Best things to do in Slovakia

Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 26.04.2023

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.

1. The low-key capital of Bratislava

One of Europe’s most low-key capitals, Bratislava is a warren of cobbled streets, low arches and tiny squares. It’s small enough to explore in a day, but big enough to hold your interest for a long weekend. Straddling the Danube in the southwest corner of Slovakia, Bratislava is one of Europe’s quieter capitals, its meandering streets and tiny but grand buildings attracting far fewer tourists than Vienna or Prague.

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.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Bratislava

Saint Michael gate tower Bratislava, Slovakia © emperorcosar/Shutterstock

Saint Michael Gate tower, Bratislava, Slovakia © emperorcosar/Shutterstock

2. UNESCO World Heritage Site — Banská Štiavnica

Lying in a great caldera created by the collapse of a long-since-extinct volcano, Banská Štiavnica is Slovakia’s oldest mining town. In the third century, the Huns discovered precious metal here, and by the Middle Ages, it was the largest source of gold and silver in the Hungarian Empire.

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.

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View of calvary in Banska Stiavnica, UNESCO, Slovakia. Spring colors © Hike The World/Shutterstock

View of calvary in Banska Stiavnica, UNESCO, Slovakia. Spring colours © Hike The World/Shutterstock

3. The High Tatras

Defining the border with Poland, the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) are Slovakia’s pride and joy and a popular lure for tourists too. The highest peak, pyramid-shaped Gerlach, is the tallest mountain in northern and eastern Central Europe at 2655m high. The beauty and splendour of the mountains made them a magnet for Romantic and Nationalistic types in the eighteenth century.

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.

High Tatras, Slovakia © Michal Petlach/Shutterstock

Hiking in the High Tatras is one of the best things to do in Slovakia to enjoy the stunning nature this country has © Michal Petlach/Shutterstock

4. The medieval town of Levoča

What inspired the great Hungarian writer Kálmán Mikszáth to make Levoča the star of his 1910 revenge saga The Black Town is a mystery. The medieval town is as neat and respectable as a privet hedge, and if there are any passions seething they’re well buried.

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.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Levoča


Levoča, Slovakia © RnDmS/Shutterstock

5. Slovak Paradise National Park

The Slovak Paradise National Park (Slovenský raj) is a beautiful national park located in eastern Slovakia. Covering an area of 197 square kilometres, the park is home to many plants and animal species and is also known for its stunning natural scenery. Visiting the park is one of the best things to do in Slovakia for hiking. You can also do rock climbing, bird watching and other outdoor activities here.

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.

Ladder on the Bocny Waterfalls, part of Sucha Bela canyon trail in Slovak Paradise park in Slovakia © Shutterstock

A ladder on the Bocny Waterfalls, part of Sucha Bela canyon trail in Slovak Paradise Park in Slovakia © Shutterstock

6. Dobšinská Ice Cave

Dobšinská ice cave is one of the largest and most well-known ice caves in Europe, and in 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cave is an interesting place to explore, consisting of several chambers that are connected by narrow passages. Here you can see spectacular ice formations such as ice stalactites, ice stalagmites and ice curtains.

The most popular way to explore the cave is to take a guided tour, which usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.

Dobsinska ice cave in Slovakia © Shutterstock

Dobsinska ice cave in Slovakia © Shutterstock

7. The 12th century Spiš Castle

An endless mass of ramshackle bone-white walls, roads and broken towers, Spiš Castle is a monumental twelfth-century fortress built over a much older castle. It’s a bleak, dreamlike place, so isolated that the only sounds are birds and crickets. Inside are exhibits giving a clear picture of medieval life (short and dirty), audioguides and a tower to climb.

You can catch a bus from Levoča to Spišské Podhradie and then it’s about an hour’s walk to the castle.


Spis Castle, Slovakia © Oleg Voronische/Shutterstock

8. The university town of Košice

Košice was once a vital commercial crossroads for the Hungarian Empire, and today its pleasing centre forms a kilometre-long promenade, lined with historical buildings, churches, cafés and restaurants. Warm days see residents emerging in packs to enjoy the sun and listen to the musical fountain located in the park next to the State Theatre.

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.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Košice

Aerial view to Cathedral of St Elizabeth and Kosice, Slovakia © Hike The World/Shutterstock

Aerial view of Cathedral of St Elizabeth and Kosice, Slovakia © Hike The World/Shutterstock

9. Slovak cuisine

Slovak cuisine is an edifice resting on three mighty columns: the potato, the pig and the cabbage. Because of their many neighbours, you’ll find strong hints of Polish, Ukrainian and especially Hungarian fare, too. The main courses are usually a combination of meat with potatoes (zemiaky), or dumplings. Slovak dumplings (halušky) are small and smooth, like gnocchi. Meat is usually breaded and fried, or cooked in a sauce.

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.

Potato fritters © Pixabay

Potato fritters © Pixabay

10. Orava Castle

Orava Castle (Oravský hrad) is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in the country and is therefore one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Slovakia. The castle is located in the Orava region of Slovakia, near the village of Oravský Podzámok. Set on a rocky ledge above the Orava River, the castle offers truly stunning views of the surrounding area.

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.

Orava castle - Oravsky Hrad in Oravsky Podzamok in Slovakia © Shutterstock

Orava castle - Oravsky Hrad in Oravsky Podzamok in Slovakia © Shutterstock

11. Museum of the Slovak Village

Visiting the Museum of the Slovak Village (Múzeum slovenskej dediny) is one of the best things to do in Slovakia for a unique glimpse into the rural life and traditions of the Slovak people.

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.

Museum of the Slovak Village © Shutterstock

Museum of the Slovak Village © Shutterstock

12. Mountain biking

One of the best things to do in Slovakia is to go mountain biking. The country is renowned among mountain bikers for its challenging terrain, spectacular scenery and extensive network of trails. There are many trails and routes to choose from, but the most famous destinations for mountain biking are the High Tatras National Park, the Slovak Paradise National Park and Malá Fatra National Park.

Cycling women and man riding on bikes at sunset mountains forest landscape.

Mountain biking - one of the best things to do in Slovakia © Shutterstock

13. Cross-country skiing

Slovakia is one of the most popular winter destinations in Eastern Europe. The mountainous terrain and snowy winters make Slovakia an ideal place for cross-country skiing, one of the best things to do in Slovakia in winter, with trails and routes available for skiers of all levels.

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.

Jasna resort in Slovakia © GoodMan_Ekim/Shutterstock

Jasna Resort in Slovakia © GoodMan_Ekim/Shutterstock

14. The picturesque village of Špania Dolina

A picturesque village in central Slovakia, Španja Dolina is famous for its long mining history and well-preserved traditional architecture. Thanks to its location in a narrow valley encircled by mountains, the village with its spectacular scenic beauty and cultural heritage is a very popular tourist destination.

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.

Panorama in Spania dolina resort, Slovakia © Shutterstock

Panorama in Spania Dolina resort, Slovakia © Shutterstock

15. Spa towns

In addition to its rich history and stunning nature, Slovakia is also popular for its thermal spas and mineral springs. Going back to Roman times, the country has a long history of spa culture and there are many modern spa complexes located all over the territory. Some of the best-known Slovak spa towns are Piešťany, Trenčianske Teplice and Bardejov.

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.

Blue bath, Turcianske Teplice spa resort, Slovakia © Shutterstock

Blue Bath, Turcianske Teplice Spa Resort, Slovakia © Shutterstock

Visiting Slovakia is a truly unforgettable experience. For more inspirational travel tips check our Rough Guide books.

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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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 26.04.2023

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