Visit Košice – Top 62 things to do in Košice, the most beautiful city in Slovakia
Visit Košice – the most beautiful city in Slovakia! Here is the ultimate list of Things to do in Košice! When it comes to city breaks in Europe, a majority of the travellers prefer typical local atmosphere against overcrowded streets that are full of other hungry tourists. Not only this allows them to enjoy the city and its sights much better, but they can also see and learn a little bit more about the typical life of its residents.
And one such city that offers a pure local atmosphere, and yet it is full of sights and great monuments, arts and renowned events, can be found in Slovakia. Well, there are perhaps more such cities in Slovakia, but this one is unique, as it is the most beautiful city in Slovakia! Visit Košice!
Being located in eastern part of the country, Košice is the metropolis of Eastern Slovakia. With 250,000 residents it is the 2nd largest city in Slovakia and boasts the longest pedestrian promenade in the country as well as the largest area of historical urban architecture.
Being European capital of culture in 2013, Košice was awarded another great title – the European City of Sport in 2016. If you are still unsure about visiting this city, read further below about the Top reasons to visit Košice. This is the ultimate Košice travel guide made by someone who was born and has lived in Košice for 30 years (that’s me :)).
Things to do in Košice – Visit Košice and the City’s Top Sights
1. St Elisabeth Cathedral
The largest church in Slovakia and a major landmark of Košice is none other than St Elisabeth Cathedral. This Gothic jewel was built between the 14th and 15th centuries as the easternmost Gothic cathedral in Europe.
There is still nothing else in the city that could beat it! You can climb up to its tower which offers great views of the city center as well as of its surroundings.
2. St Michael Chapel
Standing next to the Cathedral, St. Michael Chapel belongs to 3 major Gothic buildings in Košice’s city center. It was built in the 14th century on a place of the former cemetery. If you are looking for some unique place to have your wedding in, this place is one of the best choices in Košice.
3. St Urban’s Tower
The 3rd of 3 major Gothic buildings is St. Urban’s Tower standing next to the Cathedral. Built in the 14th century, the tower is the 2nd oldest building in Košice, which served as a belfry. Later it served as a museum, unique pub, or a Wax Museum.
4. City Coat-of-Arms
Košice is the first city in the world to obtain Coat-of-Arms. It was already in 1369 and demonstrates the importance of this city within the Kingdom of Hungary and the cultural maturity of medieval Europe. You can see it just behind the Lower gate in the park at the statue of an angel.
5. State Theatre
State Theatre is a great venue for those looking for some interesting performance in the historical building. Located right in the middle of Hlavna street, this Renaissance building is a great monument to enhance your travel experience once you visit Košice.
But a historic building is not the only theatre in Košice. State theatre has two sites where you can enjoy performances. It is called Malá scéna and you will find it also in Hlavná street, not far from Immaculata (Plague Column). Even this building is representative!
6. Old Town Hall
Just next to the State theater is the Old Town Hall, the Classicist building with the late baroque elements. It was built in the late 18th century and represents the richness and importance of Košice during that time.
7. Immaculata (Plague Column)
Immaculata is the 14 meters tall plague column created in the 18th century as an expression of gratitude for averting the plague, war, and famine. At its peak, you can see a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, and on the sides statues of Joseph, Sebastian, and Ladislav.
8. Beggar’s House
It is said that once there was a beggar in Košice and he was so successful that for the money he was given he built a house right in the city center. Although this is not true as it was just a house of successful merchant. Anyway, this building is now one of the most charming buildings in the city and worth to stop by for a while.
9. The University Church
Beautiful building of The University Church is another baroque jewel that you can find in the city center. Located next to the State Theater it is one of the sights you simply must enter to enjoy its baroque beauty. This is where I had my wedding, by the way. 🙂
10. Hrnčiarska street
Once you are around Mikluš prison and Rodošto you have to walk through one of the most beautiful streets in Košice, Hrnčiarska street. Here you’ll find the Craftsman shop such as bakery, bag and shoe makers, metalworkers and others. So if you need to get something fixed, then visit this street! BTW, I lived on this street up to my first birthday! 🙂
11. Jakab’s Palace
If you come to Košice by train and then walk from the station to the city center (which is just a few minutes away), the first monumental palace you will find on the way is neogothic Jakab’s Palace. It was built in 1899 as a private house but later served even as the seat of the President of Czechoslovakia – Edvard Beneš.
