Slovakia is a tiny country in the center of Europe, its top tourist attractions include the Tatra mountains, caves and medieval castles. It’s probably best known from the horror movie ‘Hostel’. But don’t worry, chances that you will be kidnapped and tortured in Slovakia are as low as in any other European country. For such a small country, Slovakia has a lot to offer for all types of visitors. Those who search for silence and want to have a break from the hectic city life can relax in many spas located at the foot of Tatra Mountains in a beautiful scenery among forests and picturesque little villages. Those seeking adventure, will also find something for themselves, there are endless opportunities for hiking, rafting, skiing, cycling, horse riding, exploring caves and medieval castles.
Tatra Mountains region which Slovakia shares with Poland is relatively unknown in the western world, in contrast to the Alps for example. The highest peak in Slovakia (and the highest peak of the Tatra mountains) is Gerlach at 2655 meters (8710 ft.). Accommodation and food prices are considerably lower than in Western Europe and the area is truly worth discovering. The main gateway to the mountains from Slovakian side is the town of Poprad, situated on the river with the same name. The best way to explore the region is to drive around on your own, but if you can’t, there are multiple tours and transport options in Poprad that can take you to the mountains at affordable rates. I have visited Slovakia twice and I hope I will have another chance to come back there again in the future. While my stay in Poprad, I visited two caves in the Tatra Mountains and the Orava and Stara Lubovna Castles.
Demanovska Cave of Liberty (Demanovska Jaskyna Slobody)
Both Demanovska Caves are located very close to each other, near the villlage of Liptovski Mikulas, 60km (37 miles) from Poprad. Demanovska Cave of Liberty is one of the largest and most impressive caves in Slovakia. It was discovered in 1921 and opened to the public in 1924. The cave trail, available for tourists, is around 2 km (1,25 miles) long and the whole tour takes about 1 hour. When inside the cave, you are going to see astonishing stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes, colors and sizes, a few underground turquoise lakes that contrast beautifully with pink-orange rocks and a couple of huge chambers with walls decorated by colorful rock formations of all sorts. The entry fee to the cave is 7 EUR (9 USD) for an adult and 6 EUR (7,70 USD) for a student. But there’s a catch, if you want to take pictures, you have to obtain permission (buy a sticker) for a ridiculous price of 10 EUR (13 USD)! But anyway the cave is really worth a visit, whether you will take photos or not.
Demanovska Ice Cave (Demanovska L’adova Jaskyna)
The second cave located in Demanovska Valley is the Ice Cave, only 2 km (1,25 miles) away from the Demanovska Cave of Liberty. It’s possible to visit both caves in one day. The trail in the Ice Cave is a bit shorter – 650 m (0,4 mile) than in the Cave of Liberty but what is surprising is that apart from rock formations there are ice stalactites and stalagmites and deposits of ice along the floor and walls of the cave even in the summer, where the temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). While entering and leaving the cave, only a few steps separate the summer and winter temperatures (temperature inside in the summer is 0-3 degrees Celsius or 32-37 degrees Fahrenheit). Really extraordinary experience, considering all this is natural. The entry fee is also 7 EUR (9 USD) for an adult, 6 EUR (7,70 USD) for a student and there’s a charge for the sticker allowing you to take photos – 10 EUR (13 USD).