Sunday Spotlight – Stary Smokevic (Slovakia)

Today’s spotlight, well, there’s only so much I can tell you in words about this place. Stary Smokevic is a little mountain town in Slovakia, not far from the Polish border in the Tatra mountains. It’s really a beautiful little spot.

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I first learnt about it in 2004 when I entered Europe via Bulgaria in my big Dhaka to Dakar trip (which didn’t reach the final destination that year). I was staying at a youth hostel in Sofia and I met a couple who had been there and recommended it for hiking. I loved the name, I’ve got to be honest, that’s what drew me in originally.

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So, I read up on it and it sounded nice so I decided to go. It wasn’t until I convinced someone at my hostel in Bratislava that I knew for sure I was going. To reach it involved a train and then a kind of cable car ride all the way to the town.

It’s an idyllic sort of forest setting, with chair lifts abounding and I believe in the winter it is absolutely awesome for those lovers of winter sports. I personally enjoyed it being a little cooler, and I went for a rewarding, if quite challenging hike up and down a peak which was the main purpose of going there.

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There are surely countless of these kinds of places throughout Europe, and as part of a summer tour a place like Stary Smokevic can really be a nice relief from the hot weather. But this place is a little less known, and therefore cheaper, yet has a number of nice restaurants and some charming looking places to stay. My friend and I stayed in a sort of hostel style place for less than 10 Euro a night each. Well, the rooms slept two people and there was a common area in this sort of round building. I remember it quite distinctly, they had old big TVs and we watched the Olympics on them, and it really felt like something from a holiday camp in the 1980s!

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There are a lot of hikes to do if you go, and often you can an uphill trek by taking a chair lift (or spare your knees on the way day by climbing up!). What can I say? And it’s only a couple of hours by bus to Zakopane in Poland, a similar but bigger town. It’s got a quaint name, it’s great for skiing or hiking, and it doesn’t cost the same as many alpine towns in Europe. What more could you ask for?

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  1. Lush mountain scenery there! One of the things I really enjoy about your blog Andrew is that it teaches me about cities and towns I’ve never even heard of before like this one!

  2. This place’s absolutely adventurous and worth exploring. Can’t wait to make it there perhaps this year. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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