• Crossing the pass of Kopske Sedlo in the White Tatras of Slovakia
  • Above Morskie Oko, Tatra Mountains, Poland
  • Valley of the Five Polish Lakes, Tatra Mountains, Poland

Across the Carpathians

From Budapest to Kraków

Journey across the breadth of the Carpathian mountain range! Between Budapest and Kraków enjoy a selection of walks and hikes that will introduce you to the diverse landscapes and cultures of the Carpathians. Set off from the glorious city of Budapest, and explore the rolling hills and bucolic landscapes of northern Hungary. Further north in Slovakia, the Carpathians begin to rise in earnest in a jumble of forest-clad ridges. In the High Tatras, the Carpathians reach their geologic crescendo in a compact mass of soaring, glacier-carved crags. Straddling the Slovak-Polish frontier, these “Alps” of central Europe are safeguarded for the future in national parks on both sides of the border. Poland’s “gem” city of Kraków at the northern foot of the Carpathians provides a fitting conclusion to a journey that includes visits to several World Heritage Sites.

Day 1
Overnight in Lillafüred, Hungary
Travel by vehicle eastward to Eger, a beautiful city filled with Baroque treasures set at the foothills of the Bükk Mountains, part of the forested northern Hungarian hills. Eger is a principal wine-producing region in Hungary known for its “Bull’s Blood” wine (Egri Bikaver). Enjoy lunch and a Hungarian folklore performance in an Eger wine cellar! An afternoon walking tour will introduce you to the highlights of Eger’s historic center. Continue by vehicle across the Bükk Mountains to Lillafüred and enjoy a two-night stay in a “castle hotel.”

Day 2
Overnight in Lillafüred, Hungary
Explore the Bükk National Park (Bükk Nemzeti Park) on a choice of hikes on the Bükk Plateau (Bükk-fennsík)—a typical karst landscape full of sinkholes and caves largely cloaked in hardwood forest. Walk to the Öserdö (“primeval forest”), a stand of beech trees several hundred years old. Continue to the summits of Tar-kő  (“Bald Rock”) and Három-kő (“Three Stones”) which offer the perfect vantage points for views over the southern Bükk Hills all the way to the great Hungarian plains (called puszta in Hungarian), weather permitting! Continue across the Bükk Plateau to the Nagy-mező (“Great Meadow”) were wildflowers sprout among the grasses and Lipizzaner horses graze in the pastures. For a full day hiking adventure you can complete a traverse of the Bükk-fennsík back to Lillafüred, a hike that leads you through the full variety of Bükk landscapes.

Hiking in the Bükk Mountains, Hungary.

Day 3
Overnight in Levoča, Slovakia
Depart Lillafüred this morning bound for the Tokaj wine growing region in northeastern Hungary. This area, noted for its “distinct viticultural tradition that has existed for at least a thousand years and which has survived intact up to the present,” was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2002. A narrow road reaches the summit of Kopasz hegy (“Bald Mountain”) from where a panoramic view of the Bodrog and Tisza Rivers, oxbow lakes, and the distant Carpathian hills unfolds. Continue on foot down the other side of Kopasz hegy (an old volcano) to the town of Tokaj on the banks of the Tisza River. At a family-owned wine cellar you’ll have an opportunity to sample a number of quality Tokaj wines before traveling by vehicle north into Slovakia and on to the walled town of Levoča, once an important trade and art center in Slovakia’s Spis region. Wander Levoča’s Námestie Majstra Pavla (“Master Paul’s Square”) lined with Gothic and Renaissance buildings.

View of Tokaj village from the slopes of Tokaj-hegy.

Day 4
Overnight in Levoča, Slovakia
Today’s walk introduces you to the natural and cultural treasures that punctuate the world heritage landscape surrounding the ruins of Spisský Hrad, one of the largest fortresses in central Europe. From the travertine springs at Siva Brada traverse field and meadow before arriving at Spisska Kapitula, a walled village that was once an important ecclesiastical center. Atop a travertine hill to the east the impressive ruins of Spisský Hrad dominate the landscape for miles around. Explore the ruins before continuing the walk through the Drevenik Nature Reserve to the village of Zehra with its distinctive onion-domed church.

Spissky Hrad as seen from Spisska Kapitula, Slovakia.

Day 5
Overnight in Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia
Enjoy hikes amidst the narrow stream gorges and forested uplands of the Slovenský Raj (“Slovak Paradise”) National Park. Here, wood or metal walkways, bridges, and ladders provide a means of accessing the area’s beautiful, narrow, stream-cut gorges. In the late afternoon, travel the short distance to the community of Vysoké Tatry on the southern flanks of the High Tatras and settle in for a three-night stay.

