Slovak surprises

  • Bratislava’s Main Square. Photos: SARIO
    Bratislava’s Main Square. Photos: SARIO
  • Bratislava Castle. Photo: SARIO
    Bratislava Castle. Photo: SARIO
  • Photo: SARIO
    Photo: SARIO

From the lively capital Bratislava to captivating traditional villages and skiing in the Tatra Mountains, Slovakia has much to discover.


Bratislava: medieval to modern

Sitting astride the River Danube in the heart of Europe, Bratislava combines medieval castles and spires with gleaming modern towers and bridges.
The architecture of the capital’s Old Town has been shaped by its position at the intersection of historical trade routes, featuring fine baroque palaces and Gothic cathedrals. Bratislava Castle, which has stood watch over this city of half a million people in one guise or another for over a millennium, is well worth a visit before enjoying a drink by the Danube as the sun sets.

  • Bratislava Castle
    Bratislava Castle
  • The Slovak National Theatre
    The Slovak National Theatre

Picturesque paradise

As you exit the capital, the rolling green hills of the Slovakian countryside reveal forests, lakes, mountains and picturesque traditional villages. The tranquil landscape has plenty to offer culture vultures and outdoor lovers alike. 

The country boasts five UNESCO-listed cultural World Heritage Sites, including Spis Castle, one of the largest medieval castle compounds in Central Europe; the medieval mining town of Banska Stiavnica; and the village of Vlkolinec with its traditional log cottages. 

Also on the list are the fortified town of Bardejov and the historic wooden churches of the Carpathian Mountains. 

For those looking to get in touch with nature, the Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise) National Park offers hiking trails through forests, canyons and waterfalls, plus the stunning Dobsinska Ice Cave.

  • Medieval Cachtice Castle
    Medieval Cachtice Castle
  • Kosice’s Gothic cathedral
    Kosice’s Gothic cathedral
  • The pretty town of Stara Lubovna
    The pretty town of Stara Lubovna
  • Levoca, part of the World Heritage Site that also includes Spis Castle.
    Levoca, part of the World Heritage Site that also includes Spis Castle.

Flourishing folklore

Slovakia’s folk culture is well preserved throughout the country, particularly in villages such as Vlkolinec and Cicmany, which have been declared national folk architecture reservations. Along with their charming painted timber houses, local folk music, dance and costumes all live on at the sites. 

  • Beautiful Orava Castle
    Beautiful Orava Castle
  • Bardejov
  • Cicmany

Ski Slovakia

The Tatra Mountains form part of Slovakia’s northern border with Poland and are the highest point of the Carpathian chain. In winter, the area’s several ski resorts might have a more limited range of pistes than their Alpine equivalents, but offer attractively lower prices. For those visiting in the summer, hiking trails, lakes and beautiful villages await.

  • Velky Rozsutec mountain
    Velky Rozsutec mountain
  • The Velka Fatra range in the Carpathians
    The Velka Fatra range in the Carpathians

This article was published 30 January 2017
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