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The seriously underrated Central European country of Slovakia is home to some of Europe’s finest castles. Though many are in a state of degradation, their ruins are just as jaw-droppingly beautiful as some of the best-preserved castles throughout the European continent. Slovakia actually is among the countries with the highest number of castles per capita. In its history, there were approximately 180 kingdoms. Today, 120 of them are accessible to tourists, whether in ruins or preserved, each with its own unique history and stories to tell. We’ve rounded up the most beautiful castles in Slovakia for you to visit during your next trip.
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Most Beautiful Castles in Slovakia
Bojnice Castle is among the most popular of beautiful Slovak castles. Located atop a hill with the town of Bojnice below, the castle itself is part of the collection of the Slovak National Museum.
Bojnice Castle is the stuff of fairytales, with its pale blue-hued roofed turrets and burnt-orange doors. The castle is one of the primary attractions for visitors to Slovakia. Many film directors have used the castle to shoot their movies.
The castle that sits in this location today is actually the most recent version. It sits on the site of an 11th century medieval castle owned by Hungarian royalty. Fun fact – due to territory politics and the redrawing of borders, there are a huge number of ethnic Hungarians living in Slovakia. The same goes for Romania and other countries bordering the current nation of Hungary.
Bojnice Castle is also home to many beloved Slovak annual events. These include the Summer Music Festival, Fairytale festival, and the International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits.
To reach the castle, take a train from Bratislava. After arriving in Prievidza, you have to take a 15-minute bus ride to Bojnice. The entire trip takes about four hours. If you’re driving, the ride is just over two hours.
Spišský hrad, aka the castle of Spiš, is one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. The castle is largely in ruins. Still, it’s a must-see on a list of the best things to do in Slovakia.
The castle itself, as with many other Slovak castles, sits upon a hill. The castle was originally erected over 800 years ago. Sadly, it found its demise in a fire in the late 18th century.
Nowadays, the Slovak government invests more and more time and money in order to restore and maintain their historical buildings and cultural heritage.
You can tour the castle’s interior with a free audio guide. The guide is free, but you must deposit 10 euros, refundable once you return the device. I highly recommend using the guide, as it explains many things about the castle that may be overlooked without it.
You can trace the castle walls which overlook the grounds below, including most of the village. Depending on the weather, you have vistas spanning miles. It’s a truly wonderful sight.
It’s easiest to visit Spiš Castle if you’re based in Košice. From here, public transport takes under two hours. If you’re based in Bratislava and are really set on visiting the castle, rent a car. Be sure to set your alarm early, as the drive takes around three and a half hours.
A visit to Halič Castle might set you back a few dollars, depending on the purpose of your trip. If you’re just visiting the castle, it won’t cost too much. However, if you’d be interested in spending the night at Halič Castle, it currently operates as a luxury boutique hotel. This is the best way to get a taste of how Slovak aristocrats truly lived in yesteryear.
Records of Halič Castle date back to the late 14th century. It was mainly owned by the Forgach family. Subsequently, it was purchased by a developmental company from Košice. Today, it is open to the public as a high-end boutique hotel, complete with spa. The hotel began operations in 2016.
From Bratislava, you can reach the castle in just under three hours by car. If you’re relying on public transportation, perhaps it’s best to book a room. The journey takes around four and a half hours by bus.
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia is Trenčín Castle, which sits high atop a steep rock in Trenčín. Not only is this one of the most beautiful in Slovakia, it’s also one of the largest castles in the entirety of Europe!
The castle itself is separated into two palaces and its trademark tower. Visitors to Trenčín Castle particularly enjoy the bastion and the dungeon, though there are also a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions to enjoy. The castle is also the site of a number of nighttime events, medieval games, and other one-time attractions in every season.
Following a tragic fire in the late 18th century, restoration efforts began which allowed even more access to its most beautiful areas. Because of the fire, however, Trenčín Castle surrendered any and all military significance. The castle’s most recent owner donated the castle to the town of Trenčín in the earliest years of the 20th century.
If, like me, you enjoy guided tours of places of historical significance, then don’t plan to visit in January. In January, you won’t find any guides at Trenčín Castle. Otherwise, guides are available in a variety of languages, most commonly Slovak and English.
From Bratislava, a train ride here takes under two hours, making for an easy day trip.
In spite of the fact that Smolenice Castle isn’t as well known as some of the others on this list, it is truly one of Slovakia’s most beautiful castles. Its close proximity to Bratislava makes for an easy day trip as well. You can reach the castle in only an hour by car!
The castle is situated in Smolenice, a picture-perfect village in the little Carpathians. Smolenice Castle was first mentioned in recorded records in the 1300s and was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in the beginning of the 1800s. After many years and a lot of pressure on the Slovak government, restoration efforts finally came to fruition and subsequently ended in the mid 1900s.
Today, the castle officially belongs to the Slovak Academy of Science. Though the building is primarily utilized for a myriad of scientific conferences held in the country, it also occasionally hosts weddings. Some parts of the castle are open to the public for visitors, and it is highly recommended you check these out!
Orava Castle was originally built in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 13th century. No, they didn’t move the castle! As I mentioned above, following World War I and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Hungary lost over 70% of its territory. The village of Oravský Podzámok was one of the areas relinquished by Hungary., which is where Orava Castle currently stands.
