Northern Slovakia is a hiker’s paradise. You can spend days exploring the national parks of Vysoké Tatry (High Tatras), Nízke Tatry (Low Tatras), Slovenský raj (Slovak Paradise) or Veľká Fatra (Big Fatra). But if your legs need some rest from hiking, visiting Vlkolínec is a perfect half day trip.
Vlkolínec, which in Slovak means Wolf’s place, is situated in the hilly landscape of Veľká Fatra (Big Fatra). It’s one of a kind example of a traditional central European village. The exceptionally preserved folk architecture of the medieval settlement made the UNESCO World Heritage Committee include Vlkolínec to the World Heritage List in 1993.
The village, today a part of the town Ružomberok, consists of 43 nearly intact wooden log houses, a church and a former school. It was first mentioned in the late 14th century, but most of the buildings date back to 19th century. A part of Vlkolínec was destroyed in the WWII. Luckily, it was never replaced by modern houses and the village preserved its historical rural layout.
All of that may let you think Vlkolínec became a reservation and can only be visited as an open-air museum. The impression deceives. Unlike the other folk architecture museums in Slovakia, the village is still home to around 30 inhabitants. The rest of the houses are used for recreational purposes. You can even book a stay in some them.
That also brings some negatives aspects. The residents are allowed to park their cars in front of the houses, which destroys the scenery a little. Also, some buildings are equipped with satellite dishes, which look remarkably odd combined with wood shingle roofs.
Plan around 2 hours for your visit. It is enough to admire the architecture of the log houses and visit the museums. In the peasant house, you’ll see the traditional interior and original furniture. The former school hosts a comprehensive exhibition about the village, history and people living in the region.
After you have explored the settlement, walk up the Sidorovo hill, from where you can admire the beautiful landscape around Vlkolínec. To the lookout, it’s an easy few minutes walk. However, be careful if you decide to go deeper in the woods. Wolfs and bears still live in the hills of Veľká Fatra.
You can visit Vlkolínec the whole year long. The opening hours are daily from 9 am until 6 pm. The entrance fee is 2 € (1 € for children).
There is a pub in the village where you can get some refreshments. If you are hungry, we recommend a lunch at the sheep farm Salaš Krajinka. From Vlkolínec it is about a 20-minutes-drive. But it’s worth it. The restaurant serves one of the best Halušky (potato lumps, similar to gnocchi, served with traditional bryndza sheep cheese and bacon) and Pirohy (dumplings filled with potatoes and bryndza sheep cheese, served with cream and melted butter or bacon) in northern Slovakia. They produce cheese and bake bread and pastries themselves. It’s also a paradise for kids. They can admire field machines in a small tractor museum, pet a baby goat or observe sheep having a siesta in the stall. Watch out for geese and chickens, that sometimes wander onto the driveway.
How to get there
Vlkolínec is located ca. 6 km from Ružomberok. You can walk from the town centre or take a public bus. However, the most convenient way to get there is driving. Follow the signs from the European road E77. There is a parking lot outside the village. The parking fee is 1 €.
Accommodation in Vlkolínec
If you are planning to stay in the northern Slovakia, Vlkolínec is a perfect spot where you can have a real break from the busy city life. Hiking paths of the national parks are close enough as well.
According to the official page of Vlkolínec, there are currently three homes for rent:
We never stayed in one of the houses so we cannot give you an honest recommendation which to choose.
There are still 5 more Slovak sights inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Stay tuned for our next posts.