If you ever go and see Slovakia, chances are you’ll see Bratislava, go hiking or skiing in the Tatras or maybe head to one of the countries well-known castles, such as the ones in Trenčín or Orava. Well, there is much more to this charming little country thanwhat’s on the tail side of the coin. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy hiking, city sights or sports, Slovakia has you covered if you know where to look. So… where do you look?
1. Košice (all of it!)
Sure, you might have heard of the majestic gothic cathedral of St. Elizabeth. However, the second biggest city in Slovakia is just as much of a complete package as Bratislava, only with a different temperament – it is less “touristy” than Bratislava, perhaps evena bit more relaxed and inviting. Košice can provide whatever you feel like doing. Cultural events in hip places like Tabačka and Kulturpark? Check. The biggest zoo in Slovakia? You got it. Plenty of good pubs and restaurants to enjoy the Slavic hospitality? Check. Friendly people? Double check.
While you’re in the Eastern part of Slovakia, spending a few days in the national park of Pieniny is a great idea for anyone who is searching for a getaway from the city. This place, well hidden atthe Slovak-Polish border is shrouded in myth and folklore. But don’tget scared – there is plenty to do. On the Slovak side of the national park, the locals will tell you local tales sail you down the Dunajec river on a barge, and you will hear a lot more when you checkout the museum in the Červený Kláštor monastery.
3. Goose feast in Slovenský Grob
Is it delicious food you’re after? Just outside Bratislava,every autumn, the village of Slovenský Grob turns into a place where everyone goes to enjoy the juicy, tasty goose meat. And not just meat – how about foie gras, or goose hearts? Foodies will definitely find amazing stuff for everyone – and while there are many places all around the country that serve duck and goose delicacies, Slovenský Grob is the most famous one.
4. Banská Štiavnica
Photo: Daniel Skreno / Wikimedia.org
A relatively famous place in the very heart of the country. This former mining city in the hills is one marvellous walk for history and nature lovers alike. There are two castles to visit, the Museum of mining, but taking a stroll through the ancient city centre, maybe wandering a bit further to see “tajchy” (artificial lakes createdby mining activity) is just as fine. No wonder this place is listedin the UNESCO list of protected cultural heritage.
5. Spa day in … anywhere you want, really
Thermal and mineral springs are almost everywhere in Slovakia, which means having a nice, relaxing spa day was never easier. Most places are easily accessible for anyone, and it’s up to you to choose one. The most famous ones are Piešťany, Trenčianske Teplice (in the west), Bardejov (in the north-east), but there are plenty of other places to look at: Rajecké Teplice, Dudince, Brusno… Let the rejuvenating waters of Slovakia wash away your daily troubles.
6. Caves of Slovenský Kras
Slovakia is pretty underground, isn’t it? And by that, we mean that its caves are beautiful. Another UNESCO item, several caves in Slovenský kras are available to the public during the summer season, most notably Domica and Gombasecká cave. The info on accessibility is easily available online and when it’s scorching hot outside, why not marvel at underground wonders?
One of the hidden gems that even locals might not know about, not far from the city of Nitra, you will find the 16th/17th century renaissance chateau Apponyi. The library/museum is sure to blow any bookworm’s mind. The library boasts the title of “the mos tbeautiful library interior in Slovakia” and stores over 15 000 books, including old pieces by Isaac Newton, Goethe, or Comenius. Ontop of that, you can stay at the chateau to enjoy an exclusive meal and other leisure activies. Let’s face it, we have all dreamt of being royalty for at least a few days, haven’t we?