Day 6
Overnight in Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia
Begin your exploration of the Slovak Tatras on your choice of hikes from Stary Smokovec. A funicular railway lifts you to the high country trailhead at Hrebienok from where trails depart for the Malá Studená valley passing waterfalls, mountain huts, windswept passes and rocky basins filled with sparkling glacial lakes.

The Malá Studená valley, Slovak Tatras.

Day 7
Overnight in Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia
From the shores of Strbske Pleso, a mountain lake ringed by dense coniferous woods, continue your High Tatra rambles. Hiking choices include a walk to the lovely lake of Popradské pleso ringed by forest and backdropped by the peaks of the High Tatras. You can choose to continue up the Mengusovská Valley to the Velké Hincovo Pleso, the largest lake in the Slovak Tatras. Weather permitting, may be possible to attempt the rocky trail to the summit of Rysy, Poland’s highest peak!

Day 8
Overnight in Zakopane, Poland
Today you can consider hiking across the Tatras from south to north across the Kopské Sedlo, a pass that separates the High Tatras from the White Tatras. This is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Tatras. The trail leads up the forested valley called Dolina Kežmarskej Bielej Vody eventually reaching the shallow mountain tarn of Biele Pleso (“White Lake”). Climbing steadily through open, grassy meadows the trail reaches the Predné Kopské Sedlo, the highest point reached on this hike. Visible below is the broad, grass-covered pass of Kopské Sedlo beyond which rise the peaks of the White Tatras. From Kopské Sedlo, the trail descends through the extensive hillside meadows of Zadné Meďodoly where edelweiss and gentian bloom. The path re-enters the forest and drops to the meadows of Pod Muráňom and trail’s end at Tatranska Javorina. Travel by vehicle to the Polish mountain resort town of Zakopane for a three-night stay.

Biele Pleso, Slovak Tatras.

Day 9
Overnight in Zakopane, Poland
Enjoy a wagon ride to the beautiful mountain tarn, Morskie Oko (“Eye of the Sea”) named after its mythical connection with the Adriatic Sea. From Morskie Oko, you can continue to a higher lake known as Czarny Staw pod Rysami (“Black Lake under Rysy”) which lies at the foot of Rysy, Poland’s highest mountain. Energetic hikers can complete the supremely scenic trip from Morskie Oko into the Dolina Pieciu Stawow Polskich (“Valley of the Five Polish Lakes”), finest high alpine lake basin in the Polish Tatras.

Snow-graced peaks in the Valley of the Five Polish Lakes, Polish Tatras.

Day 10
Overnight in Zakopane, Poland
Ascend by cable car to the summit of Kasprowy Wierch which marks the generally accepted boundary between the High Tatras (Tatry Wysokie) and the slightly less rugged West Tatras (Tatry Zachodnie). Hike through the alpine lake basins of the high Gasienicowa Valley and along ridges that offer sweeping views of the Polish Tatras. This evening experience the traditions of Poland’s gorale (“highlanders”) whose music, food, and architecture helped define the Polish national identity.

Day 11
Overnight in Kraków, Poland
Hike the trails that wind through mountain forests and among the limestone crags that frame views of the Dunajec River Gorge in the Pieniny National Park. A hike to the summit of the Trzy Korony (“Three Crowns”) provides sweeping views toward the Tatras over a patchwork quilt of agricultural fields. Travel by vehicle to Kraków, the “Pearl of Poland” and a vibrant, “up-and-coming” city rich in culture and history. An afternoon walking tour will introduce you to the city’s soul. A farewell dinner caps off your Carpathian adventure!

Pieniny Mountains, Poland.

Photos on this page are by John Osaki (© All Rights Reserved) except as otherwise credited.

Over the years, Mountain Hiking Holidays has developed and operated trips to a variety of destinations including this one, but not all trips are offered every year. If you are interested in joining a scheduled departure of this trip in the future, please send us an email and let us know. Click to send us an email.

We can organize and operate this trip as a private group departure with a minimum group size of 12 persons. Start organizing your private Carpathian Mountains hiking adventure here.

Meeting point is Budapest, Hungary. Trip ends in Krakow, Poland. Accommodations in hotels. September is our favorite window for this trip.

Mountain Hiking Holidays

Trips for the adventurous hiker since 1996

PO Box 86250, Portland, OR 97286-0250, USA

503-715-0844 / Toll-free 1-800-313-0345 or 1-888-743-0723


facebook_glyph instagram_glyph youtube_glyph google_plus_glyph pinterest_glyph


© 2017 Mountain Hiking Holidays, Inc. All rights reserved.