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Štrbské pleso, ein Gletschersee in der hohen Tatra, Bild: Štrbské pleso

Slovakia – More than just the capital Bratislava

Slovakia, one of the two states that emerged from the former Czechoslovakia, is not yet one of the holiday destinations with mass tourism. However, the country’s capital, Bratislava, with its beautiful medieval old town, has now established itself as an extremely popular destination for city trips . Slovakia, with its extensive forests and partly untouched mountain landscapes, is also ideal for hikers, skiers and nature lovers.

General information

Situation of Slovakia
Image: hyotographics / shutterstock

Slovakia, with its 5.5 million inhabitants, is located in the heart of Europe and extends over 429 km in an east-west direction and over 197 km in a north-south direction. Bratislava, the largest city, is the only capital city bordering two other countries, namely Austria and Hungary. This also explains the cultural diversity and the different historical art monuments that can be found here. On the other hand, around 40% of the country’s area is forested and a total of nine national parks are waiting to be discovered. Especially in the High Tatras with the peaks up to 2650 m high, nature lovers get their money’s worth at any time of the year. Slovakia has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Especially in the cities, the temperature often rises to over 30° C in July and August.

The most important sights in Bratislava

Bratislava
Hlavné námestie, the market square in the old town of Bratislava. In the background you can see St. Martin’s Cathedral and Bratislava Castle, Image: emperorcosar / shutterstock

One of the tourist highlights in the Slovakian capital is, of course, the imposing medieval castle with the four eye-catching towers, which towers about 85 m above the Danube and whose oldest parts of the building date back to the 13th century. In the course of history, the “Pressburg”, as it is called in German, has been rebuilt several times and also served as the seat of the Hungarian kings. Today it houses the city’s Historical Museum. It is worth discovering the magnificent building as part of a one-hour guided tour.

Another must-see is the old town hall, which has housed the city museum since 1868. A narrow staircase leads to the 45 m high tower, from where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Bratislava . The only surviving gate of the city fortifications, the Michaelertor from the 14th century, is also one of the most important sights in the country and should not be missed on any sightseeing program. If you are interested in old weapons, you can pay a visit to the weapons museum inside.

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Bratslava, Slovakia
View of Bratislava, Image: TTstudio / shutterstock

During a walk through the old town, you are guaranteed to come across the largest church in Bratislava, the three-aisled Cathedral of St. Martin. The oldest parts of the Gothic-style church date back to around 1220. But Slovakia also has a modern side. This definitely includes the so-called UFO Tower, which is one of the most unusual towers in the world and is part of a bridge construction over the Danube. Its appearance is indeed reminiscent of an alien flying object and the restaurant with 360° panoramic views is an absolute tourist magnet. Every visitor to the city should at least take a look at the UFO from the outside.

High Tatras Slovakia
High Tatras, Image: Mike Mareen / shutterstock

Slovakia is also a true natural paradise and especially the High Tatras in the northeast of the country offer unique ecosystems. The mountain range is often referred to as the “Little Alps of Slovakia” and was declared a national park as early as 1949. Since 1992, the region has been on the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. In the partly untouched landscape there are several impressive waterfalls and more than 100 mountain lakes, of which the Strbské Pleso is the most famous. The spa town of the same name on the lake is one of the termini of the 4.75 km long route of the cogwheel railway that leads to Strba and is one of the main tourist attractions in the area. The High Tatras are a paradise for hikers and cyclists. Well-maintained paths in different levels of difficulty crisscross the mountains and are suitable for tourists who mainly want to enjoy the beauty of the area as well as for ambitious athletes.

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Other impressive sights of Slovakia

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia
Bojnice Castle, Image: DMZ001 / shutterstock

The Stratená Nature Reserve is home to one of the most important ice caves in the world. A visit to the Dobsiná Ice Cave is certainly one of the most exciting experiences for every holidaymaker during a trip to Slovakia. The cave is located at an altitude of 920 to 950 m and is accessible over a length of 515 m. The thirty-minute tour leads past icy stalagmites and stalactites and presents some fascinating sculptures. The temperature in the cave, which should only be entered with sturdy shoes, is -4 to 0° C all year round. Since 2000, the Dobsiná Cave has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the northeast of Slovakia, Spiš Castle is also one of the largest castle complexes in Central Europe. The defensive wall dates back to the 11. and 12th century and is still completely preserved. Travelers interested in history should definitely take a guided tour of this sprawling complex.

Food and Drink in Slovakia

The national dish of the Slovaks is Bryndzové halusky (Brimsen dumplings), which consists of potatoes, flour and Slovak cheese and is served together with bacon and sour cream. Hearty soups with sauerkraut or mushrooms or goulash with cranberries are also often on the menu. Typical for Slovakia are the many different types of cheese, which are often artfully braided and partly smoked. Popular drinks in the country, in addition to sour milk and buttermilk, are of course beer and fruit brandies made from plums or juniper berries.

Slovakia is a beautiful destination that is just as suitable for culturally interested holidaymakers as it is for athletes and nature lovers.

More impressions from Slovakia