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Europe » Slovakia » Slovakia

Slovakia has more chateaux and castles per capita of any nation on the planet. Its small size and affordable prices—even in the nightlife mecca of Bratislava—make Slovakia a hidden gem of Eastern Europe.

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The Slovak Republic is still developing as both an independent nation and tourism destination, but this tiny country has become an increasingly popular stop for many people during tours of nearby Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Its capital, Bratislava, may not yet boast as many tourists as Prague or Vienna, but this smaller city formerly known as Pozsony ranked among the most powerful in Europe during its over 300 years as Greater Hungary’s capital. The 16th century Bratislava Castle has only recently been reopened after a decades-long restoration project which started in the 1950s, while the Devin Castle has seen centuries of trading activity from its location at the one-time border of the Iron Curtain where the Danube and Morava rivers intersect.

However, only a handful of the Slovak Republic’s countless ancient castles are located in Bratislava. Visitors must venture outside the city to admire the country’s best preserved castles, most beautiful wooden churches, and most accessible cave complexes, the longest of which is approximately 15 miles long. The Low Tatras ski resort of Jasna has quickly become a cheaper and less crowded alternative to several Alps skiing spots. Tatras National Park’s mountains, Pieniny National Park’s outstanding rafting, and Mala Fatra National Park’s endless beach forests are just a handful of the surprisingly diverse landscapes found within this relatively tiny nation.

 

Things to see & do:

 

Castles and manor houses

Slovakia is a country rich in different fortifications and castles. Many were entered into the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO, including Spiš Castle, which is one of the largest castle complexes in Central Europe. The most beautiful castle in the Small Carpathians is ?ervený kame?. On the other hand, Devín Castle gives us a tangible link with the Slovak nation's most distant history.

In spite of efforts to reconstruct as many castles as possible, many are ruins. One response to this situation was the establishment of Miniature Park in Podolie, whose owners decided to create scaled-down models of Slovak castles, as they appeared at their peak.

 

Caves

Slovakia ranks among the countries richest in karst formations, with more than 5350 known caves. They are mostly concentrated in the Slovenský kras and many are known throughout Europe and the world. Forty-four caves and chasms in Slovakia have been declared national natural monuments. Twelve caves are accessible to the public, and allow us to embark on an interesting journey to beauty and knowledge. Many caves are also used for the treatment of respiratory diseases, known as speleotherapy.

The longest cave system in Slovakia is in the Žilina region; its underground spaces extend for 24 km. Of nine caves, two are open to the public - the Demänovská ice cave and the Cave of Freedom, which is the most visited cave in Slovakia.

 

Outdoor museums

If you want to know how people lived in Slovakia in the past, don't miss the opportunity to visit an outdoor museum. Outdoor museums preserve and display extraordinary works of original architecture of all sorts.

The largest outdoor museum in Slovakia is the Museum of the Slovak Village in Martin. Others are situated in Banská Štiavnica, Bardejovské Kúpele, Nitra, Zuberec – Museum of Orava Village, Vychylovka – Museum of Kysuce Village, Pribylina, Svidník, Humenné, and other municipalities.

You can learn more about the lives of our predecessors in the villages of Vlkolínec and ?i?many. In 1977, the lower side of ?i?many was declared a conservation area to prevent the destruction of rare buildings. It has 110 buildings, of which 36 are national cultural monuments.

The settlement of Vlkolínec is part of the city of Ružomberok. It is a conservation area for folk architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It represents a type of rural medieval settlement with the wooden architecture characteristic of mountain and foothill regions.

 

Tourism in the mountains

Whether in summer or winter, the Slovak mountains always offer many ways to spend your holidays.

The most important tourist destination is the High Tatra mountains. It is the highest Slovak mountain chain, and home to many rare animal and plant species. In the High Tatra mountains there are three main resorts - Štrbské Pleso, Tatranská Lomnica and Starý Smokovec.

The Low Tatra mountains are the second highest mountain chain in Slovakia and a sought-after resort throughout the year. Tourists are particularly attracted by Krá?ova ho?a, a celebrated mountain that is shrouded with many legends.

Thanks to its natural beauty, Slovenský raj is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural areas in Slovakia. It is characterised by rugged topography, with gorges, streams with waterfalls and karst formations that are made accessible to the public by footpaths, and over more difficult terrain with chains and ladders. The gorges and gullies of Slovenský raj hide a large number of waterfalls - from small ones to to others that are dozens of metres high.

 

Thermal pools

A welcome supplement to an active holiday is to relax in numerous Slovak thermal pools. In the Beše?ová or Aquapark Tatralandia thermal resorts, you can relax and have a good time year round, and sample the healing power of hot springs.

Another popular tourist destination is the thermal pool of Podhájska, which has unique geothermal healing water with a mineral composition similar to that of the Dead Sea. Additional thermal pools with healing water can be found in Nové Zámky, Komárno, Ve?ký Meder, Rajecké Teplice and other cities.

 

 

Beautiful Slovakian Women

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