You can still see examples of entire villages that retain the traditional architecture of the area. These are open air villages, where you can get a taste of what life was like (and to some extent, still is....) the traditional arts and crafts of the area, the traditional dress of the villagers.
These villages tend to be quite small. The one I went to, Čičmany, was unique in the way that the houses were painted. Small museums and exhibitions gave you an idea of what their life was like.
You will have, depending on the village, opportunities for lodging, and some souvenirs.
I have to say that visiting some of these places is a breath of fresh air, there are no giant parking lots, no casinos, no streets with racks of postcards etc. You just hope that these little places will be able to stay alive.
Some of the most well known folk villages in Slovakia are:
Čičmany- northern Slovakia, on the way to Zilina.
Vlkolinec- log houses
Museum of the Slovak Village-Martin (attempts to give an overview of different types of villages in Slovakia.
These I have listed are all fairly close to Zilina.
Please visit my Čičmany pages
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia (Slovak Republic) and is one of the youngest capitals in Europe since the country was formed in 1993 after the fall of communism and the peaceful split with the Czech Republic, the city is fast becoming an East European hotspot, a city of some 450,000 inhabitants located on the river Danube at the foothills of the Little Carpathians. Bratislava is an ideal destination for short city breaks with the 'Old Town' being the liveliest part of the city that has an abundance of fine restaurants, chic clubs and a cool cosmopolitan culture.
Must see sights include: the impressive Art Nouveau St Elizabeth Church, the Slovak National Theatre and the Bratislava Castle that overlooks the city.
Bratislava is known as the “Beauty on the Danube”
See My Travel Page for more information.
The Village Square, as seen from the top of the Cemetery Hill.
However small a city, town or village, they all seem to have a "town square," which in this case isn't square at all. More like a football shaped island between two roads. Of course, there's even a belfry. These town squares are usually the most charming part of a town and should be visited. Kosice is the second largest town in Slovakia and it's Namestie has an island-between-two-roads shape as well as being beautiful and charming. In Vlachovo, the ravages of the past gave witness to an enduring inner beauty and charm.
At the time of my stay in Slovakia, it was required that all foreigners staying longer than three days, report their presence in the town to the officials. I was saved this task by family members who were themselves, officialdom.
It is very easy to explore other countries from Bratislava. Within an hour and half you can be in Vienna (take the river cruise).
You can also catch the train which is a fair walk from the Sheraton hotel (so you may want to get a taxi there) to Budapest. You can get to Budapest within 3 hours and enjoy the train ride. They have a separate carraige in most where you can sit and have food.
Because most of the country is mountainous, you are never going to be very far from good hiking.
Slovakia has a reputation for some great, though very challenging trails. Please don't be intimidated when you read reviews and websites telling you how tough some of the trails are. There are trails for all levels of expertise. You will be out hiking with the locals. They are a generally outdoorsy lot and hiking seems to be very much a family thing. You will see people of all ages and walks of life on the trails.
The most popular, or the most well known, area is the High Tatras. Slovak paradise is supposed to be some of the most awesome hiking from people I've talked to. Closer to Zilina there are the Fatras and rock climbing.
Take your pick, there are trails for every level of expertise. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and wear proper clothing. Try not to hike alone and use your common sense.
**when hiking steep trails or trails where you need chains to get up, be very careful with how you are carrying your camera--crashing lenses against rocks is probably not very good for the lenses:)***
Slovakia, by virtue of being quite small, has a lot of castles to see, few of which are very from from the major centers. They do vary, however, in the state of reconstruction. Some, like Bojnice castle (near Prievidza) is carefully and tastefully restored and gives you a good idea of how the owners (the last ones at least) might have lived. Many other castles have been restored but not to the same extent as Bojnice.
You have castles in use as early as the 11th century for defense of the borders/frontiers and trade routes. From about 1000AD onwards until 1918 Slovakia (or large parts of it at least) were part of The Kingdom of Hungary or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Gradually the original wood structures were reconstructed as stone fortresses. Gradually, again, their functions continued to change.
For example, the stone walls and battlements were more than enough for medieval combat, but once gunpowder became common there was a need to thicker walls and more impenetrable fortresses. Some of the castles fell into disuse, as they were either too small to merit being upgrade, too indefensible or too isolated.
Some castles were renovated to become palaces (zamok in Slovak), which served an exclusively residential function. This was just the lord's palace, it had no real common defense elements like previous eras (where the castle would protect the entire village for example)
Regardless of their state of restoration, due to their original function, most castles are in pretty impressive locations with a great view of the surrounding area. Some slovak friends tell me that hiking up to some abandoned castle ruins are some of the best day trips due to the view.
