Slovakia is a country with a rich culture. There are enough natural beauties, but most of all, of course, ancient castles.
Things to do in Slovakia
The number of historical monuments in Slovakia is amazing. These are numerous castles and palaces that belonged to aristocratic families. The architecture of the capital will not leave anyone indifferent either: the Town Hall building, the Church of St. Stephen and the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Presidential Palace and the National Theater impress with the harmony that has been preserved for centuries.
History buffs and those who want to feel the atmosphere of the past centuries will love the Spissky castle, Boinitsky, Zvolensky and Krasna Gorka castle. Museums and educational exhibitions are organized on their territories.
You can see the beauty of the nature of Slovakia in the Low Tatras National Park, in ski resorts and in the vast arrays of karst Demyanovsk caves. Outdoor enthusiasts will find it interesting to visit ice caves, like Dobshinskaya.
Skiing fans will appreciate Jasna and Strbske Pleso, located in the mountains. Those who have a rest with children will get a lot of pleasant impressions in the water park “Tatralandia” and in the thermal complex “Chaika”. There you can improve your body thanks to the thermal waters coming from the depths.
The cultural and historical center of the capital of Slovakia has become the Market Square, also known as the Main Square. It houses buildings decorated in various styles of architecture: baroque, classicism, gothic. Holiday fairs, festivals, open-air concerts are held here. On the first floors of the buildings there are small cafes and restaurants.
The bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, or New Bridge, is located almost in the center of the capital. It is notable for its engineering feature, since it does not have a single support installed in the Danube River, and rests on one pylon.
For tourists, it is attractive because of the “flying saucer” — a round and flat structure located at the top of the pylon. There is an observation deck and a restaurant, which is called “UFO”. A specially installed elevator leads to the site.
Resort Strbske Pleso
It is located in the High Tatras, on the shores of the mountain lake of the same name. There is a modern ski station with jumping hills and trails ranging from 5 to 50 km long for cross-country skiing of varying difficulty. Routes for beginners and advanced athletes have been developed.
Mountain slopes also attract climbers who visit Strbske Pleso to climb Krivan or Mount Basta.
The temple dedicated to St. Stephen is located on Zupnaya Square, not far from the Old Town. It is distinguished by the particularly warm sandy color of the walls. The temple was built in the 18th century and decorated in neo-Gothic style. Above the entrance is a rosette traditional for Catholic churches, and above it is a wall niche with a statue of St. Stephen. In front of the temple there is a column crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The church overlooks Bratislava Castle.
Not far from the temple, delicious local ice cream is sold in summer, and hot mulled wine is served in winter.
Old Town Hall
The building of the Town Hall in Bratislava is one of the oldest in the capital, and it is located on the Main Square. It peculiarly combined several buildings of different centuries: the house of Paver, the house of Jacob, the palace of Aponiho and the house of Unger, and the tower of the 13th century occupies the corner part. For centuries, important decisions about the life and life of the city were made here, and in recent years it has housed the City Museum.
Church of the Holy Spirit
The temple, unique in its architectural composition, was founded in 1995 with the participation of Pope John Paul II. It is located in the western district of the capital, Dubravka.
The building is decorated in modern style. Its main distinguishing feature was a wide dome, partially cut through by an arrow-shaped spire directed upwards.
The interior of the church is filled with light due to the large number of high windows. The altar of the temple is originally decorated with a forged image of a dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
In the 18th century, this building was built as the residence of Count Grassalkovich — this historical name is still used today. In subsequent centuries, the palace was the residence of Archduke Ferdinand, high-ranking officials of the local communist party, and is now the residence of the President of the Slovak Republic.
Near the palace there is a garden with a fountain, a playground and lush flower beds. Here you can sometimes see the first persons of the state who came out to breathe fresh air.
Cathedral of Saint Martin
The building, which later became a temple with an original architectural appearance, was founded in the 8th century — then it was part of the city’s defensive structures. Only at the end of the XIV century it was consecrated and became a church.
The design of the cathedral, like many Catholic churches, tends to spiers up, and completes its quadrangular tower topped with a helmet with the crown of St. Stephen. This symbolizes the former status of the cathedral — crowned persons were crowned here from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The interior is impressive with frescoes, antique stained-glass windows, wrought-iron chandeliers, a statue of Saint Martin and a recently installed organ.
Cultural attractions and entertainment
Slovak National Theater
The theater is located in two buildings located in different parts of Bratislava. The older one is in the Neo-Renaissance style and has existed since 1886. Its architectural feature is a loggia supported by columns. On the pediment there is a sculptural composition with the muse Thalia in the center. There is a fountain in front of the entrance to the building.
The second, more modern building is located near the Apollo bridge. In September, the theater holds an open day, when visitors can visit all its halls and premises.
The zoo has been operating since 1960 and is located in the Mlynska Valley — the foothills of the Lesser Carpathians. This is a picturesque place with a deciduous forest, a river and spacious meadows. It contains up to 1000 animals, including rare species: lions, bears, rhinos, snow leopards, tigers (including white ones), cheetahs, hippos and pelicans.
A Dinopark is also organized on the territory with full-sized figures of dinosaurs that can move around and emit a characteristic roar. There are many small cafes in the park where you can order various drinks and eat ice cream.
An amusement park was built near the town of Liptovsky Mikulas. Its territory occupies 16 hectares, and it is open all year round. There are many pools and attractions here, but the main feature of the park is the water entering the pools. It is fed from a depth of 2500 m from the relict sea, whose age is estimated at millions of years.
The water temperature reaches +60 °C. Its therapeutic effect affects the skin, respiratory system and musculoskeletal system. The pools are equipped with massage chairs, undercurrents, slides, toboggans and fountains. For lovers of a relaxing holiday, there are saunas and a jacuzzi.
