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Tatra Mountains

It’s hard to overstate the majesty of the Tatras, whose 300-plus peaks form the loftiest section of the Central Carpathian Mountains. Together with the Polish national park of the same name, Slovakia's Tatra National Park is a Unesco-protected biosphere reserve. The Slovak side has the lion's share of the reserve, 740 sq km of beech and spruce forests, deep-blue glacier lakes and alpine meadows spangled with wildflowers. It's a vast playground for native fauna like marmots and chamois (mountain goat-antelopes); also at play are human hikers tackling hundreds of kilometres of trails, and skiers who flock to High Tatras resorts in winter.

Stretching for 57 corrugated kilometres, the Tatra Mountains have a restful side, too: unwind in spa-and-lake getaway Štrbské Pleso, or make merry at the lesser-touristed eastern edge of the range, the Belá Tatras, where highlander folk culture is vividly expressed.

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