I can’t count how many times I passed Trencin, Slovakia when traveling by train between Bratislava and the northern part of the country. And every single time when I saw this picturesquely located town with the castle towering above it, I promised myself I would eventually visit Trencin.
Finally, I found myself visiting Trencin and within the first few minutes I cursed myself I didn’t give this place a chance sooner. Even if I didn’t know about many things to do in Trencin (besides the castle), the town stole my heart right away and now it is on my personal list of the most pleasant cities in Central Europe.
As it quickly turned out there are quite a few Trencin attractions worth checking and I ended up spending more time there than I had planned (not to mention it was a really charming place to be in).
If you plan a trip around Central Europe be sure to include Trencin in your itinerary, it is definitely one of the best (and most underrated) places to visit in Slovakia.
Where is Trencin, Slovakia
Trencin, the city of around 55k inhabitants, is located in the central-west part of Slovakia, near the border with the Czech Republic. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is around 120 km south of Trencin.
Why visit Trencin
The main reason why everyone decides to visit Trencin is the impressive medieval castle towering above the area. But the city offers more attractions in the very pleasant center and discovering them all will keep you occupied for a few hours.
After all, the area of Trencin was inhabited already in the 4th century BC and there are traces of the Roman legions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius still visible in the city (you can find the inscription from the 2nd century on the castle rock). The city was first mentioned in the year 1111 and developed quickly, in medieval times it got the title of the free royal town.
What I enjoyed the most in Trencin was the laid-back atmosphere that made me fall for the place right away. This is Central Europe at its finest yet without crowds of tourists around.
How to get to Trencin
Getting to Trencin is very easy and you can even plan to visit Trencin as one of the day trips from Bratislava.
There are frequent direct trains from the capital (at least once an hour) with the travel time between 1 hour and 1 hour and 20 minutes (depending on the connection). Many of these trains continue further to Zilina, Tatra Mountains, and Kosice so you can also stop in Trencin for a few hours on the way to the north and north-east Slovakia. You can check the train schedule here.
You can also visit Trencin on the tour departing from Bratislava which also covers a beautiful Bojnice castle. Click here for details about the tour and to book the place.
Where to stay in Trencin
If you decide to stay overnight in Trencin there are a few accommodation options worth recommending:
How to get around Trencin
The train and bus station are located some 10 minutes walking from the Old Town in Trencin. There you will have most of the attractions near each other so exploring the city on foot is your best option. Most of the central part of Trencin is pedestrian anyway (which makes the place even better to enjoy).
What to see in Trencin
The main highlight of Trencin (and western Slovakia) is Trencin castle, built on the steep hill above the city and towering over the surrounding area. This is one of the most magnificent castles in Slovakia, still mostly intact, and you will surely be impressed with its grandness.
To get to the castle you need to walk a bit up but it’s worth all the effort since not only this is an interesting place to visit but also the view over the city and beyond are amazing.
Already in the 11th century, the place served as the royal castle with the town growing just below it. Over the years the structure and especially its massive fortifications developed and played an important part in defending the area, especially during the Ottoman invasion.
The Trencin castle used to belong to a few noble families over the centuries but its importance gradually lessened, especially since the end of the 18th century when the current owners, the Illésházy family, chose a different location to live in.
Today Trencin castle is one of the biggest attractions in Slovakia and a great place to visit (you can expect to spend there at least one hour, once you get to the top of the castle hill).
Inside you will find the museum focusing on the castle and its history as well as the region. You can also wander around all the corners of the castle and go up Matthias’s Tower for the best views of the surrounding area.
The best way to get to the castle is through the Parish stairway, originally built in 1568 as part of the defense system of the city (and destroyed by fire a few times over the centuries).
At the end of the stairs, you will see the Parish Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, one of the oldest buildings in Trencin (originally from the early 14th century) that also used to be part of the city’s fortifications. This is a nice stop on the way uphill to the castle, especially since the panorama from the square in front of the church gives a good preview of the views you might expect from the top.
The heart of the city is the main square – Mierové námestie, probably the most lovely place to visit in Trencin and one of the oldest areas of Trencin, where the city was created. Unlike in many other cities in Central Europe, the main square of Trencin was a pleasant surprise as it is lined with trees (while everywhere else it’s a concrete galore), adding up to the beauty and charm of the place and inviting to spend more time there.
The numerous cafes and restaurants, many with the outdoor sitting area, are perfect to spend some time in and enjoy the laid-back vibe of Trencin. The square has always been the center of the political, social, and cultural life of Trencin, and the beautiful townhouses surrounding Mierové námestie were the most sought address in the city.
Right in the middle of Mierové námestie, you can see the Plague Pillar, typical for this region. It dates back to the early 18th century and commemorates those who died during the 1710 plague.
Other important buildings on the square include City Hall, District House, Post Office, or the Piaristic Church of St. Francis Xaverský from the 18th century.
To get the best panorama of Mierové námestie as well as Trencin castle and the central part of the city, go up to the City Tower, at the edge of the square (near the Piaristic Church). It was originally built in the early 15th century but over the years more floors were added.
To get to the tower you need to take the elevator from the street level and then walk up to the top. The City Tower is open daily between 10 and 18, there is a small entrance fee to enter the tower.
Around the corner from the City Tower, at Štúrove námestie (another nice square in the city) you can see the Trencin synagogue. It was built in 1913 and due to its Byzantine and Maur-Oriental elements and interesting design, this is one of the most unique buildings of that kind in Slovakia.
Today, the synagogue serves mostly as an exhibition space and is open to the public only during various events but even if you are not able to go inside it’s still worth seeing the exterior of the unique building.
Trencin also has some interesting sights to offer for those who like unconventional attractions.
There is a former railway line and bridge over the Vah river that was transformed into a cycling path (pro tip: you will get a pretty nice view of the castle from there).
In the passage under Hasičská street, on the way to the old railway bridge, you can see street art showing the best attractions of Trencin.
And if, like me, you are a fan of the architecture from the mid-20th century, you should take a look at the Army House or the District Office, both located in the center not far from the City Tower, at Hviezdoslavova street.
Where to go next
Not far from Trencin you will find even more interesting places to visit, such as Trenčianske Teplice (a popular spa town), ruins of the Beckov Castle, beautiful Bojnice Castle, unique Cicmany village. This corner of Slovakia is still rather undiscovered by international tourists yet offers so much!
You can also continue your journey to more popular attractions in Slovakia: south towards Trnava and Bratislava, east to Kremnica, Banska Stiavnica and Banska Bystrica or north towards Zilina and then the Tatra Mountains and Kosice.
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