In the very centre of Central Europe, there is a country to be discovered: Slovakia. Sharing the border with Poland, this small country of 5 million population is an increasingly travel destination suitable for travel during spring or summer season with family and children. Every year, more and more people are discovering Slovakia’s unique qualities, as well as its culture, traditions and nature. Let’s take a look at places you should visit in Northern Slovakia during a two-weeks trip.
Starting point: Lublin
Lublin is the largest city placed in eastern Poland. In the recent years, this city has emerged as a tourist destination in the country for those who want to visit the east part of Poland, cross to Ukraine or visit the north of Slovakia. Below are some attractions that you must visit while in Lublin!
Old Town and Lublin Castle
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The Old Town of Lublin is the coziest place in the heart of the city. You can also find the Lublin Castle, a Medieval castle with free entrance to visit the museum. Lublin has a vast number of dining establishments that you can find on Grodzka street.
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If you have some time to relax, it is highly recommended to go for a bath at the Aqua Lublin centre, which offers modern pools and sports recreation for the whole family, adults and children.
UMCS Botanical Garden of Lublin
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It is a beautiful plant collection used to research by the University of Lublin. Thus, the botanical garden is located at the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, in the valley of the river Czechówka. It is open to visitors from April, and you can book a reservation in advance for a 1,5-hour tour (6zl per person).
Slovak Raj: get in touch with Slovak natureRaj: get in touch with Slovak nature
With nine national parks and 14 protected landscapes, Slovakia is a natural paradise. Indeed, you can visit the “Slovak Raj”, which means literally “Slovak Paradise” and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country. This lovely nature park has 328 square kilometres of hidden karstic plateau, gorges, waterfalls and caves. The best points to access the Park are Spišská Nová Ves, the eastern part of the Slovak Paradise, the tourist centres Čingov and Podlesok in the north and Dedinky Lake, in the south. Spending around five days at the park is more than enough to get to know the essence of Slovakia and its natural heaven.
Here is a list of things that you should not miss while visiting the Slovak Paradise:
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Tomasovsky vyhlad provides impressive views of the Slovak paradise. The trailhead starts at Spišská Nová Ves (1-hour hike route) or Smizian (2 hours away).
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It is the most famous gorge of the Slovak Paradise. Suchá Belá starts from Podlesok, and it takes 2 hours to complete on foot. It is a 15 km long marked route, leading through the canyon along the Hornád river. It is advisable to wear waterproof boots and safety harness for the smallest family members, because of the high altitude of some ladders to climb.
Palcmanská Maša Lake
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It is the largest water reserve in the area of Slovak Paradise. Palcmanská Maša Lake is located in Dedinky, the southern part of the Slovak Paradise. People enjoy swimming or fishing on summer mornings.
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Zejmarska is a small but accessible gorge of the Slovak Paradise for those who are scared of heights. It’s nowhere near as challenging as Suchá Belá. The gorge finishes in Geravy, a plateau where you can rest and view wild animals such as wild boars, horses, and goats. The gorge is reachable by foot from village Dedinky and Mlynky settlement through the Zejmarská roklina (Zejmarská Gorge).
Liptovský Mukulásh: heart of Tatra Mountains
Although this small city, Liptovský Mikuláš has an excellent location in the heart of Low Tatras, Western Tatras and Chop mountains. For that reason, it is one of the most important tourist centres in Slovakia. The city has many fascinating spots, such as St Nicholas’s church or cultural coffees “Dare do Sveta” and “Central Perk.” Moreover, it is a must to hike to its lakes and valleys and enjoy its views, for those who love nature.
Žiarska Valley and Žiarska Cemetery
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This place has such wonderful nature that it is hard to grasp.
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Slovak summer can be pretty warm and sticky during the dry season, so another option to do is visiting the Aquapark Tatralandia. It is a popular aquatic amusement park to enjoy holidays with family and children, one of the biggest in Europe, which has warm and salt water.
Summer Bobsled track
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Speed down the 1000m curved bobsled track at up to 45 km per hour! It is located 5 km from the town of Liptovský Mikuláš in Demänová Valley, in the village of Pavčina Lehota.
It is an ancient village and UNESCO World Heritage site, close to Ruzomberok. The village conserves 45 buildings with traditional features of central European Village. It is an ideal place to go for a walk and submerge yourself into past times.
Zakopane: between Tatras and Poland
Would you like some rest in between Slovakia and Poland? Zakopane is the perfect place to do it. A resort town with the best landscapes of both countries: Tatra Mountains. It is located in the south of Poland and close to the Tatra Mountains. Spend two days to be in touch with nature between these two countries.
Morskie Oko lake
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The biggest and most famous lake in Tatra, Morskie Oko is well known to everyone. You can walk there, and have picturesque views of the mountains. It was a great inspiration for many artists. It is definitely a must see in Zakopane. The Wall Street Journal named it one out of the five most beautiful lakes in the world.
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Gubałówka is a beautiful mountain from which all of the Polish Tatra can be seen, and is accesible by train. If you feel like it, you can also decide to go to Butorowy Wierch by chairlift. During the ride you can see the whole Tatra mountains as well as Zakopane and Kościelisko. If you prefer to stay on the Gubałówka mountain and want to relax after taking a walk, you can do it on the highest beach in Poland, lying on a sunbed. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a gravitational slide – you’re sliding down fast like on the roller coaster… but at the same time you can take in the whole mountain view.
Rope Park Złota Grań
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On the top of Gubalówka is located one of the largest parks in Poland which guarantees a high dose of adrenaline and fun for all family members.
Final stop: Krakow
Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and one of the top tourist destinations in the country. The ancient Polish capital receives more than 1 million tourists every year. Most of them fall in love with its historical downtown and lifestyle. This city is full of history, which you can discover around every corner. Spending four days in Krakow can help you to understand Polish tradition and culture.
Historic Old Town
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The Historic Old Town will transport you to earlier times in Krakow. Roam around the city and discover the Cloth Hall, Town Hall Tower, Wawel Cathedral and the gothic St. Mary’s Basilica. There are free and private walking tours and sightseeing tours to give a comprehensive view of what life was like hundred years ago.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
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Underground tunnels, salt chambers, chapels and miner’s route. Wieliczka Salt Mines allows you to get deep down within the Earth. The best option is to book a tourist route (in several languages) to learn about miner’s traditions and rituals.
Wawel Royal Castle
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The Wawel Castle is an ancient gateway fortress with a unique gothic architecture style. It is also known because it keeps the legend of the Krakow Dragon, which is one of the tourist attractions of the city.
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Although it’s situated outside of the city, Krakow Zoo is an enjoyable experience for the whole family. There are plenty of exhibits which children will love.