When we think about skiing in Europe, we often think of prominent ski places like Austria or the Alps that is located in Switzerland or France.
No doubt these places have incredible famous ski areas like Chamonix, residing in Eastern Europe is a more unspoken but highly affordable region for skiing, and that is none other than in Donovaly Slovakia.
Yes you heard me right – Slovakia. Other than being popular for fun summer things like hiking in Slovak Paradise or checking out the beautiful city of Kosice, this country has an incredibly diverse range of winter and outdoor activities to enjoy in the beautiful and magnificent Tatra Mountains, one of which is skiing.
Where is Donovaly
After a 1 week outdoor winter expedition in High Tatras, we headed over to Low Tatras in Slovakia and arrived in Donovaly, a village that is located in the Banská Bystrica Region of central Slovakia. It took us about 2.5 hours to get from Poprad city to Donovaly on a coach, with a scenic view all the way in. We were greeted by the incredible Park Snow Donovaly Ski Area right next to the bus stop we alighted.
Thankfully, the hotel we were staying, Residence Hotel and Club, was a short 10-15 minutes walk from the bustop, so you do not have to drag your luggage for too long a distance in the snow.
If you are not a fan of dragging your luggage in deep snow which can be exhausting, best to bring a backpack!
The resort was large but still cosy and had an incredible big full length windows for you to enjoy the snow covered views outside.
So…whats the allure of Donovaly?
Visit Donovaly in Winter Time
Donovaly is a stunning mountainous destination that has tones to offer its adventure seekers in winter time, which is between December – March. Local Slovaks or tourists from nearby countries like Poland like to visit Donovaly because of their endless lists of outdoor activities suitable for families as well as couples.
Slovakia has a variety of different skiing areas like While there are other ski zones in Slovakia like Jasna and Tatranská Lomnica as well, some of these places can get very touristy or not have enough snow fall.
So, now that you we are here in the Low Tatras region, here’s sharing a bit more about what is the highlight when you are here in the Donovaly.
Skiing in Donovaly
Dono what to do? Donovaly!
After a hearty and sumptuous breakfast at Hotel Residence, we went to pick up our equipment that was kindly provided by Patty Ski Shop, we proceeded to hit the slopes!
Park Snow Donovaly has stunning terrain, breathtaking view of the surroundings and is great for beginner ski-ers, friends and families looking to enjoy the ski slopes in Winter. We were there in early February and thankfully that was some lovely snowfall just 1 day before we arrived, making the slopes powdery.
The ski season starts in Dec! But if you are more flexible with your travel itinerary, try to check the weather forecast a week before you make your visit to enjoy the best of the slopes!
For those who are newer to skiing or would like to get your kids trying this exciting adventure sport for the first time, the main 2 slopes here at Záhradište Slopes are Blue and Green, which are really comfortable for people who are not as experienced.
If you can’t get enough of day time skiing, we actually got to try night skiing for one of the days too!
Lastly, if you are more advanced and would like something more challenging, then the red slope at Nova Hova is what you need to try.
One really fun element in Park Snow is the Riders Park!
Being known as one of the best snowparks in Slovakia, it has 3 jumps and 12 obstacles that are daily groomed for us to play with. I was scared to try it on the first day as I wanted to warm up more on the slopes first and improve my technique before hitting the slopes.
So calling all the advanced skiers and mountain top lovers, you would need to take a turn to visit Nova Hova, the ski area that is at the other end of Snow Park after going pass the Patty Ski shop and kids fun park.
Even if you can’t ski and would just like to go up to enjoy the breathtaking view, take the gondola/ cable car up to the lookout point and get a 360 view of the surroundings. There is even a self service camera booth at the top that you can use the chip card attached with your ski pass. After you’ve got your photo, you can easily check out the Skiline mobile application to see your wefie photos and the statistics of how many miles you’ve been skiing.
The view up there was spectacular. Beautiful 360 view even though it was a rather foggy and misty day on the way we went.
If you want higher chance of clear skies and full view, sometimes its better to check out the place in the morning versus the afternoon.
In terms of experiencing Nova Hova, it was definitely a lot more challenging and steeper than the other slopes, so you need to have quite a bit of experience as well as courage before you tackle it. I had to go on my own with my friends waiting at the bottom for me.
Even though it was scarier and much faster, I enjoyed the run a lot and the view from this slope is so much more magnificent given it was higher up.
Play with the Animals of Snow Park
One thing that many people may not know is that there is a fun park for kids with super cute animals there. It is located right behind the Patty Ski Shop.
We came up front with the Lama and the small donkey and dogs there. Super adorable creatures which we tried to take a few photos closed up with, though the Lama didn’t seem to like Cez very much and whenever he came close, he spat at him. Too funny!
Anyway, if I were a kid, the fun park would had been a dream for me, as it was so colourful and nicely set up and kids friendly with mini motor-driven carousels or walkways to help kids learn to ski. Not to mention the kids show with the mascots dancing together! Too cute!
Get the Online Ski Passes All Year Around
One good thing about Snow Park Donovaly is you can buy the ski passes tickets online in advance. So finally no need to queue up in the cold in your ski boots anymore, just pick it up on online and select from 3 hour to 8 hour to unlimited season passes going at 200 Euros. And yes, kids under 8 ski for free!
Need some lessons or a personal guide? Book a class with the Park Snow ski school or arrange a personal family ski trip with a private guide.
Where to Stay in Donovaly
There are plenty of ski resorts, guest houses and even school hostels nearby in the proximity to Park Snow.
We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Residence, which is one of the biggest and most prominent hotels spotted in the area. You cannot miss their large hotel name light up in gold on their pointy roof top, visible from the ski resort.
One nice touch to the hotel we stayed is the breakfast spread and dining hall set up. Beautiful and spacious with large full length windows to enjoy the view while you dine. There is even a kids table for the children to have their own tea party.
I couldn’t get enough of their butter cake with chocolate which they serve daily. Definitely very kids friendly and attracts families with young kids looking for a relaxing full furnished resort.
Other things to Experience in Donovaly
If you want to experience more variety of things here in Donovaly besides skiing and snowboarding, here are some great alternative options that you can do with your loved ones.
- Winter Paragliding
- Ice Skating Rink
- 18.4km Cross country Skiing trails
- Snow Shoeing and Hiking
- Dog Sledding
- Snow Mobiles
How to get to Donovaly
Donovaly is quite easily accessible from different parts of Slovakia and even Poland. It took us 2.5 hours to get there from Poprad, the nearby city. However, you can also catch a 3.5 hour bus with FlixBus all the way to Krakow city in Poland, which was what we did when we returned. It will cost about US$15 to $19.
Here summarizes our incredible time here in Donovaly. We has an incredible time here and hope to be back again to experience this place.