Bratislava is the capital city of one of Europe’s smaller countries, but in past times it was a major center of a great European power, the Hungarian Empire. Its historic centre still carries the atmosphere of that bygone era. Today it is a living, modern town, surrounded by the plains of Hungary and Austria to the south, and the hills of the Male Karpaty (Small Carpathians) to the north. Explore the town’s history and important points on a guided tour, then enjoy an evening in Bratislava’s cozy historical centre.
Bratislava – Devinska Kobyla – Devin, 12 km, easy.
This will be a warm-up trip in the forests close to the capital city. The day begins with a short taxi or tram ride to the outskirts of the city, where the walk starts. There are some ascents and descents on the route, but most of the day is flat. The path leads through forests dotted with weekend cottages, before coming to the Devinska Kobyla hill with a limited but pleasant view. The next part of the trip after descending from Devinska Kobyla is probably the most interesting: the path leads through Sandberg, the sandstone cliff remnants of a Tertiary sea. This spectacular paleontological site also offers some nice views into Austria. The trail then takes you to where the Iron Curtain border divided Europe as recently as 25 years ago, to the small village of Devin. The castle ruins above the village are monumental and highly worthwhile; it is one of the oldest castles in Slovakia, perched high above the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers.
Late afternoon transport to Povazska Bystrica (or Puchov), about 2 hours.
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Sulov – Hricovske Podhradie, 11 km, medium.
This is a day of rocks. After short morning car transfer (about 15 minutes) to the trailhead in Sulov you will ascend to the so-called Sulov Rocky Town, a spectacular land of cliffs and rocks. The path threads among rock towers, cliff walls, and giant boulders, offering many views of the valley below and cliffs high around. The highest point of the trip, the Rohac-Ciakov hill, is not only a perfect view point, but also a good place for a picnic lunch. The second part of the trip descends steeply through beech forests to a mysterious place: the remains of Hricov Castle.
Late afternoon car transport to Terchova (45 minutes).
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Terchova– Rozsutec – Stefanova, 12 km, demanding.
The first part of the trip leads along a small whitewater creek, through canyons with sections of the trail that include ladders, bridges and fords. Dozens of rocky stairs with small waterfalls and rapids are demanding to walk but offer a great experience. Some distance after the canyons there is a point of decision: climb the Velky Rozsutec Hill, or bypass it? It’s up to you. Climbing the hill is demanding but feasible for experienced hikers. Actually, the descent from Velky Rozsutec is even more difficult, as it is really steep. However, chains help hikers to overcome the steep technical ascent and descent and allow us to enjoy a really breath-taking panoramic view of a large part of mountainous Slovakia. The climb to the top and the descent down are not easy, but thousands of hikers make it every year so it is doable with some basic hiking experience.
If you don’t trust in your steep-terrain abilities you can by-pass the Velky Rozsutec hill along the contour trail, which still allows you to enjoy nice scenery. The last section of the trip descends to the small, cozy settlement of Stefanova.
Late afternoon car transport to spa town Turcianske Teplice (about a hour).
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Turiec valley – Kralova studna hotel
There are two variants, both easier than yesterday or tomorrow, as this is a relax day. Both variants begins with a short car transport (15 minutes).
Variant 1: Easy walk along the contour line, on a flat forest road serpentining across the slopes of the Velka Fatra Mountains. It is comfortable walk but still offers broad views of the mountainous landscape, romantic corners, and lovely natural scenery.
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Variant 2 This is also easy walk, though little bit more difficult and in different landscape. It leads into a nice valley and then into the hills, mostly along a forest road, in some sections on trails. While the first half is flat, there is some ascent in the second leg.
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Both variants lead to the “horsky hotel” (hotel in hills) Kralova studna, a remote quality hotel almost on the ridge of the Velka Fatra Mountains.
Kralova studna hotel – Donovaly, 20 km, demanding
This hotel-to-hotel hike is demanding due its length rather than its profile. The whole trip goes along the ridge of the Velka Fatra Mts. with many up-and-down hops. It begins above the tree line, then leads into deep natural forests with high biodiversity. It threads along the ridge, among limestone cliffs hidden deep in forest sometimes almost mystical in atmosphere. In the middle of the trip an old road from the 17th century bisects the trail. The second half is again above the tree line and offers panoramic views of a large part of the mountains of Central Slovakia. A descent from the ridge to the mountain resort is steep and may be demanding; however, you can use a chairlift to get down if you get there in time.
The trail is part of the longest marked and signposted trail in Slovakia, which leads from Ukrainian border to Bratislava, so meeting with some ” trekkers” is quite possible.
Overnight in Donovaly, a hiking, mountain biking and ski resort in the mountain pass.
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Donovaly – Spania Dolina, 15 km, medium
This day is mostly flat to slightly downhill on comfortable paths and forest roads. It leads though woods and meadows, offering both good long-distance views and natural scenery, and passing by some “salashes”, the mobile summer camps of sheepherders. There is an interesting technical monument in the middle of the route, the remains of a old mining aqueduct used to deliver water to power the mining machines in Spania Dolina. This village, where the hike ends, is real gem among the hills, an old mining settlement with well-preserved architecture.
Late afternoon car transport to Banska Stiavnica, about 45 minutes.
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Banska Stiavnica – Horna Roven – Banska Stiavnica, 10 km, easy.
The town and region of Banska Stiavnica is a UNESCO World Heritage for the way its urban centre blends into the beautiful landscape, with many relics of the mining activities of the past. The loop hike is not long but still offers the best of this site, a ridge section with panoramic views as well as monuments concerning history and mining. The day starts with an uphill from the city centre to the top of Tanád Hill, passing some artificial lakes built into the steep slopes. The second half of the trip is downhill, again passing some lakes and also the very old and forgotten Calvary Hill (not the famous Baroque Calvary over Banska Stiavnica). The day can end with a visit to the open-air mining museum that also takes you underground, or with a guided tour of the town, once one of the most important settlements in the Hungarian Empire.
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