Slovakia Tours and Travel Guide
Slovakia Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Where the cities are just as stunning as the landscapes, Slovakia has something for everyone. Whether you choose cycling down the Danube, hiking the Tetra Mountains, museum hopping in Bratislava, or floating down a river in Dunajec Gorge, you will have an amazing adventure in this Central European nation.
Often times considered “The Heart of Europe,” for its location in the continent, Slovakia is still considered a widely undiscovered part of Europe. However, Slovakia’s secrets are getting out.
Adventure seekers are coming to this Central European country for its hiking and cycling, foodies are coming to taste the traditional meals, and other travelers are trying to discover Slovakia’s off the beaten path destinations. With adventures and activities you are able to partake in every time of the year, Slovakia is becoming a top destination in Europe.
Why Visit Slovakia on a Guided Tour?
If you want to go on an adventure, there’s no better option than a guided tour of Slovakia. Since one of Slovakia’s major draws is its varied and rugged landscape, visiting on a tour is ideal.
Guided tours take you on the best routes and trails through the mountains and river valleys of Slovakia. You’ll be able to travel with experts who can show you the best viewpoints and guides who can help you catch a glimpse of the lynx in the snowy Tatra Mountains.
Many tours of Slovakia also offer the chance for you to see other Central European countries. Since Slovakia in the heart of this region, its culture has been greatly influenced by the surrounding countries, and vice versa. Other ways to see Slovakia include river cruises or cycling tours.
Top Cities in Slovakia
The cultural, economic, and social center for Slovakia, Bratislava is a beautiful convergence of the different cultures that make up Slovakia. Influenced by Hungary, Austria, Poland, Germans, and more, you can see every different era of Bratislava in the streets of this growing city.
Slovakia’s second largest city, Kosice is a cultural capital of Central Europe. The city is known for its cafe and food scene and expansive walking paths. Kosice’s population is also a melting pot of Central European countries with the city being a blend of many of them.
3. Banska Bystrica
Once a sought out copper mining town, Banska Bystrica is a step into the past. This river valley city is surrounded by mountains and is known for its medieval preserved buildings and is a top city for travelers to Slovakia during both the summer and winter months.
Located in Eastern Slovakia, Levoca is a picturesque and historic destination. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its preserved Renaissance architecture, old town wall, and wooden carvings by Master Paul of Levoca, who built the tallest wooden altar in Europe in the city’s Church of St. James.
Outdoor Travel in Slovakia
One of the top draws to visiting Slovakia is the wide variety of outdoor activities the country provides. Slovakia is known not only known for being one of the best countries to visit on a cycling tour, but is often considered one of the top hiking destinations in all of Europe.
Cycling tours through Hungary, Austria, and Slovakia are very common. These tours take you through the small villages, countrysides, and river valleys that make up these countries.
Slovakia is at the top of many hikers and climbers’ bucket lists. With nine different national parks, Slovakia has dozens of options for every level of hiker. You can lazily make your way through Poloniny or hike through the rugged landscape of the High Tatras Park. Many of the Slovakia’s national parks are also great places for winter activities since the snow during the winter stays in the mountains.
Best Hiking Trails in Slovakia
With hundreds of different trails and paths throughout, Slovakia earns its name as one of the top hiking destinations in the world.
1. Mengusovska Valley (6-8 hours)
This moderate hike takes you through the High Tatra Mountains through stunning valleys and daring ridges and near the largest and deepest lake in the region.
2. Slovak Paradise(5.5 hours)
While many of the hiking trails in Slovakia are on mountain trails and footpaths, the trail in Slovak Paradise National Park is an adventurous course of ladders, metal landings, and catwalks.
3. Prosiecka Valley in the Chockse Hills (6 hours)
Prosiecka Valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Slovakia. The hike takes you through the valley where you can climb on steep rocks, waterfalls, wild flowers, and an old mill.
4. Gerlachovsky Stit in the High Tetras (8-10 hours)
Trekking to Slovakia’s highest peak is no small feat. Towering at over 8,700 feet, Gerlachovsky is a rugged trail, but has been well maintained and is an accomplishment worth boasting about.
Wildlife in Slovakia
Much of Slovakia’s diverse wildlife live in the forests and mountains of the country. Common animals you may see in the Tatra Mountains include wolf, bear, and fox. One of the country’s more elusive and beautiful creatures is the lynx. If you are hiking or skiing during the winter in Slovakia, you may come across these beautiful felines that call this place home.
Down in the plateaus, river valleys, and smaller forests of Slovakia, you’ll come across pheasants, owls, and brown bears. Don’t forget about the air as well as the ground. Slovakia is home to a wide variety of birds and has a robust woodpecker population.