12. Levočský dom
Levočský dom is one of the best preserved medieval secular buildings in the city. It housed the oldest known tavern in Slovakia established by the city of Košice already in 1569. You can still taste some delicious and typical Slovak meals here in the restaurant.
13. The seat of the Košice Self-governing Region
It is impossible to overlook the huge building situated opposite to the East – Slovakian Museum. This building was built in 1906-1908 for the Army as the largest building in Košice at that time. Now it is used as the seat of the Košice Self-governing Region.
14. Orthodox synagogue and Jewish school
Even Jewish community was significant in Kosice. There were about 11,500 Jewish living in the city, which was 16,4% of the total city population. Orthodox synagogue and Jewish school were built at the end of 30’s in the 20th century. As all synagogues in Europe, even this one suffered a horrible history.
On the interior walls of the synagogue are written messages of the Jews who were collecting there before being transported to concentration camps.
15. Synagogue at Zvonárska street
The oldest preserved synagogue in Košice, however, stands one street away from an Orthodox synagogue and a Jewish school. You will find it well hidden in Zvonárska street where it was built back in 1883 and represents a beautiful example of a Moorish style.
Its main facade can be seen from the street, but if you wish to see it from inside (which I hardly recommend) you will need to contact The Jewish community of Košice by email or phone and arrange your visit (I can help you if you wish). Find contact and more information about the story of the Jewish Community of Košice on their website: http://www.kehilakosice.sk/en/zno-kosice/kontakt/.
16. Carpano – café with the longest tradition in Košice
Carpano is a café with the longest tradition in Košice. It is a charming place in the heart of historic city centre, well known among all citizens. In the past it was one of the first Italian restaurants in former Czechoslovakia; named after Benedetto Carpan, the discoverer of Vermouth.
17. Dominican Church
It would be a mistake not to mention the oldest church of the city, Dominican Church, which is also the oldest preserved building in Košice at all (end of the 13th century). Its tower is even 8 meters taller than the one of St. Elisabeth Cathedral and therefore it is also the highest historical building in Košice.
You will find it in Dominikánske square along with other interesting attractions around (mentioned below).
18. Well in Dominikánske square
In Dominikánske square, right in front of the main door to Dominican church, you can find one of the oldest wells in Košice. Although it’s construction was not dated, it’s assumed that the well was in use since 1781.
There is a well-known daily local market around the well and in Dominikanske square where you can buy products directly from local people but also from abroad.
19. Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Košice
Do you like classical music? No problem when in Košice. The city boasts Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, established already in 1968. Maybe you’ve already seen them in any other city or country. They are usually performing at major international music festivals and important cultural centres in Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Antwerp, Lisbon, Barcelona, Athens, but also USA and Asia.
You can see and hear them at The House of Arts, originally a Synagogue from the first half of the 20th century.
20. Julius Jakoby’s statue
Opposite to the main door to Kosice Cathedral (on Alžbetina street) you can find a sculpture of an old walking man. It is no other than famous Slovak painter Július Jakoby. The statue became quite popular among tourists and they usually take some selfies with this man.
Museums and galleries in Košice
21. East – Slovakian Museum
East – Slovakian Museum in Košice is one of the oldest and most important museums in Slovakia. The museum currently manages more than 500,000 objects which are presented to the visitors in 9 permanent thematic exhibitions. Košice Gold Treasure is one of its main attractions.
22. Greek Catholic Wooden church at East – Slovakian Museum’s yard
Once you visit East – Slovakian Museum you will have an opportunity to visit also the Greek Catholic wooden church, located in the museum’s yard. The church was moved here from Kožuchovce village (district of Svidník) in 1927, while it was built already in 1741.
