Scenes from Košice, Slovakia

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Imagine that you have a week in Europe to spare. Where would you go?

There are ten European countries you have yet to visit: Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

And your time is bookended by commitments in Cardiff, Wales, and Leipzig, Germany.

Turns out that flying out of Cardiff is largely impractical, so most locals fly from Bristol, England. And it just so happens that Bristol has a direct flight to Košice, Slovakia. You book it immediately.

Most people who go to Slovakia hit up the capital, Bratislava. It’s decently connected, it’s pretty, and it’s a short getaway from Vienna. Košice (pronounced koh-SHIT-sa), a university town in the eastern part of the country, is much more off the beaten path.

I didn’t do much during my time in Košice, but I found it a thoroughly enjoyable place to spend a day or two. Here are some of my favorite photos:

Košice is a city with a tiny moat running down its main drag, tram tracks on either side.

A city with pink flowers bursting out of ornate Baroque balconies.

A city where locals sip beers at the base of a cathedral.

A city where doorways in the old town lead to graffiti-adorned walls.

Most famous is Košice’s singing fountain. This fountain plays acoustic covers of pop songs all day. And to my delight, they played “I Swear” by All-4-One three times within a two-hour period. (Really not helping the “Eastern Europe still thinks Miami Vice is on” stereotypes there, fountain.)

I wonder where that doorway leads!

That sounds good. I’ll have that.

The colors of Central European buildings would look garish anywhere else — but warm and perfect under a blue sky here.

The gothic cathedral is enormous — it easily dwarfs every other building in town.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Central Europe is the cafe culture. People sit out all day long, starting with coffees and moving on to beer and wine.

It’s also cheap. Britt from Adventure Lies in Front, a friend of mine from Travel Blog Success, happened to be passing through Košice en route from the Tatras to Budapest. We got some local rosé — just two euros per glass!

I headed over to the mall to pick up a European converter that could take three-pronged plugs (of COURSE I had left mine in Wales!) and snapped this shot of the tram en route.

I love this dog! It could be a model.

Goodnight, Košice, and thank you for the briefest, loveliest stay.

I’ll admit that this isn’t the way I usually like to visit a new country — I like to visit at least three different destinations to get a better idea of the country as a whole. But sometimes you just don’t have the time. I would love to return to Slovakia and see much more, starting with the Tatras!

Essential Info: I stayed at Penzion Grand Košice but I don’t recommend it as 1) there is no staff present after 10 PM and 2) I got bedbugs 3) which you can imagine is extra complicated when you get bedbugs after 10 PM. It was cheap and decent otherwise, but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of either of those issues. Find more hotels in Košice here.

Košice is well connected by train and bus. I had trouble finding information on how to get from Košice to Poland, but it was actually easy — I took a train to Poprad, walked next door to the bus station, and then got on a bus to Zakopane (you buy your tickets on board). From Zakopane you can easily connect to Kraków and beyond.

Don’t visit Slovakia without travel insurance. Whether you cut yourself and need to go to the hospital for stitches, or your phone gets stolen at a bar, or an injury means you need to cancel all or part of your trip, travel insurance will help you and keep you financially afloat if the worst happens. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Slovakia.

What’s your favorite random city that doesn’t get enough love?

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39 thoughts on “Scenes from Košice, Slovakia”

  1. Brussels isnt all that random, I guess, but I think it gets WAY too much sh*t. It’s a cosmopolitcan city with beautiful architecture – from gothic to art nouveau to hyper-modern, great food and plenty to do. Yet it’s usually either overlooked or talked about with outright disdain.

    PS – you need at least two weeks to scratch the surface of the European part of Russia (St.Pete+Moscow+some inbetween/day trips from both) Savor it 🙂

  2. Beautiful! My mother is Czech so growing up I heard a lot of jokes about Slovaks (friendly for the most part, unlike the ones about Hungarians) but the attitude towards visiting was always why go there if you could be in Czech Republic instead? The Tatras are a pretty obvious reason (high on my travel list) but beautiful towns like this certainly add to the appeal too.

  3. I’d love to be able to spend some time exploring the lesser known places in Europe. I’m sure Prague and Budapest would be amazing but I find I’m drawn to the lesser-known. And sometimes it’s nice to just relax and “be” in a new place without feeling like you need to visit a million tourist sites.

  4. I’m American, but spent a big chunk (5+ years) of my late childhood in Slovakia. I’m savoring every photo in this post! It’s beautiful country, with wonderful people and underrated scenery (in my biased opinion ;)). Thanks for shining a little light on it.

  5. Beautiful post Kate. As Leandra mentioned it’s quite underrated country and I’m happy that more and more people are discovering the beauty of my homeland :))

  6. Kosice is lovely! Did you go to Zdair while you were there? I can definitely recommend it, it’s about an hour bus drive and a great base to explore the Tatra Mountains and do some great hiking!

  7. It’s so nice to see my hometown, as “random” as it may be, getting some travel blogger love. Thanks for visiting and sharing the lovely photos.

    In no way does the city’s pronunciation contain the word “shit”, however. No worries, it’s a common mispronunciation among native English speakers. The correct one is [koh-she-tseh].

    Happy travels!

