gymes-castle

Western Slovakia

MAP…

MAIN ACCESS POINTS: Trnava, Piešt’any, Trenčin (train, bus, E75 motorway)

The west of Slovakia often gets overlooked in favour of the Tatras. That is, unsurprisingly, a mistake englishmaninslovakia.co.uk DOES NOT make. Its position near Bratislava means it is easy to access and for a minimum outlay of effort you can be in the midst of some outstanding countryside, which veers between the gentle and the intensely wild.

There are some wonderful small forested mountains in these hills, the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) which dominate the region (and therefore, as you see, has its own special article dedicated to it in a part of this sub-section). There is the usual mix of phenomenal hikes and great castles in the hills, whilst down in the valleys along the Váh river are (heading in a north-easterly direction from Bratislava) ancient towns boasting everything from rich winemaking traditions (Pezinok and Modra) to world-famous spas (Piešt’any) and Slovakia’s (also one of Europe’s) best music festivals, Pohoda (at Trenčin). In the lowlands in the south of this region the university towns of Nitra and Trnava also offer a sizeable dose of provincial cosmopolitanism. Meanwhile the north of the region yields the two intriguing areas of Záhorie (largely protected forested flat lands secreting some strange architectural surprises) and, east of here, the Biele Karpaty (Whie Carpathians), a sheer range of hills hugging the Czech border up passed Trenčin to Puchov with great hiking.

And good news: we’re now number one on the web (and probably in print too) for in-English travel content on Western Slovakia: meaning you’ll find better-in-quality, superior-in-quantity info on places to go, places to eat and drink and places to stay by sticking around on this site.

ALSO IN THIS REGION…  Don’t forget, to accompany your Western Slovakia sight-seeing, our Western Slovakia Places to Stay and our Western Slovakia Places to Eat & Drink chapters!

Our destination content is now growing at such a rate of knots that for several places in Western Slovakia, namely Modra, Piešt’any and Trenčin, we now have mini-guides attached to the end of each article that’s related to these destinations where you can see at a glance ALL the associated destination content! These places rank amongst our Top Slovak Stop-offs – places where we think there are a particularly high concentration of intriguing diversions worth gushing about…


Places to go in Western Slovakia

  • Image by www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukTrenčin: the Lesopark

    On the map, as you home in on the lovely city of Trenčin, you’ll notice the medieval city seems to be clustered around something on its southeastern side. Its streets coil up only so far above Mierové námestie, the central square, then get lost in a blur of greenery. The cause of all this is ...

  • Near Vel'ka Javorina and the Slovak-Czech border - image by Jonno TranterHiking the Cesta Hrdinov SNP, Stage Two: Vel’ka Javorina to Drietoma (near Trenčín)

    The Cesta hrdinov SNP, aka the trail of the Heroes of the Slovak National Uprising, begins officially at Bradlo, the monument to the ultimate Slovak hero, General MR Štefánik: it’s a continuation of the Štefánikova magistrála trail that runs here all the way from Bratislava. In short, this is the next big chunk of the mega-hike ...

  • Image by www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukChateau Topol’čianky: Wine, Horses & Grand Old Houses

    Soon enough, many of us in the northern hemisphere will get snow. Copious amounts of it perhaps. Still, it might be a stretch of the imagination for most to remember (or even conceive of) what enduring over a month of snow on the ground, layer on layer of it, ice and slush as much as ...

  • Image by Jonno TranterHiking the Cesta Hrdinov SNP, Stage One: Myjava to Vel’ka Javorina

    The Cesta hrdinov SNP, aka the trail of the Heroes of the Slovak National Uprising, begins officially at Bradlo, the monument to the ultimate Slovak hero, General MR Štefánik: it’s a continuation of the Štefánikova magistrála trail that runs here all the way from Bratislava. In short, this is the next big chunk of the mega-hike ...

  • The vast lake, Western Slovakia's biggest, stretches away to the horizon. ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukAround Trnava: Král’ová – a Beautiful Journey Breaker on the Road East

    I’m going to write possibly the first in-English post on the rather random – but rather cool, I think – body of water Vodna Nádrž Král’ová (Western Slovakia’s largest body of water, and one of Slovakia’s largest after the likes of the Liptovská Mara near Liptovský Mikulaš). If you happen to be travelling on the R1 highway ...