There are lots of such wooden churches in eastern Slovakia, and they are still in use.
23. Mikluš Prison
Mikluš Prison was founded at the beginning of the 17th century and served as a prison and Torture Chamber. Now you can visit this building as a museum, where you can see what tools they used to get people to tell the truth. Would you give them a try? 🙂
24. The Executioner’s Bastion and Rodošto
One of the best places to observe the medieval city walls of Košice is the Executioner’s Bastion. Its courtyard is dominated by an oriental building – a replica of the Turkish house, which was a home to the last leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs – Francis II Rákóczi.
25. Lower gate (Dolná brána)
During the reconstruction works of the Hlavná street (Main Pedestrian street in Košice) in 1995, the remains of the city walls were found below the street surface. Now it is a unique archeological underground museum that is known as the Lower gate.
26. Museum of Aviation
If you wish to learn something about the aviation development then you must visit Košice and its Museum of Aviation. Situated at the airport, this museum offers a great collection of rare original aircraft from European countries, USA, and China, which makes it unique not only in Slovakia but also in Europe. If you travel to Košice by plane, then you can start the tour right away. 🙂
27. Slovak Technical Museum
Slovak Technical Museum is a unique museum in Košice with lots of expositions mapping metallurgy, engineering, artistic blacksmith, development of geodetic techniques and cartography or typewriting.
It also includes Energy Department of Aurel Stodola and Hall of electric shock. Your kids will definitely enjoy even its planetarium. Even mentioned Museum of Aviation is the part of Slovak Technical Museum.
28. East Slovak Gallery
There are few more galleries in Košice, though, the most famous gallery is that of the East Slovak Gallery located in Hlavná street. If you want to see how art in the eastern Slovakia looked like in the past or today you must visit East Slovak Gallery.
Visit Košice and its Amazing parks, Gardens and Forests
There are 3 small parks located right in the city center that offer great relax during the sightseeing tour. All of them boasts nice fountains and great views of the magnificent sights.
29. Park with singing fountain and carillon
Park with singing fountain and carillon that bells every hour are in the middle of Pedestrian zone, between Cathedral and State Theatre and is the most popular one. Sit here on the bench and rest for a minute while listening to the music and falling water.
30. Park at Lower Gate
Another park is on the other side of Cathedral, where St. Michael Chapel is situated. This part is known as the Lower Gate (Malá brána), which I have already mentioned above. There is also a nice fountain, lots of benches, trees, and flowers. It is a quiet place suitable for reading a book.
31. Park with a Fountain with Zodiac signs
The 3rd park on Hlavná street is located behind the State Theater. In its middle, there is a nice fountain with Zodiac signs and fish floating in the water. The park is most beautiful during the spring and summer months when the flowers are in full blossom.
32. Botanical garden
Even the largest Botanical garden of Slovakia has its home in the city of Košice. In the area of 30 hectares, you can see up to 4,000 species of fauna. Mini-zoo and playground will certainly be useful if you are visiting Košice with your kids.
The best time to visit this garden is during its favourite exhibition of Butterflies from tropical countries organized every year here.
33. City Park
City Park was once quite a dark place in Košice, but it has recently been well renovated and now serves all the people including children as a great playground and picnic place with the lake, old trees, flowers and interesting fountain. Located near the busy railway station the park is passed by a lot of people during the day.
34. Hradová hill and view tower
Košice is located in the valley and is surrounded by several hills from where you can see the city from above. One of the best places to go for it is the View-tower on the hill Hradová. More than 20 meters high tower allows you to see the city along with the green nature around.
Once here do not miss a visit to a nearby watching terrace, replica of the castle as well as the short walking trail with wooden animals which is a guarantee of nice adventure for the kids.
35. Čermeľ forest and Alpinka recreational area with Children’s Railway
If you spend some more time in Košice and you wish to explore also some of the best natural places in the city, then taking a hiking tour in Čermeľ forest is something you must try. There are several hiking trails in this forest, but perhaps the most popular and beautiful one is a blue coloured leading from Čermeľ to Alpinka.
