Slovakia is a country of wonders and we want to prove it with a series of articles on the most amazing places you can visit there. With the first one we would love to show a little bit of Slovak history and culture through four interesting places in the north of the country. Picturesque villages, breathtaking nature and generous meals: keep on reading and find out more!But first, we ask for a minute of your time: click here and like our Facebook page!
How to get there
The best way to get there is by car. If you don't have your own, you can rent one: in Slovakia it's quite cheap.
Here you have a map of the itinerary:
As you can see, these places are close to the border with Poland and Czech Republic. The distance between Bratislava, the capital city, and Vlkolinec is about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Vlkolínec is our first stop among the places to see in northern Slovakia. It is located in a romantic valley surrounding by green hills with no other civilization in sight. A great escape from reality! In 1993 the village entered the UNESCO World Heritage List. Since then it has become a popular tourist destination not only for Slovak but also for foreign tourists.
The name derives from the Slovak word "vlk" meaning "wolf". One folk legend says that it is due to the presence of wolves in the area, as it is a part of the Veľká Fatra National Park. Apart from classic timber houses and farmyards you can also admire a two-storey bell tower and a Catholic church with a cemetery.
One of the peasant houses of Vlkolínec has been turned into a museum where you can observe the original housing, different objects and agricultural tools. In case you fall in love with the place and consider moving there it’s far from impossible. There are 19 permanent residents in the village and once in a while one of the 55 houses goes on sale!
Around 80kms from Vlkolínec lies another gem on the map of Slovakia. Be sure to do not skip it, because it's really a place to see in northern Slovakia. By visiting Vychylovka you will understand a lot about the history of the Slovak nation and how the original villages were structured.
The official name is Múzeum kysuckej dediny (Museum of the Kysuce village) and it was established in 1974. The whole exposition contains 34 different buildings, most of them resident houses with the possibility to check the interiors with the original objects, decorations and tools.
Don’t worry if you can’t understand Slovak as all the descriptions in the complex are available in four different languages: Slovak, English, Italian and French. However, one of the most remarkable things about Vychylovka is the historical logging switchback railway. Currently around 4kms are used for tourists as a heritage railway. Definitely one of the most amazing places to visit in Slovakia!
3. Terchová and Jánošíkové diery
Situated in the Malá Fatra National Park close to the town Žilina, Terchová is a cultural centre and a starting point to several marvelous places in the mountains. It used to be one of the typical wooden villages but half of it burned down during World War II and it has never been completely restored.
Terchová is also famous as a birthplace of one of the greatest national heroes Juraj Jánošík. Yep, it is the one who robbed nobles and gave to the poor, and he has also become the symbol of the Slovak National Uprising. The legend says that he used to hide in the surrounding mountains and gorges and his "routes" are now accessible to the public.
The gorges have all been secured with ropes, ladders and bridges and have become a popular hiking place. The easiest place for you to start from is the hotel Diery with a huge parking lot and a great restaurant offering local dishes.
If you’re planning to explore all the routes that are a part of Jánošikove Diery make sure you wear proper hiking shoes: the routes could get a little slippery. We wouldn’t want you to get hurt! Every summer Terchová organizes a festival of folk music and traditions full of fun, great artists, musicians and good food.
Far from the madding crowd, in the heart of the Orava region, Zázrivá is famous for its wooden architecture, dairy production made of sheep milk, folk traditions and songs. A nice place to see in northern Slovakia!
It used to be a Vlach village and you will still see huge flocks of sheep grazing on its green hills. A lot of people have cottages in Zázrivá and its surroundings because of vast possibilities and activities that it offers. In the summer there are endless hiking routes and in the winter many hills change into ski slopes.
What to eat:
As we have already mentioned, the north of Slovakia is a paradise for sheep and that is why many typical dishes contain some version of sheep cheese. What we definitely recommend these dishes:
- bryndzové halušky, which is actually a national Slovak dish: tiny potato dumplings with bryndza (sheep cheese with a very particular taste) and bacon;
- zemiakové placky, a sort of potato pancakes usually served with bryndza or sour cabbage;
- In the cold harsh winter a bowl of hot sour cabbage or garlic soup will warm you. To make things even heavier you can try a slice of bread with animal fat, salt and onion;
- Our favourite is dish is also bryndzové pirohy which is the Slovak version of ravioli filled with bryndza and served with bacon or fried onion. Yummy!
Of course, these are only a few places to visit in Slovakia. The list is much longer so be patient, more is coming in the future!
Have you ever visited any of these places? Any interesting experience or unusual dishes from the region to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below and share it on Facebook!