Five stunning Slovakian castles off the beaten path

by Fabian Jürgens
Published: Last Updated on

More than 600 castles grace the rolling hills and dim forests of Slovakia, the most per capita in the world. While touristic hot spots like Devin or Spiš Castle bask in the limelight, dozens of impressive ruins remain virtually unknown with international visitors and offer a wonderful, less crowded alternative.

Most of them were originally built in the 13th century to protect the northern periphery of the emerging Hungarian Kingdom against sweeping Tartar and Hussite raids. However, with the advent of artillery, they started to lose their military importance and, henceforth, became seats of the local gentry, as well as administrative centres.

Their decline continued in the following centuries until the vast majority stood derelict. 

Abandoned due to the growing discomfort of their noble owners, falling victim to the flames, or razed by ravaging armies, their crumbling ruins were left to deteriorate until the Czecho-Slovak government started to show interest into these disintegrating remants of their historical heritage. Reconstruction of their medieval past commenced and was ultimately continued by the Republic of Slovakia after the dissolution of the Czecho-Slovakian state. 

Today, many have been rebuilt and are open to the public. 

Without further ado, here are five relatively unknown castle ruins worth checking out. 

downwards view of a steep manmade staircase in the crest of a rock with a bunch of houses on the valley floor, Lednica Castle, Slovakia


Constructed in 1208, Beckov Castle stands proud as one of the oldest castles in the country.

Providing security to the local farming communities and trade routes traversing the fertile Váh Valley, the fortress, enthroned on an imposing cliff, withstood both Turkish and Tartar invasions, before being converted into a prison and even later military barracks. It finally burned down and was lost to the flames in 1729.

Today, Beckov Castle is without a doubt one of the most spectacular ruins Slovakia has to offer, and even features a small market selling local crafts and a stage for raptor performances.

The castle can easily be reached by public transport as a daytrip from Bratislava.

How to get there | Take the bus from Nové Mesto nad Váhom bus station to Beckov OÚNZ bus stop. The castle entrance is located 5 minutes up the hill.

Entrance fee | General admission: 5€*/7€** | Students/Seniors: 3,5€*/5€** (January 2024)

For the latest opening hours and admission fees check out the official website.

*March and November/**April-October

beautiful view of the ruins of Beckov castle sitting atop a rocky outcrop with golden fields of gras and wild flowers in the foreground, Slovakia


Towering above the forested foothills of the Little Carpathian mountains, the crumbling ruins of Čachtice Castle bear witness to a harrowing past.

At the beginning of the 17th century, driven by her unsatiable lust for eternal youth, Lady Báthory allegedly murdered more than 600 maidens within the walls of Čachtice Castle, a vile deed that would crown her the most horrific serial killer of all time! At last, her disgraceful sins were uncovered and the “Blood Countess” was imprisoned in a walled-up room inside one of the castle’s towers until she succumbed to her punishment after four years of isolation.

Although, scholars have since taken a closer look at her life and even started to question the validity of her conviction, her infamous story has massively influenced pop culture and inspired many a character in book and film.

How to get there | In Nové Mesto nad Váhom hop on a train to either Čachtice or Višňové. Both villages offer hiking trails leading up to the castle, however, the one in Višňové is distinctly shorter (20-30min). From the train station head to the main road and cross the bridge to your right. You will find the path past the salmon-pink house just before the bend.

Entrance fee | General admission: 3,5€/4,5€* | Students: 2,5€/3€* (January 2024)

For the latest opening hours and admission fees check out the official website.

*on weekends

fields of golden gras and green conifers in front of the walls and towers of Cachtice Castle, Slovakia


Though incredibly small (you-have-seen-everything-in-a-minute small), Lednica castle offers a very unique architectonic feature.

After ascending the keep via an extremely steep iron ladder, you will spot a narrow staircase chiselled directly into the rough rock and leading up the crest. Once at the top you will find a perfect lunch spot offering stunning views over the surrounding countryside.

At the bottom of the cliff you will also come across an unasuming well. Legend has it that a fair maiden named Katarína was abducted on her wedding day by the castle’s lord. However, not willing to comply to her fate, she chose death and lunged herself off the ramparts. Where she fell a spring emerged, bearing her name to this day.  

How to get there | Take a train to Ilava or Púchov and from there the bus to Lednica. You can get off the bus right below the castle.

Entrance Fee | 2€

Lednica Castle hugging the cliffside seen through a window in the trees, Slovakia


Perfectly positioned along the lucrative Amber Road, Lietava Castle, probably named after the Slavic goddess of youth and spring (Lietva/Lada/Letva), most likely played a vital military and administrative role in the region.

Constructed in the first half of the 13th century, the battlements were gradually upgraded until it received its Gothic-Renaissance overhaul under the stewardship of the Thurzó family in the 16th century. When the Thurzós died out in the male lineage, the castle was left deserted and fell into ruins.

The castle, one of the largest in Slovakia, is quite extensive, however not all areas are open to the public due to ongoing construction work. It also houses an exhibition hall and a small stage for concerts.

How to get there | Take a bus from Žilina main bus station to Lietava, Majerpri moste, then simply follow the marked trail. It takes 20-30min to reach the castle. 

Entrance fee | free

Opening hours | around the clock

main courtyard of Lietava Castle encircled by high walls of the living quarters; a gate in the middle leads into the castle; there is a small stage in the lower right corner; Slovakia


Tematín Castel is by far the most remote ruin on this list.

Situated on a forested ridge of the Považský Inovec mountain range, its crenelated ramparts break through the dense canopy and offer sweeping vistas over the distant Váh Valley.

Equally built in the 13th century to guard the north-western border of the Hungarian kingdom, it retained an important military role until its destruction by Imperial forces during Rákóczi’s War of Independence, an attempted insurrection against Habsburg rule by Hungarian noblemen at the beginning of the 18th century.

Since 2007, Tematín Castle has slowly been restored to its former might by the Civic Association Hrad Tematín. As of August 2021, the castle is still under major construction but remains open to the public.

How to get there | The fastest way to reach Tematín Castle on foot is from the small resort of Bezovec near the village of Nová Lehota (1 ¼ hr). Alternatively, there are marked trails in the villages of Lúka and Hrádok (both roughly 1 ½ hours), which are connected to Nové Mesto nad Váhom by bus.

Entrance fee | General admission: 2€ | Students/Seniors: 1€ (January 2024)

Opening hours | around the clock

For the latest opening hours and admission fees check out the official website.

round entrance in a wall leading out to a bastion with incredible views of the surrounding forested hills and the fields of the valley below, Tematín Castle, Slovakia

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