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Castles and Mountains Await at Slovakia Holiday Cottages
Slovakia, often underrated and undervisited, lies on the banks of the Danube River in Eastern Europe. The nation's turbulent past under the influence of the Hapsburgs, Austro-Hungarian Empire and then the Soviet Union has left it with a rich cultural tapestry. Much of the country is covered in mountainous terrain, and outside of Bratislava, most accommodations comprise quaint, rural cottages and farmhouse-style homes.
Food and drink in Slovakia
Slovakia's location in central Europe has played a critical role in its history, language, culture and cuisine. Tropes of German, Hungarian and Czech food are evident in Slovak cooking, with an emphasis on slow-cooked meats and hearty, potato-filled plates. Dumplings, known as bryndzové in Slovak, are the country's national dish. A hearty plate of these stuffed with cheese or meat and topped with small cubes of pancetta is a must when you visit.
Like many of its neighbours, Slovakia loves soup. From chunky goulash to creamy potato, you can tuck into all varieties served up in a freshly baked bread bowl that you can tear off and dunk in the unctuous soup. As you might expect, Bratislava is the country's culinary hub. For the most authentic dishes, head out of the Old Town to eateries such as 1. Slovak Pub, which is a 15-minute walk from the centre of the city's historic district.
Inspired by both European and Asian civilizations, Slovakia's cultural heritage is concerned with everything, from tapestries and paintings to music and theatre. Once part of the Hapsburg and Austro-Hungarian Empires, the city is peppered with medieval buildings. Some of the most notable include Bratislava Castle and Devin Castle. Folklore has a firm place in Slovak history, and festivals celebrating the tradition still take place across the country today. At Vychodna and Detva, two of the most popular festivals, you can enjoy music, dance and storytelling and embrace the legends Slovaks have passed on for hundreds of years.
As well as boasting a wide array of cinemas and museums, Bratislava also holds a music festival every September and a film festival each November. Traditional art forms such as ballet and classical music are also alive and well – the National Theatre is one of the best places in the country to catch a mesmerising performance. You can purchase tickets from box office or use the website, which is in English as well as Slovakian.
Evening entertainment in Slovakia
Most of the nightlife opportunities in Slovakia are located in Bratislava. The capital city is home to a little over 400,000 people, a minuscule population by European standards. In other urban localities, which are significantly smaller, you'll find plenty of historic taverns and cozy Slovak restaurants where you can tuck into hearty dishes of food and listen to live music.
If you do find yourself in the capital, there are opportunities aplenty. Spend your evening sailing on the majestic Danube River while enjoying dinner or a glass of local wine. If you'd prefer to remain on terra firma, highlights of Bratislava nightlife include the National Theatre, the wine bars and craft beer cafés of the Old Town and plenty of nightclubs – though bear in mind that many of these only open on weekends.
Exploring beyond Slovakia
Given that Slovakia is a small landlocked country, you may think your opportunities to escape are limited. However, you'll find that the magnificent capitals of Budapest, Vienna and Prague are within easy reach. Vienna and Bratislava are the two closest capital cities in the world, and the train between their central stations takes just one hour. Vienna, famed for its splendid architecture, resplendent palaces and cafés, makes for an ideal day trip from the Slovakian capital.
Budapest, to the south of Bratislava, is just over two hours away by train. Considered by many to be the most opulent Eastern European capital, it boasts magnificent thermal spas and a castle district on the verdant Pest side of the city. Prague, a three-hour train journey to the north, shares significant cultural history with Slovakia – between the end of World War I and the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were united under the name of Czechoslovakia.
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