Spending time near the water is everyone’s goal during the summer holidays.
UPDATE OF THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2015
Despite being a landlocked country, Slovakia’s numerous water parks, swimming pools, natural lakes and dams offer endless possibilities.
“We can also find mineral waters in the neighbouring states, but the geological predispositions of our country underlie their diversity and the density of their occurrence,” said Peter Malík, the head of the Department of Hydrogeology and Geothermal Energy at the State Geological Institute of Dionýz Štúr.
The most prevalent hot springs are in the Liptov region, like Gino Paradise Bešeňová and Aquapark Tatralandia with toboggans, a tropic heaven or a surf simulator that was inspired by surfing in the most beautiful and best beaches of the world Mui and Waikiki. It enables a ride on four courses with different force and speed of waves and wind. AquaCity Poprad close to the High Tatras has been awarded the World’s Leading Green Resort three times and named Europe’s Leading Green Hotel five times.
Older generations often enjoy the water in special pools with a higher concentration of mineral water designed exclusively for relaxation, as the hot spring waters are said to be good for the musculoskeletal and respiratory systems. They also serve as a source of entertainment thanks to indoor and outdoor pools, fun parks open year around, water slides and a wave pool resembling the tides of the sea.
Southwestern Slovakia, which also includes the Žitný ostrov river-island area extending from Bratislava to Komárno, is rich in thermal water springs and offers a number of thermal parks with many attractions, including Thermal Corvinus in Veľký Meder, Thermalpark in Dunajská Streda and Vadaš in Štúrovo.
Slovakia’s substitute sea
Before 1989, Slovaks spent their summer holidays involuntarily at home since travelling abroad was a privilege only for a chosen few. Reservoirs, lakes and swimming pools were overcrowded with people who desperately wanted to enjoy the water.
Water adventures in Slovakia
In the 1980s, Slovaks 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 the European Environment Agency has excellent water, is getting its second wind, offering water-related fun to tourists in an otherwise landlocked country.
In the lake itself, water scooters, water bikes, yachts and sightseeing cruises are available, while a number of outdoor swimming pools have been built next to the lake. When asked about Šírava’s future prospects, Ján Čuchran, the mayor of Kaluža, a major recreation area along the lake, suggests there are better times ahead for the lake, 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 stabilised, with about 100,000 people picking Kaluža for their holiday,” he said. Moreover, the first thermal park in Zemplínska Šírava with four pools, water slides and a wellness centre offers tourists more options for water recreation.
Tourists can also find the combination of a water park and natural lakes in Bratislava Region at Slnečné jazerá (Sunny Lakes) near Senec. This is another popular summer resort with beaches that offer tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, and rentals of boats and waterbikes. Another lake in this part of Slovakia, Zlaté piesky, is a sure bet for those wishing to get away from the summer heat of Slovakia’s capital. Located in the northeastern part of Bratislava, the lake is surrounded by a 400-metre-long sand beach and lures visitors with its clean water and water skiing.
Boat trips and the Island of Art
While the main purpose of Liptovská Mara, a dam in northern Slovakia, is flood protection, it also offers a number of options for aquatic sports enthusiasts, namely yachting, windsurfing and water scooter riding. For those seeking calmer adventures, organised boat trips are also available. Similar attractions that are especially popular with tourists with families can be found at several other man-made lakes in Slovakia too, such as Zemplínska šírava, Sĺňava, Nosice and Oravská priehrada (Orava Dam). Because the construction of the Orava Dam necessitated the flooding of five villages, the Slanický ostrov, or the Island of Slanica, is the only remaining landmark of those villages with its preserved church and cemetery. Everything else is under water. Today the interior of the church serves as a gallery of folk art.
Because the construction of the Orava Dam necessitated the flooding of five villages, the Slanický ostrov, or the Island of Slanica, is the only remaining landmark of those villages with its preserved church and cemetery. Everything else is under water. Today the interior of the church serves as a gallery of folk art.
The whole island is a natural monument accessible in the summer season, with the OG Slanica setting sail for the island every two hours. All told, the trip and a visit to the gallery can be done in just 80 minutes. Tourists staying longer can choose between two campsites near the dam in Stará Hora and Jami.
Cruising the Baťa Canal
The Baťa Canal is a place where families can enjoy the outdoors and each other, lovers can lose themselves in the onset of spring, and vacationers can find an affordable and unique experience. The canal itself has a storied history. Deeming railway transport too expensive, industrialist Jan Antonín Baťa pioneered the construction of the 60-kilometre canal between 1934 and 1938 to be used as a shipping lane for coal from the mines in Ratíškovice to the factories and heating plants in Otrokovice. Two factors contributed to the demise of the canal’s use for freight transport in 1962: the Baťa factories were nationalised after the war, and using the canal for shipping became unprofitable in the early 1960s. Unused, the canal began to deteriorate.
