Particularly on weekends, make sure that you are well aware of the bus schedules if you are depending on public transport.
There are two bus companies on this route. The Polish bus does cross the border, the Slovak bus does not. The Polish bus starts at the bus station in Zakopane, costs 10 zl and took about two hours from Zakopane to Stary Smokovec, after which it goes on to Poprad. There is usually at least one stop in each of the towns. This bus was a larger tour bus, quite comfortable. I didn't check, but I would guess that they accepted payment in either zloty or euro.
The local Slovak bus goes from Poprad and takes about an hour to Lysa Polana, the border with Poland. Please note, this bus does not cross the border into Poland. These are more like normal large city buses. not as comfortable but still cheap enough. The common bus had no storage space under the bus for luggage, so you had to schlepp your stuff onboard, though there is a little area that you can put your bags.
On a Saturday I was hiking the Morskie Oko in the afternoon. I came back to Lysa Polana and the Polish bus going to Poprad had stopped running at 5, the next Slovak bus was not due until 8pm. Bus came on time, but it made for a very long day.
If you are leaving Stary Smokovec towards Poprad on the bus you will get a beautiful view of the Tatras, have your camera ready. The bus makes plenty of stops on the way to Poprad so try to get a seat at the back of the bus if you can. If you are lucky enough to be leaving as the sun is rising you will get a magnificent, unobstructed shot of the Tatras!
By the time I realized what a beautiful shot it was it was too late, my camera was securely in its bag and by the time i got it out and got it ready,,,,,too late:(
Stary Smokovec is at the junction for rail transport in the High Tatras.
The TEZ, the common railway network for the High Tatras villages
the longer part- from Poprad-Tatry to Stary Smokovec is 29 km
Stary Smokovec-Tatranska Lomnica is 5.9 km.
the trains were replaced from the original 1960's trains that belonged to the Czechoslavak National Rail System. They are modern and comfortable, though i found the buses came a bit more quickly.
The bus stop is just a few meters from the train station, but you might have to hurry, especially if you havent bought a ticket. The train station itself is small and clean, has toilets and a small gift shop. If you have time there are more shops nearby where you can buy food and drink.
You will find this Italian built cable car if you walk from the Tatra train station uphill past the Grand Hotel and the church. It whisks you up to 1260 m above sea level to a place called Hrebienok, where there are a couple of restaurants. The cable car was originally built in 1908 and has been modernised several times since.
From there you can start various hikes, also the short one to the famous waterfall. Unfortunately, when we were up there there was thick fog, so we went straight back down. A return ticket costs 150 SKK (May 2007).
Using Tatra trains is cheap and very convenient. In the train there are announcements not only in Slovak language but in German and English as well. The trains are Swiss built. You need to punch your ticket in the machine when coming on board.
From Stary Smokovec you can either travel down to Poprad or to either side along the base of the mountains to Strbske Pleso or Tatranska Lomnica.
If there is construction work going on then you have to get on a bus. This is only announced in Slovak though. We were the last ones to get off the train. All we understood was "bus", so we followed everyone else.
You could easily drive around yourself. Everything is well signposted. Keep in mind that during peak season you will have to pay for parking almost everywhere.
The bus station is a short walk from the Tatra train station. You can reach the different places along the Tatra mountains also by bus. Personally, I find the trains more comfortable.