Few visitors to the Slovak Republic (part of former Czechoslovakia) take the trip out to Slovakia’s magnificent mountains, but adventure travelers know what they have to offer: challenging hiking and spectacular alpine scenery. The High Tatras, on the Polish border, are a scaled‑down version of the Alps, where snow stays all summer atop jagged granite peaks, waterfalls tumble from stark rock walls, and jewel‑like tarns sparkle in wide, green glacial valleys.In the Malá Fatra mountains, a subsidiary range, deep narrow gorges and ridgetop trails offer great hiking, while a rich alpine flora is found along its quiet forest paths and richly green meadows.
On this hiker’s odyssey, you’ll make easy scrambles up local peaks, traverse long green valleys to high summit ridges, and meet the friendly locals who share the trails with you (hiking is Slovakia’s national sport!). Hikes range in length from five to eight hours, with a return to the hotel at the end of the day. They also vary considerably in difficulty (a few are fairly strenuous); trails are often exposed and chains, ladders, and metal platforms are used to negotiate some of the trickier spots. If you feel like skipping any of the hikes, you’ll find opportunities to explore the local culture. To complement the challenging hikes, you’ll get a taste of the history and culture of the ancient lands of central Europe with visits to unspoiled medieval towns like Levoca, little-changed since the 13th century, Vienna, once the seat of the old Habsburg Empire and the hub of Europe, and Prague, a “golden” storybook city with beautiful architecture of nearly every major period and style.