Twelve Things to Do in the Slovakian Countryside

Kosice singing fountain wide

Things to do in the Humene open air park

Slovakians often think of their country as the center of Europe. It’s a historical claim but most travelers miss Slovakia completely and, center of Europe or not, they’re missing out. There are so many things to do in Slovakia!

I was there for a week driving through the countryside with a local. Yuri was helping my family find long-lost relatives. DNA travel some call it, and it was a wonderful lens to see the country through. Being hosted by a native, who knew the countryside well, led to all kinds of unique experiences. Here’s some of the best:

Riding the bus into Kosice Slovakia

Bus travel is comfortable and efficient

There are (1) tourist buses (Euro Bus and Flix Bus, to name two) which make getting in and out of Slovakia easy. I traveled via Flixbus from Budapest to Kosice and out again to Zagreb, Croatia. Each was a fairly long ride but the seats were plush and had foot-rests. I had either a full row of seats to myself or the interesting company of international travelers. Each bus had a strong WiFi signal but no power plugs. Although the bus had no bathroom, there was a snack and bathroom break during the ride. Crossing the border into Croatia was a mere formality as well but delays are determined by politics. Ask your driver what to expect – you definitely will need a passport or inter-border card.

St. Elisabeths Cathedral in Kosice Slovakia

St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral in Kosice, Slovakia

KOSICE is full of things to do

This medieval city is a traveler’s delight. Whether you travel in high style (modern, historic or chain hotels and sleekly designed restaurants, well-curated museums and art galleries) or you’re backpacking, (hostels, inexpensive cafes, and bars) you’ll find lots of things to do. My next post will detail bars and restaurants in the area.

Farmer’s Market

We arrived by bus about 10 pm and took a pleasant ten-minute walk into the center of town. After passing the (2) Gothic Cathedral, we found our small hotel easily (Villa Regia.) The next morning outside the hotel entrance, long rows of tables were set up for a (3) farmer’s market and I do mean farmer’s. For several hundred years this marketplace has been feeding the city. On Sundays, we found it turns into an (3b) antique and artisan’s market.

Weekday market in Kosice is one of the things to do

Singing Fountain

There’s a central, (4) ‘singing’ fountain that’s lit beautifully in the evenings and music fills the air. Families and couples stroll the main street. (5) Cafes open on the lengthy pedestrian plaza. Many (6) museums are set along that avenue and easy to get to. (7) During the day, a tourist ‘train’ runs the length of the main street shuttling visitors from one end to the other.

The singing fountain in Kosice, Slovakia

Gothic Cathedral

The towering, Gothic cathedral, St. Elizabeth Minster, is the most eastern in Europe and for a few Euro you can climb the north tower to admire the view. Church bells ring out daily and on Sundays, services are packed with locals.

Plan on spending your evenings strolling the historical core. Pull up a seat at one of the sidewalk cafe/bars for great people watching and don’t miss the historical bars or the odd (8) coffee houses like the stylish, Smelly Cat, or Tabacka Kulturfabrik, which is a coffeeshop/hangout/performance space in an old industrial building.

The old bar, Hostinec in Kosice

Claiming to be from 1542, the bar Hostinec serves some mighty brews.

HUMENNE

One of the largest towns outside of Kosice, (9) Humenne, is set among rolling hills near the volcanic Vihorlat mountains. Two rivers, the Laborec and Cirocha, meet there which makes it a wonderful city for strolling and parks. There are several hotels in the city but we elected to make it a day trip.

The grinning monk at a roadside restaurant

The grinning monk at Dvor pod Vinicnou skalou, a roadside restaurant

One day on the road to Humenne, we stopped in Brekov at the (10) Roadhouse, Dvor pod Vinicnou skalou (which roughly translates to Justice Under Rock.) It’s a very interesting road stop and one of the only places where you can order cabbage rolls. The restaurant and grounds are dotted with unique, carved sculptures by the celebrated Polish artist, Marian Pazucha.

In Humenne proper, the central pedestrian plaza is very wide and dotted with sculptures from Communist days. Our lunch prepared us for an afternoon investigating the (11) open-air, architectural museum.

A moment inside a small wooden house inside the Humenne open air museum

If only I could show you the gleaming icons inside the wooden Greek Catholic church, but no pictures were allowed. You can get an idea of how stunning they are by visiting the manor house. If you get to Humenne, negotiate to have the park church opened to see for yourself. It was built in 1745 on the borders between Slovakia and Ukraine in the village of Nová Sedlica. During WWII the church was badly damaged. With a restoration, it was moved to the open air museum in 1977.

humenne manor house

Vihorlatske Museum

We caught glimpses of several ancient castles in the hills on the way to Humenne. Once these bastions of security kept the villagers safe from marauders, Goths and other invading hordes. After gunpowder was available, the great families moved into town and the remote castle culture came to a close.

Luckily the Humenne (12) manor house has survived and visitors are welcome to walk through the grounds and hallways. It’s full of antiques, collections, natural history exhibits and religious art.

A friendly, furry local in Kosice

Visiting with a friendly, furry local in Kosice

With so many things to do in the countryside, a visit to the capital of Bratislava will have to wait. I wish there had been time to see the capital city where Viennese and Hungarian culture mingle but it will have to be another time.

I hope you enjoyed the post and will share it with friends. Pin this!Things to do in the Slovakia countryside

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56 comments

  • Slovakia looks like it hasn’t changed in centuries. I’d love to explore here.

  • Oh so much to see and do. Koscie looks like my kinda town! Love the historical towns to visit

  • Wow, I did the opposite. Saw Bratislava as part of a Danube River cruise and skipped the rest of the country.

