Your trip through Slovakia starts in the country’s capital and largest city, Bratislava. It belonged to Hungary until 1918, and Hungarian kings even got crowned there.
Today, about 415,000 people live in the city, which has a lot of sights to offer. There are many interesting churches, for example, among them St. Martin's Cathedral, with its treasure chamber and crypt, and the Church of St. Elizabeth, also called the Blue Church.
It’s also worth visiting Bratislava Castle, whose foundations date to the 15th century. Its coronation tower offers a wonderful view of Austria and the southern Carpathians. The castle also contains the Slovak National Museum. From the south-east of the castle hill, you have another lovely view of the historical city and the Danube.
Other sights in Bratislava we recommend visiting are Devín Castle, Grassalkovich Palace (also called the Presidential Palace), and Ruscovce Mansion.
Besides the castles and palaces, there are, of course, a lot of other impressive buildings to see in Bratislava. The old town hall, for instance, dates back to the 14th century and is located on the main square. Don’t forget to see its beautiful courtyard while you’re there! Another building worth seeing in the city is the Slovak National Theater. It was built in 1885/86 in the Neo-Renaissance style and is located in the old town’s Hviezdoslav Square. The National Theater is also housed in a newer building, opened in 2007, on the bank of the Danube.
Befitting its status as a capital city, Bratislava also has a lot of museums. Our favorites are the Slovak National Gallery and the Slovak National Museum.
If you need a break from all the architecture, art, and culture, you can also visit one of Bratislava’s many restaurants and cafés. There are also a number of hostels available, where a night in a 10-bed dorm is around €12.
Your next stop is Čičmany. Only about 130 people live in this small village, which is located in the Strážov Mountains. The easiest way to get here is by car.
Čičmany is known for its well-preserved folk architecture. The village features a lot of very pretty wooden houses with elaborate white decorations. That is why the lower part of the village, consisting of 136 houses, has been under protection as a folk architecture reserve since 1977.
The white decorations consist of geometrical patterns and resemble the embroidery that can also be found on costumes, blankets, and artworks from Čičmany. The ornaments were invented by local women. At first, only the corners of the houses were decorated with clay and lime. From the 19th century onwards, the entire exterior of the wooden houses was painted.
The houses are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and a visit to Čičmany is an exciting and unforgettable experience.
You can find accommodation nearby. A double room shouldn’t cost you more than €24 in this part of Slovakia.
The next stop on your journey through Slovakia is Banská Bystrica. There are a few different hostels available here, with a night in a 6-bed dorm usually not being more than €15 per person.
Banská Bystrica is a small university town in central Slovakia with about 80,000 inhabitants. The city has a beautiful main square with very interesting architecture. There is also a gallery of contemporary art and a clock tower, noth of which you definitely shouldn’t miss. Also, don’t forget to climb the tower, as it offers a breathtaking view over the city. If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, we would recommend taking one of the city’s guided walking tours.
Other places of interest in Banská Bystrica include the town castle, two churches, the Central Slovakia Museum, and the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising. There are also four theaters in the city, and the local soccer club MFK Dukla Banská Bystrica, which plays in the first division. The city also has a pretty successful ice hockey team, HC '05 Banská Bystrica, which also plays in the first league.
Since 1992, Baská Bystrica has been the location of the Matej Bel University, which means that the city is also home to a lot of students. In addition, there’s a state college of music here, called the Academy of Arts (Akadémia umení v Banskej Bystrici).
Banská Bystrica is the perfect place to enjoy the atmosphere of a student-filled city. Don’t miss this opportunity to have an unforgettable night!
Once you’ve recharged your batteries and are ready for new impressions, continue your journey to Ždiar. After spending time in a busy university town, Ždiar offers you beautiful scenery, peace, and relaxation. The town is a mountain farming and recreation resort, so you can also ski or snowboard here in winter. During the summer, you can go hiking or mountain biking, depending on how much action you want!
Ždiar has a population of around 1,300 people and is located in eastern Slovakia, near the Polish border. In the valley it is situated in, you can also find the Biely, a very picturesque stream.
Only a few kilometers away from Ždiar is the Belianska Cave. It is 890 m above sea level and is definitely worth a visit. The cave had already been discovered, when gold prospectors were active in the area in the first half of the 18th century. After that, however, it remained a secret for many years and was only recognized in 1826. Today, you can take a tour to discover the cave’s impressive interior.
You can also find a place for the night nearby. A double room will cost around €24.
Your final stop on your trip around Slovakia is Spiš Castle in the northeast of the country. It was built in the 12th century and is one of the largest castle complexes in Central Europe. According to the Guinness Book of Records, there is only one castle that is bigger, namely the one in Prague. The outer walls of Spiš Castle cover an area of 41,426 m².
The castle is located on a rocky travertine hill at 634 m above sea level. Unfortunately, only a ruin remains of the castle, but its exciting history and impressive walls still make a visit here well worth it.
This was the last stop on your journey through Slovakia. As you probably know by now, the country is very diverse and has a lot to offer. Whether you love the countryside, want to discover old traditions, or party with a lot of students for little money, Slovakia is the perfect destination for you!