The High Tatras are a popular tourist destination in Slovakia. In addition, the mountains, which are assigned to the Carpathian Mountains, are often referred as the smallest high mountains in the world in terms of area. In fact, the area is just 340 square kilometers, but over 100 peaks reach the 2000-meter mark here. Two thirds of the area belong to Slovakia, while the rest is in Poland. The landscape is characterized by spectacular mountains, rapid waterfalls, and a fascinating animal world. Accordingly, the High Tatras have excellent hiking conditions. Every summer tourists and mountaineers from all over the world come to explore the breathtaking mountains. The multitude of hiking trails offers the right route for every hiker. In particular, mountain lakes, of which there are over 100 in the High Tatras, can be discovered on almost every route. These emerged from melted glaciers from the last ice age, the water of which gathered in holes. The lakes are also known as the eyes of the Tatras. Deep blue and crystal clear, they fit perfectly into the picturesque mountain landscape.
So, you shouldn’t miss these attractions. In this blog article I would therefore like to introduce you to three glacier lakes in the High Tatras that I visited during my round trip to Slovakia. I am very happy that you found my travel blog and I hope you enjoy reading my travelogue.
- Overview of the most beautiful lakes of the High Tatras
- The Štrbské Pleso
- The Popradské Pleso
- The Skalnaté Pleso
Overview of the glacial lakes of the High Tatras
Below you will find a brief description of the Slovak mountain lakes. If you follow a link, you will be taken directly to the presentation of the corresponding lake. For an overview, I have marked the glacier lakes, sights as well as the parking facilities and bus stops on the map. I would be happy if I can convince you to explore one of the presented lakes in High Tatras by yourself.
The most famous lake in Slovakia is the Štrbské Pleso, as it is located in a winter sports resort. In winter, tourists rush to the surrounding slopes here. Additionally, Štrbské Pleso is a health resort and, at 1,350 meters above sea level, it is one of the highest in Central Europe. In fact, I can confirm that the atmosphere of the picturesque mountain lake and the landscape has a calming effect.
Not far from the health resort, the Popradské Pleso stretches out in the middle of an incredible mountain landscape. A circular hiking trail leads around the beautiful lake. In contrast to Štrbské Pleso, it is incredibly calm and quiet here. A mountain hotel on the north bank is the only vivid contrast to the unspoilt and remote nature. I also liked that it takes a varied hike to reach the lake.
The dreamy Skalnaté Pleso (Rocky Lake) is located at 1750 meters above sea level. A nice hiking trail leads here, but a lift also goes to the lake. The surrounding mountains and deep clouds are reflected in the crystal-clear water. A lift takes tourists from the lake up to Lomnický štít, the third highest peak in the High Tatras. In summary, the place is really magical and definitely a highlight in Slovakia.
1. Štrbské Pleso – The second largest and most famous glacier lake
Štrbské Pleso is the highest municipality in the Tatras. The place is best known for the ski area located here, which attracts thousands of tourists every year. A variety of slopes extend on the mountains of the Tatras. Even the Nordic World Ski Championships have already been held here. However, if you are not interested in winter sports and only want to visit the lake, it is better not to come in winter. On the one hand, it is jam-packed, and on the other, Štrbské Pleso is covered with ice for 150 days a year. But the glacial lake of the High Tatra Mountains shines even more beautifully in blue tones in the summer months. The gigantic mountains in the background are reflected in the water and small boats steer across the 20-meter-deep lake. A real idyll. That is why it is unfortunately touristy and crowded at this attraction in every season. A visit is still very worthwhile, and the tourists spread out sufficiently on the circular hiking trail. I would like to present my impressions to you now. Unfortunately, it was very foggy on the day of the visit, so that we did not have a clear view of the entire lake and the surrounding area. But we had a mystical atmosphere that was just as impressive. But see for yourself.
How to get to Štrbské Pleso
Štrbské Pleso is located on the southwestern edge of the High Tatras. The place can be easily reached by car via the D1 and road 537. Even with our 60 hp engine, we had no problems going uphill. The journey from Bratislava to Štrbské Pleso takes 3.5 hours. Parking spaces are signposted and readily available. We paid 6 euros for the day, but the prices have certainly risen by now. However, there are also cheaper tickets for parking on an hourly basis.
There is also a train station in Štrbské Pleso, with trains from Poprad, for example. You can find timetables and prices on the website of the railway company. Rail travel is cheap in Slovakia, and the network is well developed. I have also marked the parking lot and train station on the map. If you want to learn more about traveling by car or public transportation in Slovakia, check out my travel blog about Slovakia.
