As a central European country with a rich history, Slovakia is one of Europe’s most underrated places to visit. Though landlocked, it has eight regions full of culture, beauty, and nature. Plus, it is bursting with history. The country’s proximity to mountains and lakes means there is much to discover–you must know where to look.
Best Things to Do in Slovakia
1. Open Air Mining Museum
Its museums are the best place to start on any tour of an unknown country. Mining played a critical role in settlement of Slovakians. The Mining Museum is the perfect place to learn more about this and uncover Slovakia’s history.
Located in Banská Štiavnica, the oldest mining town in the country, the museum displays mining equipment and machines that teach about the mining process.
Unlike many other museums, you can go underground for a more immersive experience. It feels like you are in a mine shaft, but some paths tailor to tourists. Discover what it took to be a miner in the medieval ages and how gold and silver became a vital source of money at the time.
Once you have finished exploring the museum, check out the rest of Banská Štiavnica. The city in central Slovakia is full of historical monuments as it has been a community since the 13th century. Much of what survives was constructed in the 16th century. As such, you can explore alluring sites such as Gothic churches and Renaissance homes.
2. Slovak Paradise National Park
To all adventure seekers or anyone who wants to step out of the modern city, you should check out the parks. The country has many national parks, especially in northern and central Slovakia.
One of the favorites I visited was Slovak Paradise. It offers plenty of hiking trails amid a beautiful mountain range. Some tracks were challenging, as I had to climb steep ladders that made me feel like I was rock climbing. However, nothing beats the views you get at the top. It indeed was paradise within the country.
On my trip to this park, I encountered pastoral wildlife, including horses, that made my experience incredible. It added to the scenery that was already so breathtaking. Plus, it was a great photo opportunity!
Other things you can explore on your adventure are gorges, enthralling waterfalls, and underground caves. Just follow all signage, as caves can be dangerous for first-time or amateur explorers.
The one downside to national parks is that it can be hard to predict when other tourists are going to be doing their hiking. If you’re like me and prefer a smaller crowd, try going during the morning or the evening.
Since the park is located within the mountains, many hiking routes appear intense. It might be a surprise that most of them are quite manageable.
Bridges and ladders assist from one elevation to another, but anyone with a map and a thirst for adventure can explore Slovakia’s natural landscape in this park.
4. Go Skiing
Central Europe is well-known for its mountains. As such, Slovakian ski resorts see lots of visitors during the winter months between December and April. The Tatra Mountains make up the most significant mountain range of the country, with plenty of opportunities to ski.
As a small country, Slovakia has many ski resorts that are often within 30 minutes of where you are staying. You can find a convenient place for skiing without having to do long-distance traveling once in the country.
Moreover, central Europe is home to many other countries known for skiing, such as Hungary, Austria, and Poland. It is easy to take a road trip or train ride to any of these other locations to check them off your bucket list.
5. Explore Renowned Castles
If there is one thing Europe is known for, it is centuries-old castles. Spis Castle is located in east Slovakia. Constructed in the 12th century, it served a vital role in the history of Hungary. Now, it is a part of Slovakia, and visitors can bask in the structure’s cultural importance.
Many movies even used the castle for filming. I enjoyed Spis Castle for how unique it is. The stone contrasts with the bright green grass covering the hill it rests on.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful castles I have seen, Orava Castle, sits on a large rock above the Orava River. I was amazed at how many trees covered the structure and how it blended in with the surrounding nature. It is located in the north of Slovakia, which is close to Poland. You can travel to the castle and then meander to explore the neighboring country.
Orava Castle was built as a fortress in the middle of the 13th century. It suffered a destructive fire in 1800, but a project began immediately to restore it. You can visit the castle and learn about its history and significance first-hand.
Where to Stay in Slovakia
Whether you prefer a small town or a modern city, comfortable accommodation can turn your trip to Slovakia into one you can never forget. Here are some notable lodging destinations for your trip:
- Golden Royal Boutique Hotel & Spa – Košice
- Horse Inn Pension – Košice
- Hotel Europa – Liptovsky Mikulas
- Hotel Palatín – Oravský Podzámok
- Penzion Slovakia – Zdiar
- Divná Pani Luxury Gallery Rooms – Banska Stiavnica
- Penzión na Kopci – Banska Stiavnica
- Apartamenty Tatrachata – Koscielisko
- Penzión Manderlak – Bobrovec
- Hotel Jánošík – Liptovsky Mikulas
How to Get Around Slovakia
There is so much to see in the regions of Slovakia. While many cities and towns are walkable, it can be challenging to go from each site without the proper transportation. Most of the cities are connected by train. However, smaller towns rely on a bus system, which usually costs more money. I generally used the train system, as it was the most efficient and cost-effective. You can rent a car in an emergency or for people who prefer traveling separately.
Travel Tips for Visiting Slovakia
Surrounded by several countries, such as Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and Austria, Slovakia is an incredible source of adventure and sightseeing. It is the location of significant world cultural events and prominent monuments worthy of a visit. To plan the best trip, consider some of these travel tips.
There is no way to predict how your trip to Slovakia will go. Traveling to a new country means taking some level of risk. Plus, if you participate in the country’s skiing opportunities, you must be medically covered. Therefore, you should always be prepared–whether for an unexpected fall or even the loss of luggage.
I highly recommend getting travelers insurance as it makes dealing with some unforeseen events easier. VisitorsCoverage and SafetyWing have plans for travelers in case they need to see a doctor or have to deal with accommodation cancelations. As I always say before any trip to a new country: better safe than sorry!
The weather in Slovakia ranges from a warm summer to a cold winter. As such, you should prepare for the time of year you visit. I always recommend a good pair of walking shoes for men and women–no matter where you go. If you intend to hike, these are especially vital.
Skiing is a whole other story. Packaging a lot of equipment would be best, but creating a checklist for everything you need can simplify the process.
What’s more, having durable and spacious luggage can streamline your travel. I like to find bags with organizers. When I travel internationally, tracking all my belongings cannot be easy. Being prepared with the proper luggage makes my trip easier to manage, and I also enjoy my time more.
Find the Right Time to Visit
Determining which time of year is best for your visit is always a good idea. The most popular time Slovakia sees tourists is in the summer–from May through September. This is a great time for visitors to explore the parks, view the lakes and trees in full bloom, and explore the towns in temperate weather.
Winter is the second-most anticipated time for visitors. The mountains fill up with snow, and the chilliness preserves it. As such, it is the perfect time to ski. People lace up their boots from December through April and put on their ski hats for their Slovakian outdoor adventure.
You can visit Slovakia during the slower months in the spring and autumn. Many people opt for these times. This could be to your advantage as there are fewer tourists and more opportunities for you to explore with fewer crowds.