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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Banska Stiavnica | Off the Tourist Path

As we continued south through Slovakia toward Budapest, we came across this unique town of Banska Stiavnica, which is an UNESCO World Heritage City. Not only did this town have historical relevance in Slovakia and it is a perfectly preserved Medieval Town, but it was actually built on an extinct volcano (which has collapsed to form a caldera where the town now sits). We just had a day to spend there, but depending on how many sites you want to see you could probably fill 1-2 days worth. However, during that day we didn't really spend it as most tourists would - instead, we decided to make it a day for the kids as we explored.

Banska Stiavnica - Preserved Medieval Town in Slovakia

Accommodation & Getting Around

While we were looking for accommodation about a week out, we did have a hard time trying to find accommodation within Banska Stiavnica that would fit our budget, which is about $75-100/night. However, we found a basement suite in a town called Pukanec about 24 km away that we stayed at for 2 nights. Therefore, we just drove from there to Banska to enjoy it for the day; but if biking is your thing there is a bike pathway that connects the two towns as well. However, the roads there ended up being some of the curviest roads we have ever been on and Connor (who has gotten car sick in 5 different countries over his life span) started to not feel well. We had to pull over twice on route to let him out to help him reacclimate. Some how we dodged the bullet and tried to find a less windy route on the way back, but it proved to be pretty curvy as well.

Upon arriving in the town be prepared to park and walk. There are some parking lots at the top of the hill before heading into the Old Town or if you drive through the Old Town, you’ll find some parking lots at the bottom as well, that you can either pay an hourly or daily rate. However, regardless which parking lot you choose there will be a little bit of walking uphill (either at the beginning or the end of the day depending on where you park). We did take the stroller with us, which proved to be a pretty good idea to alternate giving them rides up hills.

Historical & Mineral Rich Banska Stiavnica

Banska Stiavnica was a mining town as early as the 13th Century (but likely even earlier) that had come across minerals such as gold and silver due to the volcanic activity in the area. Therefore, a large focus of the activities and things to do in Banska Stiavnica are centered around mining activities. There is a mining museum in the center of town and the different mines have different regulations about who can go down them. The Glanzenberg Mining Tunnel in the centre of town had a sign up saying it doesn't allow children under 6 years old to go down in it.

To be honest, we came a bit unprepared and didn’t have any warm clothes with us and as we started to find out more about the different cave tours, we found out they can be quite chilly – around 10-12C. Some of the tours provide jackets and helmets, but after the kids weren’t too crazy with the ice cave the previous day, we decided not to push our luck. It sounds like the Open Air Mining Museum, which is about 1.5 km outside of town, is one of the more popular mines to visit and does allow children, but best to do your research ahead of time.

To still fit in our mining experience in the 'Mine Town' we went to visit the Michal Mine right next to the Visitor Information Centre near the town centre of Trinity Square, there is a small mine you can enter for .50 Euro. It is pretty short and sweet – took us about 5 minutes to walk through at a very SLOW pace - but it showed what it would look like to work in the mines and there was a mine cart you could check out.

Stolna Michal (Mine) located near Visitor Information Centre near Trinity Square. Short & Cheap Version.

However, if you’re really interested in the mining portion, I would definitely check out one of the other tours around the town, as I have read they are much more detailed, have a guide and I believe interactive - like carrying a lantern down into the mine.

There are also a couple of other historical sites including the Old & New Castles and the Calvary on the top of Scharfenberg hill, which would offer incredible viewpoints.

Old Castle - Banska Stiavnica

I had also read about how the canals created for mining were now available to swim in, but we had a hard time finding the location of it. However, in looking up some things for this post I ended up finding that the Tajchy (artificial reservoirs) are just a 15 minute walk from Trinity Square. The closest looks to be called Veľká vodárenská tajch.

Terra Permonia

As we were looking on Google maps, we came across this Children’s Centre where kids could participate in all types of hands-on learning. It was only 5 Euro to get in to make unlimited projects and stay for an unlimited amount of time. There were opportunities to cut soft wooden and Styrofoam shapes, drill, stamp with a hammer, paint and cut out different paper shapes with a stencil. They also had a couple of other rooms where you could experiment with light and watch a model train. The kids kept busy the entire 3 hours we were there, and didn’t want to leave when we finally had to go. It may not be the top place to visit in Banska Stiavnica for the typical visitor, but it was the type of break and activity that the kids needed.

Banska Stiavnica proved to be an interesting place to stop and break up the drive from Slovensky Raj to Budapest. However, I think if you want to do Banska Stiavnica properly then you probably need to include more of the other historical sites. However, this was our non-tourist way of seeing the town.


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