Panorama of historical architectural Courtyard of Europe in Komarno, Slovakia
Courtyard of Europe, Komarno

Slovakia Vacations

Medieval castles preen amidst a raw and pristine nature aesthetic

There is so much to explore in the beautiful country of Slovakia, you just may want to extend your trip. Once you leave, you’ll pine for dumplings and wine, and another walk through a mountain forest.

Once a part of the Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Hapsburg Monarchy,

Slovakia is in Central Europe, and bordered by Austria to the west, the Czech Republic to the northwest, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north, and Ukraine to the east. The north and central areas are forested and mountainous, and the south is low-lying. In fact, about 40% of the country is covered in forests that house great biodiversity, ecology and lots of outdoor opportunities for recreation.

Slovakia is a small country with beautiful landscapes, including the high parts of the Carpathian Mountains known as the Tatras. The highest point here is 2655 metres and you can hike through some of the prettiest natural landscapes and encounter breathtaking mountains, caves, and waterfalls. En route to various points of interest and forests you’ll see medieval castles and towns, folk architecture, and spas and ski resorts.

The capital of Slovakia is Bratislava. Parts of the city have been restored and the centre of the city is rife with Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance-styled houses, palaces, cobblestone streets, fountains, pleasant cafes and a lively atmosphere. It’s a historical city to be experienced on foot, well known for its old-world charm and narrow streets with cafes and restaurants.

The Danube riverfront is a peaceful respite in the city, and there are plenty of sites to see such as Michael’s Gate from the medieval city, Hviezdoslav Square with palatial buildings, and the UFO Tower, a unique bridge with a observation tower 200 metres in the air with a restaurant that looks over the city.

The most prominent landmark in the city is the huge white square-ish castle with 4 large towers on its corners. Bratislava Castle on the Danube, built in the 9th century, burned down, and was rebuilt in the 1960s. At one point in its history, the castle was turned into a barracks, a seminary, a riding school, residence for nobles, and a centre of cultural events.

At a Glance
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A land of strong heritage and traditional folk culture 

Slovaks have a deep appreciation for nature and their cultural and folk heritage. The forests are magical and cover a large part of the country, both in the mountains and in the low-lying flats of the south. Hiking, skiing, camping are activities enjoyed by many locals and travelers alike. Slovakian music and dance plays a large part in the customs of the nation – singing often includes resonant harmonies. Instruments like the fujara (long shepherd’s flute) and the koncovka (end-blown flute) are symbols of Slovak music and culture.

Ski resort Bachledova Valley, Slovakia

The Culture

If you take a step back and think about the beauty of castles, and the employment of spas and thermal springs for relaxation and health benefits, you start to see the similarities in humans across great swaths of time. The people of Slovakia today, and its inhabitants over time have appreciated beautiful architecture and comforts of Mother Nature. Check out some of these spots to experience these centuries old sites.

Bardejov is a spa town in northeast Slovakia, with a completely intact medieval town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a stunning wooden church, the Gothic St. Egidius Basilica. The town square has an astronomical clock from the 16th century and its spa has been around since 1247.

Orava castle, on a skinny rock cliff, was used in the 1922 silent film Nesferatu, the story of Dracula. Today you can see the torture chamber and a knight’s hall and the views of the surrounding landscapes are gorgeous.

Banksa Stiavnica is a medieval mining town in central Slovakia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was a major centre of mining and metallurgy in the Habsburg Monarchy. Complete with Renaissance palaces, medieval churches, and beautiful squares and castles. Get out into the surrounding landscapes and witness relics of the mining sites and metallurgical activities of the past.

Levoca is an amazing medieval town surrounded by walls with a unique Renaissance town hall. It was an important trading and cultural centre in the Middle Ages. The resort village of Strbske Pleso, near the Tatras, with its picturesque lake, and skiing in the winter has been popular with nature enthusiasts for a long time. 

Osturna, incredible view of the High Tatras from here, with their white snow peaks and the incredible landscapes surrounding them. The area is well known for the preserved folk architecture wooden houses with ornate painted decorations. And nearby, Spis Castle, a national cultural monument, in partial ruins, built at the beginning of the 12th century, was an important political, economic, and cultural centre for the Kingdom of Hungary and several kings and families who owned the castle. Roman coins were found in a cave under the castle and the kitchen has been restored – you can imagine it alive with cooking and commotion, in action for the ladies and lords of the past.

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