Twenty-five years ago when Slovaks had limited options to travel abroad they still had Zemplínska šírava, one of the largest reservoirs in the region – also dubbed the Slovak Sea. While it no longer attracts a million visitors in a single season, the lake, which according to European Environment Agency has excellent water, is getting its second wind offering water-related joys to tourists in an otherwise landlocked country.
“Balaton does not even come close to Šírava,” said Ján Čuchran mayor of Kaluža, a major recreation area of the lake, by way of comparing it to neighbouring Hungary’s famed lake.
However, it is not just Zemplínska šírava which offers visitors access to the water, as a number of outdoor swimming pools have been built right next to the lake. In the lake itself, water scooters, water bikes, yachts and sightseeing cruises are available.
When asked about Šírava’s future prospects, Čuchran suggests there are better times ahead for the recreation area, which experienced a sharp drop in visitors after the fall of the communist regime. Many Slovaks are now coming back, he said. “The number of visitors has been stabilised with about 100,000 people picking Kaluža for their holiday,” he added. A new water park should add to the attraction.
Those who prefer rivers over lakes might opt to raft the Hornád River, from the Ružín dam up to Košice. The route is suitable even for beginners.
Ľuboš Grajcár, a 39-year-old owner of travel agency dedicated to rafting considers Slovak rivers a great place especially for beginners, families and tourists. “Each river is different,” he said.
While Hornád was not traditionally know for its water tourism, in the three years since Grajcár started his canoe and kayak rental and school, tourists from Germany, France, Israel and South Korea have come through, he said.
There are also a number of other lakes in the region which offer a range of water-related activities. Water skiing, wakeboarding and wakeskating are all available at Jazero near Košice, while Bukovec is a popular swimming and sunbathing area.
Fans of fishing will find the Slovak Paradise an ideal spot. The Hnilec River and the Palcmanská Maša area are prime locations.
20. Aug 2014 at 20:00 | Monika Kacejová (Lukáš Onderčanin contributed to this report)