A pleasant one-hour walk takes you through the great forests along Čermeľ stream up to Alpinka recreational area, where is a large playground for kids, rope-park, golf resort, and more attractions not only for kids but for the whole family.
And at the end of the day, you can get back to the city by a small steam train known here as Children’s Railway. The locomotive was made in 1884 in Germany and its name is Katka.
36. Park with manor house in Barca
Another large and well-maintained park in Košice is the one located in the district called Barca. There is a large playground for children, ponds with lots of ducks, swans, and other animals. There are several events organized in here during the summer months.
37. Anička recreational area with boating
Situated not far from the city centre, Anička has been a great place to relax for years. Whether you are looking for some Children’s park, carousels, the place for a picnic or games, outdoor swimming pool, boating, Vax museum or other amusement, Anička recreational area will not disappoint your expectations!
38. Furčiansky lesopark (Furča forest)
There are many forests that surround Košice, which you can choose for your relaxing day. As we have just returned from Furčiansky lesopark I have to include it on this list! If you really want to see where the majority of kids (including me) who live in Furča suburb spend their childhood, then you should visit Furča forest.
There is a roller ski trail across the forest so you can take a roller ski, bike or even stroller with you. But you can also choose a different trail for your trip. There are many of them!
39. Košice Public Cemetery
This can sound a little strange, but another amazing park is the one that fills Košice Public Cemetery. With its area of 350,000 square meters and 40,000 graves, this cemetery is the largest one in Slovakia.
There are lots of trees and walking paths in the cemetery and if you are looking for a quiet place this comes in handy! Once here do not forget to visit even old Jewish cemetery that can be found in this area.
40. Chata Hrešná (cottage) with horse riding
Chata Hrešná was built on a hill above Košice Kavečany in 1983-1986 at an elevation of 597 meters above sea level. The cottage is built on the major hiking trail leading through the whole of Slovakia. The name of red hiking trail is Cesta hrdinov SNP/Way of Heroes SNP (Slovak national uprising) and it is 750 kilometers long (Map: https://mapy.hiking.sk/?katalog=8).
Here you can take some horse riding lessons through the forests and also enjoy breathtaking views of Kosice and surrounding hills.
Fun and entertainment in Košice
41. Zoo Košice and DinoPark
There are four Zoological gardens in Slovakia and the largest one is located in Košice. Founded in 1979, ZOO Košice is now visited by more than 170,000 visitors every year. Since 2013 it has also become a home to a popular DinoPark with moving Dinosaurs.
Find more information about this attraction at http://kosice.dinopark.sk/en/
42. Summer Bobsleigh Track
Right next to the ZOO is another great attraction – Bobsleigh Track. Designed not only for children but also for adults, this attraction brings you and your family much more fun and adventure you can even expect. But be careful, there is a break you have to use, otherwise, the adventure can end up with some broken arms, or legs.
43. Water-skiing, swimming and relaxing in Jazero recreational area
Do you need some more adventure? There is a Trixen company in Košice that now manages Water-skiing attraction in the district of Jazero. You need nothing just courage to try this. The equipment such as ski, jackets, wakeboards or wetsuits is included in a ticket price.
And if you visit Košice in winter, you can try how is it like swimming in the freezing waters of the lake. The ice is uncovered and prepared for those who like such kind of relaxation. And right after swimming, you can play a hockey here.
44. Ski resorts
Once you visit Košice in winter, then do not forget to pack your ski with you. Košice offers great skiing opportunity in Jahodná ski resort. However, there are more ski resorts in the mountains around the city, such as Košice-Kavečany or Zlatá Idka.
45. Dressage arena
If you like horses and want to enhance your city experience with some additional adventure then visiting dressage arena will be on your itinerary. It is good to plan your visit in Košice during some dressage competition, which is several throughout the year.
