- 3 Days
A long weekend in Bratislava is enough to experience what makes this compact capital great, along with a small taster of castles and galleries beyond the city limits.
On day one, start with Bratislava Castle before strolling towards the old town to admire St Martin’s Cathedral and colourful Hlavné nám. Spend the afternoon rambling the old town's statue-dotted streets, ducking into cafes and the Museum of City History. Come evening, choose between beers at Stupavar or an impromptu wine-tasting session at Cork.
On day two, start early at the sky-clad Blue Church, before grabbing walnut- and poppyseed-stuffed pastries from Pressburg Bajgel. Board a bus to Devín Castle, straddling the Slovakia–Austria border, before returning to tour the Museum of Jewish Culture. Round off the evening at the cafes and restaurants lining Hviezdoslavovo nám.
On your last day, take a trip from Bratislava to awe-inspiring Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, 15km south. In summer, opt for a scenic boat ride (otherwise buses run year-round). Return to Bratislava to party at Slovak Pub and KC Dunaj.
- 1 Week
A week allows you to dip your toes into the capital, ramble around castles and get a heady gulp of mountain air. This route starts in Bratislava, weaving east via castles to the High Tatras.
Spend three days in Bratislava. That’s enough to enjoy the main sights – Bratislava Castle, Hlavné nám, beer halls and swish restaurants – and take excursions to Devín Castle and Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum.
On day four, head east towards the High Tatras. Break up the journey in Trenčín, arranged prettily beneath a hilltop castle. Walk up to the fortress, have a late lunch in Mierové nám and press onward to party (and eventually, sleep) in Žilina. On day five, travel onward to tour Orava Castle, Gothic lair of foregone nobles and fiends. By car or bus, rejoin the eastbound highway to Poprad.
The final two days are for seasonal outdoor activities. In summer, it's an easy rail ride north to Starý Smokovec for walking trails, or a bus or car journey south to day-hike deep gorges and wildflower meadows in Slovenský Raj National Park. In winter, Tatranská Lomnica is just one of several ski resorts within reach of Poprad.