The Great Fatra is a true hiking gem in the Carpathians. It is one of the most popular national parks in Slovakia. It is the highest mountain range closest to Bratislava. But not only the height attracts tourists, but also the depth. The park is also rich in valleys, canyons, and gorges. In addition to natural resources, castles and ruins await us - for example, the ruins of Blatnica Castle.
The park has enjoyed the status of a national park since 2002. Its surface is covered with vast, untouched forests and cut by romantic valleys. The park is home to the largest stock of yew pine in Europe.
The national park covers an area of 404 km2, of which more than half - 261 km2 - is protected.
|Great Fatra National Park||Details|
|Slovak name||Narodny park Veľká Fatra|
|Distance from Bratislava||245 km|
|Highest point||Ostredok (1 592 m)|
|Further cities||Liptovský Mikuláš, Rózsahegy, Fenyőháza, Stubnyafürdő, Banská Bystrica|
|Top attractions||Ľubochnianska dolina (valley)|
You can find the park on the map under the name Národný park Veľká Fatra. If you’ve heard of Little Fatra, you might want to know that the two areas are not the same.
It is also interesting that the Great Fatra is a direct neighbour of the Low Tatras.
Where is the Great Fatra National Park?
Address, map, distance, approach, contact
The Great Fatra is located in the Carpathians, only to 3-hours drive from the capital, Bratislava. The most popular town is Blatnica, located at the foot of the Fatra. The Great Fatra Mountains are located in the northwestern part of central Slovakia. It is located southeast of Mount Malá Fatra (Little Fatra).
- Distance from Bratislava to Blatnica: 3 hours / 245 km
Greater Fatra borders the Chočské vrchy to the northeast, the Low Tatras to the east, the Starohorské vrchy to the southeast, and the Kremnické vrchy to the south. It is bounded on the west by the huge Turčianska kotlina (Turčian Basin) and on the east by the Liptovská kotlina (Liptov Basin).
More about the area
Due to its unique natural landscapes and preserved nature, Great Fatra was declared a protected landscape area in 1973 and became the youngest national park in Slovakia on 1 April 2002. It has a protected area of 26,132 hectares.
The western face of the Great Fatra perfectly presents the countryside to tourists. In contrast to the central part of the Fatra, the white limestone peaks are much more dominant here. These white bald rocks break the lush forests.
The countryside is also rich in caves (with 50 excavated caves), but its greatest attraction is the abundance of valleys and gorges. The mountains are divided by deep, abruptly descending, gorge-like valleys. The most significant of these are Ľubochnianska, Blatnická, and Gaderska.
Due to the varied environmental conditions created by the vast forests, alpine meadows, rocky mountains, streams, and caves, Greater Fatra is home to many species of insects and more than 220 species of birds and mammals, including chamois, bats, deer, falcons, badgers, wolves and lynx.
It is also worth noting that the largest brown bear population in Slovakia is here - that is why we follow the prohibition signs, which carefully block the areas where bears are known to live.
Cyclamen fatrense - the beautiful, violet flower (protected) - grows nowhere else in the world except in the Great Fatra and the western half of the neighbouring Low Tatras. The flower opens between July and September and is worth spotting in the woods.
Here is the largest untouched forest area in Slovakia. This is understandable, as almost 90% of the park is covered by continuous beech, spruce, and pine forest.
The largest cities are all located at the foot of the Great Fatra. They surround the mountains like a semicircle. The northernmost settlement is Ružomberok, while the southernmost is Banská Bystrica.
If you get into a car, you can get from one city to another in 2 hours - touching the other 4 better-known cities.
- Pine House
- Martin in Liptovský Mikuláš
- Turčianske Teplice
- Banská Bystrica
What is the highest peak in the Great Fatra?
The Veľká Fatra mountain range extends over 78,400 ha in the northwest of central Slovakia. The area contains 276 mountains, the highest of which is Ostredok (1,596 meters).
Although the peaks of the Great Fatra are not extremely high, the mountains can be classified as high mountains due to the barren, rugged terrain and the large elevation difference.
The main ridge
The main ridge known as the Hôľna Fatra is in stark contrast to its other large part, the Bralná Fatra (south), with its impressive rocky landscapes, characteristic karst walls, towers, and windows.
