The Slovak Paradise is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and romantic gorges in Europe and even one of the most popular among European tourists. If you have outgrown the Austrian gorges or the Slovenian gorges, do not hesitate to visit Slovakia's number one hiking destination. An unforgettable experience, a real adventure awaits you that you will not easily forget.

Steep rock walls, breathtaking waterfalls, the depths of dark, mysterious forests, caves, sunny, coluorful meadows, a world of wonders, a kind of Paradise atmosphere where all the beauty can be found.

We don't have to introduce anyone who has been here before, but we can only recommend that you definitely visit this wonderful, exciting national park in Slovakia.

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Did you know? Slovakia has 9 national parks. The Slovak Paradise National Park is the second most visited park after the Tatras.

There are plenty of hiking options in the gorge, yet it is very difficult to find all the necessary information online.

Slovak Paradise Details
Season Jan-Dec
Admission 1-2 euros / day
Numbers of gorges 6 gorges
Gorges Zejmarská roklina, Velky Kysel, Sucha Bela, Stredne Piecky, Velky Sokol, Sokolia dolina
More attractions Hornad, Dobšiná Ice Cave
Min age 8 yrs
Barrier-free? No (no wheelchairs, nor strollers)
Dog-friendly? Gorges no, park yes
Website slovenskyraj
Mountain rescuers +421 18 300
Location Stratená, Slovakia
Bratislava distance 4,5 hours, 350 km

Photos

Map - Where is the Slovak Paradise?

Slovensky raj is a mountain range in Eastern Slovakia, as part of the Western Carpathians. It is located between the towns of Spišská Nová Ves in the north and Dobšiná in the south.

National parks of Slovakia, map

The national park is located only just 4 hours from Bratislava. The closest major city is Kosice.

  • Distance from Kosice: 70 mins / 100 km
  • Distance from Poprad: 15 mins / 15 km
  • Distance from Bratislava: 4 hours / 350 km
Slovak Paradise - Bratislava distance map

Although many people are mistaken, the Slovak Paradise is not part of the Tatra National Park. The misunderstanding may be that the two areas are indeed very close to each other, only 30 kilometres away.

You will find the Tatras in the immediate vicinity of the Polish border, while the Slovak Paradise is further inland.

Map - attractions of Slovensky raj

Admission and daily ticket

Access to the gorge is subject to the purchase of a day ticket. It is possible to buy day, three-day and five-day tickets. Have cash with you!

You can buy tickets at the entry points in the car parks every day during the season. If you are staying in a hotel, you may want to ask the hotel or your host where to buy tickets.

Slovak Paradise ticket prices Day ticket 3-days ticket 5-days ticket
Adult (15-62 yrs) 1.50 € 3.50 € 6 €
Children (below 15 yrs) 0.50 € 1 € 1.5 €
+62 yrs 0.50 € 1 € 1.5 €
+70 yrs free free free
Kids under 6 yrs free free free

More about Slovensky Raj

The Slovak Paradise National Park is a protected area (nearly two-thirds of which is gradually protected) on nearly 20,000 hectares, embedded in the Košice-Spiš Ore Karst.

The region has been divided by the Hernád River and the beds of several streams into some smaller and larger areas, which over the millennia have formed the fairytale dazzles of the Slovak Paradise with its valley gorges and waterfalls.

The average height of the ridges and plateaus here is 800-1000m. Its lowest point is where the Hernád leaves the area (466m) and its highest point is the 1157 meter peak of Raven Rock.

There are several limestone formations on the plateaus - gorges, underground caves (eg Dobšiná Ice Cave), and lookout points (eg Tomasovsky vyhlad Lookout), which add some color to your stay.

The Slovak Paradise is a real gem among hikers. The relatively small national park (exactly 19,763 hectares) is famous for its unspoiled countryside, gorge system, Hornad gorge, and lush forests. The area was designated a national park in 1988.

The gorges laced with waterfalls provide a fantastic view. Conquering most of the steep gorge valleys requires some hiking experience, but luckily there are also gorges that are easier to navigate. No matter what level of hiker you are, you won’t be bored and you won’t have to stay home. You are sure to find a challenge that suits your level.

Attention! We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the gorge is only recommended with suitable hiking boots - even on dry, rain-free days! 

