Charming Košice is calling your name

By |2019-01-08T20:05:22+00:00January 4th, 2017|Culture, Destination, Europe, Slovakia, Urban|21 Comments

Košice, Slovakia

Today, I’m introducing you to Košice Slovakia (pronounced Ko-shi-tse), one of the most underrated cities and hidden gems in Europe. With a population of over 250,000, Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia, and in 2013 it was the European Capital of Culture. It’s fairly small and easy to get around, especially if you’re staying in the center near the pedestrian street, which I recommend. Here’s a list of 10 things to do in Kosice, Slovakia.

MORE SLOVAKIA TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND SLOVAKIAN PHRASES

Košice is one of the most underrated cities and hidden gems in Europe. It's the second largest city in Slovakia, and in 2013 it was the European Capital of Culture. It’s still fairly small and easy to get around though, especially if you’re staying in Košice center near the pedestrian street. Here's a list of all the amazing things to do in Kosice, Slovakia.

10 THINGS TO DO IN KOšICE, SLOVAKIA

As I walked down Hlavna street (the main pedestrian street), I passed dozens of colorful houses, city mansions, bustling cafes and stylish shops. It seemed like a busy city, although not at all crowded by tourists. As far as I could tell, I didn’t see a single tourist there. 

Košice is a beautiful city and it has a stunning mix of architectural styles, from Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque to Art Nouveau, Cubist and Classicist.

Košice, Slovakia

As I wandered through the streets I saw this raven figure on a mailbox and was later told that it’s the town’s landmark. I found this one across from Palais Jakab.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

1. THE PLAGUE PILLAR

Located right in the middle of Hlavna street is the so-called Plague Pillar, a 14 meters tall Baroque plague column. It was created in the 18th century as an expression of gratitude to Virgin Mary at its top for ending the plague epidemic from 1709 and 1710.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

2. HRNčIARSKA STREET

Hlavna street is home to many interesting buildings, but the most charming street in Košice is Hrnčiarska. This little alley has a craftsman shop, bakery, bars, metalworkers and more. It’s also home to the Executioner’s flat; the town’s former hangman, which reminded me of the Swedish Gate in Riga.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

3. ST. ELISABETH CATHEDRAL

Close by is St. Elisabeth Cathedral, the one thing you HAVE to see in Košice. Completed in the 16thcentury, it’s the biggest cathedral in Slovakia and the easternmost Gothic church in Europe.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

There’s also a bell tower if you’re interested in seeing Košice from above. It was closed when I got there so I just saw it from inside instead.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

The church bell

Standing next to the Cathedral is St. Urban’s Tower. It was erected in the 14th century and was originally a Gothic prismatic campanile with a pyramidal roof. On the ground there’s a church bell, which was dedicated to Saint Urban, the patron of vine-dressers.

Košice, Slovakia

St. Urban’s Tower to the right

4. ST. MICHAEL’S CHAPEL

To the south of the Cathedral of St Elizabeth is the 14th-century St. Michael’s Chapel. St. Michael is the patron saint of the dead, and the Gothic style chapel was built as a cemetery chapel inside the town walls.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

5. THE SINGING FOUNTAIN

Between the Cathedral and State Theatre is a little park with benches and a singing fountain and carillon that chimes every hour. It was a nice place to relax for a bit and wait for the sun to set.

Košice, Slovakia

6. THE STATE THEATRE

I walked to the other end of the singing fountain and found the State Theatre, which dates back to 1788. This Renaissance building is home to drama, ballet and opera.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

7. JAKAB’S PALACE

The very first thing I saw when I arrived in Košice was the Neo-Gothic Jakab’s Palace. It’s right next to the train station and I remember wondering what it was. After a little googling, I found out that it was built in 1899 as a private house but later served as the residence of the president of the Czechoslovak Republic, Edvard Beneš.

It kind of looks like a fairytale castle, don’t you think?

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

8. KULTURPARK AND STEELPARK

The last place I went in Košice was the Kulturpark, a group of former army barracks that has – under the European Capital of Culture project – been turned into a museum and cultural centre. It’s like a creative sector for contemporary culture and art like music, visual arts, literature, film, theatre and dance.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

9. KOšICE STREET ART

One of the things that struck me about Košice was the street art. And not just the colorful murals, but also sculptures, art installations and plaques. The city is almost like an urban arts exhibition.

Košice, Slovakia

Painted by a Chilean artist called INTI (“The Sun”) in a single day

Košice hasn’t always looked like this, but when it was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2013, it became a hotspot for wall art and attracted mural painters from Europe and Latin America. At first you don’t notice the murals, but the more you look, the more you’ll see.

Košice, Slovakia

By the way, did you know that Andy Warhol was Slovakian? He was born in the US, but his real name was Andrej Varchola and his parents were from Eastern Slovakia. To honor him, Košice city has placed a series of Andy Warhol style high-heel shoes around town. This is one of them ↓

Košice, Slovakia

Decorated in August 2012 by Helmut Bistika

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

10. COOL, ALTERNATIVE PLACES TO EAT IN KOšICE

During my time in Košice I was so lucky to be shown around by a local from the Tourism Board and she took me to some really fun, alternative places – places I would never have found had I been on my own.

