Discover the undiscovered in Slovakia’s hidden gem, Kosice. Spend the weekend indulging in a daily dose of culture, artistic flare, historical highlights and traditional cuisine that’ll undoubtedly have you running back for more. Explore the merging of retro Soviet architecture with Gothic blasts from the past and sip local lemonade with views of the spellbinding St. Elizabeth’s cathedral. Affordable and family-friendly, try your hand at something new and visit Kosice for the ultimate mini-break with a difference.
1. St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral – Hlavna 26
The centre piece of the historic city centre, St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral is an unmissable attraction in Kosice. As the biggest place for worship in Slovakia, the Gothic structure is famous in this part of Europe for being the only one left of its kind. Boasting some impressive rare features such as the double spiral staircase, the altar of St. Elizabeth with 24 paintings and the crypt of Hungarian saviour, Francis II. Rakoczi, the cathedral is a recognised pilgrimage by the Pope. If you’re feeling adventurous, brave the 160 steps in the 60 metre tall northern tower and ring the bell at the top whilst looking out over sky-high views of the bustling city below.
2. Kulturpark – Kukucinova 2
Built in the late 19th and early 20th century, the former army barracks is now the cultural hub of Kosice. It’s well worth making the short journey to the suburbs of the city. Repurposed for use as a modern multicultural centre, the collection of buildings are the ideal exhibition space. Promoting education as well as curation, the park is also home to the Steel Park, a small museum full of interactive displays focusing on the area’s historical ties to US Steel. All the buildings have been named after the NATO phonetic alphabet, nodding to its previous incarnation as a military compound, with the Alpha pavilion holding the centre. Visit the park and you’re almost always guaranteed to be met by the sounds of music wafting through the windows, the latest contemporary art plastered across the walls and a warm, welcoming atmosphere from the people scattered across the grass or skatepark.
3. Lower Gate – Hlavna 26
Delve deeper into the city’s medieval past and venture into the depths of the old fortification walls at Lower Gate. Under the cobbled streets, the walls, inside which the original town was built, have been preserved and nurtured so that you can take a step back in time. Built in the second half of the 13th century, the entrance to the archaeological complex sits opposite the Coat of Arms of Kosice, the oldest and first of its kind in Europe.
4. East Slovak Museum – Nam. Maratonu mieru 2
Gate-keeping Kosice’s Golden Treasure, the East Slovak Museum should most definitely be added to your list of what to do in Kosice. Deep in the underground safe, 2,920 gold coins line the walls and huge medallions and a gold chain are displayed in illuminated glass cases. The collection is the largest golden treasure ever found in Slovakia and includes coins from all over the world. Discovered in 1935, the interactive exhibition is one for everyone to enjoy. When you’re done, check out the traditional all-wooden church in the grounds outside.
5. City Watchtower and Kosice Castle – Hradova Hill
Sitting on the northern edge of the city, a 21 metre tower has been looming over Kosice since 1986. Nestled above the remains of a medieval castle, climb the 99 steps of the tower and be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city and its suburbs below. The surrounding forest park is ideal for a picnic on a sunny day and the numerous walking trails make it the perfect place to escape urbanity for a little while and experience the Slovakian countryside.
6. DinoPARK, Zoo and Toboggan ride – Siroka 31, Kavecany
Spend a day nurturing your inner child and head to the Zoo and DinoPARK. The biggest zoo in Central Europe, it features almost 1,400 animals of over 240 species. Talk a walk through a pre-historic forest and watch in wonder as the robotic dinosaurs roam around the wild. Hold your nerve as you rocket 800 metres downhill on a stainless steel toboggan at Bobovka. This is a unique experience that’s tons of fun whether you’re eight years old or eighty.
7. Escape Rooms
Scattered across the city, beneath the medieval streets, lies a series of themed escape rooms waiting to be solved. This is a great way to get the whole group involved and kill some time – not that you’re going to need to! TheRooms offer nine different immersive experiences designed to test your mental and physical ability as you unlock clues to move through the space and escape out the other side. One of the local favourites is the Sherlock Holmes experience which takes you to London and back in eighty minutes.