The main ridge of the Fatra (Hôľna Fatra) stretches from the south, starting from the peak of Krížna, continuing north to the highest peak of the Ostredok and Suchý vrch, from Kýšky to the peak of Ploská.
Other typical peaks in this part of Great Fatra are Frčkov, Smrekovica, Rakytov and Borišov.
Bralná Fatra - the southern part
The more robust and rocky southern subdistrict of Greater Fatra - Bralná Fatra - is home to the popular peaks of Tlsta and Ostrá, which dominate the Greater Fatra region around the town of Liptovský Mikuláš.
List of the most popular peaks
There are 37 named peaks in the Great Fatra above 1,300 meters.
|Peaks of the Great Fatra||Height|
|Ostredok||1 592 m|
|Frckov||1 586 m|
|Krížna||1 574 m|
|Rakytov||1 567 m|
|Suchý vrch||1 550 m|
|Ploská||1 535 m|
|Smrekovica||1 530 m|
|Borišov||1 510 m|
|Malá Smrekovica||1 486 m|
|Cierny kamen||1 479 m|
|Lubená||1 414 m|
|Zvolen||1 402 m|
|Tlstá||1 373 m|
|Ostrá||1 247 m|
Ostredok (1592 m)
The highest point of the Great Fatra is 1,592 meters Ostredok. It is located on the main ridge of the Hôlna Fatra. The southwestern part is quite steep, with a high risk of snow avalanches in winter. From the top, there are excellent views of most of the Slovak mountains. Ostredok is one of 14 peaks along the Veľkofatranská magistral.
A hiking trail (blue sign) leads up to the summit - which is a smooth, alpine trail. The tour is approx. 8 km long and the starting point is Turčianske Teplice.
This primary hiking trail can be used in both directions and has a moderate physical rating overall, with an elevation of 361 m. the duration of the hike is 2 hours.
- Length: 8 km
- Elevation: 361 m
- Duration: 2 hours
The nearest mountain hut is Salaš pod Suchým Vrchom, whose Facebook page can be found here. The lodge does not have a website.
There are a total of 5 ski resorts in the Great Fatra National Park. The best known and most popular of these is Donovaly. Ružomberok although 1 km longer, does not compete with Donovaly in altitude.
All ski areas have blue and red slopes - but they can't compete with Austria's black slopes.
The smallest ski resort is only 3.3 km long - 3 lifts - Liptovské Revúce.
|Ski resorts||Length||Slopes||Level diff|
|Donovaly||11 km||Blue, red, black||914 m - 1 361 m|
|Ruzomberok||12 km||Blue, red, black||545 m - 1 209 m|
|Turecká (Staré Hory)||8,6 km||Blue, red, black||650 m - 1 385 m|
|Jasenská Dolina – Belá-Dulice||6 km||Blue, red||540 m - 730 m|
|Liptovské Revúce||3,3 km||Blue, red||680 m - 1 070 m|
Most of the tourist routes in Great Fatra follow either valleys or ridges and saddles. As almost half of the park is a highly protected area, the designated routes should not be deviated from.
Although Greater Fatra is a popular destination, it is still far from the Tatras. It is one of the Slovak parks where you can still enjoy the silence, the untouched nature, and the green wilderness.
#1 Main Ridge
The most popular of the multi-day tours is the 3-day - strenuous - ridge tour. The route runs from south to north, touching the peaks Krížna, Ostredok, and Ploská. The difficulty of the hike lies in the large level difference.
#2 Hiking Smrekovica
The hiking trail starts from Ružomberok and passes through the most famous peaks:
Smrekovica (1,530 m) -> Rakytov (1567 m) -> Ploská (1532 m) -> Borišov (1510 m) -> Ostredok (1596 m) -> Krížna (1574 m) -> Suchý vrch (1550 m)
The total length of the trail is about 55 km and the level difference is about 3,000 m. Despite its strenuous nature, it is one of the most beautiful and grateful trails in Slovakia.