If you want to stay longer at this travel destination, you will find plenty of accommodation right on the lake. I recommend booking early, especially in high season. Under the following link you will find an overview of the hotels on Štrbské Pleso.
The circular route around the Lake Tschirmer
From the parking lot we can see restaurants, shops, and cafes from afar. In fact, everything a tourist place has to offer. We therefore take the direct route to the lake. Signposts lead us to the south bank. We decide to do the circular walk counterclockwise. But impressed by the atmosphere, we take a few pictures straight away.
We pass a bizarre hotel with a strange architecture. I sense a nice photo motif and I’m already excited to see how this sight looks from a distance. We reach the north bank, where a blue-marked hiking trail leads up to Chata pod Soliskom. Fog is slowly rising, and dark clouds are piling up in the sky. However, the view of the hotels and resorts on the south bank is still wonderful. We continue our hike. The quirky hotel looms out of the trees in the distance. In fact, the fog thickens and creates a mystical atmosphere at Lake Tschirmer.
The fog now blocks the entire view of the Tschirmer lake. Moreover, drizzle falls on us. We don’t meet many people in this weather. The hiking trail always meanders directly along the shore before it leads us to a small peninsula. There are rest stops and a monument commemorating the soldiers of the Slovak national uprising.
After a short time, a section follows that runs directly on the water. The clear water lies like a blanket on green-brown stones that adorn the bottom of the Tschirmer lake motionless. A duck swims leisurely by. It is quiet and the passing mist seems to silence the rest of the sounds. A view of the Štrbské Pleso is impossible, and yet this natural spectacle creates an incredibly magical atmosphere.
We pass a boat rental company with several boats at the jetty. On this day, however, nobody thinks of rowing into the uncertainty behind the foggy wall. The prices are outrageously expensive anyway.
Hotels with large windows appear on our right. Behind it, people in bathrobes lie on comfortable loungers and watch the goings-on on the bank of Lake Tschirmer. We slowly get back to our starting point. Oncoming tourists flock past us. Fortunately, we set out early.
Conclusion on the Štrbské Pleso
Overall, the visit to Štrbské Pleso was more than worth it. Despite the bad weather. The circular route takes about 40 to 60 minutes, but if you like touristy places, you can certainly stay longer here. There is a lot on offer. In addition, Štrbské Pleso is a good starting point for further hikes in the High Tatras. A popular destination, for example, is the Rysy, which I present to you in this blog post. Furthermore, a red marked hiking trail leads you uphill from Štrbské Pleso to the picturesque Popradské Pleso.
If you prefer to travel in a group, there is a possibility to join a guided tour. You don’t have to worry about transportation, excursion planning, or food, but you can completely focus on the beauty of the High Tatras. I recommend booking a tour through Viator portal, where countless activities around the world can be booked easily and safely.
2. Excursion to the idyllic lake Popradské Pleso
The Popradské Pleso is located in the Mengsdorf Valley, in the midst of gigantic mountains and dense forests. It is about an hour’s walk and 200 meters in altitude from Štrbské Pleso. At the deepest point, the picturesque mountain lake measures almost 18 meters. Due to an inflow and outflow, brown trout live in Popradské Pleso. A beautiful circular hiking trail leads around the lake and guarantees wonderful impressions, because the area is like a little paradise. Steep mountain walls tower up, green forests form a contrast and clouds fight their way over the mountain slopes. In addition, the entire scene is reflected in the clear water of the glacial lake. However, the lake is usually frozen over between November and May, which is why I recommend a visit in the summer months. In contrast to Štrbské Pleso, there are no tourists here. Only a mountain hotel on the north bank brings a little civilization to the remote natural spectacle. Moreover, some great hiking trails in the High Tatras mountains start from here.
How to get to Popradské Pleso
The starting point is a hiking car park northeast of the village of Štrbské Pleso. If you come by car, I recommend following the GPS to “Parkovisko Popradské Pleso”. Here you can park along the street for 10 euros per day (we only had to pay 6 € in 2019). A parking attendant will issue you a ticket. If the ticket office is not manned, you can pay for your ticket for the parking lot when you return.
Traveling by train is also very convenient, as the Popradské Pleso train station is also right by the car park. For example, trains from Poprad arrive here. Train tickets are also very cheap in Slovakia. You can find more information on the website of the railway company or in the app cp.sk. I marked the parking lot and the train station on the map. If you want to learn more about traveling by car or public transportation in Slovakia, check out my travel blog about Slovakia.