  • Approach to the arboretum ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukAround Nitra: The Arborétum

    Nitra, I was reading the other day in my steadily-accumulating library of Slovak literature, was the original cradle of Slovak learning. The very first Slovak bishop ruled the roost from ecclesiastical buildings here. And the main attractions of the modern city can still be found in its very oldest part on the castle hill. ...

  • Looking out from Bradlo towards the Biele Karpaty at the end of the Štefánikova Magistrála ©Jonno TranterHiking the Štefánikova Magistrála, Stage Five: Dobrá Voda to Bradlo (and Beyond)

    By Jonno Tranter. From Dobrá Voda, you can join the red-marked  trail just behind the church, and you’re very quickly alone in the wilderness again. The absence of other people hiking in this area in this area is a real pleasure if you are looking for some peace of mind, but it’s also a novelty: such ...

  • Image by Jonno TranterHiking the Štefánikova Magistrála, Stage Four: Vapenna to Dobrá Voda

    By Jonno Tranter. After spending the night camping out at a spring just beyond Vápenná, we headed back along the trail. This curls downwards slowly towards Buková and you soon step back into the forest that you’ll have become accustomed to seeing at regular intervals throughout the walk by now. This part of the trail is ...

  • ©Jonno TranterHiking the Štefánikova Magistrála, Stage Two: Kamzik to Pezinska Baba

    By Jonno Tranter. From Kamzík, it’s easy to find the signs for the Cesta Hrdinov SNP Trail (Trail of the Heroes of the Slovak National Uprising), which encompasses (between Hrad Devín and Bradlo) the Štefánikova Magistrála. Look out for the white and red flag which you’ll grow to love – and hate – along the hike. The ...

  • ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukModra: Majolika (Handicrafts)

    For anyone wanting to bring home a memento of their time in Slovakia, this renowned ceramics shop in the beguiling little town of Modra 28km northeast of Bratislava is a sure-fired bet (excuse the pun). Whilst many outlets, once they become moderately successful, gravitate to capital city high streets and shopping centres, Majolika has remained refreshingly low-key. Its ...

  • Bojnice CastlePrievidza & Bojnice: Local Insights into the Valley of the Upper Nitra

    We’re extremely grateful to fellow Czech- and Slovak-ophile, novelist James Silvester for writing this article for us on the delights of the little-visited town of Prievidza and nearby Bojnice, crowned by its majestic chateau. It almost seems unfair to the Central-Western City of Prievidza to make it share an article with its much smaller but more glamorous neighbour, ...

  • ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukPiešt’any: In the Footsteps of Beethoven

    Slovakia has only been a nation twenty-three years. Before that it was a region within regularly chopping and changing borders: Turkish, Austrian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Russian: all have had a stab at meddling with the frontiers here. And so, through the ages, a huge diversity of famous personages stopped by for one reason or another: ...

  • 35-degree waters - image y www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukPiešt’any: the Pick of its Thermal Pools

    Whether in summer, for a well-earned languishing and luxuriating session, or in the colder weather for a quick warming dip, Slovakia’s spas – and one in particular – are an absolute must-visit. The best bathing spots in the country, of course, are much easier to narrow down if that country doesn’t have a coastline. In landlocked ...

  • image by www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukAround Piešt’any: the Mysterious Ruins of Tematín

    Just a short distance north of Piešt’any, where the world and his wife come to take the waters, and a short distance south of Trenčin, another town of renown because of its medieval centre and annual music festival, Pohoda, there is a densely forested portion of the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) which seems to have slipped off the radar ...

  • A cellar of Small Carpathians wine... image by SmuconlawLimbach: the Stop on the Wine Route No One Knows About

    An autumnal article here and a heads-up, if you’re thinking of visiting Western Slovakia, that autumn might indeed be THE time to do it! Without more ado, here is an introduction to the very first place you’ll come to of interest as you drive northeast from Bratislava… A misty October weekend afternoon; the itch to get ...

  • The Pixies hit Pohoda in 2006 - Image by Jo FjompenissedalheibakkeTrenčin: Pohoda!

