As European destinations go, Slovakia isn’t exactly the one you’ll hear most often. In fact, I confidently wager that four out of five people wouldn’t be able to spot it on a map.
But there’s a reason why you need to be brushing up on your Slovak knowledge. Actually, make that five reasons.
On we go…
1. Castles, Chateaux and Cavemen
Historically, Slovakians really loved building things. Which explains the 6000 caves built by early Slovakians, 180 castles by the medieval kings and 425 chateaux erected for pleasure-seeking aristocrats in a country whose population is less than that of New York City. Slovakia has more castles and chateaux per square capita than any other country. Some of those to visit would be Spis Castle, Bratislava Castle and Orava Castle. Most of the caves are strewn across national parks – be sure not to return without visiting Ochtinska Aragonite Cave with a spectacular 34-metre-high sinter column that finds a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
2. Capital Bordering Two Countries
If you’re visiting Slovakia, odds are ripe that you’ll definitely spend some time in its capital, Bratislava. Here’s a fun fact: Bratislava is the only country capital in the world that borders two other countries. Yep, with your Schengen visa in tow, you can visit either Austria or Hungary (or both!) from the capital city. Plus, the capital of Austria, Vienna is at a short boat cruise of only ninety minutes away from Bratislava.
3. In the Centre of Things
Look at the map of Europe and see if you can spot Slovakia. Yep, it is smack dab in the middle of Europe, isn’t it? Bordered by Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine, Slovakia offers excellent proximity to most of Eastern and Western Europe if you’re considering a long stay. There are few better places to make your home base if you’re here for a Eurotrip.
In fact, there’s even a village called Kremnicke Bane, which is supposed to be the hypothetical midpoint of Europe. If you visit the popular ski resort of Krahule near the village, you’ll come across a recreational spot literally known as ‘The Centre of Europe’. Brownie points for spelling things out, Slovakia.
4. Geographic Diversity
With national parks, landscape vantage points, glacier lakes and highbrow mountains adding to the historical charm of the country – Slovakia is truly a nature lover’s paradise. Nine national parks and fourteen protected landscapes are spread across the country, the valleys of Little Fatra and Pieniny are an absolute delight to wander along, and the alpine meadows of the Low Tatras make for visual splendour. Do make sure you check out the High Tatras mountains with their peaks ranging above 2500 metres, and the rugged canyons in the wild countryside. Basically, there’s plenty to gaze at in this beautiful natural kaleidoscope.
5. ‘Ze Ladies
Quite a few guides have consistently listed Slovakia as one of the top three countries with the most beautiful women in the world. Their graceful Slavic features, blonde hair and natural charm only add to their beauty. They say countries are made beautiful by the people residing in them – which I use as my justification to include as a ‘fact’ on this guide!
There are many more reasons to visit Slovakia this summer. Excellent transport, cheap travel costs (among the cheapest in Europe, for that matter) and excellent Alpine cuisine makes Slovakia the place to be when Switzerland is burning holes in your pocket and Germany sounds too staid.
Plus, think of the bragging rights!