One of the most famous sights of the capital is located on a high hill above the city. Its history began in the 8th century with a wooden structure, which was soon replaced by a stone castle. For some time the fortress had a Gothic appearance, but in the 16th century it was converted into a castle of the Hungarian monarch.
Napoleon’s invasion and subsequent attacks by the Austrian troops led to the destruction of the citadel, and its restoration began already in the 20th century. Here at one time the parliament of the Slovak Republic was located, but now the premises of the former palace are occupied by museums — folk and folk music.
One of the most visited Slovak castles was originally founded as a defensive structure. But after passing into the possession of the Andrássy family, it was turned into a real palace.
The castle has 3 floors, the main building is surrounded by towers on four sides. The portico at the entrance is decorated with columns, the window openings are arched. The architectural composition of the building combines the Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Betliar is a hunting museum created by the Andrássy family and has preserved its collection through the centuries. Here are collected ancient weapons from different countries and a lot of stuffed animals. Also of interest are collections of engravings, an extensive old library and well-preserved furniture.
This castle is recognized as the largest and most significant in the country. It is located near the town of Spišské Podgradie and was erected on the upper ridges of dolomite rocks, in the forms of which the building harmoniously fit. The beginning of its construction dates back to the 11th century, later the castle was strengthened and expanded.
The castle is conditionally divided into upper, middle and lower courtyards. On its territory you can find the remains of ancient Celtic settlements, as well as a palace in the Romanesque style. There is a museum of medieval ammunition and weapons, and guides walk in stylized medieval costumes. Theatrical performances and historical reconstructions are also held in Spissky Castle.
Well-preserved monument of medieval architecture. The white stone structure was founded in the 14th century on top of a high hill. The territory of the castle has a triangular shape with bastions at the corners. In the center there is a palace, a chapel and outbuildings. In their design, Gothic and Romanesque styles can be traced.
Now the castle is open to visitors as a museum. The local exhibitions showcase household utensils and a collection of weapons from the Middle Ages. Particular attention is drawn to the instruments of torture. Part of the premises is transferred to the 18th century, when the Andrássy family owned the castle. Here are paintings, antique furniture, musical instruments.
Castle of Sveta Anton (Saint Anthony)
The castle near Banska Stiavnica was built by the Kohari family in the 18th century, and later passed into the possession of the Coburg dynasty. It is a two-storey baroque mansion with white walls and large windows. The front porch is decorated with sculptural reliefs.
The exterior design is quite simple and devoid of any special frills, but the interior decoration impresses with luxury. Particularly noteworthy are the mirror and imperial halls, as well as the Chinese-style hall with silk carpets and oriental trinkets.
A hunting museum with an exposition of weapons and trophies has also been created here. The castle is surrounded by a picturesque park in the English style.
One of the most remarkable and beautiful castles in the country was tentatively founded in the 12th century, but there is no exact information about this. Over the centuries, its design was replenished with new architectural additions and extensions, and in the 19th century the castle was reconstructed and acquired the features of the French style.
The interior space is occupied by luxurious halls. Must-sees are the Golden Hall with a gilded juniper wood ceiling, the Marble and Blue Halls, the Chinese Cabinet and the Music Salon.
According to legend, the castle became the abode of many ghosts, led by the spirit of Count Pulf, the last owner of the castle. Every spring, the International Festival of Spirits and Ghosts is held here with theatrical performances.
The architectural monument is located in the town of Zvolen in central Slovakia — at the confluence of the rivers Grotin and Slatina. It was erected in the 14th century as a defensive structure and was of strategic importance. To this day, powerful walls with Ghibelline battlements have been preserved.
Later, the fortress was rebuilt into the residence of aristocrats, and the interior design acquired the features of the Baroque style. Now in the halls of the castle there is a museum, which is part of the Slovak National Gallery. Its expositions include paintings and sculptures dating back to the 16th-18th centuries, ancient household items, weapons and icons.
Natural attractions and parks
One of the largest nature reserves in Slovakia. Visitors are attracted by picturesque mountain ranges and numerous karst caves. The highest mountain of the reserve is considered to be the Dumbert with a height of 2043 m.
The space of the national park is occupied by beech and coniferous forests, separated by alpine meadows. Fir, spruce, beech, maple and larch grow here from tree species. Large predators live in the reserve — bears, lynxes, wolves, Tatra chamois and alpine marmot.
For the convenience of tourists, various hiking trails have been laid in the park. The Jasna ski resort is also located here.
The cave in the Jasov settlement is located on the eastern tip of the Slovak Karst. It has been well known since the Middle Ages — in it the locals took refuge from the raids of the Tatars and Turks. The underground formation is a stalactite cave with a total length of just under 3 km, but 720 m are open for tourist inspection.
The cave belongs to limestone. Its halls are located at different levels, due to which drops are formed, where you can see multi-colored rock layers of bizarre shapes and waterfalls of the underground river Bodva.
Dobshinskaya Ice Cave
This cave is located on the territory of the Low Tatras and is considered one of the largest ice caves in Europe. Its total length is almost 1.5 km, but a section of only 475 m is open for inspection.
The icing process continues inside the cave until now, and the thickness of the ice in the halls is already about 25 m. When visiting, you can observe ice cascades, columns, stalactites and clusters of crystals of various shapes. For tourists, special bridges are laid and railings are equipped.
Thermal pools “Chaika”
The complex of thermal reservoirs is located in the center of the Bojnice spa and consists of 5 pools. They are intended for adults and children, there are also special therapeutic pools.
Thermal water comes from a depth of 1200 m or more, and its temperature reaches +33 °C. It is able to cure diseases of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. Water attractions are also organized here, and the pools offer a view of the Bojnice Castle.