…or at least in north-east Slovakia. This part of the country, located just across the border from Poland, hides some really amazing places.
I’m really glad I’ve managed to visit Slovakia again and return to some of the best places there. With all the fascination with Czech Republic recently I forgot how great Slovakia is and this small weekend away reminded me why I used to enjoy this country so very much. I’m already thinking about more weekend trips there, this time to discover places like Slovensky Raj, Banska Stavnica or Trencin.
But in the meantime here’s the list of 5 places to visit in Slovakia, some real highlights of the country. I’ve been to each of them more than once and I’m sure I’ll come back there again.
Table of contents
One of my favorite places to visit in Slovakia – Košice
One of the main cities in Slovakia and surely the capital of the east part of the country. Košice dates back to the 13th century and the rich history can be widely seen in it.
The city center (that consist of the historical part of the town) is located in and around the Hlavna Ulica (Main street) and has the largest number of historical monuments in Slovakia. Great examples of buildings from various periods of history can be found here: gothic, renaissance, baroque and art-nouveau.
The most important building in Košice is the largest church in Slovakia – St. Elisabeth Cathedral – it stands proudly in the very center of the city and dominates the area with its high towers. It is also the easternmost Gothic cathedral in Europe.
That’s also one of the cities where I feel like I really am in Eastern Europe. It definitely has the charm that is unique in that part of the world. In 2013 Košice was the European Capital of Culture title.
It’s good to stay in Kosice at least two days as it’s such an interesting city! Kosice makes also a good base to travel for a day to Slovak Paradise, Tokaj or Bardejov. If you’re looking for the accommodation in Kosice I can definitely recommend these two places I’ve stayed in:
- Boutique Hotel Bristol (9.2/10 on Booking) – located in the quiet street just few steps away from the cathedral, with big and comfortable rooms and delicious breakfast. Check availability and prices on Booking / HotelsCombined
- Hotel Ambassador (8.5/10 on Booking) – located at Hlavna Street, in the heart of Kosice (but still it’s very quiet) it’s a very comfortable hotel with hospitable staff, good rooms and delicious breakfast. Check availability and prices on Booking / HotelsCombined
The small town located in the Spiš region that hides two true gems: Spišsky Hrad and Spišska Kapitula – both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The castle stands proudly above the town and can be seen from almost every corner of it. It was built in the XIIth century and is one of the largest castles sites in Europe. It burnt down in 1780 and never was fully rebuilt, these days only ruins can be visited but it’s not hard to imagine how magnificent and important it used to be – it still is really huge!
It takes around half an hour to hike to the castle from the town and besides the possibility to visit the ruins you’ll be rewarded with the breathtaking view of the Spiš region and even Tatra mountains if you’re lucky with the weather. Just don’t make my mistake and check out the opening hours before hiking up there!
On the other side of Spišske Podhradie, the Kapitula can be found. It’s an exceptionally well-preserved town that, thanks to being the main seat of the church administration, is often called “Slovakian Vatican”. Spišska Kapitula is surrounded by a wall with St. Martin Cathedral, a former monastery and one street inside. The whole town is a great example of medieval construction.
Spišske Podhradie itself is worth wandering around too. The colorful, Renaissance merchants’ houses make it a pleasant place for the walk.
Located 15kms away from Spisske Podhradie this another charming town is a must in your visit to Slovakia. The historic center is surrounded by the well-preserved wall, walking inside it is like stepping back in time. Narrow streets with small, colorful houses led to the main square – Namestie Majstra Pavla.
Three really important buildings are located there – the Old Town Hall (dates back to XVth century), the Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. James Church. The last one hides a real treasure – the highest wooden altar in the world.
Even if Levoča is a small town it takes at least a few hours to see all gems that it has. Since 2009 it is the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Yet another beautiful town with a long history that dates back to XVIIIth century. The name of it comes from the German “Kasemarkt” which means “cheese market” – back in the old times Kežmarok had the right to organize this kind of markets.
It used to be a strong international town, with Slovak, German, Hungarian and Jewish inhabitants, also among the magnates of the town. That, together with its rich whereabouts resulted in many interesting monuments. Some of the main ones include wooden articular church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Gothic castle, the Town Hall, Baroque church and many Renaissance merchant houses.
