The coronavirus crisis made us realize how many nice places we have around in Slovakia. We were supposed to travel to Montenegro, but at the last moment, we canceled our trip and decided to get on a road trip and explore the East of Slovakia. And we chose the right place.
There is so much to see and do on the East of Slovakia that you can spend there 2 weeks exploring new and new places. We made it easier for you and wrote this itinerary in order for you can choose places to go and plan accordingly. At the end of this article, there is a map with all the mentioned places + some more bonuses with comments. Let’s see what beautiful East Slovakia prepared for us!
Note: this article is part of a series of blog posts about backpacking in Slovakia. You can find the rest of the articles about Slovakia here:
- Vlkolínec village, Donovaly, Bojnice castle and Čičmany village
- High Tatras (Morskie Oko, Solisko and Štrbské pleso – lake), Stará Lubovňa and Zakopane
- High Tatras (The Silent Valley and Poprad lake) and Low Tatras (Ďumbier peak)
What to see in Prešov?
3rd biggest city in Slovakia, however, it’s not so huge to spend days exploring it. We had half a day and it was enough to see the basics. Just get to the main street and walk all over it and then nicely turn in the direction of Calvary. From there it’s a very nice view all over the Prešov.
Just around 10 kilometers from Prešov there is a very nice, but not very well-known castle called Šarišský hrad. The entrance to the castle costs just 1 euro, but it’s a very nicely made place. Some interesting statues and figures to see around.
To get there up, prepare for a bit of hiking, but nothing too hard, no worries. It is definitely worth it.
What to see in Bardejov?
I felt in love with Bardejov! Nice, cozy, with its own charm. Definitely worth visiting if you are close. Actually, Bardejov is part of the UNESCO heritage,
it has a lot of gothic square and walls. But it is the most known for its healing springs.
A lot of people are coming to Bardejovské Kúpele (a huge spa center), which is actually a bit farther part from the city center. But it’s also pretty cute. And there you will find an interesting Múzeum ľudovej architektúry (Museum of Folk Architecture). For the entrance of 2 euros, you will get into a mood of how people from different villages lived in the past. The museum is very interesting in the way, that it’s built like a small village itself. You can also go inside many houses and check some old machines which some of them have no idea for what they are.
The main town square in Bardejov
In the city center of Bardejov for sure, Radničné námestie is the best! It is the main square of Bardejov with amazing architecture, beautiful Basilica Farský kostol sv.Egídia and a city hall Mestská radnica right in the middle of the square. You can just sit on the bench and enjoy the views or get some coffee in one of the restaurants on the sides. Or you can take a funny picture with kat (executioner) statue as Robo did. Also, he tried just for 1 euro archery, which somewhere else would cost at least 4-5 times more expensive.
There are a lot of bastions all-around Bardejov, so you can get a nice walk by each one of them. Also, you can check out the house of John Lennon. It was made by one of his fans living in Bardejov. Every year on the 8 of December there is a concert in the memory of John Lennon and the Beatles in front of this house. Down from this house on the stairs, there is also a singing fountain – Spievajúca fontána.
Restaurant tip in Bardejov
For a good dinner in Bardejov, I definitely recommend to walk a bit back from the city center and visit Familia Ristorante. They have mostly Italian foods and some Slovak options, but the way how they serve it looks delicious (and also tastes of course!).
Hiking in Poloniny National Park
If you are searching for a nice nature on the East Slovakia, good, but not a very hard hike and almost no people on the way – Poloniny is the best place for it. We’ve chosen to go up on the hill called Ďurkovec which on the map is exactly on the borders between Poland and Slovakia. But when we got there everything was Polish, so I believe, it belongs to the Polish side. That’s +1 more advantage of going there – then you can tell everyone you were abroad! Our phones were going crazy over there because also the Ukrainian side wasn’t that far. So every 5 minutes I was getting SMS: Welcome to Slovakia/Poland/Ukraine!
On the way to Ďurkovec you can check pilgrimage place called Pútnicke miesto “Tri studničky” with spring water. After you get up you basically are walking on the ridge. It is up to you where you want to get, we just walked to Riaba Skała viewpoint and came back the same way.
Where to sleep around Poloniny
After this hike we stayed in a small city called Vranov nad Topľou in apartment Kubo we found on Booking. It costed us 50 euros per 2 people per night, but it was definitely worth it! If you will ever be close to Vranov nad Topľou I also recommend you to get some burger from The Brothers, because their burgers and services are A-MA-ZING! For 6.2-7 euros you get a tasty burger with sauce and french fries. YUM!
Swimming at Zemplínska šírava
We wanted to have some chill time also during our East Slovakia trip. We heard, that Zemplínska šírava is a sea of East Slovakia (not the real one of course). So we decided to make benefit from last summer days and go swimming there.