Hiking in the Slovak Paradise

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Hiking in the Slovak Paradise

Hiking n the gorges are only permitted in one direction, as indicated by a small arrow on the maps. In practice, this means that there is no possibility of turning back if you are tired, etc.

Hiking in the gorges is made possible by planks, metal trays, and metal ladders attached to the rock wall, which are sometimes 10-20 meters high and lead to waterfalls.

How difficult are the gorges?

  • Easy hike = typically a half-day hike with little elevation. An easy-to-follow route with safely built-in elements. Requires minimal orientation skills, can be walked with children over 8 years of age.
  • Intermediate = half-day tours, sometimes with difficult routes, where the next step/catch is not always clear. The road is secured, but you need to find a place for your feet and hands. A confident sense of balance, good stamina are required; recommended for children from 10 to 12 years of age.
  • Demanding = full-day hikes where in addition to exposure, endurance puts you to the test. We recommend it to well-prepared hikers with confident coordination on rocky terrain, a high degree of orientation, and good fitness.
Attention! In the gorges, it is only possible to travel from bottom to top in one direction. Except for the Hernad gorge, where you can explore both directions.

TOP Attractions

The park has 6 gorges, but we also need to mention the Hornad gorge and the Dobšiná Ice Cave. These 8 attractions are the most popular parts of the park.

No special hiking knowledge is required to explore the Klastorska, Zejmarska, Velky Gorges. The Dobšiná Ice Cave also can be completed with an average physique.

The gorges of Sucha Bela, Piecky, Velky Sokol, Sokolia, and the Helladu Breakthrough (Prielom Hernadu) are harder to hike, it is recommended only for those, who are in good physical shape.

Slovak paradise map | Source: Wikimedia commons 

#1 Zejmarská roklina gorge

This round trip is perfect for the first day to get acquainted with the beauties and challenges of the Slovak Paradise. The gorge in the southern part of the Slovak Paradise National Park is the shortest of all. In the gorge, you can go up in one direction. It is also recommended for children from the age of 8-10.

Zejmar Gorge Details
Hiking route Doklina - Zejmar gorge - Gerava-plateau - Doklina
Address Biele Vody 268, 053 76 Mlynky, Slovakia
Length 5,3 km
Duration 2 hours (plus resting time)
Level difference 248 m
Difficulty Easy
Min age ~ 8 yrs
Attractions Reservoir (vodná nádrz Palmanská Masa), Nálepká Waterfall (22.5m), Gerava plateau

#2 Vel’ky Kysel

Our tour starts from Podlesok and returns here, touching the great Kysel Gorge and the plateau of the Red Monastery.

Spectacular gorge tour from Podlesok to the long-closed, incredibly wild Kysel gorge through the plateau of the Red Monastery and then up the medium-long valley of the Vel’ky Kysel, which offers many challenges, climbs, and ladders.

Velky Kysely gorge Details
Route Podlesok - Kláštorisko - Kysel - Velky Kysel - Glac - Podlesok
Address 053 15 Hrabušice, Slovakia
Length 14 km
Duration 5,5 hours
Level difference 680 m
Difficulty Intermediate
Min age ~ 10 yrs
Attractions Pawlas Falls (the ladder can be reached by bridges), Conservation Falls (10 m, 24-degree iron ladder, 9 rock trays)

From 2016, the Kysel Gorge was opened, made even more special by the category “C” via Ferrata route in the lower part, which can be used from 15 June to 31 October.

#3 Velky Sokol

Great Falcon Valley

Our journey starts and ends at Pila. After hiking through Velky Sokol, the route returns by touching the Pals ridge.

Velky Sokol Gorge Details
Route Pila - Velky Sokol - Pals ridge - Pila
Address 053 15 Hrabušice, Slovakia
Length 17,2 km
Duration 5,5 hours
Level difference 411 m
Difficulty Easy
Min age ~ 10 yrs
Attractions Several waterfalls, 57-degree iron ladder, Roth gorge

#4 Stredne Piecky

The Piecky gorge is the quietest and most peaceful one in the Slovak Paradise.

Our journey starts from Pila, returning here with the touch of the Piecky gorge and the Pals Ridge. The tour is 3 hours 40 minutes officially, but let’s spend 5 hours on it.

