While I was interrailing around Europe a couple of years ago, I had planned on visiting Kosice (Košice), but my plans changed and I never made it there. Instead, I went to Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city. I’m not sure what it was, but I just wasn’t overly impressed. I didn’t want to stay there for long, and I had no interest in returning.
Last year, I was going to travel around Poland, but I ended up heading into Slovakia. To cut a long story short, I had met up with a Polish woman from Krakow while we were both on our way to Zakopane. Zakopane is very close to the Slovakian border, with only the Tatra mountains separating them, and my new-found travel partner had never been to Slovakia and wanted to see what it was like. Since my only experience of Slovakia wasn”t a particularly positive one, and since I hadn’t made it to Kosice, I decided to accompany her.
Having checked out Poprad-Tatry first, which is a small Slovakian town near the Tatra mountains, we arrived at the bus station in Kosice, and made our way to the old town, which was an impressive start. Apparently, it’s the largest historic town in the country, and it was the European Capital of Culture in 2013. It was clean, the architecture was incredible from the off, and it seemed really… charming.
Kosice might be Slovakia’s second largest city, but it isn’t too big. It’s perfect to explore on foot. That’s one of the reasons why I prefer smaller cities. Kosice surprised me because I wasn’t expecting the abundance of interesting architecture, a homely (or homey, if you’re North American) atmosphere, and the number of great places on offer to eat and drink. The latter surprised and pleased me the most because I’m vegetarian, and it’s often hard to get good veggie food whilst travelling.
Nutritious and Delicious Food and Drink
I’m starting with food and drink because that’s the most important thing when it comes down to the basics in life. You have to eat and drink, and food is often the trickiest thing when you’re a vegetarian. However, I was well catered for in this small city. The first day I was there, I found a small cafe that served the best mint tea I’ve ever had. Granted, mint tea doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but this was incredible, as mint tea goes. It will be hard to top this.
One evening, while my travel partner and I were having a drink in the garden of the only hostel in Kosice, we got chatting to a final year medical student from Ireland. He gave us some insider information on what to see and experience. One of his suggestions was ice cream. I never have to be told twice about sampling ice cream, especially for research purposes. So, on the day I was leaving, I had an ice cream. It was nice, but I’m not sure it was the best I’ve ever tasted. Then again, I think it would take a lot to top the incredible gelato I’ve had in Italy.
There are two vegetarian restaurants: Govinda, which is run by Hare Krishna, and Little India, which is an Indian restaurant. I found Little India first and this was my response on social media:
I can’t believe it. I walked into this place & was instantly offered a vegetarian meal without having to ask. If only it was always so easy.
If only… I was excited because it’s never normally that easy.
Another day, I tried Govinda, which was harder to find. Once again, I got wholesome food. Govinda is only open in the day, so you’d have to go to Little India for an evening meal. There may be more veggie restaurants, but these are the only ones I came across and tried. I was very content once my belly was full of nutritious, delicious, veggie food.
From travelling, one thing I’ve discovered about myself is my love of beautiful architecture, and Kosice doesn’t disappoint on this front. It’s a feast of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. There really is something for everyone from the State Theatre to St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral, which is one of the easternmost Gothic cathedrals in Europe. I just wandered around the city, marvelling at all the buildings, and snapping away to my heart’s content. That’s the way I prefer to see a city, wandering about and discovering places in my own time.
As I wandered around, and while sitting down enjoying the relaxed nature of the city, I grew to truly enjoy it. I love water features, and I found two in Kosice. My favourite is the musical fountain, which is situated in the park between the State Theatre and St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral. It’s in a stunning location and the fountain is enchanting. I loved watching as the flow of water moved to the music. Unsurprisingly, this is a popular feature for both tourists and locals alike, and it seems to be the place to chill out for a while. This was definitely my favourite spot in Kosice.
If you’re only going to visit one city in Slovakia, I’d highly recommend Kosice. Here is where it is located:
As you can see it is close to the borders of Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary and has great national and international train and bus links.
Have your say
Have you been to Kosice? What were your favourite things?