Recognising the canal’s potential as a tourist attraction, local villages established the Agency for Tourism Development on the Baťa Canal in 1996. This effort made it possible for private boat owners to rent motorboats to tourists for cruising the waterway and has spurred further development.
The canal starts in Skalica Harbour, about four kilometres from the town centre. The journey is relaxing, with cattails waving in the wind, aquatic animals and birds. The boat meanders along the canal at eight kilometres per hour, piloted by Skalica Harbour Head Marián Tongeľ. Tourists can rent motor boats and ride along the canal by themselves. Walkers and cyclists are also at home on the towpath running alongside the canal.
Although the route in the beginning is straight and predictable, this is beneficial for tourists who might lack experience but plan to operate the boats themselves. “They get some practice in learning how to operate the boat, and it’s not dangerous,” said Martina Šebelová, manager of programme and cruises for Skalica Harbour. Šebelová suggests spending a minimum of two days on the canal – the time it takes to make the 60-kilometre trip from Skalica to Kvasice.
From Skalica Harbour, for about one kilometre, the Baťa Canal serves as the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The border seems barely to exist as the two political entities with such a long history together blend into one another, symbolically dissolving the differences and adding resonance to the motto of Skalica Harbour: “nepoznáme hranice” or “we know no borders”.
By Monika Kacejová, Lenka Sabová, Don Stoll, Pat Alexy Stoll
Aqua and thermal parks
B Senec: Aquapark, www.aquaparksenec.sk
W Levice: Rekreačné zariadenie Margita--Ilona; www.margita-ilona.sk
W Podhájska: Termálne kúpalisko Podhájska, www.tkpodhajska.sk
W Nové Zámky: Termálne kúpalisko Štrand Emila Ratárika, www.kupaliskonz.sk
W Komárno: Termálne kúpalisko Komárno, www.thermalkn.sk
W Patince: Wellness Hotel, www.wellnesspatince.sk
W Štúrovo: Rekreačný komplex Vadaš Thermal, www.vadas.sk
W Veľký Meder: Thermal Corvinus, www.thermalcorvinus.sk
W Dunajská Streda: Thermalpark, www.thermalpark.sk
W Galanta: Termál centrum Galandia, www.galandia.sk
W Horné Saliby: Thermaltour, www.thermaltour.sk
W Diakovce: Termálne kúpalisko Diakovce, www.thermaldiakovce.sk
W Santovka: Termálne kúpalisko Santovka Wellness, www.sant-wellness.sk
N Vyšné Ružbachy: Termálne kúpalisko Izabela Kúpele, www.ruzbachy.sk
N Poprad: AquaCity, www.aquacity.sk
N Liptovský Ján: Letné termálne kúpalisko Termal Raj, www.sorea.sk/maj
N Liptovský Mikuláš: Aquapark Tatralandia, www.tatralandia.sk
N Bešeňová: Gino Paradise, www.ginoparadise.sk
N Oravice: Meander Park, www.aquaparkoravice.sk
N Rajec: Termálne kúpalisko Veronika, www.veronika-rajec.sk
N Turčianske Teplice: Spa & Aquapark, www.aquapark.therme.sk
N Vrbov: Thermal Park Vrbov, www.termalnekupalisko.com
C Dolná Strehová: Aquatermal Strehová, www.strehova.sk
C Rapovce: Termálne kúpalisko Novolandia, www.aquaparknovolandia.sk
C Vyhne: Vodný raj Vyhne, www.vodnyrajvyhne.sk
C Kováčová: Holidaypark Kováčová, www.holidaypark.sk
E Zemplínska šírava: Thermal Park Šírava, www.thermalparksirava.sk
E Prešov: Plaza Beach Solivar, www.plazabeach.sk
- from €4-35 (price range per person)
B Bratislava (Danube): www.lod.sk, www.bluedanube.sk
W Skalica: Baťov kanál, www.prvaplavebna.sk
W Piešťany (Sĺňava, Váh): plavbylodou.szm.com
W Patince (Danube): www.wellnessline.sk
W Komárno (Váh): www.ubytovanie-velky-meder.sk
W Gabčíkovo (Danube)
W Nosice: www.puchov.sk
N Liptovská Mara: www.lodmara.sk, www.maralod.sk
N Oravská priehrada: www.orava-info.sk
E Zemplínska šírava: www.sirava.net
B Bratislava: Zlaté piesky, www.starz.sk
B Senec: Slnečné jazerá, www.slnecnejazera.eu
W Nové Mesto nad Váhom: Zelená voda, www.zelenavoda.com
W Prašice: Duchonka, www.duchonka.sk
N Slovenský raj: Palcmanská Maša
N Liptovská Mara, www.lodmara.sk
N Oravská priehrada, www.orava-info.sk
C Teplý vrch, www.teplyvrch.sk
E Košice: Anička, www.ryba-anicka.sk
E Košice: Jazero Košice, www.jazerokosice.sk
E Zemplínska šírava, www.sirava.net
E Veľká Domaša, www.domasa.sk