Slovakia is literally in the heart of Europe. Often overlooked by travellers who visit Slovakia’s better known neighbouring countries like the Czech Republic and Austria, one just needs to take the time to explore this small country to appreciate it.
Most people don’t even realise that Vienna is only 50km away or a 1-hour journey from Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia.
I’ve been wanting to explore this country for a few years now, and lucky for me I’ve recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks there.
I’ve made a list of the ten best places to visit in Slovakia, some of my favourites were recommendations from Slovakian friends.
Slovakia is a small country, so if you are visiting for just a few days or a few weeks, these places are definitely worth visiting.
Košice has the looks and charm of a small cosmopolitan city. With one of the most well-preserved historical town centres in the country, it is definitely pleasing to the eye. The Old town centre has been pedestrianised and the buildings and architecture have a cosy medieval feel.
Buzzing cafes and restaurants are sprinkled along the main street, with cobble-stoned alleys leading off in all directions. We found this city to be most beautiful at evening time when the magnificent St Elizabeth gothic cathedral is lit up with many colours.
2. High Tatras
Creating the border between Slovakia and Poland, the Tatra Mountains are considered to be the tallest mountain range in Slovakia. Because of its altitude, the High Tatras have become a very popular skiing and spa destination in the country and a much more affordable option for ski packages in Europe, if you compare it to France, Austria or the Swiss Alps.
A popular skiing location here can be found in the town of Štrbské Pleso. People have been skiing here for centuries because of the glacial lake found nearby. It is also popular for hiking trails too.
We parked our car here and then hiked up to the waterfalls, around 3 hours roundtrip. The views were fantastic.
Levoča is known for its visually pleasing town centre and the historical walls around the town.
Most of the Old town is considered a World Heritage site as there are countless buildings in the town which date back to the Renaissance.
All these buildings have been beautifully preserved. It is definitely worth stopping in this town, even it is just for an afternoon visit.
This preserved town with timber houses dates way back to 1272.
Čičmany is unique because of the specific white patterns painted on the exterior walls of houses which decorate them. The local folk music, costumes and folk dances of the village have been preserved too. This village has so much character and was highly enjoyable to explore.
5. Spiš castle
Located in the east of Slovakia, you must visit the remains of this magnificent castle, also, UNESCO listed. There are fantastic views of the countryside from the castle, and you can explore an authentic medieval dungeon, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and armoury.
It gives you a very real experience of what life would have been like, back in medieval times.
The city of Trnava is situated along the banks of the Trnávka River and is only 50km from the capital city of Bratislava. This city has been referred to as the ‘Slovak Rome’ because of its many churches within its city walls.
Trnava has a very pretty and well preserved historical centre, perfect for enjoying coffee in the sidewalk cafes or a delicious local snack of lángos.
The historic town of Bojnice is located along the banks of the Nitra River. The oldest zoo in the nation is situated in Bojnice, just behind the Bojnice Castle. This is one of the most visited castles in Slovakia, and for good reason.
A guided tour of the castle is highly recommended. The castle appears fairytale-like from the exterior and has been featured in many international films.
8. Banská Štiavnica
One of the oldest towns in Slovakia. In the past, it was also one of the wealthiest due to the huge deposits of gold and silver. Many beautiful buildings were built here by rich miners during the 16th and 17th century.
It is one of the cultural sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today the town is very well preserved and has some wonderful cafes and small stores with Slovakian handicrafts and gifts.
The largest city in Slovakia and one of the youngest capital cities in the world. The population also seems young. Bratislava is a small metropolitan city and seems to have a buzzing social life, as well as a historic charm too. There are many museums and art galleries, although a visit to Bratislava castle should be on your hit list too.
Bratislava is found in the southwestern part of the country situated along both of the Danube and Morava banks. It is here that the country borders with Austria and Hungary.
A quaint little village, situated in the centre of Slovakia, with views of mountains and rolling fields surrounding it. This village dates back to 1376, and in 1993, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a remarkably intact settlement with the traditional features of a central European village.
There are more than 40 log houses, all painted in bright colours and a very well-preserved chapel still stands proudly in the village. It really felt like a step back in time, wandering through this little piece of history.
Did we miss mentioning your favourite place? Have you explored Slovakia? Please share your thoughts and experience of this friendly country.