The Best 6 Fairy-Tale Castles In Slovakia You Have To Add To Your Itinerary
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Slovakia is a stunning yet still quite unexplored destination among travellers. It offers so much natural beauty in its mountains, national parks, rivers, and rich history with many castles and monuments. Nobody has ever gone out of this country disappointed. And it’s time to explore it even more.
This article will introduce you to the best 6 castles in Slovakia you should definitely visit one day. Ready to explore Slovakian beauty and rich history? Let’s set off.
List of the Fairy-Tale Castles in Slovakia
- Bojnický Castle
- Orava Castle
- Trenčiansky Castle
- Strečno Castle
- Budmerice Castle
- Devín Castle
1. Bojnický Castle
One of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia and the most favourite ones among travellers is Bojnický Castle or Château. It is located in the charming town of Bojnice, 2-hours drive from the capital, Bratislava.
Brief History of Bojnický Castle
Originally, it was a Gothic castle during the reign of Matej Korvín. After his death, the castle was occupied for a longer time before Alexej Turzov got it as a present. His reign adds new shapes to the castle. They built high towers with a courtyard in the middle and converted it into a Renaissance-style castle. After the extinction of the Turzov family, the castle was abandoned for a longer time. In 17th and 18th century was its reconstruction completely paused. In 1852, Earl Pálfi bought the castle for 200 000 golden coins. He decided to reconstruct the castle into a Romantic style.
The reconstruction of Bojnický Castle, as you can see it nowadays, was inspired by the model of French Gothic castles, e.g., The Papal Palace of Avignon.
Bojnický Castle went to the hands of Czechoslovakia after the death of Pálfi. Nowadays, they organize many attractions in the castle, including medieval days or sometimes a Halloween party.
Tours of Bojnický Castle & Admission
You can do several tours of Bojnický Castle:
The Castle Circuit
During the Castle Circuit, you can visit Earl’s flat, the middle part of the castle, Pálfi’s tomb, the French part, and the cave of the castle. The tour takes approx. 60 to 75 minutes and costs 11 EUR pp.
The Gallery Circuit
The Gallery Circuit is a tour through the chapel, royal rooms of the past earls and monarchs, and other royal parts of the castle. This tour is possible to do only on the weekend and costs 11 EUR pp.
Complete Castle Tour
The complete Castle tour is possible to do only on the weekends. You can see the entire castle with it. The price is 15 EUR pp.
You can buy tickets directly at the entrance of the castle.
Bojnický Castle is one of the most charming castles in entire Slovakia. If you don’t have time to visit anything else, this might be your perfect destination. Its surroundings offer many other activities, including parrot attractions and cute fairy-tale houses with many handicrafts. In addition, you can eat delicious Slovakia food or visit one of the biggest exhibitions of cactuses in the country.
2. Orava Castle
Orava Castle counts as one of the top fairy-tale castles in Slovakia, thanks to its beauty and a great program, locals organize for visitors and bring you back to medieval times.
Brief History of Orava Castle
Orava Castle, built on a hill over the River Orava in the small town of Oravský Podzámok, was built back in the 1200s after the Tartar invasion. Over the years, its territory gradually extended and the castle had 154 rooms in total. It was a headquarters of administrators who controlled the entire Orava region from this county castle back then. Nowadays, you’ll explore various styles inside the castle, including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.
Turzo family got the castle in the 1500s, started rebuilding it, and the castle got one of the nicest shapes it ever had. However, after his death, nobody was interested in taking care of it until, in the 1800s, it got caught under fire. Only after the Second World War was the castle reconstructed again to the model you can see today. Nowadays, you can visit its three main parts, the lower, middle, and upper castle, in three different tours. It is also a popular wedding venue.
Tours of Oravský Castle & Admission
As with Bojnický Castle, Orava Castle offers 3 different tours you can choose from:
The Main Tour
The Main Tour includes almost all parts of the castle. You’ll see the lower and the middle castle with historical, natural history, and ethnographic exhibitions. The upper castle is also included with its archaeological exhibition and a citadel. This is the most popular tour, open all year round and takes 1 hour & 30 minutes. It costs 9 EUR for adults, or 4.5 EUR for students under 26, disabled, and children.
The Small Tour
The Small Tour offers insights into the lower castle with the Treasury of Orava Castle and St. Michael Chapel. This tour is specifically designed for those scared of heights or persons with reduced mobility. It takes 45 minutes and is only open from May to October. The tour costs 7 EUR for adults, and a reduced price is 3.5 EUR.
The Big Tour
The Big Tour offers everything together and the entire castle with all parts. It is also only open from May to October. Its duration is about 2 hours and 15 minutes, which might be quite long for children. You’ll pay 13 EUR, and a reduced fee is 6.5 EUR.
You can buy tickets directly at the entrance of the castle.
Orava Castle is located 3 hours from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, by car. You can also get there by train. If you want to do it as a day trip from Bratislava, you might want to add another castle, which is on the way. This castle is called Trenčiansky Castle. Not only the castle, but the city itself has a charm, so you can add it as a stopover.
