Poprad Valley – Breathtaking Views
From Poprad, the bicycle trail around the Tatra Mountains will take you through the Poprad Valley towards Hozelec. You’ll ride from Žakovice (Zakovce) to Vrbov (Vrbov) on a local road, with a few gentle climbs and the Tatra Mountains serving as a stunning backdrop to wheat fields.
However, the best is yet to come! The true highlight of the Spiš section of the Route Around the Tatras is the stretch between Vrbov and Kežmarok. The bicycle path here winds through chamomile-scented fields, with the towering Tatra Mountains in the distance. The views are simply breathtaking, and I can’t wait for you to experience them for yourself.
Kežmarok to Ždiar – Exploring History and Beautiful Landscapes
As you make your way down to Kežmarok, take some time to appreciate this beautiful Slovak town, which boasts very interesting monuments. Apart from the UNESCO-listed wooden old articular church and the neighboring neo-Byzantine church, Kežmarok also features a charming old town filled with historic burgher and craft houses, a beautiful town hall, and a fortified castle. Kežmarok Castle now serves as a museum showcasing the city’s history. Interestingly, Beata Łaska, considered the first Tatra tourist, once lived here. According to local legend, her husband locked her in a tower overlooking the Tatra Mountains for six years while he squandered her wealth.
Picturesque Routes and Green Gardens
Leaving Kežmarok behind, you’ll head towards the nearby Strázki. The path follows the Poprad River, and you’ll encounter a small drawbridge along the way. Next, you’ll enter a beautiful, English-style green garden surrounding Kasztel in Strázki.
This fortified settlement on the old trade route through the Poprad Valley now houses a museum, an art gallery, and a cafe. The historical library is also worth a visit, offering insights into the village’s history and the palace.
From Strážki, you’ll follow a scenic route through fields to Spišská Belá, known for its tobacco factories and Borovička, a traditional juniper vodka produced here.
A Taste of Slovakia – Cycling Towards the Tatras
Beyond Spišská Belá, the bicycle trail around the Tatras transitions into a Slovak cyclo route leading to Tatranská Kotlina (9 km). Unfortunately, a downpour may obstruct your view of the majestic peak of Łomnica in the distance. The cyclo route follows a separate route along the busy national road No. 66, with numerous bus shelters along the way. In good weather, this comfortable stretch of the trail will provide plenty of fun, and the views of the High Tatras will make up for any fatigue. Be prepared for a change in terrain, as asphalt gives way to gravel leading all the way to Ždiar.
Day 3 Summary
- Route length: 70 km
- Start time: 09:00
- End time: 20:00
- Difficulty scale: medium
- Up: 710 m
- Down: 630 m
- Overnight: Penzion Aia in Ždiar
Day 4: A Ride from Zdiar to Nowy Targ
Starting from Ždiar, nestled at the foot of the Belianske Tatras and Spišská Magura, your journey begins with a bit of a challenge. The initial section of the trail just outside the village is quite demanding and steeply uphill, but I know once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.
From there, it’s just a few kilometers downhill to the picturesque village of Osturnia. This beautiful Spiš town is situated on the Polish-Slovak border and is probably the longest village in Slovakia. I can tell you that it’s worth stopping for a moment to admire the typical wooden buildings that are now protected as part of a reserve. The village is home to Orthodox Lemkos (Rusyns) who are known to still wear traditional highlander costumes.
Crossing the Border – Osturnia to Kacwin
As you continue from Osturnia, the trail will lead you along an asphalt path to Kacwin, where you’ll cross the border. I think you should take a little detour here: park your bike at the parking shelter, head downhill, and you’ll discover a beautiful waterfall „under Upłazem”. Don’t forget to check out the second waterfall near the church in the village center.
A Scenic Ride – Kacwin to Nowy Targ
After leaving Kacwin, you have two options: follow the Route Around the Tatras through Łapsze Niżne, Dursztyn, Krempachy, and Nowa Biała towards Nowy Targ or, like us, take a detour to Niedzica to ride the southern part of the route around Lake Czorsztyńskie. I am sure you’ll be amazed by the fantastic views of the Pieniny Mountains, the Tatra Mountains, the Gorce Mountains, and Babia Góra from the well-designed, comfortable bicycle path.
As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also pass the Niedzica Castle with Inca gold hidden in its walls. From the castle, the route features several demanding climbs, with the heaviest one near Kosarzyska Bay, which has about 100 m of elevation over a distance of around 2 km. It’s possible that you might need to walk your bike up this section, but I believe the extraordinary panoramas of Niedzica Castle with the Pieniny Mountains in the background will more than compensate for your effort.
Falsztyn to Frydman
When you reach Falsztyn, make a right onto Velo Dunajec/Velo Czorsztyn and follow the path along the lake towards Frydman. This charming village situated in the Nowotarska Valley, where the Białka River flows into Lake Czorsztyńskie, boasts a typical Spiš urban layout that’s worth checking out. We took a shortcut here, heading towards Krempachy, through which the main trail leads, and from there to Nowa Biała. I’d suggest you do the same.
As you cross the Białka River, you’ll leave behind the picturesque Spisz, more specifically Zamagurie Spiskie, a historical region located on the Polish-Slovak border, and enter Podhale. An asphalt road dedicated to cyclists will take you to Gronków. Along the route, just outside the village of Nowa Biała, you’ll pass the charming white church of St. Magdalena and take in stunning Podhale panoramas.
The Enchanting Red Forest – Gronków to Nowy Targ
After Gronków, the path turns into gravel and its final section, just before Nowy Targ, leads you through the magical Bór na Czerwonym. It is one of the oldest nature reserves in Poland and is also the largest and most valuable area of raised bogs in Central Europe.
- Bór na Czerownym: Pictures and Google Maps
A Recap of Day 4: Route Around the Tatra Mountains
- Route length: 65 km
- Start time: 08:00
- End time: 19:00
- Difficulty scale: medium
- Elevation gain: 670 m
- Elevation loss: 990 m
Summary of the 4-Day Bike Trip on the Trail Around the Tatra Mountains:
- Total days on the road: 4 days
- Total distance traveled: 316 km
- Average time on the road/day: 9-10 hours per day, including breaks and sightseeing
- Route: Nowy Targ – Dolny Kubin – Szczyrba – Zdiar – Nowy Targ
One-Day Bike Adventures Around the Tatra Mountains
I want to emphasize that the Route Around the Tatra Mountains is perfect for everyone – recreational riders, families with children, and experienced cyclists alike. You don’t have to tackle the entire route at once.
If you’re interested in a one-day bike trip, consider the first section of the trail from Nowy Targ or Czarny Dunajec to the Polish-Slovak border, or even further to the Slovak villages of Liesek or Trzciana.
The entire section (Nowy Targ – Trzciana) is a delightful ride without any major difficulties, featuring an even, asphalt path away from car traffic, with numerous parking shelters and rest stops.
Another option is to venture in the opposite direction, from Nowy Targ through the beautiful Bór nad Czerwonym to Nowa Biała, or further to Kacwin. Alternatively, you can ride one of the several available branches of the main trail. I believe the Velo Czorsztyn/Velo Dunajec ride, a bike path that winds around the picturesque Czorsztyńskie Lake, is a fantastic option for a one-day family cycling trip.