Things to do in Slovakia
As 49,000 square kilometres doesn’t sound like much, Slovakia is a slither of central Europe neglected by travel bloggers, journalists and television specials. Sure, a friend of a friend may have stopped over in the capital, Bratislava, once, made a few horror movie jokes and bought a fridge magnet (the new postcard), but you’ve heard nothing conclusive to convince you Slovakia would be a good idea. You’re missing out.
Probe the mysteries and histories of Slovakia - the earliest inhabitants date back to 270,000 BC. Crumbling castles are common in Europe, but nothing really compares to the romantic Bojnice Castle. Standing over an uneven valley, the sloping domes cast a spell over Bojnice, just outside the western city of Prievidza. Production studios regularly use the facade of Bojnice Castle to create Hollywood majesty.
Not every castle in Slovakia is pretty; the iconic Spis Castle in Levoca is infused with textured histories dating back to the 12th century. Combining Romanesque architecture with basilica accents and a few redrafts, Spis Castle continues to deliver breathtaking views and sword-fighting demonstrations.
There’s more to Slovakia than castles, cathedrals and torture chambers. Step outside and board a raft on the Dunajec River. The water is deep and cold, running 18 kilometres through Pieniny National Park. The Dunajec Gorge looms overhead. Hike the paths of Sucha Bela, a mind-bendingly beautiful collection of waterfalls, rock windows, cascades, natural ladders, thermal springs and hidden monasteries. Take to the slopes of Jasna, tour the grounds of Bratislava Castle or chill out in a long hot bath after a hard day of skiing and snowboarding. Who said Slovakia doesn’t have it all? Here’s some more sightseeing suggestions.
From the Celts, to the Romans and the Moravians, Bratislava Castle is both the legacy and funeral pyre of 11 kings and 8 queens. Tour the ramparts, check out the museum and be dazzled by the view.
Snow bunnies, strap on your skis and get ready for a high-speed ride down the Tatras. Thrill chasers, beginners and backpackers are all catered for with thermal springs and spirits at the lodge.
The Carpathian Wooden Churches are a double-barrelled history lesson, testifying to the skill and resourcefulness of 17th-century believers; every piece has been whittled from hardwood.
Climb into the coldest place on Earth. Dobšinská Ice Cave never thaws or melts, temperatures never climb above minus numbers and thick jackets are an absolute must. If you miss it, you’ll regret it.
Old-school camping grounds, new-school villas, an electric party vibe and a rolling list of things-to-do; Zlaté Piesky delivers high energy good times without blowing out the back-pocket.