Slovakia, right in the heart of Europe, is a land of castles and mountains, filled with breathtaking places, mesmerizing views and exciting activities. Whether a solo traveler, a group of friends or a family with children, everyone will find something wonderful about the country. There are many compelling aspects in almost every village, town, and valley offers unique tourist offerings ranging from castles, caves, thermal springs, high-altitude lakes, hiking paths and biosphere reserves.
The High Tatras, the tallest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains bordering Slovakia and Poland occupies a near-mythic place in native hearts. Instantly recognizable, they are often referred to as ‘miniature Alps’. In winter, snow transforms hiking trails into ski areas, mostly small and family-friendly. Aside from skiing, there is hiking across the valleys of the mountain range or climbing to the crooked summit of Mount Kriváň (2495m). Twenty-five peaks reach higher than 2500m and the tallest mountains is an attractive feat for most hikers. Many adventurers also explore the High Tatras’ waterfalls, alpine meadows and more than 100 ultramarine lakes.
Other great activities include browsing the folk art centers of Bratislava, canoeing your way down the Little Danube or visiting the wooden churches in rural villages
Here are the best places to visit across Slovakia.
Also referred to as the Beauty on the Danube, Bratislava not only boasts interesting history but is the center of the most dynamically developing region of central Europe at present. The small city in Bratislava possesses a throbbing social life and historic charms combined with the most recent trends. Palaces, modern shopping and trade centers, famous for the Gothic cathedral, and various international cultural or sport events, in addition to exhibitions are the reasons why it is worth a visit. The spindle-shaped Hlavné námestie square of Košice is the heart of the town and rightly considered one of the most beautiful squares in Slovakia.
One of Slovakia’s eight regional seats, Trencin in western Slovakia is one of the country’s most picturesque towns, with its distinguishing castle dominating the historical center from above. Restaurants and shops, and the town’s grandest hotel, cluster around the town square.
The castle itself, regarded as one of Slovakia’s most significant, can easily make for an outing lasting up to the better part of a day. The hills and valleys around Trencin make for pleasant outings by foot or bicycle. A few minutes away in a wooded dale is the spa town of Trencianske Teplice, the empire’s most famous spa in the 14th century and still thriving today thanks to its hot mineral springs and mud.
The Caves of the Slovak Karst
The Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst are outstanding for the large number of complex, diverse and relatively intact caves concentrated into a relatively small area. Located at the north-eastern border of Hungary and the south-eastern border of Slovakia, this is an exceptional collection of 712 caves.
The most significant cave system in the property is that of Baradla-Domica, a cross-border network richly decorated with stalagmites and stalactites. Also worth mentioning is the Dobsina Ice Cave, one of the most beautiful in the world. Among the ice-filled caves in the property, the Silica Ice Cave in the Slovak Karst National is located at the lowest latitude within the temperate climatic zone, and is an UNESCO natural wonder.
This It is the largest and most successful Slovak spa specializing in the therapy of diseases of locomotion apparatus. Hot mineral springs (67°-69°C) with the content of 1,500 mg of mineral substances per liter and sulphuric medicinal mud have stimulated the development of the spa industry and building of therapeutic facilities. The self-reproducing deposits of the medicinal mud as the product of the joint activity of mineral springs and river sediments of the Váh river are a remarkable phenomenon. The unique mud of Piešťany has an exceptional therapeutic effect on rheumatic disorders and some neurological disorders and it is applied in the form of mud wrappings and so-called mire.
A National Cultural Monument, it is one of the largest castle compounds in Central Europe, and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. Construction of the medieval castle on a travertine hill dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. The oldest written reference to the castle is from 1120. At the beginning, it was a boundary fort placed at the northern frontier of an early feudal Old Hungarian state.
Equal parts pretty and gritty, Košice captures attention with its old town filled with Gothic towers, medieval bastions and baroque sculpture. The pride of Eastern Slovakia’s largest city is its central square, which boasts the country’s greatest concentration of historic monuments.
Slovenský Raj National Park
Slovenský Raj’s rocky plateaus, primeval forests and interlacing streams form some of Slovakia’s most picturesque hiking terrain. Treks often involve scaling metal ladders or balancing on footbridges above waterfalls. Some people enjoy the ice-cold river water while others prefer the views: cliffs giving way to forests and fog-filled valleys, and soft meadows.
Nudging against the Poland–Slovakia border is the straggling village of Ždiar. The farmers, coal miners and woodcutters who established it in the 16th century could scarcely have foreseen the starry future of this mountain village: today it is immensely popular with hikers and cyclists, and every other log building is a guesthouse or restaurant.
Though Banská Bystrica seldom graces the itineraries of foreign visitors, its WWII history is reason enough to visit this pretty town south of Veľká Fatra National Park. To Slovaks, ‘BB’ is best known for its history of anti-fascist revolt and its headline attraction is a saucer-shaped museum devoted to the Slovak national uprising.
When is the ideal time to visit Slovakia?
Slovakia sees scorching summers and chilly winters: to avoid the extremes of temperature, travel during spring or autumn when the mountains are perfect for hiking and there is plenty of seasonal color about. The winter is ideal skiing season in the Carpathians, although in the rest of the country some tourist attractions may be closed. Bratislava is bustling all year round.
Hotels can be found throughout the towns and cities and in ski resorts. There are plenty of campsites in Slovakia, usually accompanied by a lido. Mountain hotels are also popular and expensive. Private apartments and family-run guesthouses are inexpensive and cozy.