Slovakia’s Tatra: another overlooked and under-rated hiking holiday

For many of the Slovak I have met over the years if a foreigner knows that Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and doesn’t mix up the city with Budapest or Belgrade and doesn’t confuse the country with Slovenia (another great place I wrote about last time!) you’re more or less an expert on the country already. That, in my opinion, may be a reflection of reality, but it’s a very unjust one. Over a couple of trips over the last six or seven years I’ve really got to know the country’s outdoors as well as the country and culture (to the extent that a tourist who doesn’t speak the local language can in any way get to know a place). As yet, I have nothing bad to say about it and I keep going back.
The easiest way to get to the country from farther afield that Slovakias neighbouring countries is to fly into the capital Bratislava. Discount airlines like RyanAir fly there, so it’s usually not a challenge to get it. Bratislava are also the world’s two closest capitals (not counting Brazzaville and Kinhasa, which are one city split by a river) and at only 55 km apart it’s also possible to fly into Vienna. And for anyone visiting either of the cities, I can highly recommend taking a boat down the Danube to a day trip to the other.
From Bratislava there are plenty of trains and buses going all over the country at what I consider to be quite reasonable prices too. One of the best places to visit for the first-timer to Slovakia is Tatra National Park, the country’s oldest and in my opinion most beautiful national park (though I admit I haven’t seen them all). With smaller mountains covered in woodlands and larger rocky giants with glaciers and snow the entire park is breathtaking to behold. The locals there are also very proud of their mountains (they even feature on the Slovak flag and many official seals and coats-of-arms) and it shows with the quality of hiking trails available.
It might not be the highest place on your hiking list at the moment, but you should definitely consider moving Slovakia up a couple of places because it never fails to disappoint.