Slovakia

Bratislava Castle on the hill in Slovakia

Slovakia is a country that is frequently overlooked and often misunderstood. Historically, it was known as Upper Hungary and all the Hungarian royalty were crowned in Bratislava, the current Slovak capital. Slovakia spent most of the 20th Century as half of Czechoslovakia, part of the Communist Bloc. Since gaining independence in 1993, it has been frequently overlooked in favor of neighboring Hungary and the Czech Republic as a popular travel destination.

These days, visitors are discovering Slovakia for the Central European gem that it truly is. A world class ski destination in the beautiful High Tatras Mountains (which also make for great hiking and trekking in the summer). It has a quirky capital in Bratislava that captures visitor’s imaginations with unusual sculptures. And the central and eastern parts of the country are dotted with important UNESCO World Heritage Sites and cultural sites. Slovakia may well be our favorite country in the world right now. Here are some of our favorites.

The skyline of Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sampling the Serene Life of Banska Stiavnica

The town of Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia is a jewel in the Carpathian Mountains. This small-town is an amazing specimen of medieval life in the greater Hungarian Empire. These days, the town offers a slower pace of life that is downright serene. However, just beneath the surface, you see how the town of Banska Stiavnica changed the world.

A carved wooden statue welcomes visitors to the rural village of Vlkolinec, Slovakia

Traditional Village Life in Vlkolinec, Slovakia

Visiting a country, it is often hard to get a picture for the history of the people. We’re not talking about the nobility, historical events or even war – we’re talking about understanding the history of the people and how their lives evolved and changed. Villages like Vlkolinec, Slovakia can provide insights into the people of the Carpathian Mountains.

The Church of All Saints in Tvrdosin, one of the Slovakia Wooden Churches

The Slovakia Wooden Churches of the Carpathian Mountains

On the north slope of the Carpathian Mountains, a unique architectural and artistic tradition was born: ornate wooden churches. The Slovakia Wooden Churches date from a period when most Christian churches were being built from stone, these buildings are truly unique and reflect a mix of theological and architectural traditions.

The Kursalon and Cafe at the Kupele Sklene Teplice Spa in Slovakia

Relaxation at The Kupele Sklene Teplice Spa in Central Slovakia

Throughout much of Central Slovakia, the mountainous geology yields a significant amount of geothermal activity and a robust spa culture has developed around these hot springs. We visited the Kupele Sklene Teplice spa on a breezy fall day for a relaxation.

An ore cart and tracks at the Slovak Mining Museum in Banska Stiavnica

Being a Miner For a Day at the Slovak Mining Museum

While the town of Banská Štiavnica is a remarkable specimen of medieval small-town life in central Slovakia, it is unlikely the town would be much more than a few small huts if it weren’t for its unique geology. Banska Stiavnica sits atop The Theresa Vein – one of the world’s most lucrative silver deposits in the Middle Ages. The mines are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the significant technical developments that took place here over the last 350 years.