3. Trenčiansky Castle
Welcome to Trenčín city, which hosts a castle with one of the most interesting legends in Slovakia, Trenčiansky Castle. Located on the west, only 1 hour and 20 minutes drive from Bratislava. Not only can you visit the castle here. Trenčín is also known as the city of fashion. It has a nice centre with cobblestone streets, local beer bars, delicious cafes, donuts, and local food. Let’s explore the castle first.
Brief History of Trenčiansky Castle
Trenčiansky Castle was built in the 11th century and stood on one of the most important trading routes connecting Central Europe with Pobaltic countries and Northern Europe. So it already had a great importance bag in those times and brought many merchants and visitors to the area. The most important person from all times associated with the castle has been Matuš Čák Trenčiansky, who started extending the castle in the 15th century. His endless love for the castle led him to convert it into an aristocratic residence. After his death, the castle stagnated for a while until they started reconstructing it in the 1960s. The construction goes on until today.
The Legend about The Well of Love
The castle had other governors except Matuš Čák Trenčiansky. The legend also talks about the monarch Štefan Zápoľský, who imprisoned a beautiful lady Fatima in the castle. One day, a Turkish merchant named Omar visited the castle and fell in love with Fatima. She begged him to rescue her from the castle’s prison. Omar promised he would dig a deep well and take her out.
He was trying to dig into the hard rock on which the castle stands and build the well for over 3 years with his companions. Finally, he managed it and took Fatima away. As they were escaping, Fatima’s veil got stuck in one of the branches surrounding the castle. Luckily, it didn’t restrain them from running away, and Omar managed to rescue her.
Nowadays, Trenčiansky Castle hosts the beautiful well of love. Take a coin, throw it into the well, and wish something. It is believed your dream will come true after. The spot where Fatima’s veil got stuck is famous for its restaurant named after her name. You can visit it and have some lunch or dinner.
Tours of Trenčiansky Castle & Admission
As with other castles, you can choose from three main tours. The first one is the Big Circuit with a guide. The Small Circuit is possible to do without a guide. Or you can simply visit the castle’s surroundings without a guide as well. On the top of the castle, in the main tower, is an exhibition with various weapons from the past, excavations, and more information about the castle’s history, so check it out.
You can buy tickets directly at the entrance of the castle. However, if you want to join a guided tour, you can do so at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm, or 3:30 pm.
As I mentioned above, Trenčín City is a great stopover to have lunch or a great coffee during your road trip. In addition, you can also check out the castle and then keep driving wherever you need.
4. Strečno Castle
Matuš Čák Trenčiansky was a legend. Not only is his name associated with Trenčiansky Castle. During his reign, he also bought Strečno Castle. Located in the western part of Slovakia on a giant rock next to the River Váh. Let’s see what it has to offer.
Brief History of Orava Castle
Strečno Castle dates back to the 13th century, built by the Strečno County. The most famous family that owned the castle was the Bošňáková family. The couple had 7 children, out of which a small Žofia is mentioned in several sources. She got married at a very young age when she was 17. However, her husband has a serious illness, and Žofia soon became a widow. In her 20s, she got married again to František Velešény and had 2 sons with him.
Žofia was the most beloved person in the castle. Her love and good energy were felt all around. She always said:
“Only good deeds should remain after man. Everything else will take a relentless time.”
She was always prepared to help and never rejected anyone’s needs. Unfortunately, she died before she reached 35. Her second husband was in tears for so long that the castle slowly started to turn into ruins.
It was then destroyed during the Second World War. Only in 1978, locals started their reconstruction and nowadays, you can visit this beautiful castle on the giant rock.
Tours of Strečno Castle & Admission
Strečno Castle is only open from May to October. It’s closed in the winter months. Nowadays, you can visit the entire castle offering several exhibitions and a chapel dedicated to the beloved Žofia.
Admission is 7 EUR for adults, and a reduced price is 3.5 EUR.
Go Rafting in a Traditional Slovakian Style with a Shepherd
Another exciting thing you can do after visiting Strečno Castle is hopping on a Strečno Raft and float on the river. It is one of the most famous rafting spots in Slovakia. But don’t worry, the rivers are pretty calm, so don’t picture an adrenaline rafting somewhere in Austria. Instead, you’ll be floating on a raft with a group of people led by a Slovakian shepherd. The rafting spot is directly below the castle, so try it out.
5. Budmerice Castle (The Manor House Budmerice)
Welcome to one of the most unique castles in Slovakia. In fact, it is more a château than a castle and is officially called ‘The Manor House of Budmerice.‘ It will capture you with its beauty right at the beginning, and its stunning English gardens will take you on a journey back in history. You can also make it as a day trip from Bratislava since it is just 45 minutes drive.
Brief History of Budmerice Castle
Back in 1888, Count Ján Pálffy decided to build this castle with his 16-year old wife. Consequently, he also married her the same year, so the castle hosted the first wedding. However, since Count Pálffy loved hunting, the castle served mainly as a hunting lodge.
