Skiing in Slovakia
Slovakia has something for the skier at every level. As a participant sport, downhill skiing may be the country’s favourite: you will find ski racks on trains, tiny ski runs in the most surprising places. Don’t worry, though – longer runs, with a ski lift or tow rope, is never more than a 30 minute drive from just about everywhere in the country.
A bigger limitation is artificial snow (sometimes called “technical snow” here). This technology is limited to the medium-to-large ski resorts, so if it’s unseasonably warm or dry, you may have to travel a few hours from the largest cities.
The best skiing in Slovakia is, of course, at the highest altitudes. Therefore most resorts range geographically from Donovaly (near the central Slovak city of Banska Bystrica) to the north, and from there easterly to the High Tatras. These resorts boast most of Slovakia’s longest and most challenging runs, at least some of which have snow-making facilities. The biggest drawback is that the biggest and best places tend to become quite crowded on weekends and holiday periods, when they are also the most expensive.
On the other hand, there are many excellent shorter runs scattered throughout the country. These are surrounded by beautiful scenery and unspoiled by crowds. The runs will satisfy most skiers, and can be skied on weekends without long lift lines. They also tend to be less expensive, as do the hotels and restaurants in their vicinity.
- Check the weather and snow conditions just before you travel, and be ready to make adjustments to your itinerary accordingly.
- Consider resorts outside of the most popular areas if your travel is during holidays or weekends (ask locals about whether there is a school holiday scheduled for that period).
- If this is your first ski trip to Slovakia, be ready for an experience that will be new to you, but may be just the kind of ski vacation you’ve always wanted.
Travel to most ski resorts is quite easy by train. Most taxis in the area of resorts are equipped to bring your skis as well as your luggage, and your hotel may well be able to send someone to meet you and your equipment at the station. In the High Tatras, trains can probably take you to within sight of your hotel. (If you do decide to drive through or into Slovak mountains in the winter, get advice from someone local about whether to have snow chains handy.)
Cross-country skiing is not a major sport in Slovakia, but there are abundant opportunities for the cross-country skier as well. Groomed trails are sometimes hard to find in many parts, although you can ski one of the best in the world at Strbske Pleso in the High Tatras (usually skiable from November into May).