Hungarians and Turks came to Slovakia for its natural resources, and so do today’s tourists. A wide band of sprawling mountains means lots of good skiing and snowboarding, while Karst areas are perfect for caving and the rambling hilly midlands are a hiker’s paradise. In addition to its stunning natural beauty, Slovakia is one of the most budget-friendly destinations in Europe. Here is our pick of the best things to do in Slovakia.
The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, your essential guide for visiting Europe.
In fact, with its slightly small-town atmosphere, on a hot afternoon, a flock of sheep wouldn’t look out of place grazing on Františkánske Square. The Old Town showcases the skill of Slovak town planners, who crammed a city’s worth of palaces, shops, cafés, pubs, restaurants, museums and churches into a few blocks.
During the Ottoman Wars, the town sprouted fortifications, watchtowers and a castle to repel marauding Turks. As the metal reserves dwindled the inhabitants migrated, leaving the town with a slightly frozen-in-time feel.
In 1844 a student in Bratislava composed a song beginning with the words “There is lightning over the Tatras” – and today it is the national anthem. One of the exciting things to do in Slovakia is to explore the peaks and foothills which are abundant with rare flora and fauna. You might even be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of a lynx, wild boar, brown bear or Tatra chamois (goat-antelope) amidst the scenic surroundings.
If you're looking for things to do in Slovakia, consider visiting the town that has plenty of attractions to offer. The Church of St James, with its wonderful religious art, is a major draw for visitors. Besides, the town is a great starting point for exploring the majestic Spiš castle and serves as a gateway to the picturesque Slovak Paradise National Park.
The most popular attraction of the Slovak Paradise National Park is the Dobšinská ice cave, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other places of interest for nature lovers in this region are Suchá Belá Canyon, the Hornád Canyon, and the Kysel Gorge.
The most popular way to explore the cave is to take a guided tour, which usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.
You can catch a bus from Levoča to Spišské Podhradie and then it’s about an hour’s walk to the castle.
A lively university town, Košice was the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and makes for a pleasant stop-off for a couple of days. Košice’s action is pretty much centred on its main street, Hlavná, which is lined with parks interspersed with some historical sites. Wandering the side streets provides some interesting sightseeing; this is also where you’ll find various places to stay.
A classic mid-morning snack is párok, a hot frankfurter. A Slovak delicacy is jaternica made from pig’s blood and rice. Bryndza, sheep’s cheese made in the region since the Middle Ages, is light, salty and delicious. Bryndzové halušky, the national dish, is dumplings served with bryndza and bacon. Another favourite is pirohy; unleavened boiled dumplings stuffed with cheese, a little like ravioli.
As well as exploring the castle's many rooms and chambers, there's also a museum with a collection of historical artefacts, weapons and armour. Orava Castle is of interest to film buffs and has been featured in several famous films, including the vampire film Nosferatu.
This open-air museum contains around 150 buildings and structures that have been thoroughly preserved and reconstructed. Here you will find traditional Slovak houses, barns, churches and other buildings that embody different regions and periods in the country's history.
The most popular destination for skiers in Slovakia is the High Tatras, home to the popular Stary Smokovec resort. It's a quietly elegant resort known for Belle Epoque hotels, half-timbered pensions and a romantic railway station.
The historic mining district, which dates back to the 15th century, is one of the main attractions of the Španja Dolina. The village used to be the centre of mining, which is still evident in the architecture of the village. While visiting the village you can explore the old mining buildings and tunnels and visit the museum, with a collection of historic tools and equipment that give a better insight into the mining industry of those times.
If the weather’s bad, one of the best things to do in Slovakia is to hop on a bus at Križovatka and whizz over to Sklené Teplice Spa. You’ll be instructed to jump into hot springs and take cold showers alternately, an ordeal that leaves you exhausted to the point of relaxation. The spring is 42°C, with high levels of magnesium and calcium, and the spa claims it heals visitors with muscle and locomotive conditions.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Slovakia without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
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