46. Kino Úsmev cinema
Have you ever seen famous Sicilian movie Cinema Paradiso? Well, this is not Sicily, though, but Kino Úsmev in Košice is a cinema which also remembers lots of stories and lives. It is the oldest cinema in the city and its history dates back to the year of 1929.
It was closed and then fortunately reopened several times but survived as the only one from all old cinemas in the city. You can still see some old but good movies here!
Visit Košice during its Best Events
47. Košice Peace Marathon
Maybe you have already heard something about the oldest marathon in Europe. If not, then you have probably heard something about the 2nd oldest marathon in the world. Although Košice Peace Marathon cannot beat its older competitor in Boston in terms of size nor in terms of its age, it is still the major international event in Košice.
Started in 1924 by only 8 brave runners this event has become so popular over the years that in 2015 there were already 11,000 sports enthusiasts running a marathon. This event takes place on the first Sunday in October every single year.
48. Baloon Fiesta
When the month of June is finally here, all the city residents are waiting for an amazing event to come into Košice to decorate sky over the city. Baloon Fiesta was first established in 1993 and immediately became one of the best events in the city.
You can also buy fly tickets from organizator and enjoy the view of the city from bird’s eye perspective.
49. Košice City Days
Košice has also its own celebration called Košice City Days. Every year the residents celebrate a day when the King of Hungary Louis the Great granted an armorial warrant to a city as the first time ever in European history (7 May 1369). The celebration starts on 30 April and lasts usually for 10 days during which the city is full of exciting events.
50. White Night
Another attraction you would probably not want to miss is the White Night event – a prestigious international art festival founded in Paris back in 2002. It has been a major October event in Košice every year since 2010. You will find really a lot of people in the streets
51. Dancing Karička
Do you like folk dances? The East Slovak dance known as Karička is originally a girls’ dance, accompanied by their singing. It represents the beauty of the colors of the Zemplín region through their beautiful costumes. You can become a part of this dance every year in June on Hlavna street in Kosice city center.
52. Rušňoparáda – Festival of trains
If you like trains then you should plan your visit to Košice in April when the city holds a festival of trains known locally as Rušňoparáda (Train parade). You will find here lots of old and new locomotives and learn something more about railways in Slovakia. It is organized once a year during one weekend in April.
53. Bricklandia – LEGO exhibition
If you are coming to Košice with kids, it is good to know that there is a LEGO exhibition where you can see several amazing structures made of 100,000 LEGO bricks, such as cars, ships, trains, buildings and many more.
Bricklandia in Košice lasts until the end of April 2018 and the family ticket costs 5,-EUR. The kids can also play with LEGO bricks and create anything they wish. It is situated in Hlavna street 48, in the city center, just next to a singing fountain and State theater.
What else to do and see in Košice
54. Try the biggest shoe you have ever seen!
If you are a shoe lover then come to Alžbetina street (a street that leads to the main Cathedral door). Somewhere in the middle of the street, you’ll find a big painted high heel shoe! It’s in the style of Andy Warhol to honour the artist, whose parents were born in eastern Slovakia and emigrated to the USA.
You can’t miss it, it’s next to the big shoe! The first photo point in Slovakia is nowhere else than in Kosice! So if you are looking for some great selfies for your Facebook or Instagram profile, this is it! Dzivoke means Perfect in east Slovakian slang (often used in Kosice), while the last two letters KE is an abbreviation of Košice.
56. Bonus: Strange sight in the middle of the old town
Well, I nearly forgot to include one sight on this list. You will find it right in the middle of the old town, next to the State Theater. It is strange and you will not find it in any city guide. So it is really hard to find out what this monument means.
It is too small for Heliport… Maybe it is just some kind of modern art which I don’t really understand. What do you think it could be? (You’ll find an answer in the photo gallery. :)).
Swimming pools in Košice
57. Indoor swimming pool (Krytá plaváreň)
Indoor swimming pool (Krytá plaváreň) is a place where first-class water polo players train, or where lots of Košice’s residents spend their active evenings. It offers large 50 meters long and 25 meters wide swimming pool and one half-size pool as well.