As with Bojnice Castle, the construction of this castle was inspired by the French Châteaus from the area around the River Loira.
The castle prides itself on its charming English Gardens. Count Pálffy also built another important piece in the gardens, the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, which you can visit nowadays.
What makes the Budmerice Castle different from other castles in Slovakia is that it remained the heritage of only one family, the Pálffy Family. After Ján’s death, his son Pavol inherited the castle and took care of it until 1945, when it became a property of the state.
Tours of Budmerice Castle & Admission
You can join one of the guided tours of the castle. The exhibition features objects from famous Slovakian writers and important persons from history. But, unfortunately, they were mainly taken away during the Second World War from the writers or politicians. And, of course, enjoy the views of this unique château and walk through its charming English Gardens.
The price of a visit is 5 EUR for adults, 3.5 EUR for people above 62 years old, and 2.5 EUR for youth (6 – 18 years old).
Last but not least, let’s explore one of the most important castles in Slovakian history.
6. Devín Castle
Devín Castle might be on your bucket list if you only visit Bratislava and don’t have time for anything else. Even though it is one of the less fancy castles in Slovakia on this list, it’s had a huge importance in Slovakian history. Located on the edge of the River Danube and the border with Austria, you can reach this castle in about 20 minutes, driving from the capital of Bratislava. So, let’s explore the last castle on our list.
Brief History of Devín Castle
The places where Devín Castle stands today were already occupied back in prehistoric times. It was significant during the Roman times when it was part of the fortification system ‘Limes Romanus’ of one of the strategic Roman legions. The area with the castle had been constantly occupied by different foreign troops until the 7th century, where the first Slavs settled around. Later on, the castle became an interest of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Due to many disputes and fights for the area was the castle was destroyed many times.
Napoleon Wars & Devín Castle
Devín Castle also took part in the Napoleon Wars in the 19th century. When he captured Vienna and the surrounding areas of the Danube, his army tore the Devín Castle down. Ever since it’s been in ruins. Only in 1836 gained the castle its importance thanks to the famous Slovakian politician and writer, Ľudovít Štúr. For him, Devín Castle was the symbol of Slavic reciprocity and national awareness. He mentioned the castle in many of his writings, thanks to which the castle has many visitors until today.
According to the famous Slovakian politician and writer, Ľudovít Štúr, was Devín Castle was the symbol of Slavic reciprocity and national awareness.
The Iron Curtain
Another important time in history, which Devín was part of, was the ”Iron Curtain” introduced by Winston Churchill. It was stretched from between the west and the east, from the Barents Sea to the Jadran Sea. Bratislava with Devín area was part of the border 14 between Austria in Czechoslovakia. In 1948, the situation at the border became more strict, and authorities banned people from crossing it. Back then, many bars, restaurants, and shops were destroyed, and 62 people were frozen to death.
These times, except learning about the rich history of Devín Castle, visiting it, and reminding yourself of the happenings from the past, you can do many other things around. The area is also famous for its unique currant wine, fish specialties, and beautiful nature, including sand dunes.
Tours of Devín Castle & Admission
Nowadays, you can visit the entire castle with its area. The entrance fee is 6 EUR for adults in the summertime, and a reduced price is 3 EUR (from April to October). In the wintertime, admission is 2.5 EUR for everybody.
Apart from Devín Castle, check out the Center of Europe’s Memorial and the Gate of Freedom.
The Gate of Freedom was built to honour people who died trying to escape through the Iron Curtain.
Also, you can do a Danube Cruise from Bratislava/Devín to the capital of Austria, Vienna. It is an amazing cruise and just a different way of road tripping. So if you want to see Austria after spending some time in Slovakia, check out my Austria road trip itinerary and arrive in Vienna in a royal style on the ship. The itinerary also includes the best things you can do in Vienna and its surroundings, so get some inspiration.
More Information for Your Visit To Slovakia
These are the top 6 fairy-tale castles in Slovakia I highly recommend you visit. I’ve picked these castles thanks to their beauty, or important role they played in European and Slovakian history, and their fairy-tale charm. Let me know which you got your attention and which of them you would add to your Slovakian bucket list. If you’ve already visited some of them, let me know in the comment below how it was and what you explored.
If you want to see more of Slovakia, check out my Slovakia road trip itinerary for 8 days. You’ll explore the country’s highlights, including caves, stunning nature in Slovakian High Tatras mountains, traditional painted villages, shepherds houses, and the Slovakian Paradise.
If you are into hiking, the Slovakian High Tatras mountains have some of the best hiking trails in Europe. I’ve also designed a 5-day itinerary for hut-to-hut hiking Slovakia in the High Tatras, so check it out. You’ll sleep in the Slovakian mountain huts and enjoy stunning views from the highest range in Slovakia. If you want to do easier hikes and enjoy the High Tatras more, check out my list of the top 9 hiking trails in High Tatras. You can do these hikes in a day and will absolutely love it.