Slovakia

A Complete Guide to Visiting Spis Castle, Slovakia

(Last Updated On: 11/10/2022)

Spis Castle in Slovakia is one of the largest and most significant medieval castles in Central Europe. Even if it is mostly in ruins today, it’s still worth going to Spis Castle and admiring its greatness. After all, this is one of the best places to visit in Slovakia and the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The good news is it’s very easy to visit Spis Castle, even if you use public transport, so there is no doubt you should add the place to your Slovakia itinerary.

spis castle slovakia

I’ve been to Spis Castle a few times (not always I went within the castle walls though) and each time the place impressed me so much that I’ve been returning there on numerous occasions. If you are visiting Slovakia, especially its northeast part, be sure to stop at Spis Castle too. You will not be disappointed.

Where is Spis Castle, Slovakia

Spis Castle is located in the northeast part of Slovakia, at the edge of the town Spisske Podhradie, close to the border with Poland. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is located 370 km away, Kosice (the second largest city in Slovakia) is 70 km away and Krakow in Poland is 200 km away. The Tatra Mountains, one of the biggest attractions in Slovakia, is 60 km away from the Spis Castle.

One of the main highways in Slovakia, D1, runs literally next to the castle, making it very easy to reach the place.

spis castle slovakia

A brief history of Spis Castle

The remnants of the castle you can visit today date back to the 12th century when it was built on the site of the previous castle. The place was first mentioned in 1120 and at first, it served as the border fortress in the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle was also used as the administrative, economic and cultural center of the Szepes Country (today it’s Spis region on the border of Slovakia and Poland).

Until 1464 the Spis Castle was the property of the Kingdom of Hungary and afterward, it used to belong to various noble families: Zapolya, Thurzo, and Csaky, until after World War 2 the place belonged to the state of Czechoslovakia, and eventually, after the division of the countries, Slovakia.

Even if at first the castle was built in the Romanesque style, after further reconstructions it changed into a Gothic castle. In the second half of the 15th century the current owner, Stefan Zapolya, order the major renovation of the castle and included a knights’ hall, the chapel, and the palace within the property. Over the next centuries and under different rulers the castle grow and developed until in 1780 the fire destroyed the place and eventually left it in the ruins.

spis castle slovakia

Spis Castle today

Even if today the magnificent Spis Castle is in fact only a ruin, it is still considered the largest castle complex in Central Europe and one of the largest in Europe, with an area of around 4 hectares. You can easily notice some of the most significant features of the castle even from far away, such as towers.

Don’t get fooled by the current state of the Spis Castle, you will spend there at least one hour (but probably more), visiting all its corners and features. However, some parts of the castle might be still under renovation and not available for visitors.

Another reason to visit Spis Castle is the beautiful panorama you can admire from the upper parts of the property. On a sunny day, you can even see the spectacular Tatra Mountains but even without them in the background, the landscape surrounding the castle is beautiful.

spis castle slovakia

How to get to Spis Castle

If you are traveling by car it’s very easy to reach the castle since it’s located literally next to the D1 highway going from Bratislava via Trnava, Trencin, Zilina, Poprad, Presov, and Kosice all the way to the border with Ukraine. There is free parking in front of the castle, from here you only need to walk up a few minutes to enter the premises.

You can also easily get to Spisske Podhradie (the town located below the castle) by public transport. There are direct buses from Poprad, Levoca, Spisska Nova Ves, Tatra Mountains, and Presov. If you plan to visit Spis Castle from Kosice you need to change buses in Presov. You can check current bus timetable here.

The bus stop in Spisske Podhradie is located near the main square. From here you need to follow the trail up to the castle, the walk should take you less than 1 hour. In the summer season, there is also the tourist train running between Spis Castle, the center of Spisske Podhradie, and Spisska Kapitula (more about it later) that will take you all the way to the castle for a few euros.

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

Visiting Spis Castle

Before visiting Spis Castle be sure to check the current opening hours – once, in early March, I did the mistake of not doing it and after hiking all the way up on the muddy and slippery trail I found the entrance gates closed… As far as I know now, the Spis Castle is closed between November and March, in April and October it is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, and between May and September the opening hours at 9 am – 7 pm.

You can get the entrance ticket in the ticket office on the left side, right after entering the castle. Currently, the normal ticket is 8€, it includes the guided tour in English/German or audio guides in English/German/Hungarian/Polish/Slovak.

