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Bicycling in Slovakia: Suggestions, ideas, experiences (from Gabor Györgyi)

Bicycling in Slovakia: suggestions, ideas, experiences (from Gabor Györgyi)

Györgyi Gábor's bike pages

1999, Crossing the Carpathians by bike
1998, Adventurous bicycletour in Slovakia
1997, Zig-zagging in Slovakia
1995, Tatra bicycletour
1993, Tatra bicycletour -

get this gear!

Between 1993 and 1999 5 times I went on 10-14 day long bicycletours in Slovakia and in the polish Tatra with packs behind me. On these tours I gathered ca. 5500 kms in the slovakian land. I compiled the following tips from these experiences:
If bicyclers go on a bicycletour in Slovakia, it is very likely that they will visit the High Tatra. Because in each of the 5 occasions we didn’t missed the High Tatra, I will divide the slovakian routes into two parts, based on, if they are situated eastwards or westwards from the Tatra – Bükk (hungarian mountain-range) line.


General experiences: In Slovakia the roadsurfaces are better, the traffic are less busy than in Hungary. The wide hard shoulders / edges of the main roads are ideal for bikers, so – because the traffic on these roads are only normal and not too busy – during cycling there it won’t mean a problem. There is no reason for feeling fear because of the cars. The quality of the secondary roads are either not bad, but on these roads we can find somewhere rough surface or pot-holes.
Unfortunately in Slovakia there are no open well along the roads, streets, so the biker can fill the flasks only at petrol stations or private houses. In the Slovansky Raj or High Tatra(s) there are some springs along the roads.

Accomodation: With my tourmates in each of the five years we preferred to wild camping, usually at the edge of forests (the only exception were the nights in the High Tatra). I suggest to hide behind bushes, or turn off onto minor roads without any traffic. At the feet of the High Tatra (for example in Nova Lesna) there are a lot of private houses where we can rent/hire rooms or appartments.
In the course of my slovakian biketours a few of my most remarkable feelings came from such roads which went through fir tree forests and there were tipical flowers of the Tatra and Slovakia. (its colour is rose and they have a long head with a lot of flower-head on it. It can be more often seen in Slovakia, then in the Alps – I think).

Maps: I have been bringing a 1:500.000 map with me for years, but for having more and detailed informations about the climbs I bought some 1:100.000 tourist-maps about the mountain-ranges. In the last few years slovakian bike-maps are also offered, which show MTBpaths and the steepness of the roads.



Starting the tour from East-Slovakia, I suggest two routes to begin the slovakian bicycletour : (I suppose that the bikers don’t want to cycle on busy main-roads, like the road (no. 3.) between Miskolc and Kosice and the other road between Miskolc and Bánréve):

From Roznava (314m) to Dobsina the road ascends very pleasantly to between higher and higher mountains. At the end of Dobsina starts a middle hard climb up to a 870m high saddle next to the lake Dedinky. On this 7,3 km the biker has to climb 400m heightdifference. The slope goes up with serpentinebends between fir trees and gives some nice views to the valley. Although the road doesn’t go through Dedinky, the lake (there are 1000-1200m high mountains around it) and the village is worth seeing anyway (1st photo). We can take a round towards the lake, but we can go through the dam that swells up the water. Next to the village there are shore, where swimming is let. Remaining on the main road the land will be more romantic with some rocks, and besides the valley became narrower. During cycling in the valley we can enjoy the beauty of the fir trees, mountains, the clear air. At the entrance of a tunnel I suggest to choose to turn right into a canyon. That road is closed for the cars and only one kilometer long, but very romantic and beautiful! After the kilometer the road joins into the main road. Before Stratena there is a ca. 30m high rock next to the road, which can be – carefully – climbed. In every year when we cycled there, we went up to the top of that rock; it was a tradition for us.
Turning right, to Poprad a 1,3 km long 10-12% steep ascent goes to the 1056m high pass. While we are slowly struggling up, we can hardly notice the flowers, the fir tree fragrance.
The steeper part of the descent is 6km long; somewhere twisting, but it has good surface. We can catch sight of the peaks of the High Tatra from Hranovica which seems to be full of gipsy inhabitants. Before Poprad there is one climb left, the Kvetnica; its light ascent is only 3 km long. After a short downhill there is maybe the best view to the High Tatra. Coming out from the forest we can see how the whole High Tatra mountain-range rises up to the sky (photo).
This june (2004) I plan to climb the heighest asphalted road in Slovakia, to the 1946m heigh Kralova Hola in the Low Tatra.

