In February 2020 I made a solo trip to a country I had visited again in the past, the beloved Slovakia. After 24 hours in the so lovable capital Bratislava, I took the train to get a little better acquainted with the province, the town of Poprad and the Tatra Mountains, the country’s largest mountain range shared between Slovakia and Poland.
What is Poprad and why i chose to visit
When I did my research to find a beautiful town where Slovaks vacation in the mountains, Poprad was one of the most popular choices. I saw some photos, I saw a lot of color and so almost by chance I chose it! It is located in northeastern Slovakia, about 110 km from Kosice and about 330 km from Bratislava, and is considered the “gateway” to the High Tatra National Park (Vysoke Tatry) for winter sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
The Tatra Mountains are often described as the smallest alpine mountain range in Europe and are known for their majestic sky-high peaks, turquoise mountain lakes, waterfalls, unique plants, rare animals such as the chamois (goat) or marmot, and of course extremely clean air and environment. There are three main parts of Tatra Mountains: The Western Tatras The (central) High Tatras The Belianske Tatras The train journey from Bratislava to Poprad takes about 4 hours and the ticket costs around 15€ with return.
In the city there is a great mobility of hikers, skiers, families who have come to spend a few days close to nature. The whole city is occupied by an almost retro style, with colorful buildings and often with special paintings on the shops – and as I noticed later – many times inside the shops themselves.
I stayed in a very small but quite luxurious hostel, in the city center and my single room cost 30 €. Yes, Slovakia as a whole is a very budget friendly country. After a short walk in the city I loved and I have to suggest you two very interesting cafes, if the road ever takes you to Poprad. A general remark is that all the cafes I visited also operated as florists selling fake flowers. As strange as it sounds.
Cucraren Domenico: Of course retro, of course also a flower shop BUT the best coffee that i found in the area.
Cat Cafe Club Poprad: Yes yes you got it right, my excitement was huge when I discovered in this small town a delightful cafe with cats. I went in, ordered some hot chocolate and enjoyed it with the cats in the cafe.
Have a taste of the Tatras Mountains
A perfectly functioning electric train network runs in the Tatras area and connects Poprad to the small villages at higher altitudes, so I recommend using them rather than a car as parking is difficult in some of the villages.
There are three main options for accommodation in High Tatras: Štrbské Pleso, Starý Smokovec and Tatranská Lomnica, on the other hand, if you are a kid in the city you can stay in Poprad and be in the mountains in about 30 minutes.
What can you do in High Tatras
If you are in your area I suggest you do one of the many hiking trails that you will find and in winter of course to spend several hours in their Ski Resorts. You will find a total of 24 km of slopes and 60 km of Scandinavian ski runs. The snow turns the Tatras area into a spectacular winter wonderland so you are sure to enjoy incredible skiing in a stunning natural landscape.
Pro tip: Do not forget to climb the most beautiful peak in Slovakia! Lomnický štít Cable Car: The historic cable car takes about 9 minutes in each direction and can accommodate 4 people at a time. Since a limited number of visitors can be accommodated daily, it is necessary to book your ticket in advance and of course to be ready for the € 39 you will pay. I know… but it’s worth it.