These dazzling views from Slovakia's hills will take your breath away

From Paradajs to the Fatras and Tatras: Here's where to set off for a hike

Veľký Rozsutec (Source: TASR)
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Vysoké Tatry (High Tatras) have without doubt become the pride of Slovakia for their grandeur and divine scenery. But the country supplies visitors with wonderful, often undiscovered to many, views and trips to other hills and peaks.

The Spectacular Slovakia tourist guides writers picked out several mountaintops to set out for, including those in Malá a Veľká Fatra (Little and Great Fatra Mountains) and Štiavnické vrchy (Štiavnica Hills).

1) Paradajs

A paradise is literally hidden in Hodrušská hornatina (Hodruša Uplands), which make up a solid part of Štiavnické vrchy, situated in central Slovakia: Paradajs Hill.

The mountaintop, which stands close to the medieval town of Banská Štiavnica, is almost 1,000 metres in height. Visitors can begin their hiking trip straight from Námestie sv. Trojice (St Trinity Square).

Afterwards, tourists should follow a green trail marker, passing by Lake Veľká Vodárenská, up to the Červená studňa crossing (Red Well). From there, a red trail marker will guide tourists straight up to Paradajs. The top gives people a panoramic view of Banská Štiavnica. In addition, Lake Ottergrund can be found below this peak.

"Provided there is good weather, you can see Kremnické vrchy (Kremnica Hills), Nízke Tatry (Low Tatras), and the Poľana volcanic mountain,” Ľubomír Mäkký of the Hiking.sk website said.

Tourists can then continue their trip from Paradajs to other hilltops, including Tanád, and the saddle named Pleso. Hikers can later walk down to Richňavské jazero (Lake Richňava), Mäkký added.

The route, four kilometres long, is suitable for family trips as well. It takes approximately two hours to complete. Moreover, people can make their way shorter if they pull their cars over near Červená studňa. This is also the spot where an educational trail begins, along which tourists can find wells with drinking water. The trail is used by cross-country skiers in winter.

2) Tlstá & Ostrá

Up north off Štiavnické vrchy, the two mountaintops of Tlstá (Thick) and Ostrá (Sharp) have long been dominant features of Veľká Fatra and the Upper Turiec region, centred around the city of Martin in central Slovakia.

The hilltops, located not far from each other, got their names for their distinctive appearance.

The climb to both hills is manageable in about five hours. The advantage of this hike is the fact that this trip always starts and ends on the outskirts of the village of Blatnica, where a parking space is also located. In fact, a car is not needed since a bus stops there.

Although the starting and ending points are identical, there are several trails up to Tlstá and Ostrá.

The trail mostly runs through the woods but the tops themselves are covered with meadows and rocks. Therefore, the two hills offer spectacular views at all cardinal points.

If tourists decide to hike first up to Ostrá, which is smaller and steeper but can be climbed faster, they must cross a window rock and climb Ostrá with the help of chains.

Up from Ostrá, people can enjoy a view of the Veľká Fatra Ridge and Tlstá. It is the mentioned ridge through which the hiking trail continues to the nearby Tlstá. The elevation is not big, so it is a rather pleasant walk.

When descending from Tlstá, it is worth visiting Mažarná Cave with a length of 130 metres. In the past, people and a cave bear used to live there.

The cave is not lit, and people need to carry a torch.

3) Poludnica

Nízke Tatry also offers a number of hiking trails. For example, Poludnica offers dazzling outlooks and paths, which people can combine in several ways.

But owing to its height of 1,500 metres this mountaintop does not belong to the dominant features of Nízke Tatry. It can, however, be a challenge for hikers.

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“I would not say it is a very easy hiking trip, because the elevation in its easiest variant is about 1,000 metres,” Mäkký said. This means tourists must walk around five kilometres on a steep hill.

Mäkký recommends beginning the Poludnica climb from the village of Liptovský Ján, central Slovakia. A short circuit, starting in Liptovský Ján, is manageable under five hours. Tourists can just climb up Predná and Zadná Poludnica (Front and Back Poludnicas) and walk back down to the village.

