Written by Enrico and Zuzana from Travel Hysteria
Slovakia is a relatively unknown country. A hidden gem right in the heart of Europe: It’s full of incredible places and there are many great things to do. You can visit the country in winter, if you like winter sports and Christmas markets, while during summer you can do the best trekking in Central Europe. Spring and autumn are the best months for visiting cities, traditional villages and castles.
Here is a list of our top 10 things to do in Slovakia, suitable for every type of travelers!
1. Hike your way to the top
It’s one of our favourite activities in Slovakia: Hiking. There are hundreds of hiking paths, and the most beautiful ones are in the High Tatras, in the heart of the country. These mountains are really impressive, but don’t worry: there are different levels of difficulty. Choose the one you prefer and start reaching the paradise!
If you’re visiting Slovakia in winter, be ready for a lot of snow. The most popular places are VeÍká Raca, Donovaly and the High Tatras. The prices are accessible, very cheap compared to the European standard, and the ski slopes are equally beautiful. You can spend a week in the Tatras, skiing during the day and going to one of the many excellent spas in the evening!
3. Visit Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, a quite small city if compared to other European capitals, but is not less interesting. Spend a few days walking in its old city centre, stopping in one of the many traditional café for a slice of a traditional, delicious cake. You can visit the castle and the Blue Church, before heading to Devin, ancient ruins of a castle on the Danube. This site is just outside the city, and also reachable by bike, perfect for a day trip.
5. Visit some of the historical towns
Slovakia is famous for its mining tradition. The lands in the central area of the country are famous for their resources of metals and minerals. In the past, many towns like Kremnica, Banská Štiavnica or Banská Stiavnica became rich and important on the European scene. The first two of them are especially beautiful! Their old centre are lovely, well preserved with a medieval atmosphere that you can’t find anywhere else.
6. Check the Folk Architecture
Places like Vlkolínec and Vychylovka in Northern Slovakia are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These tiny villages authentically beautiful, two hidden gems in the heart of the country. Surrounded by green hills and mountains, they are characterised by the Slovak traditional architecture. In Vlkolinec you’ll find brilliant coloured houses, while in Vychylovka there are many wooden historical buildings.
8. Try the local cuisine
Food is important in Slovakia as in many other countries. Don’t miss the chance to try the fabulous local dishes! The most used ingredients from Slovak chefs are cabbage, potatoes, sheep cheese, pork and chicken meat. The national dish is “bryndzové halušky”: Small potato dumplings with a strong sheep cheese and fried bacon. Another signature dish is the world famous “gulash”, made from beef, potatoes, onions and peppers. Wash everything down with a couple of draft beers. In Slovakia the beer is cheaper than the water. For real!
9. Visit the castles
The country has dozens of incredible medieval castles. Each major city has its own castle, while the most beautiful ones are in the central and eastern part of Slovakia. Our favourite castles are Bojnice, Trencín or Spiš. The last one is actually ruins, but very well preserved. It’s one of the biggest ones in central Europe and it’s really impressive. Walking around the Slovak castles will bring you back in the medieval times. There are usually a few guided tours every day, and the entrance tickets are always quite cheap. The best time to visit them is early in the morning, in order to avoid the crowd.
10. Visit the Christmas Market
Slovak people love Christmas and its unique atmosphere. Bratislava and the other biggest cities are the best place to spend a couple of days in December, just before Christmas, because of their traditional markets. In the evening, the streets and the main squares of the cities are full of people enjoying the traditional food and drinks. You have to try hot wine, liquors and the traditional sweets. Our favourite drink is “medovina”, a kind of honey wine, served hot. It will warm you up and it’s really delicious!
Enrico and Zuzana, founders of www.travelhysteria.com, are a multicultural couple of travel bloggers with Italian and Slovak roots. They love photography and writing about independent travels around the world. They left their jobs in order to discover the true soul of Asia. From Nepal to Indonesia, they’re looking for the best “off the beaten path” places, planning to write an e-book about the Asian Cuisine. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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