I really didn’t know too much about Slovakia before visiting, aside from a vague idea that it’s full of mountains. But when our bus crossed the border from Ukraine and I found myself on a winding road through green hills dotted by colorful villages my heart rate raised to a probably unhealthy speed. I was SO excited to be spending ten days in this beautiful country!
When we researching where to go in Slovakia Dan declared that he wanted to visit every single national park (there are 9), but in the end we managed to narrow it down to two. The first one was Slovak Paradise.
Oh and it was.
The park is full of different trails, so we picked one that followed a small river up a gorge that would take us up the mountain for some views of the snow-peaked High Tatras in the distance.
The gorge was beautiful, though I sort of felt that the hike should have been marked with a warning. As the trail follows a river, a lot of the walking has to be done on rickety wooden ladders and, in parts, incredibly steep, high ladders taking you up the gorge. It was the second time in Slovakia that my heart rate skyrocketed.
Don’t look down!
My legs were quite wobbly by the end of the hike, more out of nerves than physical exertion, but the views at the end made it worth it! Plus Dan gave me a chocolate bar for my efforts.
While Dan wanted to do another hike in Slovak Paradise the next day, our Couchsurfing host in Spisska Nova Ves had a better idea for us: a day trip to Spis Castle!
Built in the 12th century, Spis Castle, or rather its ruins, is one of the biggest castle sites in Europe. We paid to enter the castle, though there was very little information given about the history of the castle and not much to see inside, so I’d recommend just walking up and seeing it from the outside.
One of the best parts of the castle is actually the view from it, because it’s built high up on a hill overlooking several picturesque towns as well as the Tatra Mountains in the distance.
I thought I was taking a photo of Dan admiring the beautiful view, ^^
but of course I should have known…
Spisska Nova Ves made for the perfect base from which to explore both Slovak Paradise National Park and Spis Castle, plus the town itself has a beautiful center. But my favorite part of staying there, as is often the case, was Couchsurfing with our host Lenka, who taught us so much about Slovakia.
I had sort of assumed Slovakia would have tense relations with the Czech Republic, but it turns out they’re very happy exes. In fact, Lenka said that she’s sad that the country split, and that in many regards it didn’t make much sense – Slovakia is less developed and lost its beautiful capital Prague, while the Czech Republic lost a lot of its land and some of the world’s most beautiful parks. It’s sad, but I also found it so sweet that the two countries still seem to love each other so much!
Where to stay in Spisska Nova Ves
If Couchsurfing isn’t your thing, then Lenka did recommend a hotel in Spisska Nova Ves: The Penzion Renesance. She said the managers are really lovely and it’s where she always has friends and family stay when they don’t stay with here. And it’s very affordable. Check current rates and availability here
Have you been to Slovakia yet, or is it on your list?