We were on the beach which is on the map close to Camping U Borovice. Beach itself is free of charge, there are cabins for changing and also a toilet which costs 0.30 euros for the toilet and 1 euro for the shower.
Our review and opinion about Zemplínska šírava
To be very honest with you, we expected a bit more. Not sure if it’s because of corona crisis or that many people are enjoying their vacation somewhere else. But this place stayed from a very communistic past. Most of restaurants were closed. There were few buffets and even though the menu was a typical “waterside buffet menu” a la dip fried cheese with french fries, still the taste stayed from the communistic past.
So if you are planning to come here, either find some other beach (the lake is pretty big, so there is a chance for something more modern). Or expect what I was writing above. I would recommend to get there if it’s on your way for 2-3 hours top and then get out for some food and attractions somewhere else. From the attractions, there is mostly just a boat trip for 5 euros per person.
What to do and see in Košice?
Košice is the capital of East Slovakia. It’s a beautiful place with the longest main street in Slovakia, a lot of different bars and restaurants with much cheaper options than you can find in Bratislava.
Our accomodation in Košice
We stayed in Košice fo 2 nights and found an incredible apartment 10 minutes walk from the city center for just 19 euros/person/night! Just look at those pictures, I don’t need to tell you more:
The main street
The city center and mainly walk on the main road (Hlavná ulica) has its own magic (like I promised you in the name of the article!). It is full of flowers and nice decorations. There is Dom svätej Alžbety (St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral) biggest cathedral in Slovakia, which just takes your breath.
As you go further, there is singing fountain. The building of Štátne divadlo Košice (State Theater) looks also very interesting. I recommend also to turn to some smaller streets and just get lost there.
City park of Košice
Closer to the train station there is a Mestský park (City Park) with a nice chilly atmosphere. We’ve seen even some Hungarian opera free concert being handled there during our stay.
Where to eat and drink in Košice
Not only the sights are important in Košice, but also good food and drinks. Košice looked for me like a great place to have fun in the evening. For example, we found Euro Pub (which on the map is somewhere close to Pizza Napoli, but I couldn’t find it) where really every shot (or also a cup of coffee) cost 1 euro! And there were not only cheap alcohols but Jim Beam or Capitan Morgan for example. Also for the night out, I recommend Nebra for cheaper alcohol or Blue Bell for a chill on the terrace with music and cheaper cocktails. But basically, everything you see on the main street is worth trying. And not always what is on the main street is expensive.
In case you are hungry, I can recommend two places: Haluskaren or Med Malina. Both are on the main street, both have traditional Slovak options: halusky or pirohy. Med Malina also has some parts of Polish cuisine there. I had their mix of different pirohy types for 6.2 euros and it was yum!
If you have even more time in Kosice and don’t know what to do, you can check the cinema. There is an authentic one called Kino Úsmev which has some new movies as well as some other interesting ones for good prices. Usually, the ticket costs 5 euros. Outside there is a nice terrace with some fast food court and a bar.
Hiking to Sivec
We decided not only to stay in Košice, but also to explore the surrounding nature. We decided to go to the peak called Sivec. We had a hike from the village Košická Belá, which is around 20 kilometers from Košice. But the way up there wasn’t very common, we didn’t meet anyone on the way. The grass was pretty long. But it’s not a bad option if you wanna go there and back by different routes.
The main hiking route to Sivec is from a bit farther place called Most Ružín. The hike from there and back what take you around 3.5 hours. But the view on the top is magnificent. You see the river Ružín down and also a nice view on High Tatras.
What to see and do in Levoča
Many people say that its the city of love on the EastSlovakia. And definitely it has its own charm. We were there just for a few hours on our way back from this trip. But the city center with its Levočská radnica (City Hall) and beautiful architecture is amazing. You can go inside the building and see some hand- made market, where you can also buy some of the things for your home or as a gift from the city. Close to the City Hall is also Klietka hanby (The Shame Cage) which was served to punish disobedient women.
The main reason we came there was Múzeum špeciálneho školstva (Museum of Special Education). The entrance costs 4 euros and I recommend you to call and book it in advance because there are excursions every 90 minutes and a limited amount of people on it. This museum shows different methods of education for people who don’t hear, see, speak, or have different disabilities. You can try in a very interactive way by yourself how it is to be such a person. I wish there would be more museum like this!
As our last lunch, we got our portion of traditional Slovakia in Planeta Levoca, which has an interesting style and pretty tasty food options.
Here is the map as I promised in the beginning. For sure there are many more places to see in the East of Slovakia, but I tried to talk from our own experience.
This was one of the most intense trips within our country. Most people are not very much taking into consideration East Slovakia as a travel destination. Yet I would definitely recommend giving it a shot. Let me know if I’ve missed some more interesting places and what did you enjoy in East Slovakia, once you’ll go there!