If you want to stay longer at this travel destination, you will find plenty of accommodation in the village of Štrbské Pleso. I recommend booking early, especially in high season. Under the following link you will find an overview of the hotels on Štrbské Pleso.
Hike to Popradské Pleso in the High Tatras
We reach the parking lot in the late afternoon. In the distance, gigantic mountains tower up in front of us. The anticipation is rising. When turning off the road onto the hiking trail, we hear the rush of water. A bridge leads over a rapid river that plunges into the valley. Moss-covered stones lie motionless in the riverbed while the water rushes wildly over them. The asphalt road meanders through extensive meadows that shine in lush green tones. Moreover, dark clouds, the passing fog and the gigantic Tatra Mountains in the background create a fantastic contrast.
The further we hike uphill, the more the extensive meadows and wild bushes along the way disappear. But the number of dark green conifers increases steadily until we finally reach a forest area. Here we cross the turbulent river again, whose water rushes over the musty rocks towards the valley. The road then continues through forest areas and finally ends at the mountain hotel on Popradské Pleso. Overall, the route is easy to master and takes around 40 to 60 minutes.
Circular hiking trail around Popradské Pleso
A path leads to the right from the main entrance of the hotel. Soon we reach wooden bridges that cross a river flowing into the lake. A path, which is flooded, runs through the river delta. Therefore, we take off our shoes and socks and grope barefoot through the ice-cold water.
The small path continues directly along the shore. Again and again we have to overcome small floods. The ice-cold water numbs our feet. But this prevents the pain of the small, sharp stones that lie on the ground and dig into the skin. However, the exertion is worth it, because from the east side of the Popradské Pleso we have great views of the mountain hotel, which fits perfectly into the landscape of Tatra Mountains.
Suddenly the trail is free of water, so we can put our shoes on again. On the south bank a small path leads away from the lake. We take the path and shortly afterwards reach a strange monument. It has the shape of a cross but looks more like a colorful torture stake. In any case, we have a wonderful view of the entire Popradské Pleso from here.
We return to the shore and continue our tour. It seems as if the environment is constantly changing due to the alternation of sun and clouds. We watch a wonderful natural spectacle and enjoy the tranquility that this idyll exudes. It’s already late and sunset is getting closer. So, we go back to the hotel where we are staying today. If you would like to find out more about the beautiful mountain hotel, follow this link to my experience report.
If you are looking for more hikes or lakes in the High Tatras, then take a look at this book. I personally like this series of hiking guides very much. The book is small and handy, offers useful information about hiking and detailed descriptions of the hikes. It has already enabled me to discover great hikes that I would not have found without these books. The book is in German, but I think the hiking routes are understandable even without knowledge of German.
Conclusion on the Popradské Pleso
The hike to the lake alone is a sight. If you like quiet areas away from mass tourism, you should definitely visit Popradské Pleso. Here you will find a piece of paradise. We didn’t meet any other people, but we were also out in the late evening. The hiking trail around the Poppersee is around 1.2 kilometers long. Since you can’t stop being amazed at every corner, the hike can still take some time. Overall, together with the way there and back, you are on the road for a good 2-3 hours. In addition, the route is easy to master. A good option is to combine a visit to the lake with a hike in the High Tatras. The Popradské Pleso, for example, is on the way to the legendary Rysy. In this blog post you will find a detailed travelogue about my spectacular hike to the Rysy.
Short Facts for your Trip
The High Tatras is a popular travel destination, that is why the national park is particularly popular in the summer and holiday season. If you like it quieter, come in May or September. However, the lakes are at a high altitude and a hike is required. Therefore, the winter months are not recommended. Although we were in Slovakia in July, it was quite fresh at the presented lakes. The golden autumn is certainly a good alternative when the landscape shines in a wonderful blaze of colors. On the following website you will find climate tables for the whole year. You can find the climate of the individual months on the following website.
3. Skalnaté Pleso – Crystal clear glacial lake at 1750 meters above sea level
In the heart of the High Tatras, northwest of Tatranská Lomnica, lies the Skalnaté Pleso (Rocky Lake). The area around the lake turns into a ski area with plenty of slopes in winter. Accordingly, it is touristy here, but not as much as on Strbské Pleso. In addition, this mountain lake is also frozen in the winter months. In summer, the Rocky Lake shines in turquoise blue and the area offers spectacular views. In fact, the glacier lake is not particularly big or deep, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. In the crystal-clear water, you can see every single stone lying in the lake. Fantastic mountains in the background and the clouds that cling to the rock walls are impressively reflected in the water. However, the ascent to the lake is quite arduous, but there is also a cable car here that will take you to an altitude of 1750 meters.