Košice, Slovakia

The first place she brought me was the very hipster Tabačka Kulturfabrik. Tabačka is one of the cool hangouts in town, with a buzzy atmosphere, an industrial feel and laid-back vibe. If you’re up for a Pilsner Urquell (around 1.50 euros), the local Opre’ cider, or events like music, movies, workshops or presentations (which happens most days) this is the place to go.

Košice, Slovakia

Local Opre’ pear cider

Košice, Slovakia

Another alternative hangout is Republika Východu, a cafe with local dialect signs and menus that sound funny and describe locals’ characteristics. You might need to be local to get the humor, but they have their own laws, manifesto and constitution. You get the drill.

I just had a soft drink, but there were healthy, gluten-free and vegan options, craft beer and desserts. Plus, they had an English menu as well.

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

Košice, Slovakia

WHERE TO STAY IN KOSICE

City Residence – I stayed at this wonderful apartment hotel and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s in the city center, the food is fresh and service is beyond amazing. Click here to see the latest prices.

DAY TRIPS FROM KOšICE

Košice is not just a great weekend destination, it’s also a practical base for visiting nearby attractions. Closest by is the towering Spis castle (1,30 minutes) or hiking in the High Tatras mountains (1,50 minutes). You could also visit one of the 9 national parks, like Slovak Paradise National Park (1,25 minutes). Trains are pretty frequent, check timetables here.

High Tatras, Slovakia

From my day trip to High Tatras

A thousand thanks to Visit Kosice for hosting me and to Nika for showing me around Košice. I was a guest, but all opinions are my own as always.

Do you like Košice? Would you visit?

Related Posts

21 Comments

  1. Osamuyi Okpame January 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    It is indeed a beautiful city as I can see from here

    • Miriam January 4, 2017 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      It’s very beautiful, not to mention underrated. And everything is so cheap!

  2. Csaba & Bea January 5, 2017 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Oh we wanted to visit Kosice last year on several weekends but somehow we always ended up hiking in the Tatras. 😀 But we can’t wait for spring to finally visit it!

    • Miriam January 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      If it’s any consolation, I would also choose High Tatras when in Slovakia 🙂 That place is simply amazing, although Kosice is worth a visit too. I hope you get to see it sometime, and let me know if you need a contact for a hotel. I stayed at the most amazing place when I was there!

  3. Leigh | Campfires & Concierges January 9, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    So colorful – especially nice to see while I’m in the midst of a very gray winter 🙂

    • Miriam January 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm - Reply

      Oh yeah, I could use some more sunshine and blue skies, too 😉 Hopefully winter won’t last too long.

  4. Majka April 17, 2017 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Hi, i travel to Košice almost every day (because school), but I was surprised when I read your article. From the perspective of a tourist town looks so interesting … I wish I saw Košice for the first time in my life again

    • Miriam April 19, 2017 at 11:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Majka! I bet if you go to Košice and try to see it as a tourist, you will experience it from a new perspective. Bring your camera (or take photos with your phone), visit the landmarks and go to a new restaurant or cafe. I try to do this in my own country too and it’s really fun 🙂

  5. Ramya June 13, 2017 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    How did you get to the High Tatras for hiking from Kosice? Any hikes you would recommend?

  6. Yuliia April 11, 2018 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Hey guys, thank you for the article. Please let us know how is the car parking arranged there, if you happen to know of?

    Kind Regards,
    Yuliia

    • Natalia April 12, 2018 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Yuliia, you can find parking spots on the streets of the centre or you can park in the underground parking lot of Aupark shopping mall, which is also right in the centre. They are all paid though.

      • Miriam April 21, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

        Thanks for pitching in, Natalia!

  7. Gabrielle Crystal RoseBonniee April 20, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Yaay thank you very much for such a pretty article about my home city! ♥
    Regards from Košice :)))

    • Miriam April 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you liked my write-up, Gabrielle! I love Košice ♥

  8. Julius @ Govisity April 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Nice to read about my hometown… although Slovakia has several UNESCO towns, such as Levoča, Bardejov or Banská Štiavnica, I think that Košice is the most beautiful one of all cities in the country! And it is always good to arrange a visit with some tour operator, especially with Visit Košice official one 🙂 You can get lots of interesting information about the city. I also had an opportunity to have a short tour with them and even I learnt a lot I didn’t know.

    Another great tip for a day trip from Kosice is the closest national park – Slovak Karst National Park (30 minutes) with thousands of caves and some of them opened for public!

    • Miriam July 5, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Oh, thanks for the tip on Slovak Karst – I will definitely keep that in mind! It’s always great to get tips from an insider 🙂

  9. Odd lennart lien September 3, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Dear Miriam from Denmark
    Is it possible to write to my Emailoddlien@live.no
    I come from norway and i am a traveller to
    Done trips now for 26 years and two years ago i was in Bratislava in Slovakia and i just looooved it
    Me and my friend from scotland did also a lot around and cover that side of Slovakia since we stayed there for 15 days so yes also travel by bus or train and also hire a car with a Local driver for excursion
    This year we was in Budapest
    But back to why i write to You Miriam
    The plan next year is to visit and stay in Kosice and i just loved what You wrote
    But there is some qvestion i want to Ask so would be Nice if You Could help
    Would be Nice if You Could my Email are oddlien@live.no
    My name is Odd Lennart lien and i come from norway
    Greetings from me to you

  10. Anonymous December 17, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    I am from Slovakia, Slovakia is beautiful cuntry 😀

Leave A Comment