Slovakia is home to some breathtaking mountain ranges of the Carpathians. It has the Tatras – High and Low Tatras -, and it has the Fatras, too – Little and Great Fatra. We’ve already written a post about Little Fatra, now it’s time to show you its older brother. Older? Actually, Great Fatra National Park (Veľká Fatra in Slovak) is the youngest in Slovakia. It was founded in 2002.
What makes Great Fatra special?
To make it even more confusing, Great Fatra is also lower than Little Fatra. Its highest peak is Ostredok at 1592 metres while Little Fatra’s Veľký Kriváň is 1709 metres. Why is it called Great Fatra then? Simply because of its size.
Great Fatra is Slovakia’s largest, most untouched wilderness. About 90% percent of the park is covered by continuous forests, and it’s home to brown bears, grey wolves and Eurasian lynxes. Its long trails and valleys lead into the heart of a beautiful green wilderness. Majority of the trails run on the saddles and ridges of Great Fatra offering incredible views all the way.
Located at a lower elevation than the High Tatras, weather is milder and sunnier in the Great Fatra. Hiking season is also longer: it’s roughly from mid-spring until late autumn. The large meadows of Great Fatra are especially stunning in late spring and early summer when they are covered by countless blooming wildflowers.
We’ve collected our favorite day hikes to help you getting started with an adventure in Great Fatra:
The highest peaks: Križna & Ostredok Loop
Our most memorable day in Great Fatra is the one when we conquered both of its highest peaks: Ostredok (1592 m), the highest and Krížna (1574 m), the second highest one. They are located right next to each other, and conquering them means a full day long, scenic hike.
The trail starts from the village of Staré Hory. The first section runs in the forest, but trees get sparser as we get higher. Our favorite viewpoint was the cliffs of Majerova skala – a viewpoint at about halfway towards Krížna peak. From there we hiked on the saddle and enjoyed panoramic views all the way to the two peaks. We stopped several times to enjoy the views (and eat some chocolate to make up for the energy we lost 😛 ).
Another challenging and scenic day hike in Great Fatra is the route to Rakytov peak (1567 m). It starts just outside of the village of Liptovská Osada.
There’s a sign that indicates the trail towards Rakytov peak, but there’s no proper parking lot, just a dirt pullout by road 2223. No worries about the space though, it’s not a busy trail. We did this hike in the summer, yet there was no one there when we arrived. Later in the day two more cars arrived. Great Fatra is not that crowded. 🙂
The steep trail led us above the forest quite soon, and we could enjoy views over the large hills and pine forests from then on. Our favorite section was the last one: the hike on Rakytov saddle towards the peak.
The minute we reached Rakytov peak, we saw the first lightning. The sky above the nearby peaks got darker and darker within minutes. We had just enough time to put on our rain jackets. Well, mountains are unpredictable, and thunderstorms always arrive when you reach a peak you better have a raincoat with you all the time.
If Ostredok, Krížna and Rakytov seem too much of a challenge to you, we recommend a hike to Ploská peak (1532 m). It’s somewhat shorter, but the views are still incredible all the way, because most of the trail runs on the saddles and ridges.
The trail starts from the village of Vyšná Revúca along road 2223. We didn’t find a dedicated parking lot, so we just parked parallel to the road in the village. You can usually do that in villages and small towns in Slovakia.
We actually reached Ploská within 3 hours. The most beautiful section was again the last one before the peak: the section from Sedlo Ploskej to Ploská. From Ploská you can continue towards Chyžky peak to make it a loop trail. Unless a thunderstorm arrives, because then it’s better to turn back.
Where to stay
Several lovely villages are located in the Great Fatra. One of them is Staré Hory where the trail starts to Krížna and Ostredok peaks. Others are Liptovská Osada, Liptovská Lúžna or Donovaly. Larger cities still close to Great Fatra National Park are Ružomberok and Banská Bystrica.
Our favorite places to stay are Pension St. Maria in Staré Hory and Privát Luzja in Liptovská Osada. They both offer nicely renovated, cosy private rooms in a beautiful, quiet environment close to the trailheads of Great Fatra.
Have you ever heard about the Fatras? Are you tempted to explore them?
Disclosure: We paid for this trip ourselves and our hotel stays were not sponsored either. However affiliate links are used in this post, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. If you are ready to book your trip and would like to support this website in some way, here’s your chance. Thank you! 🙂