Piecky valley Details
Trail Pila - Piecky valley - Pals ridge - Pila
Address 053 15 Hrabušice, Slovakia
Length 11,9 km
Duration 4-5 hours
Level difference 411 m
Difficulty Easy
Min age ~ 10 yrs
Attractions Large waterfall (13 m), Terrace waterfall (8 m), 8 rock trays, Cascade waterfall
Stredne Piecky gorge

#5 Sucha Bela

The Dry gorge

Sucha Bela is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Slovak Paradise, which requires no special training and can be completed with older children. However, a secure balance and dizziness are essential here as well.

Our journey starts from Podlesok and ends there as well.

Sucha Bela Details
Route Podlesok - Sucha Bela - Podlesok
Address 053 15 Hrabušice, Slovakia
Length 10 km
Duration 3,5 hours
Level difference 419 m
Difficulty Intermediate
Min age ~ 10 yrs
Attractions Waterfalls (29.5 m - 8.5 m)

#6 Sokolia Dolina

Falcon Valley

The most difficult, biggest test of the Slovak Paradise. A real, unadulterated, wild, and romantic valley. It is only open to those who are not afraid of real heights.

Even getting to the entrance is complicated and lengthy. But in the end, there is the breathtaking sight of the reward it deserves, the Veiled Waterfall (Závojový vodopád) and the depths unfolding before us from the plank bridges stretching above it.

Our journey starts from Cingov, following the Hernad gorge you reach the gorge, after which it ends at Cignov as well.

Sokolia Dolinka Details
Route Route Cingov - Hernad Breakthrough - Sokolia Dolinka - Cingov
Address 053 13 Letanovce, Slovakia
Length 13 km
Duration 7.5 hours
Level difference 700 m
Difficulty Demanding
Min age ~ 14 yrs
Attractions 75 m ladder system and several waterfalls

#7 Prielom Hornadu

Hernad Breakthrough

The tour starts from Čingov, arrives at the Red Monastery through the Tomasovsky vyhlad, touching the Letanfalva mill, the Monastery Gorge, and then returns to Čingov via the Devil's Ridge through the Hernad gorge.

This is a demanding hike based on our own classification.

Hornad gorge Details
Route Cingov - Tomasovsky vyhlad lookout - Letanfalva Mill - Monastery Gorge - Red Monastery - Devil's Ridge - Hernad gorge - Cingov
Address 053 15 Hrabušice, Slovakia
Length 14,3 km
Duration 5,5 hrs
Level difference 700 m
Difficulty Demanding
Min age ~ 14 yrs
Attractions Tomasovsky vyhlad lookout, Letanfalvi mill, Monastery Gorge, Red MonasteryDevil's Ridge, Hernad Valley

#8 Dobšinská ľadová jaskyňa

Dobsina cave

The Dobsina Ice Cave is the largest ice cave in Slovakia. The entrance to the cave can be reached on foot from a forest road for about 800 meters. The cave can be visited in groups, with a local tour guide.

Dobsina Ice Cave Details
Parking 049 71 Stratená, Slovakia
Phone +421 52 339 1627
Website http://www.ssj.sk/
Duration 1,5 hours
Length 1,66 km
Level difference 111 m
Difficulty Easy
Min age 8 yrs

The cave was created 5-7500 years ago, and it is listed as a World Heritage Site since 2000. It is 1483 meters long and reaches a width of 112 meters.
In some places, the ice in the cave is more than 26 m thick.

Weather

The spectacular gorge valleys and passes are worth a visit in both winter and summer, both of which offer an unforgettable experience.

Most of the gorges are narrow, so the sun is less able to heat the inside of the gorges. The average temperature in July is only between 12-16 C. One thing is for sure, you don't have to worry about heatstroke.

The region is reached by the so-called rainy zone of the High Tatras, which is mainly present in the Poprad Basin and the Hernad Basin. The average annual rainfall in the heart of the National Park (around Podlesok) is 648 mm, with the wettest in the summer and the driest in the winter.

Due to the heavy rainfall, the water roars wildly through the deep gorges and gorges, falls down the rock thresholds in the form of stepped waterfalls, and then penetrates under the crust of the earth to form magnificent cave systems there.

