Official language: Slovak with Hungarian and German being widely spoken. English is spoken in the major tourist areas.
Welcome to the land of mountain treks, medieval monuments and an abundance of breathtaking scenery!
As a country that lies “in the shadow” of its neighbor, the Czech Republic, Slovakia is truly a hidden gem, and with its epic scenery and exquisite architecture, it’s a taste of the Czech, minus the crowds with a lot of oomph. Whether you’re a backpacker, a skier, a businessman or a history buff of sorts, Slovakia has something for everyone out there. Bratislava with its charm and intrigue might have got you hooked on the idea, but Slovakia is about so much more than just the cities. Boasting some of the most spectacular natural landscapes that are largely unspoiled and unpopulated, you’re bound to fall in love with one of the 10 big national parks with their rolling hills and meandering rivers.
Slovakia is a land of opportunities. Opportunities like world-class skiing and snowboarding, caving in the Karst, hiking in the midlands, soaking up the atmosphere in Europe’s most castellated country, delighting in the fascinating folk culture or just soak up the rich tradition that lurks in its medieval towns. All of its attractions aside, Slovakia’s small size should not be underestimated. You can revel in all its mighty wonders within a relatively short span of time, but then again the encaptivating atmosphere might just leave you lingering a little while longer.
Must see places in Slovakia
High Tatras Mountains
The border between Poland and Slovakia happens to be one of the country’s most attractive destinations. The Tatra Mountains in their majority peak at an average of around 900 meters high, with Mount Gerlach, the highest peak towering out at more than 2,655 meters above sea level. If you plan on skiing, this is the best place in Slovakia to get it done.
The capital city of Slovakia lies alongside the Danube and Morava river banks, and bordering two countries, Hungary and Austria, Bratislava is an experience in its own right. Boasting countless museums and galleries among its most notable attractions, the city of Bratislava is set to swallow you whole and steal your heart.
Slovak Paradise National Park
You don’t even have to be a real nature lover at heart to get lost in the Slovak Paradise National Park. Located in the heart of Slovakia, the park boasts an abundance of trails that run through the forested mountains, alongside the lakes and waterfalls and offers truly captivating views over areas like Tomášovský výhľad. Do make a point of getting around to Dobšinská Ice Cave and the river canyon of Prielom Hornádu.
Along the banks of the Turiec River you’ll find the city of Martin with its picturesque landscapes that can be seen all around the city. If you need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the bigger towns, this is the ideal destination to just soak up the raw, unspoiled beauty.
On the east of Slovakia you’ll find the historical town of Levoča with its renowned Town Center and the old town walls that are still intact. A lot of the buildings around town date back to the Renaissance period, which perfectly clears up the reason why almost the whole town is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located in the northern parts of Slovakia, the small village of Demänovská Dolina nestled in the Demänovská Valley draws countless visitors here annually, and it’s bound to captivate you too! The main reasons for visiting the town are the caves located just outside of town. With the likes of the Demänovská Ice Cave and the Cave of Liberty nearby, avid tourists have ample exploration opportunities when they make a pit stop by this charming old village.
The charming city of Košice on Slovakia’s eastern side lies on the banks of the Hornád River, and is considered to be the second largest in Slovakia, which means there’s plenty of good reasons to get there. With its museums, galleries, theatres and universities that are all well worth visiting, the city of Košice has a lot to keep tourists more than entertained. The historical old town center is probably why most people call this Slovakia’s most beautiful city!
The 12th century Spiš castle is one of Europe’s biggest castles by area and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also includes the smaller monuments in its vicinity. The castle is really breathtaking and it’s a sight that’s not to be missed out on.
Slovakia’s 4th largest city, Žilina, lies on the banks of the Váh River, near the merge of the Kysuca, Rajčanka and Váh rivers, The nearby Strážov Mountains Protected Landscape Area lends this city its totally breathtaking natural landscape for which it is famed and the Malá Fatra National Park within close reach is also another major attraction.
Located on the banks of the Váh River, the city of Trenčín is best known for its impressive Castle that dates back to the medieval times. With an abundance of mountains surrounding the city, there are a lot of parks and protected areas that visitors can explore and get lost in for a great day excursion.
Arguably one of Slovakia’s most beautiful castles, Orava Castle dates back to the 13th century and lies tucked away within the peaks of 4 great national parks; Malá Fatra, Veľká Fatra, High Tatras and Low Tatras National Park. If you’ve ever seen a promotional video about Slovakia, the castle was probably in there somewhere. That should be enough reason to get you amped for some castle cruising…you’re bound to fall in love with the fairytale scenery on offer here.
Nestled in the foothills of the Kriváň Mountain, lay the town of Pribylina, an area which is arguably one of Slovakia’s most beautiful sights. But it’s not just the beauty people come to see here, hordes of people flock to the nearby Liptov open-air museum for its historical landmarks and a look into Slovak culture on offer.
Located in central Slovakia within the Štiavnické Vrchy area you’ll find Banská Štiavnica, one of Slovakia’s oldest towns. As part of the massive deposits of precious metals found in this area, the town was once one of Slovakia’s wealthiest settlements and today boasts an abundance of beautiful buildings that are noteworthy attractions to see. The town is one of 5 Slovak Cultural Sites that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Slovak Karst National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is where you’ll find up to 712 caves, some of which are Slovakia’s best in show. Dominica Cave is Slovakia’s biggest cave so it’s well worth exploring, but you might also be interested in checking out Zádielska valley, Jasov cave, Krásna hôrka castle or manor house in Betliar.
Pick the time right!
Tourists travel to Slovakia from May to September
Slovakia has a continental climate with short and hot summers and cold winters.
Spring time makes for a great season to travel to Slovakia because it offers days out in the pleasant warmth during the most part of May. Blossom season in Slovakia is something unique altogether, but autumn time is also recommended for traveling here. Autumn brings clear and settled weather that lasts from September through October, and if you want to delight in the brilliant changing colors of the foliage in the heavily forested Slovakia, this is your best bet. While the country has little to entertain you with during winter aside from a snowy Bratislava (beautiful to see by the way) and the High Tantras with their ski slopes, summers are when the masses of tourists flock here.
Did you know?
- Bryndzové haluisky - small potato dumplings filled with sheep’s milk cheese
- Sulance - potato dough turnovers filled with delicious plum jam
- Mutton with Sauerkraut, flavored with prunes, mushrooms and apples
- Stuffed Cabbage - cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat and served with a milky sauce
- Make sure you brush up on some basic Slovak phrases to help you communicate with the locals
- Whenever you are introduced to locals, shake hands and don’t address elderly locals by their first name.
- If you’re invited to a Slovak home, make sure you take off your shoes at the door (its tradition) and also impress your hosts by taking wine or chocolates as a gift.