Unknown places worth visiting in Slovakia

The year 2016 brought record numbers for tourism in Slovakia.

Špania Dolina, the runner-up in the Village of the Year competition.Špania Dolina, the runner-up in the Village of the Year competition. (Source: SME)

A glossary of words as well as exercise related to this article are also published online.

Slovakia is getting more attractive as a tourist destination for Slovaks who are looking for a safe place for their holidays but also for tourists from abroad. A record number of tourists visited Slovakia last year, exceeding the five-million threshold for the first time in the country’s history. For those ready to take a stroll off the beaten track, Slovakia has a lot to explore.

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Altogether 5,023,629 visitors spent their holiday in Slovakia in 2016, which is 16 percent more than in the record year of 2015, the SITA newswire reported.

“We are glad that expectations were confirmed and that last year’s tourist season was successful,” said Transport Minister Árpád Érsek, as quoted by SITA, adding that they want to keep up this trend and continue promoting the country and improving services.

The number of foreign tourists amounted to more than 2 million out of the overall tourist numbers in 2016, which is 18 percent more than the year before. They mostly visited the Bratislava Region (44 percent of the total number), where they also spent the most nights.

The most foreigners came from the Czech Republic (over 30 percent), followed by Poland, Germany, Hungary, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Italy, SITA reported.

While Bratislava is the most obvious choice for foreigners visiting Slovakia for the first time, those looking for a good hike or quiet places will find what they are looking for in other regions of the country. Students might prefer places accessible by railway, as Slovak students as well as foreign students can travel by train for free around the country.

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Western Slovakia

Even though Bratislava, as the capital city, offers many interesting sights, nature around the smaller towns and villages in the region can offer some spectacular views too. Kuchyňa, for example, is a village about 40 kilometres north of Bratislava. The bus trip from the capital takes about one hour. The village lies in the foothills of the Small Carpathians and it is a starting point for many cycling or hiking tours.

An eponymous water reservoir is located near Kuchyňa, with a 300-metre-long wooden bridge which spans the reservoir. The bridge is part of an almost two-kilometre-long educative path ‘Bobria Hrádza’ (Beaver Dam), the Planet Slovakia tourism website wrote.

The Petrklín observation post, a former army communication mast, rises close to Kuchyňa. The mast itself is only accessible by ladder and the climb is taken at one’s own risk but once standing on the viewing platform on a sunny day, the Vysoká and Vapenná hills, as well as the Small Carpathians can be viewed.

Central Slovakia

Under the Kráľova Hoľa mountain, near the village of Telgárt in the region of Horehronie, a notable technical construction, the Chmarošský viaduct can be found. However, it was given the name “viaduct” only because it resembles a similar construction, in fact it is a brick railway bridge from the last century. It consists of nine arches with a length of 113.6 metres and a height of 18 metres, according to Planet Slovakia.

Only 16.5 kilometres on from Telgárt in the National park Muránska Planina National Park stands ruins of Muráň castle. It was built in the 13th century and at 935 metres above sea level it is the third highest located castle in Slovakia.

Hidden near the cottage under Muránsky castle is Vešeléniho cave, the only accessible cave in the Muránska planina National Park. There are more than 250 caves and 15 abysses, the longest cave system is created by the Bobačka cave, three kilometres long. The deepest chasm is Michňova with a depth of 50 metres.

Eastern Slovakia

Only eight kilometres from the Hungarian border and 44 kilometres from Košice in the village of Háj is a statue of an angel with a broken wing. This specific site was used as a prop in the American war movie, Behind Enemy Lines. The Angel is located at the local cemetery, near the church.

The village nestles in the foothills of the Slovenský Kras National Park, so there are also several hiking routes leading through it. The Hájske waterfalls offer a spectacular view in every season and are only one kilometre from the centre of the village.

In the opposite direction, six kilometres to the south are the ruins of Turniansky castle from the 14th century.

The Spectator College is a programme designed to support the study and teaching of English in Slovakia, as well as to inspire interest in important public issues among young people. The project was created by The Slovak Spectator in cooperation with their exclusive partner – the Leaf Academy.

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