Košice

Košice (pronounced Ko-shi-tse) is the second largest city in Slovakia, with a population of over 250,000. It has been selected the European Capital of Culture for the year of 2013 (along with Marseille).

St Elizabeth's Cathedral (Dóm sv.Alžbety)

Understand

Košice has had a colourful history with its ever changing medieval and modern rulers of Hungarians, these days hardly imaginable Turks for a while, Czechs and nowadays Slovaks. Serving its part as a center of what may best be described as a frontier of Slovak hill country, Hungarian lowlands and Ukrainian/Russian/Soviet East, it has become a predominantly Slovak city in what was then Czechoslovakia after its emergence in chaos of reconciliations after the First World War. Until these days the city is inhabited by descendants of east Slovak dwellers with many relations in the gorgeous rural surroundings of the city who were flocking to the town during its industrial boom after the WW2 and a large Hungarian speaking minority along with its fast growing underprivileged and often resented population of Gypsies (or Romas as is their official naming). A smart, patient and crying with the wolves traveller may find the city suffer from what may best be described as a small man syndrome, a feeling shared by many locals probably best attributed to being the second city in Slovakia and a place not often visited from elsewhere. This may however help in engaging with many residents who may seem to be one of those lovely people who actually enjoy foreigners visiting their place. The city prides on being known as "The City of Peace" thanks to non-violent ethnic and national tolerance throughout its history. Despite its relative remoteness, you may likely find Košice a hidden, unknown and approachable gem when seeking for a lesson in less known European history, lively arts scene or for a less spiritual entertainment thanks to its vibrant party scene.

History

The area around Košice has been inhabited since the 8th century, but it was in the 13th century that it developed into a town. It grew relatively rich during the Middle Ages due to its strategic position as a trading center. Having briefly served as the capital of the liberated Czechoslovakia after World War II, it is now finding its new role as one of the easternmost centers of the new European Union. It provides a look into the not-that-long-gone way of living in an eastern European country while also serving as a lovely example of a booming and rapidly changing place with rich ancient history best served by its stunning historic city center, with an impressive cathedral quickening the hear-beat of every picture hunting traveller.

Climate

Košice has a continental climate with hot and relatively humid summers and cold winters. Summer (July–August) temperatures may rise up to 30+ degrees Celsius with stretches of rainy weeks and 15 degrees at max, while winter (December–February) weather is mainly freezing with stretches of weeks with significant snowfall and temperatures of max -10 Celsius, interspersed with weeks of positive temperatures during the day. City receives relatively a lot of sunshine hours with winter months being the most gloomy. Winds and humidity may make the winter time rather uncomfortable, but temperatures usually stay above those in areas of hilly country north of the city and most of Slovakia. Snow and skiing forecast may vary unpredictably within a week ahead. Best season to visit may be the blooming and lovely spring of late April/May, though damp weather may occur unforseeably for a week or two regardless of a season.

Tourism information office

Official city of Košice Visitor Centre is located in the inner part of the city at Hlavná 59, Tel +421 55 625 8888, email: info@visitkosice.eu. It provides complex information on the city as a destination, tourism packages in the city and where to explore the region, and also official city guides in various languages. With helpful staff it will help you to make your stay in Košice easier, fun and memorable.

The privately run another municipality information center (MiC KOŠICE) , is on Hlavna 2 or Pri pracharni 4. Tel +421 911484337, e-mail: info@MiCKOSICE.sk. Provides information on the city and official guides for Košice and the nearby region. English, German, Hungarian, French, Russian, Spanish, Polish and Italian speakers available.

Get in

By plane

You can fly to Košice from London, Bratislava, Vienna or Prague. The discount carrier Wizz Air serves Košice.

By train

Moreover there are many daytime connections with change at Žilina.

Be aware that Horehronec train follows a different and slower path, via rural central Slovakia, and the journey lasts for 7½h. But it also offers fairly spectacular nature scenes especially at section between Brezno and Margecany. Journeys on many Slovakian trains may be interrupted after 100 km off the starting point while you remain within your ticket validity dates.

There's no suitable train connection from Poland.

By bus

Given the efficiency and value of the train system, you shouldn't need to use the bus system very much. Eurolines coaches come to here from numerous European cities, and bus is the most efficient way of reaching the nearby town of Levoca. There are also several companies linking Košice with Prague, usually with several stops on the route, including Brno.

Direct buses from Budapest or Vienna to Kosice by Eurobusways

Get around

Košice has a small and compact city center, and is mostly navigable by foot. If you are staying the suburbs, the tram system is cheap and efficient. With good bus and tram connections around the whole city , transport is very easy to handle. You can get practically anywhere by public transport and all the main sights of the city are within walking distance.

See

Most of Košice's attractions are along the main pedestrianized street, known as Hlavná ulica (Main Street), Námestie Maratónu Mieru (Peace Marathon Square, the north end of Hlavna), and Námestie Osloboditeľov (Square of the liberators, at the southern end of Hlavna) at various parts.

Museums and galleries

Do

Buy

You won't need to walk or travel long distances anywhere when craving for shopping in Košice while you stay in the center or most inner city areas. There are quite a few shopping malls in Košice, you may also find many historical center buildings hide interesting and chick boutiques while roaming around.

Eat

Vegetarian

Budget

Mid-range

Drink

Košice is faithful to its east Slovakian tradition in providing great and cheap parties for both locals and travellers while competing with many of Europe's much bigger and more often visited cities in what travel books usually call 'liveliness'. Season may vary with summer months unexpectedly providing a bit of a lull in usual Friday/Saturday silliness but city's center compact and concentrated bar scene provides many hidden gems disregard of day of week or month of the year. If you walk evening Hlavna after seeing everything 'important', do not hesitate to ask around. Only beware of getting caught up in acts of suspicious types, visiting parks at nights etc., as this place, though being relatively safe, really may be called the frontier of civilized part of Europe at times. Common safety measures for women and lone travelers are advisable.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Avoid parks and the train station surroundings at night. Do not be overly generous to the homeless and pay caution to impoverished Gypsies including children and do not engage with them. Call 112 for medical, police or fire department help.

Go next

By hichhiking

It's easy to hitchhike out of town, you can found good spots on Hitchwiki.org

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, September 13, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.