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Things to do in Slovakia
Slovakia is an fascinating travel destination with a long and storied history. The Celts were there, the Romans, too, and the Turks plundered it. For nine centuries it was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the 20th century it became part of Czechoslovakia, but thanks to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 when Czechoslovakia broke from Communism, and then the Velvet Divorce when Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, Slovakia achieved independence in 1993.
Slovakia travel articles
Today this Central European county is a tourist destination growing in popularity. It's known for its architecture, mountains, cultural traditions, spas and history, and is an excellent destination for outdoor adventure such as hiking, caving and skiing. To give you some travel ideas, here are a few great things to do in Slovakia.
- Visit Bratislava: Just 2 km from Austria (hard to believe) and 10 km from Hungary, the Slovak capital of Bratislava will surprise you with its beautifully restored buildings and upbeat vibe. The Old Town is an atmospheric place to walk around in, and you'll find the country cheaper than many other European destinations. Some of the top sights to see in Bratislava are Bratislava Castle and St Martin's Cathedral.
- Get muddy in Piestany. Piestany's 'Spa Island' is a popular spa destination that dates back to the grand old days of the Hapsburg Empire. It excels in old-fashioned traditional spa cures, and is renowned for its hot springs and mud. Read more about my Piestany spa vacation.
- Get frightened at Cachtice Castle. While there isn't much left of the notorious Cachtice Castle, a crumbling ruin on a craggy hill, its dark past speaks louder than battlements and cannons. Cachtice was the home of the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the 'Blood Countess,' who is said to have murdered and tortured more than 600 women (mostly serving girls) to bathe in their blood. Whether the accusations were a sinister plot to take her lands, or tragically true, there is no question that she was eventually walled up in her own castle where she died in 1614. This grizzly legend scared the bejeezus out of me, and when I slipped at the edge of the castle ruins and nearly slid down to the bottom of the roofless tower, I felt that a ghostly hand was grabbing for me. Yikes! Travel tip: You can visit Cachtice as a day trip from Piestany.
- Hike in the Tatras Mountains. The scenic Tatras are uber popular as a hiking destination, and if you're looking for outdoor-related things to do in Slovakia the mountains might appeal to you. Located in the Tatras National Park, the Tatras are the smallest alpine range in Europe, but they offer jagged peaks, pristine lakes and well-marked hiking trails. A good gateway is from Poprad.
- Soak in thermal water in Poprad. Aquacity in Poprad in a geothermal water park that has won several international awards for its environmental prowess in harnessing the power of geothermal energy. It's also a really fun waterpark. You can soak in pools filled with pure hot springs water, get a massage or try cryotherapy in Poprad, which means entering a mind-freezing minus 120 C chamber, all in the name of health. If I can do it, so can you.