While hiking in Slovakia is surely among the best ways to explore this beautiful country, many interesting sites can be visited without stepping your foot on a hiking trail. Slovak castles are both unique and largely protected by UNESCO.
Between our mountain treks we had a chance to go on a mini Northern Slovakia Road Trip to explore Tatras nearby areas by car and came across three interesting destinations – Spis Castle, Thermal park in Vrbov and Tomasovsky Vyhlad viewpoint. Visiting these places can be done in one day or added to hiking days as a nice addition. Alternatively, they can be visited on rainy days.
On your way from Poprad to Kosice, you will see a huge castle high up on a hill. It’s so impressive, that captures almost too much of your attention. This is the largest and perhaps one of the most famous Slovak Castles – Spis castle.
On the inside, the castle is a little bit disappointing due to lack of engaging activities or installations. It’s not too well preserved, either, with only few walls and rooms still giving you an idea of what it was once like. There is one small museum section few bedrooms and torture room. If you would really like to learn about this place, hire a guide or an audio guide.
The castle was also used as a film set for Dragonheart and The Last Legion. You can buy medieval themed souvenirs and weapon replica from a local craftsman. Sadly, there was no good restaurant on site, just some quick bites.
Thermal Park Vrbov
Thermal baths are very common in mountain areas, and Slovakia is no exception. Seems like it is a common way to relax after a long day of skiing or hiking – numerous Aqua parks are scattered all over the area. We were looking for a more relaxing type of thermal pool and found one high rated SPA in Vrbov, right outside Poprad.
Getting there was a bit of a hassle, but manageable with the Google Maps app. The entrance fee is 8,50€ for 2,5 hours. Once inside, you can change your clothes and step into the hot waters of this amazing thermal pool. The hot pool itself is outdoors, with temperatures around +55.. +59C. Considering the outside +15, it was perfectly comfortable to sit in the pool for an hour or so. The pool is equipped with sitting benches, nobody is swimming or splashing.
The water consists of many different minerals, making it also a healing pool. At least my tired feet felt very grateful! God news is that thermal park in Vrbov is open until 21:00, so you can hop in even late in the evening.
On our way back from the Spis castle we decided to take have a quick look at Slovak Paradise National Park and take a path to the famous Tomasovsky Vyhlad viewpoint. Once again, we didn’t expect it to be so difficult. The trail starts at the parking lot and is rather demanding, especially after a long day of exploring.
On our way, we crossed forests, meadows with the abandoned camp site, walked to the edge of a cliff and finally made it to the final destination – breathtaking viewpoint. The whole walk took us around 1,5 hours one way.
My advice is not to underestimate yourself and treat it as a regular hike, not a simple walk. Good shoes, enough water, snacks and waterproof jacket should be on your packing list. The place was so peaceful that I wish I could have stayed there for a while longer.
Other popular activities for Northern Slovakia Road Trip
Although mentioned points of interest are certainly worth a visit, the list surely doesn’t end there. My initial plan was actually much bigger, but due to bad weather and lack of time we ended up visiting just these places.
So, where else can you go in Northern Slovakia? High on my list was Janosíkove Diery, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Slovakia. The trail offers some spectacular views, canyons and waterfalls. Both short and long trails are available.
Orava castle is another popular attraction and one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. Beware that the castle can only be entered with a tour.
Last but not least, few caves are open for visitors in the Northern Slovakia, including the Cave of Liberty, Dobšinská Ice Cave and Ice cave at Demänovská ľadová jaskyňa.
If you are willing to drive a little bit further, Bojnice Castle should be on your list due to its fairy tale like look and Piestany – biggest and best known spa town in Slovakia!
Have you been to Northern Slovakia and visited some of these places? Share your experience in the comments!