Top Historical Sites in Slovakia
A living and breathing museum of Slovakia’s past, the village of Cicmany is constructed in the traditional and folk ways of Slovakia. Wood buildings painted black and decorated with white patterns dot the small streets of this city. If you want to see what the traditional way of life was like in Slovakia, then there’s no place better than Cicmany.
2. Bratislava Old Town
At the center of Slovakia’s capital, the Old Town of Bratislava is full of famous historical buildings, winding cobblestone streets, and small shops. You can visit the Bratislava Castle, St. Mark’s Cathedral (largest in the city), or walk along the Danube below this historic city center.
3. Devin Castle
A special site in a sea of amazing castles, Devin Castle is known for its amazing views. Situated on the juncture of the Danube River and the Morava River, Devin Castle is a fortification built to protect a palace and courtyards. It’s most famous feature, the Maiden Tower, is supposedly where many lovesick women fell to their deaths because of a broken heart.
4. Trencin Castle
Near Bratislava, you’ll find another of Slovakia’s beautiful castles. Perched on a cliff near the Vah River, the castle’s history goes back to the Roman times and was the seat of many high-ranking officials and royals during the Middle Ages. Today, it is a museum where you can see art collected by the former occupants, armour, and artifacts that were discovered.
5. St. Elisabeth Cathedral
Kosice’s main attraction and the largest church in Slovakia, St. Elisabeth Cathedral is an architectural and historical gem. The church was built in the late-1300s and is a beautiful blend of Gothic styles and features art from Hungarian and German artists, a testament to Kosice’s diverse cultural influences.
Food in Slovakia
Slovakia’s cuisine is a combination of many of its neighbors’ food cultures, with its own special flair. Much of traditional Slovakian food is based on the staples of meat, potatoes, cheese, milk, sauerkraut, and onions.
Slovakia’s national dish, bryndzove halusky, is a combination of dumplings with sheep’s cheese. The dish includes all of Slovakia’s main traditions and ingredients in one: potato dumplings, sheep cheese, and bacon or sausage.
As Slovakia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, you’ll also find many dishes from both of these countries have made their way into Slovakian cuisine. For example, goulash and schnitzel can be found throughout the country.
Castles in Slovakia
One of the top activities to do in Slovakia is go castle hopping. Slovakia was a poweful country during the Medieval Ages and many of its most stunning and picturesque castles were built during this time. In fact, Slovakia has more chateaux and castles per capita than any other country in the world.
1. Spis Castle
The largest castle in Slovakia, Spis Castle is a massive complex that was built during the 12th century. The castle was an important outpost in Slovakia, but was vastly destroyed by a fire. Today, you can visit the castle and walk through the ruins of this once mighty fortress.
2. Bojnice Castle
Located in central Slovakia, Bojnice is often considered the “most romantic” of Slovakia’s castles. The castle is a combination of Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque styles, which give the castle its romantic and charming allure. The castle has been featured in many different TV shows and movies as well.
3. Bratislava Castle
The most famous castle in Slovakia, Bratislava Castle towers above the city’s skyline. The castle is built on an outcropping that has seen occupation by the Celts, Romans, and Slovaks. Once the home to royals, the castle is now a museum where you can learn more about the history of Bratislava and Slovakia.
4. Nitra Castle
One of the best representations of the Moravian Empire in Slovakia, Nitra Castle was originally built in the 9th century. The castle stands above a plateau and is made up of a church, an archbishop's quarters, fortification walls, and other buildings.
5. Orava Castle
While being one of the most recognizable castles in Slovakia, this 13th century castle may even be more recognized for it’s more recent past. The castle on a sheer cliffside was used in the filming of the famous vampire movie Nosferatu.
Things to Know Before You Go
Where is Slovakia?
Slovakia is located in the literal center of Central Europe. Slovakia was once part of the country Czechoslovakia until 1993 when the two countries decided to dissolve and become the separate countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Slovakia is entirely landlocked in between the countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine.
What is the Weather Like?
You can experience all four seasons in Slovakia. With Slovakia’s unique location and landscape, their weather is greatly influenced by the mountains and the winds from the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. Much of Slovakia is made up of mountains, river valleys, and plateaus. This means the valleys and plateaus will be warmer than the mountains, while the mountains will be cooler and wetter.
The spring and fall in Slovakia are generally cool and wet. Spring is especially unpredictable with storms and weather changes. Fall seems to be a little more consistent, but if you travel during the fall, make sure to bring jackets as the wind on the plateaus can be very strong.