There is a long cave along the track, where Jews hid during the Second World War. A visit to the cave has a pleasant chill owing to its low temperature. On the top of Poludnica, tourists can enjoy diverse views of the Liptov Region and Nízke Tatry.

“You get the feeling of standing on the balcony while throwing a pebble down to the square in Liptovský Mikuláš from up there,” Mäkký described the Poludnica outlook.

However, the hike to Poludnica can start in the villages of Iľanovo and Závažná Poruba, as well.

In addition, the Poludnica climb can be arranged as a full-day hike lasting about ten hours. This track then passes through Jánska dolina (John Valley). The ascent to the even higher Krakova hoľa (Krakova Grasslands) is part of this trip

4) Malý Rozsutec & Veľký Rozsutec

One of the most beautiful hikes in Slovakia gets mountain lovers up to Veľký and Malý Rozsutec (Little and Great Rozsutecs).

The higher of the Rozsutec pair is even part of the Malá Fatra National Park logo. Moreover, legend has it that Jánošík, a national hero, hid a treasure there.

It is recommended to begin the climb to both of the mountaintops in the village of Terchová and its Biely Potok neighbourhood (White Stream), located in the Žilina Region. Biely Potok is reachable by bus, too. This hiking trip generally starts at Hotel Diery's car park.

Prior to enjoying splendid views, tourists will enjoy the Jánošíkove diery trail (Jánošík's Holes), made up of gorges and canyons. It is divided up into three parts: Dolné diery (Lower Holes), Nové diery (New Holes), and (Upper Holes). Tourists can find several waterfalls and eye-catching rock formations, accessible via marked trails with ladders, chains, and footbridges.

One of the enjoyable stops during the hike is the grass crossing called Pod Tanečnicou (Under the Dancer), not far from the saddle of Medzirozsutce. Tourists get the opportunity to look up at Malý Rozsutec from this spot.

On Medzirozsutce, tourists can choose if they walk up towards Malý Rozsutec or the more challenging Veľký Rozsutec, or both. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the smaller of the two peaks, but chains are necessary at some point of the ascent.

Following the same route, which hikers used to get up to the hills, they will walk back down to Biely Potok.

5) Sivý vrch & Babky

“All the paths have first-class trail blazing ,” Mäkký said about the above-mentioned trips.

Moving on to Západné Tatry (Western Tatras), this mountain range hides one of its smallest mountaintops: Sivý vrch (Grey Hill). It is one of very few hills within the range that does not reach a height of 2,000 metres.

“The Sivý vrch area is terra incognita for many people,” Mäkký claimed. He added that many mistakenly consider this limestone peak, with its many rock towers and formations, as part of Roháče (Horns Mountains).

It is possible to climb Sivý vrch from a gamekeeper's lodge under Biela skala Hill (White Rock). The former lodge is placed between the Liptov and Orava Regions, where Západné Tatry and their ridge begin.

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However, Mäkký recommends starting the hike at the recreational resort of Bobrovecká vápenica near the village of Jalovec, not far from Liptovský Mikuláš. There is also a parking space. In addition, a bus stop is located a few kilometres away, at the nearby Jalovec junction.

From Bobrovecká dolina (Bobrovec Valley), tourists follow a blue trail marker up to the Nad kameňolomom crossing (Above a Quarry). The path is very steep.

On the way to the hilltop, hikers can stop by and visit a guerrilla bunker, or rather a cave. The blue trail marker will take tourists next to a hut called Chata pod Náružím (Hut under Náružie Hill), situated on the Červenec mountain meadows.

“The village of Bobrovec owns the hut, but different cottagers run it,” Mäkký said. Hence, the cottage is not always open, he added. Yet, hikers can find springs with drinking water nearby.

Following the blue mark, tourists can reach the saddle called Predúvratie, where it is required to follow a green trail marker. It will then bring people up to Sivý vrch.

However, the trip can go on to Babky Hill (Grandmas), up from which hikers can enjoy wonderful views of the main Západné Tatry ridge and the Liptov Region.