I have to admit, I still can’t pronounce Košice even after I had visited the city.
Roughly sound like “Koh-shee-tseh”; “o” is pronounced as “go,” the “š” sounds like the “sh” in “she,” and the “c” is pronounced like “ts”.
When it comes to Slovakia, most travellers hit up the capital, Bratislava and think they have seen Slovakia. Even being the second-largest city in the country, Košice offers authentic European experience: quaint, local shops, stunning mix of architectural styles buildings and vibrant cultural scene to explore. I’m glad to have made this city a short stopover between my journey from Kraków to Budapest.
In and out of Košice
Košice International Airport (KSC) serves as the main airport for the region. Fortunately, major and low-budget airlines now connect Kosice with the rest of Europe!
Košice has excellent railway connections with other major cities in Slovakia and neighboring countries. The main train station, Košice Railway Station, is located near the city center and provides both domestic and international train services. It’s a convenient option for traveling to and from cities like Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
The Central Bus Station (Autobusová Stanica) is located just outside Košice old town, and just a quick walk from the city center. Various bus companies, such as Flixbus, provide regular services to destinations within Slovakia and beyond.
Getting around Košice
Košice’s city center is relatively compact and easily navigable. As you stroll through the city center, you’ll encounter historical landmarks, beautiful churches, and well-preserved buildings that offer insights into the city’s past. Take your time to admire the unique architecture and immerse yourself in the stories behind each site.
Hlavná ulica is the biggest Town Monument Reserve of Slovakia, located in the old town of Košice. The street, completely pedestrianized, stretches past most tourist attractions of the city.
This elaborate 14-metres Baroque-styled column is the “Plague Pillar” of Košice, serving as a significant historical landmark in the city. Erected in the 1720s, it was created as an expression of gratitude to Virgin Mary ending the plague epidemic that had spread through Europe.
Kaplnka sv. Michala
This 14th-century Gothic-styled cemetery chapel is dedicated to St. Michael, the patron saint of the dead. In the 17th century it held a special cultural significance as it was the only place of worship where prayers were conducted in Slavic language. These days it is a popular wedding chapel for Slovak couples as it has always been a Slovak church whereas the Cathedral next to it was German or Hungarian church.
Right at the front of the park around St Michael’s Chapel, you’ll find an an angel holding the Košice coat-of-arms in its hands. Granted in 1369 by King Louis I the Great of Hungary, Košice was the first town in Europe to get its very own coat of arms!
Dóm svätej Alžbety
Welcome to the largest church in Slovakia! Measuring 1,200 square-meters, St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral can hold a capacity of over 5,000 people. Dated back to 1230s, the Easternmost Gothic Cathedral is a prominent symbol of the city. You can even head up the 60-metres bell tower for a gorgeous view of Košice.
Right between the Cathedral and State Theatre is a little green oasis with a fountain filled with water jets. Every hour, the water jets “dances” to the sounds of music coming from speakers throughout the square. Additional experience is provided by the carillon playing next to the wind.
Walking from the central bus station to city centre, the very first building that attracted me was the Neo-Gothic Jakab’s Palace. With spiky green roofs, the palace reminded me of the castle I saw in Hong Kong’s Disneyland. Originally built in 1899 as a private house for Arpad Jakab, it later served as a residence for the president of the Czechoslovak Republic, Edvard Beneš. You might not be able to enter or tour this palace, but it’s still worth going to see on the outskirts of old town.
The Crafts Lane is possibly one of the most interesting attractions in Košice. The name “Hrnčiarska” comes from the Slovak word “hrnčiar,” which means “potter” in English. The street was historically home to numerous pottery workshops and artisans who created a wide range of pottery products. Today, local craft shops and bars line the charming cobblestone street. It’s great break from the traditional tourist sights to experience more of the local life and artistry.
Translated as the Lower Gate, it is one of the historical city gates in Košice. Today, Dolná brána houses the Museum of Urban History, which offers insights into the history and development of Košice. The museum showcases various artifacts, documents, and interactive displays, providing visitors with a glimpse into the city’s past.
Enjoy café scene
Being one of the oldest, Café Slávia isn’t the only great Café in Košice. In fact, the city is packed with cool places worth stopping by for a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.
Best part is, eating in Košice is extremely affordable. Unlike Western Europe, you can easily get a cup of coffee for €1 or €0.50 for ice cream! My hostel’s host recommended Med Malina as a great place to try traditional food in the city center. The restaurant is cozy, serving Slovak-Polish cuisine. They focus on slow food, local products and ancestral recipes. I had a traditional fried goat cheese and cucumber mint lemonade for a Summer’s evening.
How Long to Stay in Košice?
One can visit all of the above-mentioned places in one full day. You can easily make it a day trip or you can spend few days relaxing and soaking in its charm. If you planning to head out to Spiš Castle, you will need an extra day for that as well.
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!