These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.



Winter sport

Ski slopes everywhere

    
 
 photo: TASR

For winter sport enthusiasts, Slovakia is a winter wonderland, where ski slopes are found virtually everywhere. If there’s a hill, there’s a good chance people ski down it. Even Bratislava has a slope (below Kamzík).

There are dozens - if not hundreds - of ski resorts in Slovakia. What is more, they are remarkably cheap by western standards. The local village slope may charge as little as five crowns (10 cents) per trip up the hill, while the most expensive Tatra resorts sell all-day lift passes for around 500 crowns ($10).

For all you need to know about skiing in Slovakia, check out www.holidayinfo.sk. This is your one-stop website, where dozens of resorts are listed, plus reports on up-to-the-minute conditions, the number of running lifts, prices and maps of each ski centre. The site can be read in German, English or Slovak.

Now for an insider’s guide. A Spectator office survey serves up a selection of some of the country’s top ski centres and hidden gems:

    
 
 photo: Ján Svrček

Nataša in finances spent her winter holidays skiing at the Skalka resort near Kremnica in central Slovakia. It has a long run at affordable prices (one trip up the lift for 25 crowns), and queues for lifts that usually last no more than five minutes. She did complain, however, that the slopes were poorly maintained, likely a result of the blizzards that struck Slovakia throughout December 2001.

Deep in the Orava region, added Nataša, is a hidden gem: Oravská Lesná. It has a long run with three different routes to the bottom, is very cheap (10 crowns per ride up the hill), and is relatively uncrowded.

Tomáš in advertising offered his “secret tip”: Liptovské Revúce, in the Veľká Fatra mountains (if travelling by car, you will find the turn-off along the road leading from Ružomberok to Banská Bystrica). “It’s got a very long slope. People say it’s the longest in Slovakia,” he said.

Zuzka in editorial said that Solisko, above the Tatra mountain resort Štrbské Pleso, is among her favourites. It is certainly the most famous ski slope in Slovakia, and one of the highest, with lifts taking skiers to altitudes of nearly 2,000 metres.

But last winter Zuzka also visited Plejsy, in the eastern Slovak town Krompachy. Now she ranks that resort as high as any other in Slovakia. “It reminded me of when I went skiing in the Italian Alps,” she said. I have also skied Plejsy. While it is a fine resort, I found it way too crowded (30-minute waits for lifts) and small, with the longest run no more than five minutes. I have never seen the slopes in the Alps, but I have skied the Sierra Nevada mountains in California extensively. And the difference between here and there (besides the low prices and the everywhere-ness of the Slovak slopes) is that the resorts here are far smaller. Those accustomed to ski centres with 15 lifts and a ‘mountain run’ that takes up to an hour to ski down may be disappointed in Slovakia.

But they will find outstanding cross-country skiing. Štrbské Pleso, for one, is known for its cross-country paths, as is the Šachticky resort near Špania Dolina in central Slovakia. With Šachticky as a starting point, skiers can trace the scenic 30-kilometre trail to Donovaly, one of Slovakia’s premier downhill ski resorts, north of Banská Bystrica.

Cross-country skiing is also popular in Slovenský raj National Park. Penzión Nemo in Spišská Nová Ves rents out boots, skis and poles for 200 crowns per day, plus provides maps showing the ski-routes in and around the park. Contact them at 053 442 3728 or check out www.slovenskyraj.sk/nemo.html. Further cross-country skiing information can be found at the above-mentioned site www.holidayinfo.sk.

Many resorts do not offer rentals, so your best bet is to get your gear together before travelling. Požičovňa lyží is the general name for a ski rental shop, where you can find bežky (cross-country skis), lyže (downhill skis), lyžiarky (ski boots) and palice (poles).

Now that you’re all set, enjoy the slopes! And if you find your own hidden gem, let us know about it.

- Chris Togneri


These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2002.


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