Hello! My name is Zuzana, I am 20 years old, and up until finishing high school I was living my best teenage life in my hometown of Košice. I am now living in London, studying literature and massively overpaying for avocado toasts and flat whites in some of London’s finest brunch spots (no shame), so I never miss my chance to get reacquainted with affordable (and tasty, shame on you London beer) beer or coffee. Moving away also gave me a fresh perspective on my hometown (and veiled it in so much nostalgia) – I am not at home all-that-often these days, so whenever I get the chance to visit, I go straight to all my favourite places with all my favourite people. Here is an assortment of my golden classics.
What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?
My favourite spot is Trieste Caffé (address: Uršulínska 2). Trieste is located right between my old high-school and a high-school many of my friends went to, so I spent immense amount of my senior year studying, chilling, meeting with friends and obviously, drinking coffee here. It serves the best coffee, and is, to this day, probably the most affordable spot I have found in the city centre. They also have some croissants, to-die-for apple pie and lemonades, which you can enjoy both inside and outside.
Where is your favourite place to grab lunch?
Taj Mahal any day of the week. It is this little Indian place, right near the beginning of the main street, which we fancy, because of its’ affordable (again) and extremely tasty daily menu. They have options for both carnivores and herbivores and serve everything with naan. A – ma – zing.
What is the ideal afternoon activity in a city like Košice?
Košice has a beautiful city centre – the biggest church in Slovakia and one of Europe’s easternmost gothic cathedrals is located right in the middle of the main street. Cathedral was built in the 11th century and seats 5000 people – it has beautiful vaulting (weird thing to note, but one of my personal favourites), breath-taking central altar and large pipe organ up on the choir.As every old building, it provides a nice shade during the hot months, and you can even climb up to the north tower for a view of the main street.
Where are the best places for dinner?
For a fancier meal, a proper dinner meal, I would (and usually) choose Republika Východu. It is located right by the St. Elisabeth Cathedral, so your meal will be with a killer view, and they prepare everything from the more traditional Slovak meals, to pancakes and quinoa salads, so all members of your party will find something to enjoy. Wine selection is also worth mentioning, and they always have 2-3 homemade cakes to choose from. Me and my friends actually celebrated numerous birthdays here, we celebrated our last day of high school here, and we have met here for a Christmas dinner every year, since moving away for University. Special, special, special.
AND! If you fancy a traditionally Slovak meal – the sheep-cheese dumplings – I strongly recommend Med Malina restaurant. It is actually a Polish-Slovak place, but they make the best dumplings in the city.
In the evening, what is the city like and where do you find yourself?
My favourite time of the day! I have 3 personal favourites, each a little different, for every kind of traveller.
1. Kino Úsmev
Kino Úsmev has been in Košice since 1929 and is one of the oldest cinemas in the city. It has been reworked and re-opened in 2015, by the organisation Cinefil, whose aim was to establish the cinema as the Centre of Audio-visual Culture. It now hosts 2 screening rooms(the second one opened earlier this year) where they screen everything from new releases to independent feature, and is often a home to workshops and educational events, film festivals and Kino Úsmev’s very own Travel Cinema – a series of discussions and presentations put together by travellers, wanting to share their travel experiences with curious listeners. It has a bar on the ground floor, a selection of board games (for the indoor fun) and an outdoor seating, where you can enjoy street-food from one cinema’s permanent street-food stalls – Robin (gourmet hot-dogs) and Smile (burgers & fries) – both with vegetarian options. Throughout the year, Kino Úsmev’s adjacent parking lot and outside seating, is a home to street-food festival, Mexican Food festival or Soup festival. Treasure.
Tabačka Kulturfabrik, was established in 2009 by NGO Bona Fire, on the grounds of ex tobacco factory. Its spacious premises contain screening rooms (and in summer, a summer cinema in the backyard) and often host small concerts of both local and international artists. You can also take part in language café, where you can chat and practise conversation in your target language and their bistro is the place to go for meatless eats – even their weekly-changing menu always has vegan options.
3. Dobré Časy
Dobré Časy (address: Čajkovského 860) is Košice’s best beer house, with 26 kinds of beer from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany, USA… everything from ale, to lager to flavoured specials, and a great kitchen. It has two floors as well as outside seating and gets wonderfully crowded during Friday nights (phone reservation in advance of your Friday night visit is your friend, trust me). Secure a spot for yourself and your party here: +421 948 979 411.
In a busy city like Košice, is there anywhere to chill?
Our city park has this darling little pond, where, if the weather allows, an afternoon can be well-spent. There are some cafés nearby, so you can grab a coffee-to-go and drink it by the water or get a burger from a joint right outside the park.On a busy pre-final-exams day, I often went there to sit on a bench and read, and to this day, I meet there with friends – to chat, to enjoy the sun, to enjoy each other’s’ company.
What is there to do for something fun and different?
There is a White Nights festival happening in October. Košice is one venue for the prestigious international art project White Nights, which aims to bring the general public closer to contemporary art forms as well as non-traditional, unknown and important places in European capitals. There are illuminated installations all over town, and interactive exhibits in museums and cafés. Everything is open late; the city is buzzing with people and events, which run until 4-5am and the atmosphere is everything.
Pro tip: Košice-exclusive nick, is a singing fountain located in front of the Theatre. It is a large fountain, which plays music, and the water of the fountain “dances” to the rhythm. Ice-cream with a tune anyone?
Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travellers?
There is Hilton right on the main street, if you are fancy, but for the more affordable places to stay: Boutique Hotel Slavia (café Slavia located on the ground floor, used to be the home of a cultural TV programme), Gloria Palace (close to Hilton hotel) or Zlatý Dukát. AirBnb? Always an option – Slovaks are very hospitable, so I definitely recommend.
What season would you recommend visiting?
I should probably recommend spring or summer, because that is, when all the festivals and food fairs are happening – plus you can eat outside, with the view of the main street or relax in the city park.
Is Košice best for a family holiday/friends’ holiday or couple holiday?
Both. For couples – many places to eat, drink, enjoy culture. For families (all that plus), a recreational park areas Anička – with mini-golf and mazes – and Alpinka, home to children railway, places for campfires and high-rope park Tarzánia.
Some last minute Košice snaps:
Although lesser-known, Košice is the second biggest city in Slovakia, located on the east end of the country. It is connected to London by a direct flight, and only a short train-ride away from Budapest. I will now do my best, to show you all my favourite spots, but if you are ever close, hit me up for a tour from a local or a coffee break (my treat)!