Let's kick-start this new conversation space! What's your favorite destination in Slovakia and why?
Bratislava is a great place to go in Slovakia, and it's just 39 miles from Vienna. That means it's a good day trip out of Vienna by train or hydrofoil (on the Danube River.)
Bratislava is a city of 460,000 people, and it's in quite a boom city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The GDP per capita (PPP), valued at €41,800 (2009), is 178% of the EU average, and unemployment is a very low 1.83%.
Architecture is Medieval in the center city, and they've been experiencing a building surge the last 15 years.
The largest numbers of foreign visitors come from the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland and Austria. Ryanair has cheap airfares from the U.K., and it's a popular weekend getaway from there.
I prefer the Banska Towns and the High Tatras.
High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) without a doubt. I call it condensed Alps. Jagged peaks, mountain valleys, lakes all on relatively small area. You can cross the main ridge in one day hike. Easy approach by public transportation. By train: from Bratislava 4 hours. From Prague 7 hours. 2 direct trains, many more with one change in Zilina. You get off in Poprad Tatry and board little electrical train to Stary Smokovec one of the three main resorts in H.T. Then you either continue to Strbske Pleso or change to Tatranska Lomnica (the other two main resorts). Poprad has also an international airport.
H.T. are paradise for hikers and climbers. About 600 km of marked trails. For unmarked trails you must have a licensed guide. For example to get on the highest peak Gerlach. Many other peaks have marked trail up. I like hikes where you don't have to go the same way back. There are plenty of them. IMHO the best two:
1.) from Tatranska Polianka (station of little electrical train between Stary Smokovec and Strbske Pleso) to the mountain hotel Sliezsky Dom through Velicka dolina (valley), across Polsky hreben (Polish Ridge), there are fixed chains there for safety, down through Bielovodska dolina (Whitewater Valley) to Lysa Polana. Back to Stary Smokovec by bus.
2.) Start in Hrebienok (you get there by funicular from Stary Smokovec) to Mala Studena Dolina (Little Cold Valley) by Tery Mountain Hut across Priecne sedlo (saddle) - that's a little scramble but there are fixed chains there. From there you get to Velka Studena Dolina (Great Cold Valley) and back to Hrebienok.
If you are not an avid hiker you still don't have to be deprived of high mountain view. From Tatranska Lomnica to Skalnate Pleso (Rocky lake /or tarn/) by cable car and from there by another cable car to the second highest peak Lomnicky stit. The High Tatras are breathtaking sometimes unfortunately literally. Every year about 15 to 20 people die there. In winter skiing accidents, avalanches, in summer inexperienced climbers or hikers fell or hypothermia can get them. One has to be prepared for high elevation hike (climb). Once I was hiking toward Polish Ridge and was caught by sudden blizzard. It was July 18th. For the victims of the High Tatras mountains there is a symbolic cemetery at Popradske Pleso (hotel and lake) easy walk from Strbske Pleso. But there is so much more to see in Slovakia. To be continued next time.
Many places, for example
- Tatra Mountains in Slovakia and Poland - the area of Poprad and Zakopane
- a tour through many places with views on mountains, for instance near Žilina and Trenčín.
Have a nice trip!
The castles in Slovakia are the must-see of your trip. Bojnice Castle looks like it jumped right out of a fairytale, and in fact a lot of fairytale movies are filmed there. For horror, film and history buffs, Orava Castle is where the silent vampire film from the '20s "Nosferatu" was shot, and the ruins of Čachtice Castle was once home to the Blood Countess, Elizabeth Báthory, who was accused of killing hundreds of virgin girls and bathing in their blood.
Too much blood for you? There are dozens of castles to visit. I also highly rate the gorgeous historic villages of Vlkolinec and Banska Stiavnica, which are now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Hope this helps!