Though it’s not among the largest of the Slovak Castles, there’s no question it is one of the most beautiful. It is somewhat reminiscent of Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle), and many vampire movies have been filmed here throughout the years.
The castle stands on a steep rock cliff overlooking the village below. Similar to many of Slovakia’s castles, this stance gives it a natural defensive edge.
Following the second World War, the castle became a prized treasure and national monument.
When you visit Orava Castle, you’ll tour replicas of royal rooms, exhibits on national history as well as the Tatra Mountains. Expect to spend at least two hours here, longer if you want to get really in-depth.
Don’t forget to bring your camera – the stunning vistas overlooking Oravský Podzámok are worth a visit on their own.
Orava Castle is situated in the northern part of the country. It’s not too easily accessible by public transportation, so your best option would be to rent a car or join a guided tour. Its close proximity to the Polish border makes it a great option for a day trip from Zakopane.
The ruins of Čachtice Castle, situated in the Carpathian Mountains, are probably the most mysterious on the list, with the darkest history. The last castle resident was none other than infamous chatelaine Elizabeth Báthory. Never heard of her? Read on.
The castle was originally built in the 13th century as a defensive fortress meant to guard the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. However, during the 16th and 17th centuries, its purpose transformed to become the residence of countess Elizabeth Báthory. Her nickname the ‘Bloody Countess’ was more than appropriate considering her reputation. She was accused of torturing and killing hundreds upon hundreds of women and girls, soaked in their own blood, as she believed this would in some way preserve her own beauty and youth. Walking a fine line between local legend and historical fact, the mystery and history of Čachtice Castle makes it a very appealing place for tourists.
Though you can’t tour the castle in the traditional sense, considering it is mainly ruins, you can find many stunning panoramas and mild to moderate hiking. The castle was demolished in the early 1600s during the Bohemian Revolt.
You can access Čachtice Castle via train from Bratislava. The journey takes just over an hour, though it should be noted that upon departing the train, a steep hike is required to reach the castle.
Bratislava Castle, with its iconic white facade and bright red roof, is certainly the most visited castle in Slovakia. This is of course, due to its prime location overlooking the Slovak capital city. Still, its pristine condition and aesthetic appeal earn it a spot on the list of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia.
The Bratislava Castle is a huuuuge fortress with four spired turrets strategically placed on a hill overlooking the Danube river. Records of the Bratislava Castle date back as early as the 9th century. It oversaw the coronation of 19 former monarchs. Despite the fact that the castle fell entirely to destruction in the 19th century, it was later restored in the mid 20th century. It’s currently a national cultural monument as well as the unofficial symbol of Bratislava.
On the lush green castle grounds, you can find perfectly secluded spots to relax and take in the splendor of the city as well as some epic views.
It’s free to walk through the castle grounds and admire its beauty from the outside, however to tour the interior has a meager admission price. Definitely take the tour, as you will gain much more insight into the castle’s history.
Stará Ľubovňa Castle
Stará Ľubovňa Castle is definitely one of the lesser-known castles we’ve mentioned. Though not as popular as some of the others, it is still well-deserving of a spot on this list.
Situated in the northeast area of Spiš, the Stará Ľubovňa Castle offers visitors a glimpse into its abundant and alluring history.
The castle dates back originally as early as the 13th century. Given its strategic location near to the Polish border, it was once used to house the
Nestled in the north-east of Spis lies the magnificent Stara Lubovna Castle, which boasts a rich and colorful history, dating back to the turn of the 13th century.
Given its strategic location near to the Polish border, it was once used to hide the baubles and gemstones of the Polish coronation. It was also a meeting point of royals and aristocrats used for deliberation and discussion of crucial diplomatic matters.
Destroyed by fire in the mid 16th century, it was subsequently restored. Are you noticing a trend here? Perhaps Slovak castles would have been wise to equip with anti-combustion materials.
Nowadays, you can visit the castle to tour its lush gardens and the museum that it houses on the interior. While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the open-air ethnographic museum that sits under the castle walls.
The picturesque ruins of Devin Castle (Hrad Devin) are situated atop a hill overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. From its prime hilltop location, you can even see the suburbs of Vienna on the opposite side of the river.
It’s easy to imagine how this choice location would be ideal for a fortress. Close your eyes and imagine the castle in a better-preserved state, thwarting sieges with its imposing stance. The ruins you can see today date back to the medieval ages, however, even before that, there were fortifications built here as far back as the Bronze Age.
The Danube and Morava rivers that flow beneath the ruins of Devin Castle acted as a natural border of the Iron Curtain, separating the different spheres of influence during the Cold War. The castle remained converted for military use until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. Today, it is open to visitors to explore.
Situated a mere 12km outside Bratislava, you can surmise (correctly) that it’s fairly popular with tourists. Still, you’d never imagine it’s so close to a capital city given its lush green surroundings. Pack a picnic and you may even be able to share a snack with one of the local goats that occasionally graze the castle grounds.
To reach Devin Castle from Bratislava, take either bus 29 or 129 from Most SNP. If you’re visiting during the summer months, you can even take a Danube River cruise.
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