It’s no secret I’m a major railway geek. Trains have been very much present in my life since I remember, most of my childhood memories are connected with them and even if I haven’t realized that it was more or less obvious I will eventually find a job in the railway company. I can proudly say I’m one of the lucky people whose job is also their passion, even if it has its own ups and downs.
So when I got a chance to spend a long weekend in Slovak Paradise, using trains to travel around, I couldn’t say no. Trains already were a huge treat for me but I was also super excited to visit Slovak Paradise itself as I haven’t been to that part of the country yet.
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Railway transport in Slovakia
Sadly, like in Poland, the local railway transport in Slovakia is recently shrinking. At the same time the main lines are always full of people, especially since Slovakia introduced free train travels for children, students and people over 62 years old.
Good news is that it’s not only limited to local people but also citizens of all the EU countries! If you’re among the lucky groups don’t hesitate and plan your Slovak railway trip as soon as possible! And before you do take a look here to read all about this offer!
Another great thing about railway transport in Slovakia, the one that has been fascinating me since I’ve seen it for the first time are mototrains. I’ve seen this solution only in Czech Republic and Slovakia, in the night train connecting Prague and Kosice and recently in Slovenian Alps.
At the end of the train there is a special carriage for cars only – you leave your vehicle there and head to the sleeping carriage for a comfortable night journey. In the morning, all fresh and well-rested you collect the car and start a day in another city. Smart, isn’t it? Every time I’ve seen this mototrains they are full of cars so it really must be a popular service!
Have you ever thought of train travels around Europe with Interrail ticket? I did it and you can read all about my experience in this post! (click to open in the new window)
Children’s railway in Kosice
The trip started in my favorite Slovak city – Kosice. This time however we didn’t really see the picture perfect Old Town but headed to the outskirts of the city to ride a children’s railway. With this name I literally didn’t know what to expect but it turned out to be such a treat!
The children’s railway was built in mid 1950s’ for pioneers – a popular in the Soviet time group of active kids and teenagers. Similar railways were built also in other places in former Czechoslovakia but till these days only the one in Kosice survived, and it is doing really good.
The whole line is almost 4 kms long with couple of stops along the way. Even if the train is rather short you can choose whether you want to sit in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class.
But I will tell you a secret – the best place to enjoy the ride, especially on the nice day, is to stand at the very end of the train. You can feel the wind in your hair, the rays of sun peek through the trees and everything is just beautiful.
The train is pulled by the beautiful old steam locomotive that throws soot everywhere around (I learnt the hard way it’s not so easy to wash it out!). Even if the ride is short it’s a pure pleasure and you can feel like a kid again. I know I was, jumping with a joy and grinning like crazy all the way!
Margecany – a perfect place for train spotters
From Kosice it’s just a short way to Margecany – a perfect place for all the train spotters!
Margecany is one of the biggest rail hub in Slovakia – if you’re heading to Slovak Paradise you will most likely have to change your trains here. The station itself has a nice location – with mountains around – and it is a decent place if you are after some good pictures of trains.
But there is even better place to admire trains passing by, you just need to go to Margecany Zastavka – one stop further in the direction of Kosice. Not only you will be able to see a beautiful lake surrounded with the mountains, not only you will be able to walk through the old railway tunnel which itself is a good reason to come here but you will also be in the best spot for trains spotting.
Since it’s the main Slovak railway line trains pass by here frequently, with the speed up to 120 kms per hour. You’re on the curve, the train enter or leave the tunnel and well – you just can imagine how perfect this spot is!
Just be careful here, don’t stand too close to the tracks as there is nothing to protect you. And you will feel for sure how powerful trains can be!
Dedinky – a getaway to Slovak Paradise
Margecany is the best place to start your journey towards Slovak Paradise – one of the most beautiful areas of Slovakia with numerous hiking options. The trains here run through one of the most picturesque lines in Slovakia, passing by the stunning landscape and beautiful old towns like Gelnica.
This journey is such a treat and I can guarantee you will spend it all glued to the window, admiring the views! You can go all the way, almost 100kms to Cervena Skala, or you can break the journey in Dedinky – a small village located at the lakeshore.
Not only this is the perfect getaway to Slovak Paradise National Park with its best hiking trails (I wasn’t brave enough to go on ladders – later on when I saw pictures taken by my friend I really regretted!) but it is also yet another great place for trains spotting.
I know this might sound weird but the best viewing point is from the local cemetery. It’s located on the hillside, with the lake, the village and the mountains in the background!
Dedinky can be a good base to explore the area of Slovak Paradise, railway related or not. Besides hiking options a short ride away you will find Dobisinska Ice Cave – an UNESCO listed wonder of nature that I still have to visit. I’ve only been at the train station there and it was just the cutest.
That’s also where I witnessed the most beautiful after rain scene – a full rainbow on the orange sky with a train below. It was one of the moments I will remember forever, too beautiful to describe.
Railway wonders in Slovak Paradise
A little bit further towards Cervena Skala you should stop at the small station Telgart Pension – probably the most beautiful place along this line through Slovak Paradise. The station is the starting/exit point of the unique tunnel – the train goes the full circle inside, changing the altitude. When standing at the station you can see one of the impressive viaducts on the line but this is just the foretaste of what you’re about to witness very soon.
Chmarossky Viadukt – one of the most beautiful and most spectacular technical masterpieces in Slovakia – is 113,6 meters long, 18 meters high and looks like from a fairy tale. Or from one of the Harry Potter movies!
It was one of the places that literally took my breath away. I could easily imagine a steam train rolling slowly on the viaduct – if you are lucky you can actually witness such a scene! One of the most impressive steam locomotives – so called “Papagaj” (“The Parrot”), built in 1951 – is sometimes used for retro train journeys.
Going by train through the Slovak Paradise used to be an integral part of the holidays in the region for many. Train can get you to many places that are not reachable by road, making the journey even more unique and exciting.
Unfortunately these days there are only very few connections on this line but if you’re lucky to use one of them you’ll definitely enjoy them as the views outside are splendid. Rolling hills, lush forests and cute little villages along the way all look like in a tourist folder. Be sure to score a window seat and have your camera ready as I’m sure you will want to capture those perfect views along the way. I did!
Beautiful railway journeys in Slovakia
Since my first visit in Slovakia (in 2002 I think…) I’ve been always trying to use trains there. It’s one of the countries where even if I plan to kill the travel time by reading the book I very quickly end up just staring outside the window, being in the awe of the landscape passing by.
When someone asks me what are the best railway journeys in Europe I always say that the one from Bratislava to Kosice via Trencin, Zilinia and Poprad is a must. Now I can gladly add Slovak Paradise to this list!
If you are planning to visit Slovakia do yourself a favor and venture deeper into the country than just Bratislava. And when you do so – use the train whenever you can!
Do you like train travels too? What was the most beautiful train journey you took? Have you been to Slovakia?
If you think of visiting Slovakia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- Bardejov – the most enjoyable town in Slovakia
- Banska Stiavnica – one of the most beautiful towns in Europe
- Top 5 places to visit in Slovakia
- and more!
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