Why We’re Visiting Slovakia in 2021

Why We’re Visiting Slovakia in 2021

A fresh and welcome addition to the UK’s green list, here’s why we’re visiting Slovakia right now.

heading to Slovakia – not to rowdy Bratislava, but deep
into the country’s jagged mountain ranges which bubble with hot
springs and are lacerated by epic gorges. A fresh and welcome
addition to the UK’s green list, this year’s unadulterated nature
binge of choice is Slovakia: here are the five reasons why.

Why this Central European heartland is ticking all our
nature-binge boxes

1. It’s home to one of Europe’s last remaining

While countries all over the world are frantically waking up to
the realities of mass urbanisation by pouring funds into rewilding
projects, Slovakia’s Wolf Mountains remain pretty and untouched on
the country’s Ukrainian border. Along with Lapland and certain
parts of the Lofoten Islands in Scandinavia, Poloniny National Park
qualifies as one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe.
Visit now to see the Alps as they would have looked 500 years ago,
though be sure to enlist the help of a local guide – you won’t find
any signposts, just plenty of disarmingly adorable bears, lynxes
and wolves.

2. You can trek lightly trodden mountain paths with epic

Awesome though they might be, Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail are
plagued with moral conundrums. You might ask to what extent the
mass tourism boom has eroded local cultural traditions or question
the ethics of undertaking a “charity fundraising hike” through some
of the world’s continents’ poorest regions (all the while clad in
the latest Gore-Tex get-up)? We’re heading into the High Tatras
mountains instead where true outdoors types can hike from one
homely hut to the next, stopping intermittently for a night’s sleep
and hearty, mountain broth. The views are majestic, the lodges are
cosy and the trails remain free from tourist footfall, for now

3. Or hit up Slovakia’s underground scene

By which we mean its warren of ravines, caves and gorges. Start
with the Slovak and Aggtelek Karst cave networks – a warren of more
than 1,000 caves inhabited by 500 rare animals and speckled with
35,000-year-old prehistoric human remains. Geologists will go nuts
for the caves’ rare aragonite crystal formations (nope, us
neither). Alternatively, don your sturdiest walking boots and
slither across a snake of wooden ladders as you navigate the Sucha
Bela, Maly Sokol or Piecky gorges which splinter Slovak Paradise
National Park. As underground scenes go, Slovakia’s pretty rad.

4. Do like a royal by visiting a thermal spa

Before fish pedicures, sheet masks and sound baths came to
define modern “wellness”, there were natural hot springs teeming
with pools of healing water and nutritious puddles of mud. Just ask
the Slovakian nobility: they’ve been dipping their toes into the
country’s bubbling thermal spas for the past millennium or so.
We’re scoping out the spa town of Piestany which is home to an
elaborately tiled, Turkish-style hammam, and Bardejov which counts
the historical socialites and beauty aficionados Empress Sisi of
Austria and Marie Louise (wife of Napoleon) as former patrons.

5. Ski without the crowds

We’re all about off the map, affordable ski destinations. Not
only are they cheaper and less crowded than the Alps but they offer
endless opportunities to humble brag. Winter Park Martinky is one
such place. It’s a favourite ski destination for Slovaks and
overlooks the city of Martin which means ski supremos at the top of
the mountain can scale the slopes and be clinking glasses in the
city centre within the hour.

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