If you’re looking for a unique day trip from Budapest, look no further than Kosice, Slovakia! This charming Eastern Slovak city is ideal if you want to roam unknown streets and soak in foreign culture. Košice is the largest city in Eastern Slovakia and was named the 2013 European Capital of Culture. A day trip from Budapest to Kosice is a unique way to spend a day in Central Europe.

In Kosice, Slovakia: Round yellow building with a conical roof adjacent to a red building with tan trim. In front of the building there is a street sign and a large tree with no leaves. The sky is bleak and dreary looking and the street in front of the buildings are cobblestone.

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Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

Exploring Slovakia for more than a day? Here’s the ultimate Slovakia bucket list to make sure you see it all.

View across a park in Kosice, Slovakia to the other side of the street. The bare branches of the trees in the park hinder your view of the bright colored houses lining the opposite side of the street.

Getting to Košice

There are two daily trains that travel from Budapest to Kosice. One is at 6:00 and the other is at 18:00. The daily trains returning to Budapest are at the same times. You board a bus down the street from Budapest Keleti, which then takes you to Miskolc. At Miskolc, you get on the train to Košice. The entire journey takes about 3.5 hours. Yes, it’s an ambitious day trip from Budapest to Kosice, but didn’t feel at all rushed to me.

Decaying building in Kosice Slovakia. The building is cream colored stone, and there is a window wiith red vertical bars. In the space beneath the window, the stone is crumbling off of the building revealing bricks underneath.

The train was comfy enough that I could fall asleep easily (with my travel neck pillow). You could see the subtle changes in the homes and landscape as the train crossed over the Hungarian-Slovak border. In the background was the silhouette of hills and mountains. Further into Slovakia, you could see the snow-capped High Tatras looming in the distance.

Purchase your ticket at the station. It’s way easier, just go a day or two before you want to leave. If you purchase international train tickets departing from Hungary online, you cannot print them at home! You need to print them at the Hungarian station. Especially if you want to take the morning train to Košice, purchase tickets at the station! This is the easiest way, and you don’t need to worry about anything selling out.Street in Kosice, Slovakia made of cobblestone. The street winds to the right. The buildings on either side are old, yet preserved, in shades of yellow, ochre, pale orange. There are stores and restaurants lining the streets. In the distance you can see a group of people walking in the street.

Interesting places

Košice State Theatre

Košice’s State Theatre was opened in 1899 in a Neo-Baroque building in the historic city center. The building itself is an important historical monument and landmark for the city of Košice – just look at it, and you can see why.

The interior is elegant and ornate. A Viennese artist, Peregrin von Gastgeb, painted the ceiling with murals of scenes from some of Shakespeare’s best tragedies.

The theatre still houses ballet, drama, and opera.Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

Singing Fountain

Sadly, the singing fountain was not functioning when I visited! I came to Košice in February, and the fountain is not operational in the winter.

When it is playing, the fountain ‘sings’ different songs with a combination of 22 bells. It’s located next to the State Theatre, in a small park.

Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

Slovak Technical Museum

This museum displays exhibitions on subjects such as engineering, physics, industry and technology, energy production, and mining, among many others. They also have a planetarium and exhibitions on astronomy and space research.

The museum was closed the day I went, so I wasn’t able to visit. But as a self-proclaimed science geek, it absolutely would have been on my agenda.Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

Plague Column

This monument commemorates the end of the plague epidemic that overtook Košice from 1709-1710. The column was completed in 1723, partially destroyed during WWII, and has been continuously renovated ever since.

Local legend has it that hidden beneath the monument are relics of St. Valentine. I didn’t know about this before I went but, as luck would have it, I was in Košice on Valentine’s Day!Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

Med Malina

I cannot express how excited I was to try traditional Slovak food! I did some research before my visit and found this place, Med Malina. The restaurant is small, serving Slovak-Polish cuisine. They focus on slow food, local products, and ancestral recipes.

Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

I was not disappointed. I had potato dumplings with sauerkraut and roasted bacon, which was to-die-for. And it was so cheap! 6,50€ for the food and a local beer for 1,60€.

Traditional Eastern Slovak dish of potato dumplings with roasted bacon and sour cabbage served in a bowl. Next to the bowl is a napkin with the 'Med Malina' logo on it with a beer in the background.

