Have you ever wanted to visit a small, remote village in the mountains of Slovakia? Let me introduce you to Zdiar.
Zdiar is a town of 1,400 people located just north of the larger city of Poprad, Slovakia (population 50,000). Zdiar is best known for its summer hiking and winter skiing.
It’s in the heart of the Tatra Mountains, which span the border between Poland and Slovakia in these parts.
In travel circles, Zdiar is known for being home to a semi-legendary hostel called The Ginger Monkey. I visited Zdiar, Slovakia and The Ginger Monkey because of these rave reviews.
What should you do in Zdiar, Slovakia? What are the must see sights and hikes before you leave Zdiar? Today, I’m highlighting the best things to do and must see sights in Zdiar, Slovakia.
1) Hike to the Summit of Belianske Tatry
We visited Zdiar in the summer. The main thing to do is hike the surrounding Tatras mountains. If you’re going to hike one mountain, then make it Belianske Tatry / Belianske Tatras.
You can reach the summit in about 3 hours from Zdiar. Follow the trail from the road, passing behind a couple lodges and a ski hill (I’m the Wandering Boozebag – not Google Maps, so figure it out).
Once you get to the summit, you can climb back down the way you came. Or, you can do what we did: climb to the complete other side of the mountain, try and fail to hitchhike your way back, and end up catching the last city bus of the day with seconds to spare.
The mountains around Zdiar are genuinely beautiful. I’m from BC and Alberta. I know beautiful mountains. The Tatras are not the tallest mountains – but they’re extremely pretty.
2) Hike to Zelenom Plese
Feeling ambitious after your hike to Belianske Tatry? Keep hiking in that general direction. You’ll arrive at a ski lodge called Chata pri Zelenom plese.
They serve beer. Yes, I hiked five hours to a random lodge in the middle of the mountains of Slovakia and ordered a cold beer. I paid like $4. Europe is amazing.
There’s a shortcut to this hike that avoids the Belianske Tatry summit. If you’ve already climbed the summit, or if you don’t feel like climbing a thousand feet, then a direct hike to Zelenom Plese is nice enough.
3) Go Skiing
We visited Zdiar in the summer, so hiking was pretty much the only thing to do. If you visit in the winter, however, then the mountains are (allegedly) covered in snow.
There are three ski resorts in Zdiar, including:
- Ski Bekes
- Bachledka Ski
- Ski Centrum Strachan
All three are in the mountains surrounding Zdiar, and they’re all pretty close to each other.
4) Visit the Muzeum Zdiarsky Dom
TripAdvisor tells me this is the third-best thing to do in Zdiar. It wasn’t open when we visited.
The museum highlights local architecture. You can see wooden houses in their natural setting. Zdiar has a unique architecture style – I guess you could call it Slovak mountain style. This museum explains more about that style.
5) Complete The Ginger Monkey Pizza Challenge at Pizzeria Rustika
We stayed at The Ginger Monkey hostel. Long before we arrived, we saw a pizza challenge posted on the wall. We saw Canada and the United States on the list, and we knew we had to put a couple points on the board for Canada.
Here’s the challenge: you visit Pizzeria Rustika in Zdiar. You order an extra large pizza. You eat the pizza in one sitting. That’s it.
This is the first – and probably the last – eating challenge of my life. Eating challenges are awful. You don’t want to stop because you’ve come so far. But every cell in your body is telling you to stop.
I completed the challenge without cheating. I ate every ounce of that cursed pizza. I puked on the walk home, then puked again at the hostel. I felt awful for two days. I wouldn’t recommend it. But hey, numbers on the board.
To be clear, this isn’t a well-known eating challenge. The server at Pizzeria Rustika looked at us like we were crazy when we all ordered three extra large pizzas. I’d like to say that writing the single marker line on the board at The Ginger Monkey was worth it – but it was just kind of sad at that point. Hey, live and learn.
Where to Stay in Zdiar
Zdiar is a village of 1,400 people, but there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs, and vacation rentals available on all the usual sites.
There are also two hostels, including The Ginger Monkey and Nightsight Lodge Hostel.
The Ginger Monkey is kinda famous. Established in 2007 by two world travelers, the hostel is in a pretty, multi-story cabin in the middle of Zdiar. We met a unique assortment of friendly travelers at The Ginger Monkey. It’s the kind of place that has an honour system 1 EUR beer bar. There’s a dog (Wally!) on-site that you can take on hikes.
How to Get to Zdiar
We traveled to Zdiar from Krakow, Poland. We took a short train to Zakopane. We were supposed to take a bus from Zakopane to Zdiar, but we missed it, so we took a taxi instead.
After Zdiar, we traveled to Olomouc, Czech Republic, which involved just one connection through Poprad.
Basically, here’s how it works: you can take a city bus to Zdiar from Zapokane or Poprad. Poprad and Zapokane are well-connected. Zdiar is a small village in a narrow valley and is not well connected.
Where to Eat in Zdiar
Zdiar is a small town. Some hotels/penzions have restaurants on-site, but there are other places to eat around town as well. Alternatively:
Pizzeria Rustika: A good pizza place with interesting decorations in the middle of Zdiar.
Restauracia Goral: A mountain lodge-style restaurant with an extensive menu of traditional Slovakian food.
Restauracia U Gazdu: Another decent Slovak-style restaurant in the heart of Zdiar.
Bufet Livia: Google Maps calls this place a “gastropub”. It’s a small shack by the side of the road with picnic tables out front – but hey, I paid like 5 EUR for two pints of beer and a big bowl of goulash, so I can’t complain.
Zdiarsky Dom: The Zdiarsky Dom muzeum has its own Zdiarsky Dom restaurant. It’s a well-rated restaurant built inside a stylish mountain-style lodge.
Final Word: Is Zdiar Worth Visiting?
We visited Zdiar after 10 busy days in Scotland and Krakow, Poland. Zdiar was exactly what we needed: clean air, a comfortable hostel, and exercise.
Surprisingly, several other travelers we met at The Ginger Monkey hostel seemed to be in a similar position: decompressing after a few hard (and boozy) weeks of backpacking Europe.
Whether staying at the legendary Ginger Monkey Hostel or anywhere else, Zdiar is a cool part of the world that most people will never visit. I recommend spending a day or two in Zdiar, Slovakia.