After our time in Krakow, we headed south out of Poland and into the country of Slovakia. Our first stop in Slovakia was the small town of Ždiar, nestled in the Tatra Mountains.
Getting to Ždiar from Krakow was actually not too hard. We first took a bus to the Polish town of Zakopane. From the busy bus station in this town, we were able to find a bus that headed into Slovakia. There was some slight confusion over bus times, but we eventually got on the bus and got to Ždiar.
Where We Stayed
Ginger Monkey Hostel – The primary reason that we chose to stop in Ždiar was that it contained this hostel that received glowing reviews from multiple sources. We definitely enjoyed our time here as well! We spent every evening just hanging out in the cozy kitchen and having fun with the other travellers.
What We Did
Široké sedlo hike – While we were staying in a mountain town, we wanted to take advantage of the surrounding scenery and get out and do a hike! The staff at the Ginger Monkey recommended a few different routes, but it seemed like the most standard one was the “saddle” loop trail. It was supposed to take 8 hours, so we decided to make a day of it.
The first part of the trail was more of a flat road along a river. But then it turned left and headed up into the mountains. It continued higher and higher at a steady pace upwards. We were pretty exhausted, but definitely enjoyed the views looking back at where we had climbed from.
As we approached the saddle, we were a little nervous because it seemed to be covered in clouds. Luckily, as we got to the top the clouds cleared and we enjoyed excellent views.
The hike continued on along a ridge to a few more saddles, then started to head down. Going down was less strenuous but still quite difficult on our feet and knees! We were also on the lookout for a restaurant – we had been told there was a nice place to stop by a lake, but weren’t quite sure what to expect. It took a while, because the hike from the top to the lake was a bit longer than expected, but we finally found it! We were able to enjoy some Slovakian beers and sheep cheese dumplings.
We eventually got up the energy to leave the restaurant and head down the rest of the trail. It was another two hours of downhill which ended out on a highway, where we had to wait another half hour for a bus to take us back to Ždiar.
In the end, we hiked over 12 miles with over 3200 feet elevation gain! We were pretty sore for the next few days, but the views still bring back good memories!
Where We Ate
Pension Zdiar – On our first night in town, we headed to the restaurant attached to this pension in town. The food was decent, but the most memorable part of the meal was the fact that we were able to order without a menu or the waitress speaking English! We were able to recognize a few dishes in what she was saying, and ended up with some decent food.
Goulash Man – We had another memorable meal from this “restaurant”. It was actually just a little trailer that a kind man served goulash and beer from. We had lunch here during a rain storm and had a nice conversation with another tourist from Sweden.
The town of Ždiar is definitely situated in a beautiful place, and the Ginger Monkey was a fun place to stay. However, our timing wasn’t great, because the weather was rainy, and we were in town on a holiday weekend, which meant that bus connections to other attractions in the area were almost impossible. This meant we actually didn’t stay in Ždiar as long as we had originally planned. So we’d definitely recommend Ždiar and the Ginger Monkey for a stopover, but make sure you check a calendar first!