The city is located on the footsteps of Tatra mountains that can be seen through the arches of narrow streets.
Among all the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatra) towns that is my all time favorite. Located at the end of the railway line from Poprad it’s the most famous thanks to the lake that is in the middle of the town. Walking around it takes around half an hour and is definitely one of the most pleasant things to do there.
In the wintertime, the lake can be frozen until May and the cross country tracks lead through and around it. The most famous landmark in Štrbské Pleso is the ski jumping hill that was built for the FIS Ski Championships in 1970, sadly it’s not used anymore.
The town is a great starting point for hiking the Tatra Mountains, including climbing to Kriváň (2.494ms above the sea level) – the national mountain of Slovakia. If you’re lazy there’re cable cars that can take you higher to the mountains from where you can start hiking. Or you can as well just sit on the lakeshore and admire the magnificent mountains in front of you.
Other places in High Tatras
Probably the biggest attraction of High Tatras is the cable car to Lomnicky Stit, located 2 634 meters above the sea level. To get there you actually need to take three different cable cars but the last one is the most exciting one.
I wish I could tell you how it was but I can’t – I was this close to getting to the top of Lomnicky Stit but the weather condition on that day was really bad and the last cable car didn’t operate – I’ve learned about it when I was ready to board it as that’s when they’ve decided to close it for the day! Oh well, I will be back there one day, I’m sure of it!
Just one bit of advice – book your ticket for the cable car in advance as the number of tickets is limited. You can do it here.
But don’t worry if for some reason you can’t get to Lomnicky Stit – there are other options for nice views too. From Stary Smokovec, you can take the small-gauge train to Hrebienok and enjoy the beautiful mountains around. I was there in the middle of January – perfect timing for Tatry Ice Master championships!
Some of the ice sculptures were incredible but the most impressive one was definitely the ice chapel – I literally can’t imagine how someone can create such a masterpiece from the ice! If you happen to be in the High Tatras during Tatra Ice Master don’t hesitate to visit it!
My base to explore the north-east Slovakia is usually Poprad – one of the main cities in Slovakia, short drive away from High Tatras, Levoca, Kezmarok or Spisske Podhradie. Recently I stayed there at Aqua City Hotel and can definitely recomment this place. It has the rating of 8.5/10 on Booking and offers spacious rooms and delicious breakfast and dinners. What makes it special is the large spa and swimming facilities, available all year round. It’s a perfect place to relax after the whole active day of sightseeing! You can check the availability and prices on Booking or HotelsCombined.
You might remember Bardejov from the post “29 most beautiful towns in Central Europe” I published here a while ago. I’ve been hoping to go there for such a long time yet it never has been on my way.
When I finally had a chance to visit Bardejov I was enchanted! The town hall square with long rows of colorful houses and the beautiful cathedral was just the prettiest, like from the painting! The view from the top of the cathedral tower takes the breath away! And the Icon Museum is a real gem, not only of the city but of whole Slovakia!
The town made it to UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000 as a perfect example of the medieval trading towns in Central Europe. The golden times are long gone but don’t be fooled by how still the town feels, there’re surprisingly many cultural events happening in Bardejov!
There’s one more reason to visit Bardejov – a nearby spa suburb Bardejovske Kupele. Even the famous Empress Sissi came here for the treatment! All kinds of mineral water from Bardejovske Kupele can help with curing more or less every disease!
Another UNESCO listed town in Slovakia, it’s so beautiful that it looks surreal! Once an important silver mining center of Europe, these days it’s one of the best places to visit in Slovakia. Even if getting there might be slightly challenging it’s so worth it!
I bet you will fall in love with Banska Stiavnica as much as I did! I spent 3 days there and it wasn’t enough, it’s a perfect place to enjoy a slow life in Central Europe! Try to be there in mid-July for the Live Chess festival, it was one of the most unique events I’ve ever attended!
These are only very few examples of interesting places to visit in Slovakia and main cities in Slovakia that I truly enjoyed and I can easily recommend to everyone. But this small country in the heart of Europe hides many more gems and I’m really looking forward to discovering them in the future when I visit Slovakia again.
I suggest everyone visit Slovakia as well, sooner the better, before too many people discover it. In the meantime, if you wanna learn more about delicious Slovak vegetarian food check out my latest post about it here
And here is the map of all the places mentioned in the post:
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