How to get to Skalnaté Pleso
I combined the visit to the lake with a nice hike from Hrebienok. You can find the blog post to the hiking trail that passes several great waterfalls under the following link. However, it is also possible to choose Tatranská Lomnica as a starting point. Sufficient parking spaces are available here for those arriving by car. But there is also a train station in the village, where trains from Starý Smokovec arrive. You can find more information on the website of the railway company. From Tatranská Lomnica a hiking trail leads up to the Skalnaté Pleso. On the route, however, you have to overcome more than 800 meters in altitude. It is more convenient to use the lift that transports tourists from the village to the lake. I used the lift for the return trip back then. You can find prices and information on the following website. If you want to learn more about traveling by car or public transportation in Slovakia, check out my travel blog about Slovakia.
If you want to stay longer at this travel destination, you will find plenty of accommodation in the village of Tatranská Lomnica. I recommend booking early, especially in high season. Under the following link you will find an overview of the hotels on Tatranská Lomnica.
Skalnaté Pleso in Tatra Mountains
We reach the Rocky Lake after a strenuous hike in the High Tatras. Exhausted, we sit down on a wooden bench and enjoy the wonderful view of the valley. New cable car gondolas are constantly arriving at the summit and bringing new tourists. We are proud, however, that we made it here on foot. Behind us, crowds of people sit on a terrace of the restaurant up here enjoying the good weather. Overall, this attraction is more touristy than we expected.
Circular hiking trail around the Rocky Lake
After a short break we head straight for the lake. We initially reach the east bank and are immediately enthusiastic about the Skalnaté Pleso. The water is crystal clear and all the stones on the bottom are clearly visible. In fact, the Rocky Lake lives up to its name. On the opposite bank, rugged mountain walls rise up, on which thick clouds accumulate. Deeply impressed by this spectacle, we sit on a rock and let the scene affect us.
Most people are already turning around here, but we continue our hike towards the north bank. There are also two hiking trails leading up into the High Tatras. However, we stay on the circular path that runs over large rocks along the shore. We only meet a few people and enjoy the clear view of the Skalnaté Pleso. Suddenly fog is gathering and the bridge, on which we just took pictures, is gradually being swallowed up by it.
Lift to Lomnický štít
Gondolas go up above us to Lomnický štít, which is the third highest peak in the High Tatras at 2,632 meters. Although the red gondola is traveling pretty fast, it takes half an eternity before it disappears completely into the white clouds on the mountain. It’s an impressive demonstration of how huge the mountains in the background really are. However, the ride is quite expensive, and we wonder if there is a view at all with the thick cloud cover.
There is an observatory on the slope, which fits perfectly into the area. In addition to astrometric tasks, meteorological observations are also carried out in the observatory. We capture the last moments at the lake and make our way back. This time we use the cable car towards Tatranská Lomnica.
Conclusion on the Skalnaté Pleso
Although the hike to Rocky Lake is very arduous, I can absolutely recommend a visit. Especially since the ascent can also be done with a cable car. Many tourists and hikers cavort at the summit, but only a few take the circular route around the lake. This is beautiful and convinces with turquoise blue and clear water. You can also combine the visit with a trip to the third highest peak of Slovakia. If you are looking for a nice hike to the Skalnaté Pleso, have a look at my blog post. In this travelogue, I present you a great route that runs along many waterfalls and ends at the Rocky Lake.
If you are looking for a travel guide to Slovakia, check out this book. I personally like this travel guide series very much. The authors give travel tips especially for individual and low budget travelers. Moreover, not only the well-known sights are described, but also more unknown places are mentioned.
If you have any tips for the Tatras, please let me know in the comments. I really want to go to the High Tatras one more time. I hope you enjoyed my travelogue about the beautiful lakes. On my Slovakia Blog I show you other beautiful travel destinations in Slovakia and share valuable tips and experiences for your trip to Slovakia. Did you like my blog post? Was I able to help you? Then I would be happy if you recommend my travel blog, leave a comment, or follow me on Instagram. Thanks for reading and have fun on your vacation in Slovakia.
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