If you look at the picture below, you’ll see how empty the restaurant was. That was when I’d initially sat down. By the time I’d gotten my food, the restaurant was bustling. Five of the tables were solo females (myself included). I couldn’t get over it! Plus, it was Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’d stumbled on some Slovak tradition?

Eastern Slovak MuseumReplication of an Eastern Slovak School in the beginning of the 19th century. There are maps and charts adorning the walls, as well as long desks with built in pew-like benches.

The Eastern Slovak Museum is in the historic city center (as are all of the sites listed in this article) of Košice. The museum houses a number of permanent exhibits. It also maintains a great deal of exhibition spaces for transient exhibits related to history, archaeology, fine arts, historical photography, biology and nature, and other related topics.

Much of the museum is dedicated to the back-and-forth nature of the territory and the identity politics prevalent in the region. From the establishment of the first Czechoslovak Republic, heavy Hungarian and Ottoman influence, to the independence of Slovakia, visitors can retrace the oftentimes turbulent history of the region. If you only visit one museum on your day trip from Budapest to Kosice, let this be it!

Košice Golden Treasure

Found in the same building as the Eastern Slovak Museum, the Golden Treasure of Košice is the main tourist attraction in the city.  Discovered in 1935 during routine construction, the collection is the largest (and richest) finding of golden coins in the country.  It is one of the most significant on a European and global scale.

The collection consists of 2920 gold coins, ducats, three gold medals, and a Renaissance gold chain. It was found, intact, in a copper-plated box adorned with etched animal motifs. The collection was hidden sometime after 1679, likely from Imrich Thököly, who occupied Košice in 1682 as part of the anti-Habsburg uprisings.

Though it was threatened by the tragic fate of treasures – a non-repayable loss – the entire collection was discovered intact. Since 2013 it has been displayed for the public in an underground safe in the East Slovak Museum in Košice.Day Trip from Budapest: Košice, Slovakia

St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral

Welcome to the largest church in Slovakia! St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral can hold over 5,000 people and measures 1,200 sq. meters (13,000 sq. feet)! It is the eastern-most gothic cathedral in Europe and is referred to in the oldest town records, which date back to 1230.St. Elisabeth's Cathedral in Kosice, Slovakia

The main alter in the cathedral of St. Elisabeth in Kosice, Slovakia. It is ornate with gold leaf, marble, and deep, rich colors.

Halmi Place

Halmi Place is a great little café in a historic old building with vintage décor. They are self-labeled ‘multi-genre’ – they host events, concerts, and even have shared workspaces available. All of this in addition to the café, serving up vegetarian and vegan food sourced from Slovak producers.

If like me, you’re exploring Košice on your own, this is a great place to stop and read, write, or people-watch for a while.Entrance to Halmi Place, a coffee shop/co-op in Kosice, Slovakia. There are two double doors that offer a wide entrance. On top of the doors it says 'Halmi Place' written in cursive.

Jakab’s Palace

This neo-Gothic palace on the corner of Mlynska Street and Štefanikova Street was the residence of a famous builder. Peter Jakab, who built the State Theatre and the Eastern Slovak Museum, lived in the palace until 1908.

Jakab Palace now belongs to National Cultural Monuments.Jakab's Palace in Kosice, Slovakia. It is rather small for a 'palace,' but it is beautiful cream colored building with an emerald green roof and large spires.

Košice Back to Budapest

Initially, I had booked an Airbnb in Košice but wound up returning to Budapest that same evening. It didn’t feel overly rushed or too tiring, and I was glad to not have to get up so early to catch the morning train again.

There are two daily trains from Kosice to Budapest for the return journey, departing at 6:00 and 18:00. Both trains are direct and take approximately 3.5 hours. The train ticket costs about $15-20 USD.Looking down the street in Kosice Slovakia. There are cars lining the cobblestone road with three buildings visible. The farthest is cream colored, then deep mustard yellow, and then a red building.

Košice is a vibrant, bustling city with plenty to do for an entertaining day trip (or longer!). A day trip from Budapest to Kosice is perfect, especially if you sleep easily on trains! If you are staying longer than a day or two, look into a day trip to Spis Castle. I’ve heard it’s even more beautiful in person! Think Košice is beautiful? Then check out these photos that will inspire you to visit Slovakia!Pale blue church in Kosice Slovakia. The building has white trim, and two circular windows above the main entrance. There are red buildings on either side of the church. The sky is also a pale blue with a few clouds in the background.