In five weeks I am headed to Europe with a cart full of hotel reservations in Switzerland and Italy, but a strong desire to scrap the whole Italian/Swiss alps vacation I planned and head to Slovakia. Hard to imagine beer is 35% cheaper on average in northern Slovakia than Krakow, Poland where I was paying $3.75 USD for a one liter/34 oz mug a couple of weeks ago.
Kelley and I loved Krakow for its beauty, history, pubs and prices. Two of our planned excursions never happened on our too short a visit to Poland over six days. Auschwitz closed for most of our stay in Krakow just as the Catholic World Youth Day events were getting underway and Pope Francis came to Krakow the week following our visit. We recorded his visit to Auschwitz on DVR, so in a way we got to virtually visit the site. The other excursion I wanted to make from Krakow was a two hour trip to reach the High Tatra Mountains on the border of southern Poland and Slovakia. This area of northern Slovakia holds the highest peaks of the Carpathian Mountains in central Europe and the alpine scenery and ski resorts makes this region one of the most visited regions in Slovakia.
Mid-September is considered one of the best hiking seasons in these parts.
Tatra Mountains on the border of northern Slovakia and southern Poland.
A visit to the Tatra Mountains can also mean a new airline flight experience with Wizz Air flying nonstop between London Luton LTN and Poprad, Slovakia.
Wizz Air London Luton LTN – Tatra Mountains, Slovakia (Poprad) TAT
And I thought I would have to fly to Krakow and take a bus to get to the Tatra Mountains.
Hotels are Inexpensive in Slovakia
I had hoped there would be a good deal with IHG PointBreaks for Slovakia since there has been a hotel on the list for most of the past year in either Bratislava or Zilina, but nothing made the current IHG PointBreaks list covering September 2016 dates. There are a couple of Best Western hotels, but mostly no western brands outside of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and largest city, located in the southwest corner of the country on the Danube River.
Looks like Slovakia is a place to venture into independent hotels and small pensions.
With hotel rates this low, who needs points for Europe?
Pension guesthouse lodging looks to average between $30 and $40 per night.
Last September I traveled from Prague to Brno, Czech Republic and back on Student Agency buses. Loyalty Traveler – Student Agency cheap bus travel in and out of Czech Republic (Sep 11, 2015).
Google Maps mentioned Student Agency bus for travel from the Tatra to Bratislava in 4.5 hours. Rome2Rio shows a train ticket is $14 to $20 and 3.5 hours.
My ultimate destination is Salzburg, Austria where I need to catch my flight back to San Francisco after 12 nights in Europe. Thinking Tatra Mountains, Bratislava and Salzburg make a good budget vacation in a country I have yet to visit.
Let me know if you have recommendations for other places in Slovakia along the way between the Tatra Mountains and Bratislava.