After Roznava we start with the same road (towards Dobsina), about I have written above, but at Gemerska Poloma if we turn right (towards Hnilec) we can enjoy cycling on a very calm, quiet road. On that road the bikers can’t meet too many cars. The climb has a long almost flat beginning section, then it goes into the forest, but although the gently sloping section is long, the 10 km long climb isn’t too hard. Not much before the 909m high Sulova pass there is a spring under the fir trees. From the saddle the view extends only to the neighbouring mountains, on the saddle I’m sure everybody feels the quiet, and mood as we would be at the the worldend. On the descent there are potholes, but for these the biker are compensated by the beautiful scenery towards north, towards the valley of Hnilec (photo). After a few kilometers long flat section we had to climb some kilometers onto the mountainside, where this road joins the other road that connects Spisska Nova Ves and Dedinky. Turning north (right) the climb continues to the 1069m high Grajnar saddle, while choosing the other direction (left), on this we can roll to the shore of the Lake Dedinky (11kms from the junction). From Dedinky we can reach Poprad on the same road, about which I have written in the last paragraph. (There is an other road towards Poprad through the Slovensky Raj and Hrabusice, that’s rough and mended. The other, through Vernar is much nicer.)

From Bánréve our route comes closer to Rimavska Sobota through flat land; there are not too much traffic. After the town we push the pedals in a gently ascending valley northwards to between the mountains. After Tisovec the valley has a true slovakian character: in the lower part of the climb a stream and the fir trees together makes the valley be more atmospheric. In the middle of the climb the road goes under a viaduct. On this road there aren’t too much traffic too. The 725m high Zbojska saddle is similar to the Sulova pass, where we can meet a car only in every half an hour. A gently sloping descent goes down to Brezno (500m), from where a 7% steep calm climb waits for the biker. The ascent is only 4km long, but is between the most beautiful ones. The ascent twists up through a fir tree forest and then on the 733m high situated top the biker gets a fantastic view to the whole Low Tatra mountain-range for his/her efforts (photo). This is one of my favourite passes. After a few kilometer long descent we arrive at Myto pod Dumbierom (650m), where a 10-11 km long middle steep climb goes up to the 1238m high Certovica pass.
(From Myto pod Dubmierom we can take a ca. 30 km long detour (climb) into the Bystra valley and to the 1216m high situated Srdiecko hotel , to under the Chopok.) On the Certovica pass an old motel can be found, and besides there is a small but friendly restaurant and pension. The first half of the descent to Liptovsky Hradok gives opportunity to enjoy the speed, but in the second half pedalling is needed.

Side valleys / roads towards to Tatra, which is suggested to discover:

If we want to visit the east Slovensky Raj, or Spisska Nova Ves, going towards the High Tatra, there is only one road to choose: from Dedinky through the 1069m Grajnar pass. The 15 km long climb has 300m heightdifference, and is steep only on short sections. From a left bend we get a pleasant view to the whole valley. It’s interesting that there is no prospect from the saddle, but a chapel. The descent has a pleasant steepness and bends and good surface. Going down towards Spisska Nova Ves we can enjoy rolling in the fir tree forest very much (photo). This road is ideal for bicycling: beautiful and not too hard. From Spisska Nova Ves the road ascends lightly to Levoca in a pleasant shady avenue. We catch sight of the town from a hillside. Levoca seems to be a nice small town: on the hillside some houses, with a church between them and a chapel on the hilltop.

With a 35km long detour we can visit the largest fortress of Middle Europe, the Spisské fortress. The short steep climb - on which we left the town - is followed by a 4 km long descent. Not far after it the fortress can be seen (photo): it’s much easier to keep on cycling, when we see, what’s our destination. The road goes up to the 675m high situated fortress from behind. (In 1997 we had to pay 40 Sk for the entrance, and besides we should had to pay 50Sk for the videocamera. The whole building can be visited and gone through; there are stairs inside the wall of the tower; on a model of the exhibition we saw its hungarian name with pleasure, because 100 hundred years ago it was the part of Hungary. On the ca. 1 km long wall of te fortress can be also gone through.)