Even though Slovakia has many mountain ranges, summers can be very warm in the lower altitudes. It is not uncommon for many summer days to be 100 degrees and sunny. However, even during the summer in Slovakia, you can see some strong thunderstorms.
Slovakia during the winter is the perfect time for winter sports enthusiasts. Most of the country will see snow throughout the winter months. The snow will stay in the mountains the whole winter, but down in the valley, much of the snow will melt or won’t be around the whole three months of winter.
What to Pack
What to bring with you on your Slovakia tour all depends on what time of year and activities you are doing. If you’re going during the summer on a river cruise, then make sure to pack light clothes and good walking shoes. If you are hiking the Tatra Mountains during the fall, you’ll want to pack layers, wind jackets, and even better hiking shoes.
For adventure holidays in Slovakia during the summer, packing light and breathable clothes is extremely important as you will be on the go and summer is extremely warm. For skiing in Slovaki or animal treks in the mountains, make sure to pack thick coats, scarves, and rubber soled shoes to protect you against the wind and snow.
The most important thing to remember when packing for Slovakia is layers. While the seasons can follow a pattern, with Slovakia’s landscape, changes in weather can be sudden and unexpected. You don’t want to be caught walking through a meadow near the Danube River without a jacket or umbrella when it decides to storm.
Best Time to Visit Slovakia
Like what to pack, the time to visit Slovakia largely depends on the activities you want to do and the theme of your tour. With Slovakia’s vastly changing climate and drastic differences in temperature between the summer and winter months, there are certain times of the year that cater better to certain tour themes.
If you are looking to go on a hiking tour of Slovakia, then visiting during the late-spring or early-fall would be best. On the other hand, if you want to go skiing and see some of Slovakia’s beautiful and elusive wildlife, traveling during the winter months would be the best time.
River cruises to Slovakia generally occur from April-October since the snow has melted and temperatures are rising. However, during the spring and summer rains you may also encounter high waters which could affect your journey.
If you are going on a tour of Slovakia and nearby countries during the summer, be forewarned that temperatures will be very hot and the crowds will be larger.
Common Slovakian Phrases
Slovakians speak the Slovak language, naturally. Slovak is considered part of the Slavic languages that are widely spoken in Eastern Europe, Poland, and the Balkans.
Slovak has 46 different letters and many of those sound differently than how they are written. Slovak can be a little tricky for those who aren’t familiar with Slavic languages, but keeping in mind some of these key phrases will help you get around the country and communicate with locals.
- Hello = Dobry den (DOH-bree den)
- Thank you = Dakujem (JAY-koo-yehm)
- Yes = Ano (AAH-no)
- No = Nie (NYEE_eh)
- Please = Prosim (PROH-seem)
- How much is this? = Kol’ko to stoji? (KOH-lee-koh toh STO-yeeh?)
- How are you? = Ako sa mas? (AH-koh sah MAA-sh?)
- I don’t understand = Nerozumiem (NEH-roh-zoo-myehm)
- Where is the bathroom? = Kde je toaleta? (kdeh yeh TOH-ah-leh-ta?)
Is Slovakia Safe?
The crime rate in Slovakia is low. However, in high tourist areas like Kosice and Bratislava there have been pickpocketing and scam reported. It is highly recommended for travelers to make sure their items are secure and to double check vendors or local tour guides before booking. Also, make sure you use taxis with meters so you are not overcharged.
Slovakia is also an amazing place for solo travelers. The country has a good transportation system and the cities are considered quite safe. It’s advised to take normal precautions when visiting if you are traveling on your own.
A note of caution: travelers should be aware when traveling by road through Slovakia. Some of the roads through the mountains can be small and precarious. It’s recommended that you drive these roads during the day time to avoid issues and to make sure you bring plenty of motion sickness pills for those windy roads.
Common Countries Also Visited on Slovakian Tours
Slovakia is commonly included in tours of Central Europe. Since Slovakia is located in the heart of Central Europe and has a wide variety of tour activities to offer, tours are able to combine Slovakia with surrounding countries in their itineraries.
In addition to Central European tours, Slovakia is also included in Danube River cruises. Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, sits on the Danube as it flows from Slovakia into Austria. Stops these Danube River voyages are often Hungary, Serbia, Austria, and Germany.
For hiking tours, Poland is often paired with Slovakia as the Tatra Mountains is the border between the two countries. Many of these tours take you through the Carpathian and Tatra Mountains that make up southern Poland and northern Slovakia.
Slovakia is also a popular destination for cycling tours. Cycling tours of Central Europe can follow the same route as the Danube with stops in Hungary and Austria, but also can include the Czech Republic as well.
All Slovakia tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.5 for all Slovakia trips.