In Europe: The Smallest High Mountain Range in the World Couldn't be More Breathtaking
If you love the mountains, you should visit the High Tatras. The mountain range is located in the middle of Europe and is as astounding as the Alps.
May 24 2023
It's the beautiful scenery that has attracted tourists to the Alps for decades, as well as the many local activity and excursion opportunities. When people think of the mountains, they think of Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany and South Tyrol, but not Poland and Slovakia. Contrary to what one might expect, however, these two Central European countries are also blessed with breathtaking mountain scenery. Even more so, Poland and Slovakia are home to the High Tatras, the smallest high mountain range in the world.
Great nature cinema
It's well known that the status of the Alps comes at a certain price. Ski resorts and hiking resorts become more and more expensive. So why not travel to the High Tatras? It comes as no surprise that the area, which stretches from southern Poland across northern Slovakia, is considered an international biosphere reserve (recognized by UNESCO).
Mighty snow-capped peaks, green alpine meadows, turquoise streams and lakes, traditional valleys and forests that glow in the most beautiful colors - the High Tatras can absolutely keep up with its big brother, the Alps. The High Tatras are still relatively unknown in comparison, but that is exactly what makes this spectacular area.
What to do
Translated from Polish, the name Morskie Oko means sea eye - and this is to be taken literally. The largest mountain lake in the High Tatras, in terms of area, is a remnant of the Ice Age and delights with its turquoise color. The Wall Street Journal named it one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world in 2014. Several hiking routes lead up to the glacial lake, which is located at 1,395 meters. At the top, you can enjoy the dreamlike idyll. The lake is framed by Swiss stone pines and is considered a habitat for the rainbow trout. With a little luck, you can admire chamois, bears and golden eagles in the surrounding landscape.
Slowly the water makes its way over the rock, a rushing sound, and through the air swirls a light water mist - the Wielka Siklawa is a unique natural spectacle that magically attracts visitors. The waterfall is considered the largest in the Polish part of the High Tatras. The Siklawa is accessible via a hiking trail. You can strengthen yourself in the not far away mountain hut Schronisko PTTK w Dolinie Pięciu Stawów Polskich.
The Gubałówka (1,126 meters high) is considered the local mountain of Zakopane and is easily accessible by gondola or a chairlift. What you'll find at the top, you probably didn't expect when you set out down in the valley. At the destination there's a settlement with a kind of fair, which is equipped with small souvenir stands, street food carts and restaurants throughout the year.
Where to go
Right on the border with Slovakia, at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, lies the small sleepy resort town of Zakopane, which is best known for its traditional architecture. The Zakopane style developed as early as the beginning of the 20th century and reflects the wooden construction typical of the place. Similar to the chalets in the Alps, Zakopane wooden houses invite you to spend cozy winter days and traditional vacations in the warm months. Typical for Zakopane are also the many restaurants that offer local specialties such as Oscypek, a cheese made from sheep's milk.
Hotel Tip: the Aries Hotel & Spa Zakopane scores with a soothing spa area with pool, relaxation zones and saunas and its style mix of old and modern. Small details, such as a walk-in gondola in the lobby, round out the hotel's special design concept. Price: from € 141
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