  • Reading your post, we realized we really don’t know much about Slovakia! We love the architecture in your photos, and that fountain is beautiful. We are eager now to learn more about the country! Thanks for the inspiration! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • I’ve heard so much good things about Slovakia and this got me convinced! It really looks lovely out there! And I really love the gothic style of that cathedral!

  • There’s always so much charm about Europe. Slovakia is another speical place that I want to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  • To be honest I never really thought of visiting Slovakia but since reading your post I am convinced. Such deep history and beautiful scenery. Instantly adding it to my list!

  • It s great to see these photos. Kosice (Kassa) was a Hungarian city until 1919. It’s population is still predominantly Hungarian today. Although, we Hungarians dont know much about it, becuase it is in another country today. It is great to see that it is a beautiful place.

    • So much history and the presence of Hungary and the Soviets still color many aspects of what I encountered. It was wonderful to get a glimpse of all the layers, especially coming from my young country, the US.

  • We spent the month of May in the Czech Republic and vowed that our next trip would be to either Hungary or Slovakia so your post was perfectly timed as well as a vote for Slovakia! Your wonderful photos of Kosice show a lively town filled with many things to see and do. St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral looks beautiful and I love the idea of sitting by the singing fountain and people watching. Thanks for the guided tour and intro to this beautiful city!

  • This post got me excited about visiting Slovakia. Košice looks like a charming city. I would love to stroll through that farmers market, relax and people watch in a cafe, and check out the museums. Love your pictures!

  • What a nice look at the Slovakian countryside, an area I don’t often read about. I went to Bratislava a few years back (which I really liked), but we did a guided hike in the countryside in the Carpathian Mountains which was amazing. Our local guide was super friendly and we learned a ton about Slovakian history and culture. Definitely a place more people should see!

  • I love bus travel in Eastern Europe. It was very helpful and so so affordable! Even train travel was cheaper but bus you can actually see the countryside and enjoy it slower.

    • I wanted to take trains in Croatia and Kosice but the lines in Croatia especially are unreliable! So many people recommended the bus and it was a great way to see the country and relax.

  • I kind of like that they don’t let you take photos in places like the Greek Catholic church, means you just have to go and experience it for yourself! Great suggestions 🙂

  • I had just a single day in Bratislava. Your pics and descriptions make me feel I have missed a lot.
    The musical fountain is a great idea. And farmer’s market is one I wouldn’t want to miss.

  • Slovakian countryside looks so charming. I’d love to visit it too. Too bad you were not allowed to take pictures of those icons inside the wooden Greek Catholic church. I would have liked to see them.

  • I went to Bratislava last year and loved the vibe of the city. I know there is way more to see in the country and I hope to return there one day. I am interesting in hiking in the mountains and seeing some historical cities. #WeekendWandelust

  • I’ve heard great things about Slovakia, would love to go one day. The farmers market sounds like something I would love to do. Love to see the local dynamics sounds food. Great post.

  • I tend to mix up Slovakia and Slovenia, and I think Slovenia is getting a lot of mentions because of Ljubljana and Lake Bled but there are not much exposure on Slovakia. It’s close to Austria, right? Thanks for sharing with us because now I know what are the places to see and experience in Slovakia 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • knycx.journeying

    That’s interesting to see something different and get to known the countryside in Slovakia. So exotic!
    @ knycx.journeying

  • I’m from Košice and always enjoy reading what travel bloggers have to say about my home town and the country overall. Glad you had fun there. Smelly Cat and Tabačka are two of my favorite places to hang out.

    I’ve never heard of St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral to be referred to as a minster. That, according to my dictionary, is a word reserved for some churches in England. Your source, the Travel Slovakia website, has mistranslated it, which is common in Slovakia (I used to be a translator, my head still aches).

    Slovakia IS in the center of Europe. There’s even a place with a marker. But alas, several countries boast having the geographic center of Europe, using different definitions. This is Central Europe for ya.

    PS: Please check the country name spelling in your pin image.

    • Thank you, Peter for the keen observations. Yes, Slovakians consider themselves the center of Europe. It’s in dispute though I found through research and don’t want to quibble. I loved my visit and will be lucky should I get to return.

  • I love all of your photographs of the lovely Slovakian countryside. I’m a sucker for Gothic cathedrals, and the St. Elizabeth Minster looks just beautiful. Adding Slovakia to my long list!

  • Absolutely stunning pictures! You have got a great capture of the road ahead from the bus:)… How was the farmer’s market? Did you get to spend very long?

  • Eastern Slovakia (actually all of Slovakia except for the capital) is so underrated but it is part of the charm 🙂 Glad you had a good time in my home country!

  • Just visited Slovenia for a second time, but only to Lake Bled & Ljubljana again! We’ve decided that we definitely need to explore more of Slovenia, as it’s only a 5 hour drive from us! Long weekend perhaps???… Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  • I almost made it to Slovakia when I was in Europe but the plan didn’t work out. Now you make me regret ahah! I’ll have to go again 😉

  • We’ve been here but sadly we weren’t able to explore as much! Your post has definitely inspired me to make a comeback- it looks incredible!

  • I would have never considered visiting Slovakia, but it sounds like a wonderful place (an maybe less crammed with tourists than Western Europe). Love the insight, and your photos are beautiful.

  • I really enjoyed reading about Slovakia. I’m currently planning a trip to Prague in December and now I’m wondering if I should travel around Eastern Europe a bit more. Do you think the coffeehouse “Smelly Cat” was a nod to Pheobe on Friends?

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