#3 Ostrá and Tlsta
This is of the most popular and most visited trails. It passes through two dominant limestone peaks in the Turčian region. While the 1247-meter-high Ostrá (meaning “sharp”) is mostly accessible climbing rocks and using chains, the 1,373-meter-high Tlstá (meaning “fat”) is round and grassy.
An excellent hike for those who love the varied landscape!
One of the locals’ favorite hiking destinations is the Ostra Peak, which is reached by a nearly 6-hour route. The starting point of the tour is Gaderská, next to the village of Blatnica.
- Difficulty: Medium
- Duration: 6 hours
- Level difference: 1,150 meters
The trail passes the Mažarná Cave, one of the largest caves in the Great Fatra - as it is almost 130 meters long.
#5 Borisov hike
The 1510-meter high Borišov is one of the classics of the Great Fatra. It is located west of Ploska Peak, separated by a typical Fatra saddle. Here, in the saddle, is the Chata pod Borišovom (a wooden hut under Borišov) open all year round.
The Borišov National Nature Reserve protects a well-preserved ancient mountain forest on the northern side of the mountain.
We’ve put together a bunch of the most exciting sights so you can fill your trip with.
#1 Hrad Blatnický
Blatnica Castle (ruins)
You will find the ruins of the once Gothic castle near the town of Blatnica at the foot of the Fatra. The fortress, built in the 13th century, protected an important trade route that went north from the Nitra region. The castle lost its status when another road was built, which started from Liptovský Mikuláš.
The most important owner of the castle was the Révay family, who expanded the fort in the 16th century. Unfortunately, the castle has been uninhabited since 1790, so it first began to collapse, later leading to complete destruction.
- Address: Hrad Blatnica, Blatnica 038 15 Blatnica, Slovakia
- Opening hours: 0:00 - 24:00
- Admission: free
- Starting point: Blatnica municipality, marked route
#2 Gaderská dolina
Not far from the village of Blatnica lies the Gaderská dolina, or Gader Valley - where the ruins of the previously described Blatnica castle are also located. The alpine valley is excellent for cycling and hiking. On a well-developed hiking trail, you can take easy and medium, family-friendly hikes.
The Dedosová Valley can also be found in the upper section of the Gader Valley. The two valleys together are approx. 18 kilometers long. The canyon-like valley is surrounded by huge rock walls.
Thanks to the microclimate of the canyon, you can observe rich flora and, if you are lucky, some individuals from the wildlife of the countryside.
- GPS: N48 ° 56'22 '' E18 ° 55'29 ''
- Location: Žilinský kraj, okres Martin, Blatnica
#3 Blatnická dolina
The Blatnická dolina valley is shorter than the Gader valley presented earlier. The valley, rich in natural values, is often the starting point for hikes.
A hiking trail to Krížna and Kráľová studňa on the ridge of the Great Fatra starts from here. At the bottom of the valley is a prominent rock formation - Skalné okno (Rock Window).
The Gaderská and Blatnická dolina valleys are connected by a tourist sign, which in some places leads through deep gorges. From here you can also reach the nearby Tlstá Forest Reserve.
#4 Vlkolínec village
Vlkolínec is a remarkable, unspoiled settlement of 45 buildings with the traditional features of a Central European village. This region is the most complete group of log house-type mountain architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site preserves folk architecture for posterity.
Vlkolinec is in the municipality of Ružomberok. Although it was historically a separate village, after 1882 it became part of Ružomberok.
Its name probably comes from the Slovak word "vlk", which means wolf.
#5 Ľubochnianska Dolina
The longest valley in Slovakia can be found here in the Great Fatra. The 25 km long Ľubochnianska Dolina - or Pine Valley - serves even a small ski area in winter. From spring to autumn, of course, the terrain is for lovers of hiking.
The valley starts at the Ľubochnianska hut in the north-south valley and ends at the falls of Ploská and Čierny kameň. The stream of the same name flows in the valley.
There are several highly protected areas in the side valleys. It is worth knowing that there are a very large number of brown bears and lynxes living here.
The caves in the area are also interesting. There are a total of 11 caves in the valley, the longest of which is the 28-meter-long cave at the Devil's Rock.
Approximately one-third of the valley is covered by the green-signed loop trail to the Červený grúň saddle, from where the red sign leads to the Blatná Valley.