  8. Love this post! 🙂
    A friend of mine is from Slovakia as well and every time she shows me pictures of her hometown I really want to go! 🙂
    So thank you for sharing!
    xo Laura

  9. Great post Kate!

    I was in Slovakia last year, but only had a time for a long weekend in Bratislava. As you know, I’m a blaze-trailer for Eastern Europe, but you know one of my favourite places as I have so many (Ho! Ho!) that doesn’t really get a look in but is lumped together with my beloved Berlin, is Potsdam. In Brandenburg!

    Potsdam has a heritage history of castles and palaces. In fact, I got married in a castle there myself! However, you can also go sailing, hiking, and really have a jolly time. Sadly, Potsdam is either a day-trip thing or generally over-looked altogether, as is it isn’t exactly cheap, and is the suburban home of German politicans, and local celebrities. Or has the image of East Germany for local Brandenburgers who find Berlin far too expensive…!

    1. I was surprised at how much I loved Potsdam! I just visited as a day trip from Berlin but I enjoyed it immensely — the palaces, the cafes, the pastel colors. I had no idea you got married there!

      1. I did indeed. It’s romantic, spacious and you pretty much get all the land & lakes to yourself especially if you get married on a weekday! I had everyone in top hats & morning dress, & had my dress privately designed. Oh, and my maid of honour was actually my gay best friend. It was a lovely day.

  10. For the “I swear” fountain, I wonder if it was more a case of the person programing the thing making the whole town put up with his/her jam.

    You know…we drove up to the lake and there was a beautiful sunset, “I swear” was on the radio when I first looked into your eyes, baby…

  11. So far, I have been to only Italy in Europe – Venice and a few cities in Puglia. Yes, I agree you need to visit at least 3-4 destinations in a country to get a good feel of it. I’d say any city in Italy would be my random city where I’d like to go any day and just be. Love the ‘alfresco cafe culture’ of the European cities. Slovakia sounds like a charming city. Hope you get there soon again and explore it more deeply.

  12. Three things:

    1) Thank you for sharing these stunning pictures! They’re downright magical.

    2) That adorable dog looks just like my tri-colored mini Australian Shepherd– a very pretty breed indeed and sharp as a tack, too.

    3) Lastly, way to go on that sneaky Dumb and Dumber quote. I actually did LOL, albeit very quietly 😉

  13. Awesome article Kate! One of my favorite places I’ve been thats a little off the beaten bath is Split, Croatia. The scenery was gorgeous but we also had so much fun wondering the backstreets and experiencing their culture. This looks like a really cool city that hadn’t really been on my radar before, thanks for the cool perspective! 🙂

    Katie

    1. I like Split. It’s cool that you can literally stay overnight in a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Diocletian’s Palace) — I did that in a hostel a few years ago!

  14. It looks like a great choice when it comes to a stopover. I know way too little about Slovakia to have any thoughts about the place, but judging by your photos from Kosice it’s exactly the sort of town in eastern europe I would like!

  15. I`m from Krakow/Poland so i live very close to Slovakia but i didn`t know that Slovakia is so nice. I was a few times in the mountains for snowboarding but i didn`t discover the rest part of Country.
    P.s – Nice picture 🙂

  16. I love Bratislava, but have never ventured farther into Slovakia than that. The photos make this place look quaint and enjoyable, maybe I’ll have to put it on my list.

  17. Kosice is such a lovely city! We actually liked it much more than Bratislava. And it’s definitely a good place to start venturing out to some of the Slovak national parks – Slovak Paradise or the Tatras. Spis Castle is also close to Kosice and it’s the most romantic of all the ruined castles we’ve seen so far. And we’ve just started rambling… 😀 We just can’t help it when it comes to Slovakia. Living in Hungary we often have shorter trips to Slovakia and it’s incredible how few people know this beautiful country.

    1. Oh and the thing we started to write this message for in the first place and then forgot to add 😀 : Warsaw, Zadar, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Piran – the cities that amazed us in an instant yet they are not really well-known.

  18. Patricia Nier

    Kate, My husband and I are seniors and retired in 2014. We’ve been traveling ever since. We stay in Airbnbs and VRBOs and travel mostly by train with a back pack and one carry on each. We are just finishing up a 5 week trip in Central Europe. including Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Britislava and Prague. After seeing your pictures I am truly sorry we didn’t know about and visit Kosice! Britislava lacks color, is far too touristy and doesn’t seem to be ready for all the tourists who pour in daily. Our favorite unknown town is Cabris, France. A gem in the mountains above Cannes and Nice. We, too, like to just “be” in a place and soak up the culture. We stayed 3 weeks last year and we will go back for the December/January holidays this year. Like your blog and will now be following you!

    1. I have never heard of Cabris but typed it into Google Images and WOW! (And next door is Grasse! I did a project on Grasse in 7th grade French class.)

      Thank you for the follow! I hope you enjoy the Christmas markets!

  19. I see why you would go to Košice and not to Bratislava. It’s because to really know a country is to see it
    from other different perspectives even the ones where the usual tourists don’t flock to. It gives a much
    more honest look at how the country is and can allow you to see beauty that’s not always front and center
    in a traveling guide.

  20. Good decision, Kate, you chose the most beautiful city to visit in Slovakia, my hometown! 🙂 Definitely better than Bratislava, there are even more wonderful cities and towns to visit before going to Bratislava. However, you have wrong spelling, a word SHIT is not in the city’s name 🙂 The pictures are wonderful as well. If you decide to visit Kosice again, please let me know, I can show you some other places here!

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