Pop into the Visit Kosice offices in the Town Hall (Hlavna 59) for more information on what to do in Kosice.
1. Villa Regina – Dominikanske namestie 3
Established in 2002, the traditional eatery prides itself on its warm, family atmosphere and rural restaurant setting. Focusing on both regional and traditional cuisine, this place is the perfect spot to experience Kosice like a local. Try Bryndzove halusky, the native dish consisting of potato dumplings, sheep’s cheese and bacon and start your meal in true Slovak style, with a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
2. Bistro Tabacka – Gorkeho 2
Set in an industrial space in the heart of the old tobacco factory, the bistro is the ultimate hipster haven and the best place to grab earthy vegan-esque dishes in alternative surroundings. Think upcycled furnishings and beer crates for lampshades and you’ve pretty much got the vibes. Utilising local produce in a modern way, the menu is eclectic and inspiring. Make sure to taste the loaded sweet potato fries, all washed down with a traditional mug of Kofola.
3. Le Colonial – Hlavna 8
Inspired by the Mediterranean, this place oozes a foreign atmosphere both in its interiors and its dishes. Dotted with wicker chairs and deep red colour scheme, the intimate ambiance is achieved by the small space and fairy lights interlaced throughout the restaurant.
4. Hostinec Brewery – Hlavna 65
Said to be the oldest restaurant in Slovakia, this beer-house offers a taste of a variety of different beers including some home brews. Peckish? Dishes are tailored to suit your choice of drink. Established in 1542, you’d be mad to miss the chance to eat at the fifth oldest restaurant in the world.
5. Republika Vychodu – Hlavna 108/31
Poking fun at an inside joke between Slovakia’s two biggest cities, the ‘Republic of the East’ boasts interiors relating to the legacy and heritage of Kosice and its position within the country. Another great place to try traditional cuisine, the popular eatery also has vegan options and some of the best cheesecake in town.
1. Halmi Café – Hlavna 21
Decorated in rustic, vintage materials, this coffee shop takes a love of caffeine to a new level. With a barista bar made from stacks of books, bicycles hanging from the roof and an outside balcony decorated with granny sofas, this is the coffee shop of Instagram dreams. Also including a co-working space and performance room, there’s not a lot Halmi doesn’t offer.
2. Carpano – Hlavna 24/42
Serving some of the best homemade lemonade in the city, a seat at Carpano means front row tickets to unlimited views of the spellbinding St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral. The refreshing drink is available in an array of fruity flavours - you’ll be spoilt for choice.
3. Kino Usmev – Kasarenske namestie 1
This refurbished retro cinema is not just for movie-goers. It’s a great palce to stop for a drink too. The foyer of the old-school theatre is decked out in red and blue furniture and a long bar topped with a glowing pink neon sign. Take this chance to try some of the local creations such as Mellos Brothers lemonade and Opre Cider.
4. U Kohuta – Hrnciarska 950/23
Right in the centre of the city on Craft Lane, U Kohuta is offering up a smashing summer garden and some of the best beer in town. Settle into the historic surroundings, mingle with the locals and enjoy a nice cold one next to the old city walls.
The only place to stay when visiting Kosice is in a hotel that doesn’t exist. Yes, you heard right, The Invisible Hotel is five concept rooms scattered throughout the hotels in the city. Aiming to create an exclusive, non-tourist experience, the founders of the unique hotel highlight and promote local people, products, places and values through their room designs. Four themes spread across four different hotels each shine the spotlight on some aspect of the city’s history and heritage and make for a truly special stay that won’t be replicated anywhere else. Choose from Modernism at the Ambassador Hotel, Golden Treasure at Zlaty Dukat Hotel, Black and White Room at Congress Hotel Centrum, Media art room in Hotel Yasmin and Urban Flashbacks at Congress Hotel Roca. Check in and see for yourself what all the fuss is about – I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Visiting Kosice soon? Be sure to tag us in your photos of what to do in Kosice using the hashtag #ryanairstories and #visitkosice – you might even be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed.
Flights to Kosice from Southend
- Lucy Norris