Established in 1949, Tatra National Park is the oldest national park in Slovakia. Covering nearly 300 square miles in north central Slovakia, it encompasses 600 kilometers of hiking paths, 16 different bike trails and more than 100 mountain lakes. The park also includes the highest peak in the country, Gerlachovsky Stit, as well as Lomnicky Peak, easily accessible by cable car, and Krivan Peak, the most popular among the Slovaks. Krivan has become a symbol of freedom for Slovaks and it is said that every Slovak has to climb to the top at least once in his or her lifetime.
While some 300 caves can be found within Tatra National Park, only Belianska Cave is open to the public and is one of the most visited caves in Slovakia. Two thirds of the park is covered by forest, including spruce, Norway spruce, Scots pine and Swiss pine. Thirteen hundred species of plants, 115 species of birds and 42 species of mammals can be found within the park as well.
Hiking trails within the park are only accessible from June 16 to October 31 each year. Hiking away from the marked trails is only permitted while accompanied by an experienced guide. A tour of Belianska Cave costs 8 Euro and lasts just over an hour. Popular gateway towns to the park include Poprad, Tatranska Lomnica, Strbske Pleso and Stary Smokovec. All have frequent connections around Slovakia by bus or train.