When you think of Slovakia, you perhaps don’t have a picture in your mind straight away of what this beautiful country has to offer. The landlocked country in the heart of Europe has been an unrestricted member of the European Union since 2009. The country enchants tourists from all over the world with its combination of historical city centres, modern nightlife and captivating nature.
Fans of historical architecture will delight in medieval city centres, magnificent baroque buildings and prefabricated buildings rooted in Communism. These things combine in a youthful city with a multitude of shopping streets, bars as well as galleries and museums.
Slovakia also has a lot to offer tourists outside of its cities. At least two thirds of the country is comprised of mountains, ravines and charming valleys.
In this article we present our personal Top 3 Slovakian cities – and the reasons why you must visit.
Good to know
- As a citizen of an EU member state or a member of the Schengen Agreement, entering the country is usually possible without any problems. In a few isolated cases, however, checks may be carried out. Therefore, it is compulsory for every traveller to take a valid travel document with them
- EU citizens that are staying in Slovakia for longer than 10 days must report to the local police. If you are staying in a hotel, the hotel will automatically register you
- Official language: Slovak
- Keep a close eye on your valuables and bags particularly at the larger tourist attractions, as many pickpockets operate in these areas
- Slovakian police officers can personally impose fines of between €30 and €650 for traffic offences. In case of doubt, always obtain a receipt and make a note of the officer’s name – under nocircumstancesshould you agree tofavours
- School children, students, pensioners and the disabled from EU member states are entitled to free transport with the national rail company ZSSK
Top 3 Cities
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and it is not without reason that it is known by many as the Beauty on the Danube. Situated in the south-west of Slovakia, the city is divided by the Danube and lies at the foot of the Little Carpathians. Due to its excellent location on the Danube, Bratislava has been an area of high population density in the region since the 9th century. Nowadays, many historical buildings still bear witness to its historical significance.
Bratislava Castle in particular, which adorns the city’s coat of arms, and its walls which tower high above the city, is a sight that we would strongly recommend. The exhibition at the castle not only gives you a better understanding of the castle’s history; you also have a breathtaking view over the Old Town from there.
If you’re interested in learning about life in Bratislava, a visit to the Old Town is not to be missed. Don’t let the name deceive you here. That’s because this is the perfect place to experience the modern side of Slovakia. Although the historical city centre bears witness to the city’s rich history, there are a great deal of trendy establishments and shopping streets which do justice to its position as one of the most youthful capital cities in the world in terms of the average age of its inhabitants.
Bratislava therefore has the perfect combination of historical charm and a modern city atmosphere. That means there’s something for everyone!
Košice is the second-largest city in Slovakia and has, for centuries, been a melting pot of peoples and cultures. Its location on the Hornád River in particular stimulated commerce, trade, culture and education in the region. It is therefore not surprising that Košice has long been one of the most important cities in Slovakia and lives up to this reputation to this day.
If you want to enjoy Košice’s beauty, you only need to take a trip to the historical city centre and its main square. This constitutes the focal point of Košice and is surrounded by numerous historical buildings, which blend in perfectly with the bustling and modern pedestrian zone.
The city’s most impressive building is undoubtedly the Cathedral of St. Elizabeth. The monumental Gothic building dating back to the 14th century is the largest of its kind in Slovakia and is regarded as one of the country’s national cultural monuments along with the adjacent St. Michael’s Chapel and the Urban Tower.
Košice doesn’t just impress with its historical cityscape, however, but also offers a busy and modern urban lifestyle with numerous shops, trendy establishments and galleries. In the summer, the park between the theatre and the cathedral with its beautiful fountain invites you to linger for a while and enjoy your surroundings.
So there’s something for everyone in Košice!
For all those who like a slightly slower pace, the former mining town of Banská Štiavnica is the perfect place. On account of its location in the central part of the Štiavnica Mountains and the rich silver ore deposit, it isn’t without reason that the town has been known for centuries as the Silver Town.
The historical town centre, with its 360 listed buildings which fit in harmoniously with the mountainous surroundings, bears witness to renown and prosperity to this day.
Anyone who travels to Banská Štiavnica will firstly notice the two castles. The Old Castle dominates the town centre and is situated on a terrace to the west of Trinity Square. The castle houses the Slovak Mining Museum with a host of exhibits. On the hill opposite you will find the New Castle which has documented the battles against the Turks on Slovakian territory in the 15th century in a comprehensive exhibition at the mining museum. After visiting the exhibition you can enjoy the wonderful views over the city from there.
The area between the two squares, Trinity Square and Town Hall Square, clearly forms the centre of the town with its architectural sights. These include both St. Catherine’s Church and the historical town hall building with its slender clock tower. You can also find the magnificent Holy Trinity Column here and the Hellenbach House, which was previously the site of the Mining Court amongst other things. The building now houses an exhibition about the days of mining.
Those who are interested in learning about the history of mining in the region and enjoying breathtaking scenery should ensure that they don’t miss out on a visit to Banská Štiavnica. Particularly recommended – in addition to the numerous exhibitions – is above all the opportunity to go into a disused mine and to experience the history of the town at first hand.
Slovakia has something for every conceivable type of holidaymaker! The prices for visiting the country are truly enticing, but must be viewed with caution. The country in the heart of Europe allows for a refreshing change between a city break and a nature holiday.
Have you been bitten by the travel bug and are itching to experience a new culture?
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