Some parts of the castle might be under renovation during your visit but you can still wander around the middle and lower courtyards, walk along the walls, see numerous parts of the castle such as gates, towers, and remnants of the castle buildings, and learn more about the place and the Spis region. The place also offers amazing views of the area, including the Tatra Mountains on a clear day. So no matter what it is definitely worth visiting Spis Castle.

Usually visiting the castle takes around 1-2 hours but if you would like to stay there a bit longer there is a restaurant where you can grab something to eat.

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

What to see near Spis Castle

While Spis Castle is one of the biggest and most-visited tourist attractions in Slovakia, there are a few interesting places nearby that you should visit as well.

Spisske Podhradie, the small town located just below the castle, was first mentioned in the mid-13th century and is the oldest German settlement in the region. Even if it is a rather sleepy place, it has a nice market square, a synagogue, and a few interesting buildings such as the 16th-century town hall or the Baroque plague column.

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

The biggest attraction of the place is Spisska Kapitula, located on the other side of the town as the castle. Together with Spis Castle, nearby Levoca and Zehra it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993.

Spisska Kapitula is in fact a small town dating back to medieval times where you can find St. Martin’s Cathedral, a former monastery, and a single street, everything is surrounded by a wall. Spisska Kapitula played an important role in the region as it’s been the main seat of the local church administration since the 12th century.

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

The village of Zehra, located on the other side of the castle than Spisske Podhradie, was first mentioned in 1245 and is one of the oldest settlements in the region. The UNESCO-listed Church of the Holy Spirit is the biggest attraction of the place and definitely worth visiting not only for the picturesque location but also for the original and valuable wall paintings, some of which date back to the 13th century.

spis castle slovakia

Don’t also miss the nearby Levoca, the picturesque town located 17km away from the castle. Back in medieval times, due to its location at the crossroads of the trade routes, it was an important trade, cultural, science, and art center. The town well preserved its old times’ charm until today.

The old part of Levoca is still surrounded by medieval city walls, with three gates leading to the center. The main square is lined with beautiful townhouses but its biggest attractions are the Old Town Hall from the 15th century and the Basilica of St. James that hides one of the most valuable gems of Slovakia – the late-Gothic wooden carved altar created by Master Paul in the early 16th century. With a height of almost 20 meters, it is officially the highest Gothic wooden altar in the World.

levoca slovakia

Final thoughts of visiting Spis Castle

As you can see above, the Spis Castle and the surrounding area, are among the most interesting places to visit in Central Europe that somehow don’t get that much attention among international tourists. If you visit the place you will surely be impressed with its beauty and the huge historical and cultural value.

Since the Spis Castle is so easily reachable from other, more popular destinations in Slovakia, you can easily plan a day trip from Kosice or the Tatra Mountains. I bet you will not be disappointed with the place!

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

spis castle slovakia

Further reading

Slovakia is one of the most underrated countries in Europe that has so many beautiful places and offers numerous attractions. It’s also one of my most frequently visited countries that I always enjoy returning to.

If you plan to visit Slovakia (which I highly recommend), you might want to read some of the articles I wrote about this amazing country:

spis castle slovakia

Travel Resources

Revolut bank card is the best way to save money when traveling. It’s a pre-paid service that offers very good exchange rates and no fees for ATM’s use. Click here to learn more and order your Revolut card.

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Slovakia

Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Slovakia here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.

Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.


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spis castle slovakia


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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Valentin
    12/10/2022 at 19:44

    Spiš castle is the most beautifull fortress in Slovakia. I have been there few times and it always impresses me.
    I would like to add some info to your article.
    Although there is free parking near the castle, during season it is often occupied. But there is a payed parking in Spišske Podhradie (3 euro per day) that has enough parking place (because it is payed). From there you need 10-15 minutes by foot to castle gate.
    For the best view, climb to the tower. It is packed with other tourists, but I was (un)lucky during my visit and it was raining so I had all tower for myself.
    You can visit some other nearby towns and places. I would add Spišska Nova Ves, Slovensky Raj, Kežmarok.
    5 “must visit” castles in Slovakia (for me) are Spišsky castle, Bojnice, Orava, Bratislava and Nitra.

    • Reply
      kami
      29/10/2022 at 18:14

      Thank you for your input, as always I really appreciate it!

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