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Pieniny National Park (21 sq km/8 sq mi) combines with a similar park in Poland to protect the 9km Dunajec River gorge between the Slovak village of Cerveny Klástor and Szczawnica, Poland. The river here forms the international boundary between the two countries and the 500m limestone cliffs are impressive. At the mouth of the gorge is a 14th-century fortified Carthusian Monastery, now a park administrative centre and museum. There's a pleasant riverside hike through the gorge and from June to mid-September raft trips depart from a landing near the monastery. Direct buses go to Cerveny Klástor from Poprad. It's not possible to cross to Poland here.
This region of limestone canyons and caves is at the eastern end of the Slovak Red Mountains, a major range that reaches to the border with Hungary. The spectacular landscape includes Domica Cave, said to be one of the biggest in the world. It's a beautiful cave, full of colour and with some stalactites as thick as tree trunks. Almost 2km (1.2mi) of over 5km (3mi) in the so-called Gothic House is accessible by boat along the underground river Styx. Zádielska canyon, near the Hungarian border, is over 2km (1.2mi) long and hemmed in by 250m (820ft) sheer cliffs, popular with mountain climbers. The drab mining town of Rozhnava is a good base for exploring the Karst. It's accessible by train from Kosice.
Trencianske Teplice is a spa town in West Slovakia. Hiking trails lead into the green hills flanking the resort. There's a thermal swimming pool (open from May to September) and five hot sulphur springs in the resort itself. Those with a taste for the exotic should also visit the hammam, a Turkish bathhouse in the middle of town. Trencianske Teplice is accessible via the main railway line between Trencín and Zilina.
Trnava is Slovakia's oldest town, the first to get a royal charter as a free borough (from Hungarian King Béla IV in 1238). Though badly marred by modern development, its handsome walled old town, a legacy of almost three centuries as Hungary's religious centre, was spruced up for the town's 750th birthday in 1988. Trnava was a centre of the Slovak National Revival - some of the first books to use the Slovak written language were printed here. The town is friendly, low-key, cheap and almost innocent of Western tourism, making it a rewarding one-day stopover from Bratislava.
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