Slovakia is one of European’s most spectacular countries, and is famous for its magnificent cities and castles, architectural grandeur, as well as a mountain region to rival the Alps among a host of other tourist attractions. Here are the top places to visit in the country.
Bratislava: The city has transformed since becoming Slovakia’s capital 25 years ago and is undoubtedly one of the most interesting border cities in Europe. There are many interesting museums, beautiful palaces and churches to discover in this relaxing town, with St. Michael’s Gate, the best-preserved part of the town fortification system, another of its standout sights. Just a half an hour drive from the city center, you will find the glorious ruins of the Devín Castle. Situated at the confluence of Danube and Morava rivers, it is one of the oldest castles in Slovakia. Its fascinating museum tells of its turbulent history, while the castle affords wonderful views of the surrounding landscape.
Košice: A picture-perfect Central European city, its beauty lies in the breathtaking architecture of the UNESCO-protected St. Elisabeth Cathedral, the coziness of the coffee shops on main Hlavná Street and the grandeur of the Neo-Baroque State Theatre. With the biggest concentration of the historical monuments in the country, Košice is one of Slovakia’s absolute highlights.
Levoča: This UNESCO-protected city in the east of Slovakia is home to one of the finest Old Towns in the country. Here you will find a historic walled city core with scenic narrow streets and plenty of beautiful architectural delights. Levoča is also a city of fascinating records, with the spectacular wooden altar of the Basilica of St. James famed to be the largest in the world.
The basilica is one of three major monuments in the town square, the others being the Old Town Hall, built during the 15th and 17th century and the domed Evangelical Lutheran Church, which dates back to 1837. For delicious local cuisine, Kupecká Bašta restaurant, located inside one of the medieval fortified towers of Levoča’s Old Town, comes highly recommended.
Bardejov: Bardejov is a UNESCO-protected small town in northeast Slovakia that is famous for its intact medieval city core. With an instantly recognizable panorama of its well-maintained colorful burgher houses, this city is one of the most picturesque places in the whole country.
Visitors can walk inside the monumental Basilica of St. Egidius to admire the exquisite Gothic altars, or climb the basilica’s tower for the best views of the Old Town. The Šariš Museum has one of the most valuable collections of historical artifacts in the country.
Banská Štiavnica: Hidden in the forests of Štiavnické vrchy, lies one of the most beautiful small towns of Slovakia – UNESCO-protected Banská Štiavnica. Once the biggest mining center of the Habsburg Monarchy and the third-largest city in the Kingdom of Hungary, today Banská Štiavnica is a great destination to visit with many great sights. You can discover the rich mining history of the city at the Mining Museum with a descent into the historic shaft.
There is also plenty to explore in the snake-shaped Old Town of Banská Štiavnica, from the spectacular Holy Trinity column, to the eye-catching burgher houses, 15th century Gothic church St. Catherine’s and the Old Chateau (Starý zámok), which dates back to the 13th century.
One of the most curious things to see in the city is the network of artificial water reservoirs (tajchy) built to provide energy for the mining industry. The remaining 24 now serve as a natural escape providing lots of hiking and swimming opportunities.
Low Tatras National Park: Slovakia is a land of beautiful nature and the Low Tatras National Park is one of its most precious treasures. Spanning an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers, this national park is the largest in the whole country.
A visit here usually involves enjoying the superb mountain scenery, exploring the numerous valleys and descending into the remarkable ice caves. Low Tatras also offers almost infinite possibilities for outdoor sports. Freeride skiing enthusiasts will be excited to try the slopes of Chopok, renowned as one of the top freeride destinations in Central Europe. For the best panorama views, head to the top of Ďumbier Mountain and admire the breathtaking vista of basically one third of Slovakia, including the High Tatras.
Meanwhile a visit to the small village of Vlkolínec, a UNESCO-protected reserve of folk architecture, feels like traveling back in time.
With a kaleidoscope of well-preserved old wooden houses and tranquility of surrounding nature, Vlkolínec is a perfect refuge from the city bustle and a great idea for a day trip.
Kežmarok: Set in the footsteps of the High Tatras, this small historic town is one of the lesser-known treasures of the country. Once a significant trade center, Kežmarok is an extremely interesting destination to visit. Its diversity of attractions is quite impressive, there is a UNESCO-protected Protestant wooden church, a picturesque Renaissance walled castle, a variety of magnificent churches and an elegant central square dominated by a beautiful town hall. The city is also a great base for the High Tatras exploration as well as an amazing place to discover.