After Levoca we had to push the pedals for a few kilometer long on straight, bare and lightly steep climb. After a long downhill we arrive at Spisska Stvrtek, that is known for its church with a white tower and wooden top. To Poprad there are some 1-2 km long, somewhere 10% steep climbs.


Cycling eastwards from Roznava we had to cross a small hill to arrive at Krasnahorské Pohradie, which is known for its castle. I suggest the climb that starts behind the village only for enough trained cyclists, because on the next 9 km 660m heightdifference is to be gone through with some steep sections. (It’s true I cycled there with 23 kg pack on my bike.) The ascent is hard for long and we cycle on an almost empty road to the 1030m high saddle, which seems to be much more at the worldend than the Sulova pass. In 1997 on that climb I met only one car. At the pass I found a gipsy who brough up the ladies from the hardly visited village to pick crops, berries. I felt it unbelievable! And that was true, that only 50kms from Hungary people picks berries. On the descent there were some potholes, but beautiful views too. In the valley the inhabitants looked at me in the helmet as I were an UFO. A lady who asked me about the time, didn’t know the watch with digital numbers in it instead of the two hands (traditional clock).




From Tatranska Lomnica a medium steep climb goes to the Strsbké pleso (Lake Strbské) along the slopes of the Tatra. The wide road, the hard shoulder and the pleasant steepness makes it ideal for cyclers. It’s enjoyable and atmospheric to push the pedals in the mountainside between fir tree forests. The road after Stary Somokovec is flat for a while, but a few kilometers before the Strbské lake it’s middle steep (6%). About 1,5 – 2 kms before the lake a forest road – which is closed for the traffic – turns off. It ascends to the 1494m high, between 2300m high mountains situated Popradské pleso / lake. From the Strbské lake there is a beautiful panorama to the mountain-chain. After the lake a long and lightly sloping ascent goes to Liptovsky Hradok and we can say goodbye to the High Tatra. (This june (2004) I plan to discover and get over the climb of the Sliezsky dom (1665m) from Tatranska Polianka.)

Between Tatranska Lomnica and the polish border the road is similar to road between Tatranska Lomnica and the Strbske pleso / lake. Although the Strbské lake is situated 500m higher and the border at Lysa Polana is only 120m higher than Tatranska Lomnica, in spite of it the more heightdifference we had to climb towards the polish border. On the first few kilometers there are some views to the Lomnicky peak, then as the road turns northwards – after Tatranska Kotlina – there is a fine panorama of the mountains of the the East-Tatra, it is called Belianske Tatra. The village Zdiar is famous for its folk art. In the village a few kilometer long open climb starts, which goes up to an 1081m high pass with a rain-cottage and a spring. In the middle of the climb there is a buffet with nice panorama. From the saddle to the polish border ascents and descents change each other.



If we want to visit the polish side of the High Tatra (I suggest it), we can cycle the tour to and back from Zakopane (100-120 kms) in a day, but besides an other advisable route is to come from east and go west (or the other direction) with a night at the feet of the polish Tatra.


Coming out from the small valley of the slovakian – polish border we cycle along a row of trucks. (after the EU-join it will disappear ??) We arrive at Trstena on a pleasant descent. Cycling to Ruzomberok (and then to Zvolen) basically there are three routes to choose:


IT will be continued !!!


Györgyi Gábor



True Trip Travel



My other travelogues, and other favourite links

2003, Bicycletour from Slovenia to Montenegro along the Adriatic
2002, Train camp in the greek spring
2002, Crossing the Swiss-Alps by bike
2000, From the snowy mountains (Dolomites) to the sandy beaches and Slovenia
1999, Crossing the Carpathians by bike
1998, Adventurous bicycletour in Slovakia
1997, Zig-zagging in Slovakia
1995, Tatra bicycletour
1993, Tatra bicycletour
Start page of my site (english)