Slovakia has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination, since its independence was granted in 1993 from what is now the Czech Republic. Research has highlighted several key reasons why tourists are flocking to Slovakia in ever growing numbers: for outdoor sporting opportunities, and for the chance to learn about its history and culture. Slovakia has around 50 museums, including the National Museum of Slovakia, one of the country’s most famous. Here you can learn about Slovak history, archaeology and culture. Alongside the museums, there are 2 state scientific libraries, thousands of public libraries, and the famous University Library in Bratislava, which contains over 2 million volumes. There is ample opportunity to learn here, not just inside a museum or library, but out in the countryside beyond the main cities as well. Take a trip to the rural areas, and you’ll find folk arts and craft, such as fabric weaving, glass painting, and wood carving.
If you prefer taking part in sports such as skiing, cycling, or hiking, then why not head for the Tatra National Park. A UNESCO registered biosphere reserve, the park has many marked hiking and cycle routes, along with opportunities for cross country and alpine skiing on the High Tatras Mountain Range. Extending for around 40 miles along the Slovak/Polish border, there are around 300 named peaks in this mountain range, which although small by some standards, still offers a good choice of routes for skiers.
The capital city of Bratislava, also attracts a growing number of tourists. Here they can visit Bratislava Castle, and Castle Hill, and find out about its long and fascinating history. Exhibitions tell of settlements dating back to the stone/bronze age, castle renovations to fit in with the baroque, gothic, and renaissance styles, a fire, and the eventual rebuilding. Other attractions include the old town street cafes, the main square, which holds a popular Christmas market and summer concerts, and the quirky ‘men at work sculptures’ dotted around the old town. The ‘blue’ Church of Saint Elizabeth, and St Martins Cathedral are also worth a visit.
Flights from Liverpool, Dublin, Edinburgh, Luton, or London Stansted airports, arrive in the Slovak capital Bratislava, and are operated by Ryanair. If you are planning a two centre European break you could fly into Europe, and take a connecting flight into Slovakia. Domestic air travel is one of the best options if you really want to explore the country, and take in cities like Kosice, which Danube Wings runs flights to from Bratislava Airport.
Slovakia may not be as famous a tourist destination as some of its European counterparts, but as tourist numbers have risen significantly since 1993, it must be doing something right.