Check the weather forecast here before you leave.

Winter

Due to its microclimate, the karst region is relatively cool. You can count on an average of 78 snowy days a year, which is good news for those who like winter sports. Not too far, there is also a ski slope.

Be sure to bring gloves with you in winter! In fact, bring spare gloves with you if one gets soaked, have something to change. The metal and wooden railings and handrails will be cold, so keeping your hands warm during the gorge-hike is a must! Prefer five-fingered, ribbed, waterproof gloves to hold on more securely.

The park is open during winter.

Getting there

By car

The Slovak Paradise is found in the eastern part of Slovakia, southeast of the Tatras and Poprad. It is definitely recommended to use GPS to approach the National Park, as it is not easy to spot the signposts on the winding road between the small villages.

If you are coming from Bratislava, it is worth using the D1 motorway, then at Poprad on the Hrabušice / Spišský Štiavnik south (number R1 / 18) at Kišvice take road 3227, where you will leave Hrabušice for Paradise to the entrance.

The northern part of the region is the most popular for tourism (Podlesok, Cingo), which can be reached by car or bus on winding roads in the villages of the region.

By train and bus

By public transport, it is advisable to get to the larger cities of the area by train, and from there you can reach the Slovak Paradise National Park by bus. In that case, you will have to walk.

  • Hrabušice stop (3 km)
  • Vydrník (3 km)
  • Spišská Nová Ves (16 km)
  • Spišský Štvrtok 5 km
  • Spišský Štiavnik (6 km)
  • Betlanovce (3 km)

Accommodation

The settlements near the National Park offer accommodation in the framework of rural tourism, emphasizing the offer of local delicacies. You will find smaller hotels and apartments in the area.

If you are looking for accommodation nearby, you may want to look for accommodation in these settlements:

  • Hrabušice
  • Spišská Nová Ves
  • Dedinky
  • Vernár
  • Stracena
  • Mlynky

Hotels

Apartments

There are also many apartments to choose from nearby. It varies how much the accommodation costs, mainly depending on when you go. The high season is from June to September, during the school holidays.

Apartments or rooms for two people are available from 60 euros per night. The price does not usually increase if you bring the kids.

Camping

For those who are more connected to nature, some campsites and chalets provide shelter deep in the heart of the Slovensky Raj. The most significant of these campsites are:

Wooden houses, shelters

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Tip: Book your accommodation well in advance, both in winter and in summer, given the congestion of hotels!

Tips and advice

  • Boots: Crossing the stream is usually provided by a wooden bridge. This, if wet, is quite slippery, and most bridges have no limit, so if it’s easier to solve, you have to cross the creek in boots, it’s not worth avoiding the water because sooner or later our shoes will get you anyway. How much you can control is by going where we feel safest and wearing footwear that is non-slip and waterproof.

Definitely waterproof, closed shoes are recommended, and a raincoat.

  • Drinking water: When planning a tour, keep in mind that the gorge is shady and cool, but you can get a big temperature difference from there. Have the right amount of fluids and sunscreen.
  • High water level: At high water levels, signs typically alert us to increased caution, as information boards indicate the direction of the gorge. There are other ways to get to your destination from each gorge.
  • Mountain Rescue Service: All important, up-to-date information is available in the app of the Mountain Rescue Service (Horská Sluzba), where you can also find out about possible risks and dangers.

Have the phone number: +421 18 300, in case of danger the phone number of the Mountain Rescue Service !!!

  • Agoraphobia: Dizziness is important! If you have space or are afraid of heights, we only recommend exploring the southern part of Paradise. Nor is there a shortage of stunning natural beauties.
  • Map: We recommend the tourist map TP2504 Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj). The scale is 1: 25,000.

Slovak Paradise with children

Think carefully about whether you are going on a hike with a child aged 5-6.  Kids under 8 yrs old may not be able to reach the chains or climb the countless ladders.

Application (app)

It is important to prepare for the tours. If you have an iPhone, you can download the Slovensky Raj app (currently € 3). The language of the application is English.

Thank you for reading this long post. We hope you found the answer to all your questions. We are happy to hear about your experiences, feel free to share them with us.