Slovakia’s best kept secret | The Slovak Paradise

by Fabian Jürgens
Published: Updated:

Massively overshadowed by the majestic peaks of the High Tatras, Slovakia’s premier hiking destination, the dim woods of the Slovak Paradise National Park rest silent. And yet, this pristine wilderness of hidden gorges, plunging waterfalls, and deserted trails may just be the country’s best kept secret.

Although it might not be the dreamish tropical destination, that springs to mind when hearing the word “paradise”, this little known national park in the centre of the country is an absolute adventurer’s dream!

Where raptors soar to lofty heights and game roams unhindered, awaits a pristine wilderness eager to be discovered. Permeating the dense woodland, shaded paths lead ever deeper into the tranquillity of the forest, through narrow ravines, along precipitous cliffs, across raging streams.

I spent nearly a week exploring the many different trails available to the intrepid and have thus compiled this extensive guide to easily find the best hiking option suited for you. 

a series of metal platforms runs along a cliffside above a river


Buses | Buses run during high season (June-August) from Hrabušice, the closest village, to different entry points of the national park. 

Get up early | If you wanna beat the crowds at Suchá Belá and Hornád (the easiest accessible and most popular gorges), start your day bright and early. I visited the Slovak Paradise at the beginning of the off season (September) and Suchá Bela was still pretty busy.

Remember, the ravines are confined spaces and certain spots are particularly prone for queues to form.

You won’t have to stress yourself for other treks, however, as the trails that lead deeper into the national park only see a fraction of the visitors.

Ascent or descent? | As a general rule of thumb, always ascend the gorges. Descending is not only more risky due to slippery surfaces (especially keep an eye out for wet wood!) but, due to the narrow nature of the gorges, one way traffic helps to alleviate the possibility of jams.

The trails along the Hornád and Biely potok rivers are the exceptions though, as they are relatively level and can be easily accessed from either side.

Prices | The admission for the national park is 1,5€ (incl. a mountain rescue insurance). You will find small ticket booths in Podlesok and Píla, respectively. 

Parking costs 3€/day (1,5€/after 2pm) for cars and 2,5€ for motorcycles (September 2021). 

Gear | Good footwear is essential, not only to stay dry but to safely traverse the many different (slippery) surfaces present in the Slovak Paradise. Tread carefully!

Keep in mind that the trails will be shaded most of the time, so you might wanna bring something warm (even in summer).

Water | Generally speaking, the water in the Slovak Paradise National Park is perfectly fine to drink. I refilled my bottle on multiple occasions without later complications.

However, I would definitely not drink the unfiltered water from Suchá Belá and the Hornád river!



Suchá Belá is by far the most crowded hike in the Slovak Paradise but nevertheless serves as a great prelude to the many other spectacular trails to be found within the national park.

Introducing a wide array of artificial means, such as wooden boardwalks, metal platforms, and free-standing iron ladders, to help you navigate and traverse the numerous obstacles presented by the gorge, Suchá Belá is a fairly easy, beginner friendly challenge for all ages.

Those with vertigo might struggle ascending the ladders, however, and it is very likely that you will experience jams at a certain point due to the gorges popularity. 

DISTANCE | 3,5 kilometres

DURATION | ½ hours


How to get there | You can either take the bus to Podlesok (Hrabušice, rázc. Podlesok) or simply walk to the trailhead from Hrabušice (~2km).

a series of metal steps leading down into a gorge next to a small stream surrounded by luch vegetation, Suchá Belá Gorge, Slovakia


Following the Hornád river all the way from Hrabušice to its tributary Biely potok, this trail is probably the most family friendly hike in the Slovak paradise.

Snaking along the rushing stream, you will have to overcome several fun hindrences to circumnavigate rockier sections and cliffsides. Children will have a blast mastering the challenges, while adults won’t get bored either. 

There is also a small inn and various other great spots to take a well-earned rest along the trail. 

Roughly 2,5 km into this adventure, you will have the option to climb up to Klaštorisko monastery via the Monastery Gorge (one of the few I didn’t do). 


DURATION | ½ hours


How to get there | You are able to reach the trailhead either from Podlesok or directly from Hrabušice. In Hrabušice head to the end of Partizánska street, then simply follow the dirt path leading across the open field. Turn left and follow the road until you reach the next crossing. Now turn right and continue straight until you spot a metal bridge. This is were the trail starts.

metal platforms leading around a cliffside above Hornád River, Slovakia
metal suspension bridge disappearing into the woods on the other side of the river during golden hour, Hornád River, Slovakia


Small Stove is the perfect middle ground, a wonderful balance between challenging adventure and leisurely stroll. Throw in a lack of other excursionists and you got yourself the perfect mix for an exciting day out in the Slovak Paradise!

