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Slovakia road trip

This summer we will spend two weeks in and around Prague and then we plan to take a road trip around eastern Europe for 10 days.
I've been reading through the Slovakia thread here and the country sounds amazing so we are trying to decide how much time, out of our 10 days, to dedicate to this country.

We are thinking about driving straight across Slovakia, from Bratislava to Kosice, north into the Tatras mountains to hike and see the ice caves at Demanovska, and then back across northern Slovakia stopping at castles and villages on the way.
From what I've looked at online, Kosice seems to be a lovely, small city with some great history.

Has anyone been to Kosice and, if so, what are your thoughts on how many days you would spend? We enjoy museums and historical sights as well as beautiful architecture and local food.

Does anyone here have recommendations regarding things to see on the way between the locations I've listed?
Thanks so much for your help - we are excited to explore this country!

Posted by
16893 posts

It's been years since I was in Kosice, but I did enjoy it. If you've had a lot of driving to get there, then you'll probably want to stay two nights.

Posted by
4637 posts

Kosice with about 200 thousand inhabitants is the second largest city in Slovakia. Most of the population lives in the communist era block of apartments so called panelaky. Center of Kosice is picturesque, looking like a center of smaller town, with imposing Cathedral of St. Elizabeth. You can visit Museum of Eastern Slovakia. Slovakia is not that much about big cities but about its nature, imposing castles, small medieval towns, folk culture - architecture Cicmany, Vlkolinec, folk art, folk songs and dances, folklife festivals. I would recommend the route from Bratislava via Nitra, Zarnovica, Banska Stiavnica (medieval silver and gold mining town now under UNESCO Heritage). You can overnight. Visit nearby Kremnica (also medieval mining town). Then via Zvolen (if you happen to be there July 10 through 12th stop in nearby Detva for folklife festival. IMHO the most authentic folk songs in Slovakia), Banska Bystrica (Museum of Slovak National Uprising), Brezno, Helpa, on the way visit Dobsinska Ladova Jaskyna (Ice Cave), hike in National Park Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise), then via Nalepkovo, Gelnica, Jaklovce to Kosice. From Kosice via Presov, Spisske Podhradie - visit huge Spis Castle (mostly ruins but worth visiting), Levoca (beautiful medieval town), Poprad then to High Tatra mountains. You can stay in any resort there, there are several. Very picturesque is Strbske Pleso. From there to Liptovsky Mikulas and nearby Demanovska Ladova Jaskyna (ice cave). Back to LM and slight detour to Dolny Kubin and nearby Orava Castle (very impressive). Then to Ruzomberok and nearby Vlkolinec with folk architecture (under UNESCO Heritage). Then to Terchova - picturesque village in Mala Fatra mountains (nice hikes). Terchova is a birthplace of famous Janosik (read Yanoshik), Slovak Robin Hood. Then via Zilina, Povazska Bystrica to Trencin - pretty town with the castle above it. Then short drive to Bratislava via Piestany, the largest spa town in Slovakia. I strongly recommend Bradt guide Slovakia by Lucy Mallows. And on this Travel Forum read under Slovakia these topics: Is this country most underrated? and Best destination in Slovakia. There are also few websites in these topics which are worth to go through. Good road atlas of Slovakia and Lucy Mallow's guide book will be all you need to enjoy your road trip. Having a car you will be very flexible. There are plenty of private accommodation so called pensions. With the car I usually don't book accommodation ahead. Simply stop when I feel like it and where I like it. Enjoy your trip and after your trip let us know how it went.

Posted by
3391 posts

Thank you Ilja! You have such an amazing depth of knowledge and I appreciate you taking the time to share what you know.
I will certainly post a report when I get home and will share the gems I find, which I'm sure will be many.
Can I ask you one more question???
When you arrive in these towns how do you arrange to stay in a pension? Do you go to the pension itself or make arrangements via phone? It is done so differently in various countries and I don't want to get stuck not knowing. Thanks again!

Posted by
4637 posts

Slovakia is on Euro so it will be easier. Young people speak at least some English. They learn it at school nowadays. Middle aged and older people in rural areas usually don't speak English. Those in tourist business speak at least some German. Have some basic slovak dictionary with you so you can inquire about price, how many nights, if breakfast is included (usually is). When you come to the village where you want to stay overnight look for signs like Pension, ubytovanie (accommodation), sometimes it's in German - zimmer frei (room available). If I don't see anything I would inquire in local pub. In the worst case scenario I drive to the next village. It worked for me everywhere so far. Slovakia, Czech R., Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, England, Scotland and so on. I prefer to deal with the owner in person. It's easier than by phone especially when I don't speak their language and they don't speak English. If you don't have some basic knowledge of Slovak don't attempt to pronounce the names of towns, castles etc. You would very likely mispronounce it and they would not understand, Have a pen(cil) and paper ready and write it down to show them. For example Trencin is pronounced Trencheen, Levoca - Levocha, Kosice - Koshitze and so on.

Posted by
3391 posts

Thank you again! My husband and I speak German fairly well so that should make it easier. Good to know!
I ordered the book you recommended and can't wait to read it! I'll find a Slovak phrasebook at well...although I'm sure the pronunciations are difficult I can at least write out a few things to show when the going gets rough.
Cheers!

Posted by
17854 posts

This wont be a lot of help, but we drive up into Slovakia every couple years to fly fish. Among my favorite hotels in the world is the Kempinski in Strbske Pleso and the price isn't bad in the summer. Since we come from Budapest we travel through Banská Bystrica and Banska Stiavnica, two wonderful old mining towns. Spis Castle and the town at it's foot is indeed worth the effort as is the castle at Orava. But other than fishing waters that's pretty much my knowledge of the country.