Howdy all and happy new week to you! Last week you may have caught my photographic post on Slovakia. I have only visited the one time, back in 2004, but I really liked the place and so today I am going to make the case for Slovakia as a destination. Not that people don’t visit Slovakia, in 2018 for example an estimated 2.3 million foreigners visited Slovakia. But let’s compare to Slovakia’s extremely popular neighbour, Czech Republic. In 2018 they reported something like 10.5 million foreign visitors. Remember – they used to be one country, but these days they have split up, on reasonably friendly terms. Whilst Prague is considered an essential European destination these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if people struggled to tell you the name of the capital of Slovakia.
Which is a real pity because Bratislava is a very amiable city to the senses. And at the end of the day, as beautiful as Prague is there aren’t many in the way of major tourist attractions, and those that are are the Charles Bridge, which is a cool bridge flooded with people, and the Astronomical clock which everyone loves to photograph and selfie in front of (yes, I just turned ‘selfie’ into an adjective. If it catches on please remember it started here).
Prague has a host of gothic buildings, some nice churches, and a nice river, but guess what – so does Bratislava! The major difference in my eyes is simply that Prague sees a heck of a lot of more tourists than Bratislava, which is fine frankly because if you like, dear reader, Bratislava can be our little secret.
It’s such a pleasant place to walk around and spend some time, and it’s reasonably well positioned in Central Europe too with connections to Krakow in Poland and Budapest in Hungary. On top of that it’s very close to the Austrian capital Vienna, and can be reached from there in around an hour by car or train. This means it’s an easy day trip, or Vienna is an easy daytrip from Bratislava, where prices are cheaper. So you can make it work either way!
Bratislava is also on the Danube River, as most European capitals are, it’s a river-based capital. It has a castle at the top of a hill, named, strangely enough Bratislava Castle. There’s also the Primate’s Palace in town, which is splendid indeed. The city is full of tight streets and squares, and cafes and restaurants with open air dining a must!
Other attractions include the Most SNP Bridge, a modern bridge with a saucer curiously attached, St Martin’s Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. Also, a pleasant half day trip to Devin Castle by boat up the Danube is something I tried and recommend!
I am not so familiar with the rest of the country, apart from a little mountain town near the Polish border in the High Tatra Mountains. It’s beautiful there, some of the buildings have a bit of Bavaria in them I fancy. It’s a beautiful area and looks like the real European forest I often imagine when I think of Europe.
If you’re fit enough, there’s plenty of hiking to do. Back in the day I hiked up one of the peaks. It was a little challenging but very doable. It was a cloudy day and the clouds rolled over and through the peaks, quite magical.
Elsewhere in the country Slovakia is full of mountains and townships dying to be explored. The Czech Republic has a lot to offer outside Prague, and Slovakia has more to offer outside Bratislava. Kosice is regarded as the ‘second city’ and although I have never been, I have heard nothing but good things about it. It also can serve as a jumping off point to explore the Ukraine.
Slovakia is cheaper than Western Europe on the whole, and also a little cheaper than Prague. It’s less visited, but full of gothic charm and natural beauty. It’s right in the middle of so many countries, it’s a great location for so many different reasons.
Thanks for popping by, and please consider Slovakia. It won’t disappoint! May the Journey Never End!