After scaling an unsecured ladder, the path leads through narrow crevices along wet walkways, before widening up again and releasing the wanderer into the tranquil confines of an ancient forest.

A beautiful experience off the tourist trail.

DISTANCE | 3,5 km

DURATION | 1 ½ hours


How to get there | The trailhead for Small Stoves gorge is situated in the small settlement of Píla (Hrabušice, píla bus stop) roughly 5 km down the road from Podlesok. To avoid walking on the main road take the alternative pathway connecting Podlesok and Píla.

In Podlesok cross the short bridge behind the parking lot, then turn right and follow the road leading past the camping ground. The white/green markings will lead you straight to Píla. Be aware that the last kilometre reconnects with the road, so don’t be surprised.

a 15-metre ladder leading up a rock face next to a waterfall, Small Stoves Gorge, Slovakia
wooden walkways leading into a narrow crevice above a stream, Small Stoves Gorge, Slovakia
riverbed path cutting through the woods in the Slovak Paradise National Park, Small Stoves Gorge, Slovakia


Criminally overlooked by most visitors, Sokol is the unspoken highlight of the national park!

A rugged ravine filled with the remnants of winter storms, the rushing river beneath your feet untamed and wild, accompanied by precarious balancing acts across fallen trees and slippery rocks. Quite simply an adventurer’s dream. 

Of all the gorges I explored in the Slovak Paradise National Park, Sokol has to be my favourite.

The excitement of experiencing the raw beauty this place offers is sensational.

DISTANCE | 5,5 km

DURATION | 2 hours


How to get there | Once you reach Píla, as described above, head towards the turnoff to Small Stoves but continue walking straight for another 1,5 km until you reach the Sokol Gorge trailhead. If you are opting for the bus, get off at Hrabušice V. Sokol ústie.

a big tree blocking a very narrow crevice and the walkway behind it, Sokol Gorge, Slovakia
a wooden walkway leading through an extremely narrow crevice in the rock next to a large fallen tree, Sokol Gorge, Slovakia
a log with carved steps functioning as a bridge across a small stream, Sokol Gorge, Slovakia


By far the easiest hike situated in the north-western corner of the Slovak Paradise.

Barely changing in elevation, the trail follows the flow of the Biely potok river and poses only a few negligible “challenges”, such as wooden footpaths and metal platforms sprinkled in between the otherwise very relaxed walk. 

Should you spend a couple of days in the national park, chances are you will come across the stream eventually, as the trailheads for both Sokolí potok Gorge and the via ferrata section of Kysel’ Gorge can be found along its lush banks.

DISTANCE | 5,5 km

DURATION | ½ hours


How to get there | The trek starts at the confluence between the Biely potok and Hornád rivers. Alternatively, you can reach the stream from the ruins of Klaštorisko monastery, as well.

long branches hang over Biely potok river and the wooden walkways that run along its left bank, Slovakia


Although, one of the shortest treks on this list, Sokolí potok, the Falcon Dale, is one of the most exciting gorges in the Slovak Paradise.

After a beautiful stretch of virgin forest, hikers will have to conquer a series of free-standing iron ladders, cradling the edge of a quadruple cascade plunging into the distant depths. The tallest waterfall boasts an impressive length of 75 metres!

Though definitely not for the fainted hearted, it is an epic ascent along the rushing waters, an excilerating experience for all us thrill-seekers!

DISTANCE | 2,5 km

DURATION | 1 ½ hours


How to get there | Follow the Biely potok river upstream until you reach the Sokolia dolina, ústie/Falcon Dale signpost marking the trailhead.

a metal ladder running across a slope covered in grass next to a small waterfall, Sokolí potok, Slovakia
a wooden ladder leaning agains the wet rock next to a cascading waterfall surrounded by trees, Sokolí potok Gorge, Slovakia

KYSEL' (via ferrata)

The king of the gorges in the Slovak Paradise!

Even though, I wasn’t able to brave it myself, Kysel’ Gorge promises to be one hell of a good time, as it is (to my knowledge) the only ravine in the northwest of the national park that requires proper equipment to traverse it. A harness and helmet are mandatory, and prior experiences with via ferrata or similar outdoor activities, as well as basic climbing techniques will definitely be advantageous assets to have.

During high season (summer months), you will be able to rent climbing gear in Podlesok (at the start of Suchá Belá).

DISTANCE | 3,5 km

DURATION | ½ hours


How to get there | You can reach the Ferrata HZS – Kysel’ signpost, by following the Biely potok river upstream or descending into the valley from the Klaštorisko monastery.

a path leads into the forest while light falls through conifer trees, Sokolí potok, Slovakia

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