Out of Slovakia’s 9 national parks Slovak Paradise (or in Slovak: Slovensky Raj) definitely has the coolest name. It would be hard to argue with this naming as this small park is a real paradise with its lush forests, wild creeks, adventurous ravines, glens and waterfalls. Could you see yourself climbing up to the top of a 70-something meters waterfall on series of ladders? Or walking in an ice tunnel? Or hunting waterfalls in charming glens? These are the main reasons Slovak Paradise has quickly became our little paradise.
Dobšinská Ice Cave
Not many ice caves in the world are located so low as Dobšinská Ice Cave in the Slovak Paradise. With the elevation of only 920 to 950 meters it’s still an icy wonderland all year! It belongs to the first electronically illuminated caves in Europe and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
Dobšinská is open to visitors roughly from the middle of May until October. You can explore it during a 30 minutes long guided walk. This was our first time in an ice cave! And walking in ice tunnels, and visiting ice halls was such a cool thing to do.
Check out their official homepage for opening hours, prices and other useful details.
Dry White Gorge (Roklina Suchá Belá)
It’s one of the most popular ravines in the Slovak Paradise. Easily accessible, charming, adventurous and it only takes a couple of hours to do this loop. They say it’s busy, but when we arrived around 3 pm in the afternoon, and started the trail, we met only very few people. 😛 Guess we were late. Still we had plenty of time to enjoy this hike on that long summer day.
The narrow gorge runs in a glen, and there are 4 lovely waterfalls on the way – the highest is 29.5 meters, and the smallest is 8 meters. There are ladders, platforms and iron steps built in the rocks, so that we can safely climb in the glen without any professional climbing equipment. Waterproof hiking boots are useful though, because of the countless creek crossings on the way.
This was our first glen hike in the Slovak Paradise, and it was so much fun! So much that we decided to go back and explore all the lovely canyons in the following years…
All the beautiful glens and waterfalls
So we’ve actually explored all the glens and ravines of Slovak Paradise in the following years. We’ve written a blog post series with all the details about these hikes. Don’t hesitate to check them out if you want to know more – here they are:
- Hornád River Canyon (and all the routes that are accessible via Hornád River Trail)
- Dry White Gorge
- Veľký Sokol (the longest glen in the park)
- Zejmarská glen (the shortest glen)
- Small Stoves Gorge (the least explored glen)
Useful hiking info
As in many European countries hiking trails are marked with colors in Slovakia. There are usually maps and signposts at the trailhead, and you should look for the color signs on the trees once you are on the trail. Signposts are often there to help you at crossings, but it’s always good to have a map with all the trails and their colors on it (at least, take a photo of the map at the trailhead with your phone).
There is a small entrance fee to Slovak Paradise National Park (1.5 EUR/person at the time of our visit, 2018 May). It’s collected at some of the most popular trailheads.
Most of the glen hikes are one-way: only up! This is to ensure safety, and there’s always an easy trail leading down outside of the glen.
Our favorite online trailmap for Slovak Paradise is this one – actually, it’s our favorite trailmap for Eastern Europe.
Where to stay
Hrabušice is a lovely village that’s close to most trailheads of the Paradise. Our favorite guest house to stay when visiting the park is there: Villa Mediasi. It offers nice, spacious, newly renovated rooms and a well-equipped, large, shared kitchen. To our pleasant surprise the staff speaks fluent English – that is not at all common at private guest houses in Slovakia.
If you plan to drive through the park, and do some hiking in its southern area, Mlynky or Dedinky are nice choices. Last but not least: if you only visit the park as a day trip, Poprad is the closest major city that you can use as a base to explore the area.
Beware of bears!
There are bears in the Slovak mountains. They are rarely seen, and no one has died from a bear attack in Slovakia since long years now. (We’ve never seen any bears yet while hiking in Slovakia.)
But it’s good to keep the general bear safety tips in mind. In a nutshell: make noise (talk loudly, sing, clap) to make your presence known; in case of an encounter, don’t ever turn your back to the bear, and try to leave the area slowly. You can check this for more details, but there’s tons of good advice out there on the internet about bear safety.
Have you ever been to any of the Slovak national parks? Are they on your bucket list?
Note: This post was originally published in 2016, and updated in August 2018.
Disclosure: We paid for this trip ourselves and our hotel stay was 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! 🙂