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Vlkolinec – Demenovska Dolina
To get to Vlkolinec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drive one and half hours north of Banska Bystrica. You'll come to Ruzomberok, then turn at Biely Potok village towards Vlkolinec (www.liptov.sk). In this remarkable settlement, villagers live in log houses, in much the same way that people have for centuries throughout the Carpathian region. Have lunch at Vlci Dvor Motel in the village of Biely Potok.

Wooden Church Svatý Kriz - interior / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardBanska Stiavnica / © Róbert Buga │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardBanska Stiavnica - Old Castle / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist Board
Kremnica / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardKremnica / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardSvaty Anton mansion / © Dominik Bugár │Source: Slovak Tourist Board
Dobsinska ladova jaskyna cave / © Michal Rengevič /archív SSJOchtinska aragonitova jaskyna cave / © Michal Rengevič /archív SSJDobsinska ladova jaskyna cave / © Michal Rengevič /archív SSJ
Vlkolinec / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardVlkolinec / © Róbert Buga │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardOrava Castle / © Michal Pišný │Source: Slovak Tourist Board
Orava Castle - interior / © Ladislav Struhár │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardOrava Castle / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist BoardWooden raft under Orava castle / © Ladislav Struhár │Source: Slovak Tourist Board
Wooden Church Svatý Kriz / © Bedrich Schraiber │Source: Slovak Tourist Board

After lunch you can drive directly to Poland either through Liptovsky MIkulas or turn north to Dolny Kubin and the Trstena border crossing. Dolny Kubin town has three outstanding attractions: the Oravska Gallery (www.oravskagaleria.sk), Slanicky Art Island for traditional folk art and crafts as well as contemporary works, and nearby Oravsky Podzamok with its picturesque castle (www.oravamuzeum.sk) which is just 30 minutes from Ruzomberok. While here, you should also try two fun rides: the Grandfather’s raft, below the cliff of the Castle (www.plteorava.sk) and on a reconstructed narrow-gauge forest railway built in early 20th century.

From Ruzomberok drive east for about 20 minutes on to the highway in the direction of Liptovsky Mikulas, and you will see the Liptovska Mara Dam on the left-hand side. Watch for a sign for Svaty Kriz (www.liptovtravel.com), the largest Protestant wooden church in Slovakia, which was even built without using nails. This church was moved piece by piece from its original location, which was flooded by the dam. Go to Liptovsky Mikulas to see its beautiful, recently restored Synagogue (www.slovak-jewish-heritage.org) then follow the sign to the Demanovska Dolina Valley (www.nizketatry.sk) part of the Low Tatras National Park. Have dinner and stay at 4* Hotel Fim which has an excellent wine list, or the 4* Hotel Tri Studnicky (www.tristudnicky.sk). And be sure to spend plenty of time outside in the refreshing mountain air.

Banska Stiavnica
The mining city Banska Stiavnica is situated in central Slovakia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hidden in a beautiful natural setting and once the third largest city in the Hungarian kingdom, this picturesque town has more monuments, churches and other sights to see than there are days in a year. First tour the Open-Air Mining Museum (Banicke muzeum), then the city itself.

Top sights include: the Town hall (Radnica), Old Castle (Stary zamok), Trinity Square (the city’s main square) with its Holy Trinity plague column (Susosie sv. Trojice), St. Catherine gothic church (Kostol sv. Katariny), Hellenbach’s house (Hellensbachov dom), the Mining & Forestry College (Banicka a lesnicka skola), the first mining university in the world, Miner’s Clapper (Klopacka), Piarska Gate (Piarska brana) and the New Castle (Novy zamok).

Stop for lunch or dinner at the 3* Hotel Restaurant Grand Matej (www.grandmatej.sk) in the city centre. In the afternoon visit Svaty Anton mansion with its hunting exhibit, period furniture and majolica tiles in a beautiful English park setting, just five minutes from Banska Stiavnica (www.muzeum.sk). Make sure you arrive before 4 pm.

Kremnica
Drive 60 minutes north from Banska Stiavnica to the geographical center of Europe, Kremnica. This town has the oldest continually operating mint in the world, at 800 years of production, and still produces commemorative coins. Visit the Museum of Coins and Medals (Muzeum minci a medajli) – (www.muzeum.sk), the Mint House (www.mint.sk), Town Castle (Mestsky zamok), Town Hall (Radnica) and quirky exhibit on the history of skiing. Stop for lunch at the Hotel Golfer (www.golfer.sk) or Hotel Central (www.isternet.sk/central).

Dobsinska Ice Cave
The fascinating Dobsinska Ice Cave is situated near Poprad (www.ssj.sk) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bring warm clothing and non-slip sole shoes – it’s cold in the ice cave. For lunch, stop in Spisska Sobota, a village within Poprad, and admire the exceptionally well restored main square with cozy cafes, small restaurants, pensions and antique shops. Choose either Sabato Restaurant (www.sabato.sk) or the restaurant at Penzion Fortuna (www.penzionfortuna.sk), both on the main square. Drive 20 minutes east to the perfectly-preserved 15th to 16th century walled town of Levoca (www.royaltowns.sk). Top sights are St. James’s Parish Church (www.chramsvjakuba.sk) with the highest wooden gothic altar in the world, the Town Hall (Radnica), Cage of Shame (Klietka hanby), Lutheran Church (Evanjelicky kostol), ThurzoHouse (Thurzov dom), Polygonal Bastion (Basta) and Gatehouses from the town fortifications. For dinner, try the Three Apostles Restaurant on the main square or eat in the hotel’s restaurant.

Ochtinska Aragonit Cave
Ochtinska Cave is situated in eastern part of Slovakia near Kosice. Travel for an hour west from Kosice to Roznava and then turn west and drive for another 15km to Stitnik. Here there is an optional visit to Stitniks Lutheran church to view its14th century paintings. Proceed northwest for 15 minutes to the Ochtinska Aragonit Cave (Ochtinska aragonitova jaskyna) a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site (www.ssj.sk). There are only three aragonite caves open to the public in the entire world. Aragonite formations look like masses of flowers or sea urchins. On the way back to Roznava drive northeast 30 minutes to Betliar manor house (www.snm.sk) which won international recognition for its recent reconstruction. Stay in Roznava at the small cozy 2* Hotel Cierny Orol (www.ciernyorol.sk). Be sure to take in the view from the Watchtower (Strazna veza), which is within easy walking distance of the hotel. You can take lunch and dinner at the hotel too.

 

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