Some castles you might want to see:
- Bojnice Castle ( Prievidza)
- Orava Castle (Zilina)
- Devin Castle (Bratislava)
- Bratislava Castle (Bratislava)
-Spis Castle (Poprad)
-Trencin Castle(Trencin) directly above town square in Trencin
Cut through by the Danube river, the country's capital is a quiet city where elbowing with tourists is seldom an occasion. The city center (Staré Mesto - Old Town) has been renovated and except for the occasional forgotten establishment, restored baroque buildings peek onto clean streets and squares. Most visitors are tempted by its vicinity to Vienna, with which it can't compare in terms of substance, but walking and gazing with less people around are pleasant alternatives to visits inside museums or other attractions, and worth a day trip in case.
I've been aware of the healing powers attributed to spas in Slovakia since I was a little girl. My grandparents told me that they had both been cured of blindness by bathing their eyes in the healing waters at a Slovakian Spa. Of course, it sounded magical but I innocently believed them.
As I grew-up, I still believed that they believed it, but I was skeptical and in time I had forgotten completely about it. Then my Slovak cousin, in a letter, told me that she had taken her son to one of these spas to cure his respiratory ailment. The treatment lasted about two weeks and the National Health was paying.
In and around the High Tatras there are hundreds of these healing spas for all kinds of diseases. These spas take various forms. There are a range of caves and breathing the fresh, moist air is believed to relieve asthma. Mud, peat and mineral waters are considered natural healers. Whether or not you believe in the possibility, it is a sure thing that the beauty of the this mountain region, it's grassy meadows, forest of trees, the clean mountain air and the pure flowing waters will have their effect and a trip out here will surely enhance your vacation.
This is just great to relax after tiering day of skiing and snowboarding. All the sour muscles get ease from the stress. It is really nice to use the outdoor pools as the snow falss down and you are in the warm water yourself. Its really nice. Try it if you have the chance.
Trencin is a small city but has many spots which are worth seeing. Needless to say, you should not miss Trencin Castle but I recommend that you look around this city. Hotel Tatra which lies at the base of Trencin Castle has traditional appearance. I think it is a symbol of Trencin not far behind from Trencin Castle. You can take a walk in a park near Hotel Tatra. It’s small but has a good atmosphere. There is a small supermarket in the downtown. It’s not easy for travelers to find supermarkets around tourist spots in small towns, but you can buy essential goods to travel such as snacks, refreshments and music CDs etc… It’s quite useful for travelers.
This is another building that you will notice while strolling downtown. It has a very impressive facade. It was built in 1898 by one of the beggars in town who saved all the money collected from begging on the streets of Kosice. The roof has a statue of a beggar on top.
Jacab's Palace is pretty amazing. It is very close to downtown and to the town's main park. The palace was built in 1889 from discarded stones from St Elizabeth's Cathedral. It served as the British Council for several years and now it is used to host important social events.
I was a little bit disappointed that I could not visit the inside of the building, though.
Dominican Church is the oldest building in town. It was built in 1290. It is easy to find it because of the pointy red roof that can be seen as soon as you get downtown. It is not on the main street, but it is very close, maybe 5 minutes walk (including the time you stop to take pictures of the nice buildings you will pass by).
The church was used as a store-house for about 150 years after it was damaged by fire in 1556. It was rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century.
The church inside is very impressive and you will be fascinated of all the paintings and statues. Photos are not allowed inside, but a stop here makes for a nice visit while in town.
If you are downtown Kosice you will definitely notice this building! It is called "Pizzeria Aida" and inside you will find a large variety of sweets, ice cream and good food. The building dates back to 1889 and it has the coat of arms of the Andrassy dynasty. The original name of the building was Andrassy's Palace.
This building was constructed in 1779. In the mid-1920's the municipal authority vacated the building and set up the city library in 1928. After 1989 it was renamed after the former Mayor of the City and poet Jan Bocatius. It functioned as the library until 1996, when the city authority decided to re-occupy the building.
You can easily spot the building since the Tourist Information Center is also located there.
This hotel is so great and the staff there do everything they can to help in any way they can. It is...more
Hlavna 1, Kosice, Kosice, 040 01, Slovakia
Good for: Families
A luxurious hotel right in one of the small towns under the peaks of Vysoke Tatry. The forest...more