    Imagine it: a delightful medieval castle town in Western Slovakia with a buoyant arts scene on the cusp of where two of its main ranges of hills, the Malé Karpaty and the Biele Karpaty, come together. The town in question is Trenčin, the quirkiest parts of which are going to get a lot of publicity ...

  • image by www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukAround Nitra: Hiking Near Gýmeš Castle – The Ultimate Turkish Defence

    The prequel is innocuous enough. A sharp turning in the dozy village of Jelenec, just north-east of Nitra on the E65 (an already forgotten village on a largely forgotten road). The landscape is pretty but not dramatic (dusty farms, low but gradually rising wooded hills. Then the road, already bad, terminates near the lake of Jazero Jelenec. ...

  • Bardejov ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukTop Ten Medieval Towns in Slovakia

    It’s not just the nature that’s spellbinding in Slovakia: some of the smaller towns – whether as a result of castle strongholds against marauding Turks, or being major Medieval mining centres or having healing spas – grew up in magnificence centuries ago and have not lost any of their glory since. Note that we’re talking towns ...

  • Beckov Castle ©www.englishmaninslovakia.co.ukAround Trenčin: Beckov Castle

    I remember, sure, the first time I left the beloved Southwest England of my childhood for a long while, but oddly enough, what I remember more vividly is returning to it again after that first lengthy absence. The Berry’s Coach out of Hammersmith bus station in the afternoon winter murk, the London suburbs falling away, ...

  • The Bratislava skyline from the Štefánikova magistrálaHiking Western Slovakia on the Trail of Slovakia’s Heroes: the Štefánikova Magistrála

    When I heard there was a path themed around one of Slovakia’s greatest all-time heroes, Milan Rastislav Štefánik, running from the Austrian border at Hrad Devín through the entirety of the Small Carpathians to Bradlo, where the man is buried, my interest was, I’ll admit it, piqued. 120km Showcase of Slovakia’s Best-Of The Štefánikova Magistrála is a 120+km path in total and encompasses the very ...

  • From Bratislava to Wild Western Slovakia: an Intro to the Small Carpathians (Male Karpaty)

    Before I wax lyrical about one of my favourite ranges of hills and forests (the Small Carpathians, or Malé Karpaty) too much more on this blog it’s probably necessary to give you some context. So here we go. In terms of mountains in Slovakia, it’s the Carpathians that rule the roost. They’re the peaks that start ...

  • Brezová pod Bradlom: Štefánik’s Stomping Ground

    On a surreally misty grey morning the other weekend we drove up into the northeast portion of the Small Carpathians (Malé Karpaty) not far from Trenčin to find out a little more about the most famous Slovak personality of the last 115 years, Milan Rastislav Štefánik. Štefánik, one of the most influential figures in the founding of the ...

  • Western Slovakia Castle Tour: Nine of the Best

    We all know about the normal top tens of Slovakia: Spiš Castle, Trenčin, maybe Kežmarok. Spotted the theme yet? Castles. Slovakia does, of course, have very good castles (it is one of the most densely castellated countries in the world – and fights with its neighbour the Czech Republic over the number one spot). But ...

  • img_2405Around Trnava: Hlohovec, Beethoven & The Founder of the Slovak Language

    As you’ve probably worked out by now, Englishmaninslovakia.co.uk doesn’t focus on well-known Slovakian places so much. We prefer to dig deep to find the truth under the cliches and to this end, on a cold, blustery and crisp day in February, we went to Hlohovec. I confess we did go there with an attitude of determination ...

  • Western Slovakia: the Wine Tastings (in Trnava)

    NONE  of the events taking place on what is known as the Small Carpathians Wine Route (Malokarpatská vínna cesta) exactly advertise themselves. Yet for the traveler with the canny eye for doing something a bit different there is usually something going on most months that’s wine-related in the hills just north of Bratislava. In fact, ...

  • Around Bratislava – the North: Svätý Jur for a Day Trip?

    An icy, but brilliantly sunny winter’s day: and where to roam from Bratislava when you wake up, well, reasonably late? You want to get out into the countryside, but you also don’t have so many hours before darkness falls again, and are reliant on public transport. Svätý Jur, just to the northeast of Bratislava, might ...