Indoor swimming pool (Kryta plavaren), Kosice, Slovakia in very bad conditions (from July 2016). Although the water should be fine and is regularly controlled by independent authorities and swimming here is really very relaxing, you must close both your eyes before entering this pool. The swimming pool is managed by Košice city itself (European city of sport 2016). Could such a swimming pool be still opened in any other country in Europe? I am sharing this picture so that you are not surprised if you want to spend some days in Košice actively and to force European city of sport 2016 to make some reconstructions. Photos by Pavol Titurus.
58. Mestská plaváreň
The city swimming pool known here as Mestská plaváreň is located right in the city center, next to the city park. It is very popular during the hot summer days and can be really overcrowded. While it is close to train and bus stations it is good for the travelers as well.
59. Červená hviezda
The oldest swimming pool in Košice, now a national cultural monument, called Červená hviezda (Red Star) was firstly open in 1936. Although it was closed for the last 8 years, it was well renovated and open to the public again this month (July 2016).
Triton is a summer swimming pool and it is one of the most beautiful pools in Košice. It offers three pools. One for adults, suitable for swimming, one for relaxing, and one with a wooden slide for children. There is also the four-lane water slide which is the only one in Košice.
61. Ryba swimming pool
The last swimming pool on this list is Ryba – Anička summer swimming pool located not far from the city center. You can find it in a recreational area known here as Anička (already mentioned above). There are three pools, popular restaurant, you can also rent a boat and use several other attractions.
Shopping in Košice
62. Local market in Dominikanske square
Well, Košice has really plenty of shops all around the city, with several directly in a city centre, such as Aupark or Tesco shopping malls. Although these really offers everything you want to buy in Košice, there are a few different ones you will really want to visit!
They are spread around the city but one of them is located in Dominikánske square, just a few steps from Hlavná street. It’s a local market that is opened every day (best in the morning hours) and offers everything that local people made. You will really like it here!
How to get to Košice?
Košice has an international airport situated not far from the city. There are cheap direct connections with London (Luton), Doncaster Sheffield and Bristol airports via Wizzair.
Although the airport is serviced by the public transport system, the bus runs here only once per hour during the week and only once per two hours in the weekends. So you will probably want to take a taxi, which is not expensive here.
If you need to move within Košice city, the taxi usually drives for one price, which is 3,-EUR (from one place in Košice to another) and can take up to 4 people (price is for a ride, not for a person :)). If you need to go outside of Košice you will be charged 0,5EUR/1km. These are the conditions of EasyTaxi which I usually use. You can give them a call once you land in the airport. Telephone number is +421 919 333 333.
So these were the reasons why you should visit Košice. It is definitely the most beautiful city in Slovakia and offers plenty of sights and things to do. Have you already been there? What did you like the most or did you have any negative experience? Tell us below in the comments.
What to visit around Košice – Day trips from Košice
There are a lot of things to do in Košice, but you may also wish to explore its surrounding which is very nice and worth visiting as well. Being a home to two national parks, amazing caves, mountains, forests, waterfalls, canyons and gorges you will hardly get bored here.
You can check these tips in my another article Košice region things to do, where you’ll find such great tips as Jasov cave and the village, Prielom Hornádu canyon, Hájske waterfalls, Zadielska gorge, Veľký Sokol gorge. And if you’ll still have some free time, then check adjacent Prešov region which is a home to 3 national parks and additional great places.
Suchá Belá gorge, Slovak Paradise National Park, Slovakia
All pictures were taken by me (if not stated differently)!
If you liked Košice then you will also like the rest of Slovakia. It is small but beautiful country in the middle of Europe that waits for you to explore its nature and history. Do not miss these Top places to visit in Slovakia, Slovak National Parks or Slovak Caves!
Two faces of Košice – two faces of Slovakia
As I already mentioned here, Slovakia is full of garbage that you can see all around (in the rivers, in the forests, in the cities, at the hiking or cycling trails, whenever you go…). And Košice is not an exception. I call it “two faces of Slovakia” and this time, it is “two faces of Košice.”