Hidden gem in Central Europe
A land of magnificent cities and medieval castles, one of European’s most spectacular countries, even though many people outside the region might struggle to place it on a map. Slovakia boasts a mountain region to rival the Alps, yet it’s significantly more affordable than Austria, which it also borders. Join us for a soul-stirring journey from the majestic Tatra Mountains in the north to the dreamy Danube River in the south.
A younger sister to Vienna and Prague, Bratislava shares part of its history with Budapest due to its time under the rule of the Hungarian kingdom. The city has transformed since becoming Slovakia’s capital and undoubtedly one of the most interesting border cities in Europe. Whether you’re wandering through the narrow pathways of the Old Town gazing at the elaborate facades of the historic houses or exploring grandiose Bratislava Castle, one of the main dominants of the capital, Bratislava fails to disappoint.
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’ll find the glorious ruins of the Devin Castle. Situated at the confluence of Danube and Morava rivers and on the boarder of Slovakia, Austria and Czech Republic it’s one of the oldest castles in Slovakia.
Apart from the history, Bratislava offers you wide cultural possibilities as various concerts, operas and festivals. If you are coffee and food lover, you will love Bratislava- narrow streets are lined by coffee houses, restaurants, wine cellars and breweries with craft beers. Nightlife in Bratislava is one of the topic as well as, that is the reason that Bratislava is nicknamed „PartySlava“.
For anyone looking for an affordable alternative to the Alps, the High Tatras Mountains are an ideal choice. The High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry), the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains, occupy a near-mythic place in Slovak hearts. Instantly recognisable, the crooked summit of Mount Kriváň (2495m) has become a national symbol in literature and popular culture, with some Slovaks swearing it’s their national duty to climb it. Twenty-five peaks reach higher than 2500m and the tallest mountains – like Gerlachovský štít (2654m) – attract the most hikers, revealing Slovakia as a nation of adventurers.
With its dramatic snowy peaks and spectacular ski slopes, this mountain range is one of the most impressive sights in the country and has something to offer every type of traveler. Fans of hiking will find miles of mountain paths, winter sports enthusiasts can experience the numerous pistes and ski resorts and wildlife lovers can take advantage of the excellent opportunities for animals as bear, Chamonix… and bird watching.
The mountains occupy an area of 785 square kilometers, with around 610 square kilometers based within Slovakia and about 175 square kilometers residing in Poland
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. Ski resrt Jasna – Low Tatras, is the best ski resort of Slovakia. You can compare this resort also with Alp’s ones. Jasna is the probably best ski resort out of Alp’s ski reosrts.
For the best panorama views, head to the top of Dumbier Mountain and admire the breathtaking vista of basically one third of Slovakia, including the High Tatras. Meanwhile a visit to the small village of Vlkolinec, 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, Vlkolinec is a perfect refuge from the city bustle and a great idea for a day trip.
Piestany is Slovakia’s most distinguished spa resort. The supposedly miraculous properties of its thermal waters gave the town its symbol, a figure smashing his crutches, and Piestany’s renown even afforded it protection during times of war.
Most of the soaking and soothing happens on Spa Island, a sanctuary wrapped in Vah River. Visitors idle by lily ponds, clad in toweling robes, waiting for their next hot-mud wrap; and turn-of-the-century buildings impart a grand, slightly nostalgic feel. West of Colonnade Bridge is the town center, with lush parks and enough fountains to bring to mind the healing springs simmering beneath. No time to slip into the thermal waters? Some of Piestany`s springs are sipped, rather than swum in; look for the taps on Spa Island for a mouthful of piping-hot, egg-scented water…hey, it’s good for your health.
SMALL FATRA & ZILINA
Zilina is located in Northwest Slovakia and it is a manufacturing city with a cute and walkable center all set off by the immense mountains capes of the Mala Fatra range. The 19th century wasn’t exactly kind to Zilina as the city burnt down twice in just 40 years, and was rocked by an earthquake in 1858. Because of these mishaps, the center of the city is in a decorous neoclassical style from the end of the 19th century, and stone mansions replaced the timber houses that were there before. So there’s a grand air on streets like Narodna Trieda and the sweeping space of Marianske Square. On the other bank of Vah is the postcard image of Budatin Castle with interesting museum of tinker.
Small Fatra National Park
Encompassing a 226-sq-km swathe of the Western Carpathian Mountains, Mala Fatra National Park feels peaceful and perilous at the same time. Rising highest is Velky Krivan (1709m), which subsides into wildflower meadows and forests of beech and spruce. Heightening the region’s mystique is its association with Slovakia’s Robin Hood, the righteous outlaw Juraj Janosik, who is said to have prowled these hills and gorges. Hiking trails reflect the landscape’s contrasts, with level pathways veering abruptly into steep waterfall ascents by ladder. Trails are tantalizingly easy to access from straggling gateway town Terchova, with chair lifts and cable cars propelling walkers (and, in winter, skiers) onto the mountain flanks. Terchova is popular as well as thanks to its typical music, what is part of UNESCO heritage.
While Bratislava has the bustle of a capital, life in Kosice, the second biggest town in the country, is much slower and more contemplative. But this does not means that the history of Kosice is not enough rich. The date of 7 May 1369 is especially important for the town because it received, the document of coat of arms signed by the king as the first European town, today it is celebrated as the “Day of Kosice”. In the 15th century Kosice with its 7 thousand inhabitants became the third biggest town of the Kingdom of Hungary following Buda and Bratislava.
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 Hlavna Street and the grandeur of the Neo-Baroque State Theatre. With the biggest concentration of the historical monuments in the country, Kosice is one of Slovakia’s absolute highlights.
ROYAL MINING CITIES
Royal Mining Cities are the legacy of rich former history of Slovakian mining dated from middle age to the end of 19th century. Royal Mining Cities includes cities Banska Bystrica, Banska Stiavnica, Zvolen, SPA Sklenne Teplice & Kremnica.
It is a region of Central Slovakia. Region where match beautiful nature of Vela Fatra National Park together with unique architecture heritage of mining cities. Banska Stiavnica (UNESCO) is well preserved demonstration one of the richest cities of former Hungarian Empire. The city, seat of the oldest high academy in Hungarian part of Austro – Hungarian Empire. You will definitely fall in love with the splendid city center with the dominants Plague Column in Holy Trinity Square, Old & New Castle, Museum of Mining and Calvary above the city.
Or visit the center of Central Slovakia – Banska Bystrica with beautiful historical city center where you will feel the legacy of Slovak National Uprising. Close town Zvolen boast with castle in shape of upside-down table.
Another pearl of this region is Kremnica, with city castle, church of St. Katharina and the oldest still functioning mint in Europe. Above the Kremnica you will find also the SKI reosrt Skalka, the Slovakian paradise for all cross country skiing lovers.