On your radar: Slovakia

On your radar: Slovakia

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Forget the overcrowded streets of bustling cities and get ready for an adventure that takes you into the lesser-traveled country of Slovakia. There’s certainly no shortage of activities here, from hiking in the glorious mountains to exploring romantic castles. Pack up the family and get ready for the experience of a lifetime! Whether you keep your vacation strictly outdoors or venture into some amazing villages, you're sure to find something to tickle everyone’s fancy. 

The mainly mountainous country in central Europe boasts some seriously incredible outdoor opportunities. For example, the National Park of High Tatras is nothing short of breathtaking. This park is one of the oldest protected areas in Slovakia. It is home to the tallest mountain in the country, Gerlachovský štít, towering at 8,710 feet. You can also find over 100 glistening alpine lakes here. Note that hiking is limited to June 15 to Nov. 1, unless accompanied by a guide. 

If you would prefer to see the immense beauty below the mountains, there’s an opportunity for that as well. The Dubnik Opal Mines are something truly amazing to behold. Opalescence, or the perfect play of colors, is on full display in these unique mines. They were operating in full swing from 1845 -1880 and were run by a Viennese jeweler. Today, many people know the beauty of jewelry made with opals. Visit where these precious stones were once harvested from the earth and marvel at the incredible history! 

For some adult-only fun, Modra vineyards are the place to be. Here you can get a taste of some of Slovakia’s finest wines. Head to the town of Modra, just outside of Bratislava, in the Small Carpathian Mountains where you will learn about the local wine culture and taste a variety of wine. The town has under 10,000 occupants and is the perfect place to wander around and look at various historical churches. Of course, you’ll need to tour a local wine cellar and relax in a peaceful garden while here as well. 

If incredible architecture is more your speed, Slovakia is up to the challenge. Bojnice Castle is one of the oldest and most important monuments in the country. This castle towers over the town as a reminder of medieval times. It was built in the Romanesque style, but also has touches of both Gothic and Renaissance elements, creating a fairytale ambiance. Tour the Count’s Flat, Middle Castle, Palffy family tomb, French Park and the travertine cave during your visit. 

Another architectural triumph in the country is St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral in Košice. This stunning Gothic-style cathedral is the largest church in Slovakia, covers 13,000 square feet and can house 5,000 worshippers. The altar features a double-spiral staircase, which can only be found in five churches throughout Europe. There are also beautiful frescoes and sculptures inside, as well as a tower that should certainly be climbed! 

When you’re carefully concocting the perfect travel bucket list for Europe, be sure to keep Slovakia on your radar! The outdoor scenery here will draw you in and the architectural feats will only add to the charm of the surroundings. Whether you hike for days in the national parks or relax in a city setting, there is no wrong way to enjoy the fabulous country of Slovakia! 

Why go there

Experience something a little different than the average vacation while in the heart of Europe. When was the last time you hiked in the Carpathian Mountains and explored an opal cave, all in the same trip? Sip local wine in Modra or explore the largest church in the country. Discover castles, conquer mountains and fall in love with the local culture of Slovakia. No matter which part of the country you visit, you’re sure to be absolutely charmed.

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