Slovakia's attractions range from picturesque castles, to relaxing spa towns, to preserved folk culture, to unforgetable natural landscapes. Touring Slovakia and exploring its range of destinations is guaranteed to imprint an appreciation for this East Central European country on your memories for years to come. Though you shouldn't miss Bratislava when you visit Slovakia, do keep in mind that beyond the capital lie attractions that are unlike those you'll find anywhere else. They preserve cultural heritage, wildlife, and history specific to the area.
Bratislava, as Slovakia's capital city, is its most visited. Its welcoming old town is riddled with history, but that doesn't mean it's stuck in the past. The historic district hosts plenty of festivals and open-air parties throughout the year to commemorate events and give visitors and locals alike an opportunity to shop at the seasonal market that appears on the main square for holidays. When Old Town Bratislava isn't partying, it makes a great stopover on your tour of the region, especially if you appreciate sitting in dappled sunlight while you enjoy a beverage, leisurely exploring museums, or taking photographs of intriguing cultural landmarks.
Slovakia's most famous castle is Bratislava Castle, but this famous former fortress is only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the country's royal residences. Many more castles, plunked down in picturesque countrysides, overlooking the surroundng miles and their companion villages, make excellent destinations when you're exploring Slovakia. Devin Castle is located in the Bratislava area and is often included in the capital city's top sights. Trencin Castle, in the western part of Slovakia, is one of its largest. Many more castles, chateaus, and manor houses are maintained for curious visitors throughout the country.
The Slovak Karst area is home to plants and animals particular to the territory and is part of a national park. But what draws many visitors to the Slovak Karst is its network of caves, some of which are open for exploration by visitors. The caves contain unusual and beautiful natural formations, which include stalactites, gorges, and underground riverways.
Piešťany is Slovakia's most famous spa town and is so well established, Beethoven found solace in its healing mud and waters. The spring waters naturally stay at a temperature just under 70 degrees F and the sulfurous mud treats arthritis and other joint and muscle pains. Piešťany is located about 75 km northeast of Bratislava.
Some villages in Slovakia preserve region-specific folk architecture that is important to the country's culture and history. Villages such as Čičmany maintain series of wooden architecture painted with traditional patterns and images meant to ward off evil and bad luck. In Brhlovce, structures cut into the hillside are an unusual aspect of Slovakia's architectural tradition.
Slovak Paradise National Park
The Slovak Paradise National Park is a protected area and one of the most beautiful natural regions in Slovakia. Three-hundred kilometers of trails wend their way through lush forests and over gushing waterways. A series of ladders and stairs help adventurous hikers to explore the wilderness. The trails aren't for beginners, but if you're into strenuous hiking and are used to heights and climbing, the Slovak Paradise may just be the unusual getaway you're dreaming of. An ice cave acts as the "icing" on the park's cake!
Banská Štiavnica is a preserved medieval mining town on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The town produced gold and silver for the Kingdom of Hungary, of which Slovakia was a part during the Middle Ages. Artificially constructed mining reservoirs, used today for recreational activities, surround the town and its historic buildings. Numerous squares, towers, churches, and chateaus are a part of what makes Banská Štiavnica a history lover's destination; several centuries of architecture are represented here, telling the story of the town's development, its successes, and its tragedies.