Europe > Central Europe > Slovakia > Central Slovakia > Banská Bystrica
Banská Bystrica is situated in central Slovakia between the national parks Veľká Fatra and Nízke Tatry (north of the city), the national park Poľana (east of the city), and the Štiavnicke Vrchy (southwest of the city). Banská Bystrica is the capital of Banská Bystrica region (kraj) and Banská Bystrica department (okres). It has 78,068 inhabitants (2012).
Banská Bystrica is serviced by Sliač Airport. The airport is located 15 km from Banská Bystrica, however, there are no regular passenger flights at the moment (only charters).
The closest international airports are Budapest (200km), Bratislava (205km) and Vienna (260km).
If you are flying from Vienna, work out the connections well. A mid-afternoon flight from Vienna (at about 15:00) probably involves leaving Banská Bystrica on the 06:27 train or a bus between 07:00 and 08:00. It is also possible to take the 08:27 train to Bratislava and reach Vienna airport for a mid-afternoon flight, but this leaves little time buffer.
Transport to Budapest is relatively complicated with no direct bus/train. As of summer 2015, it was not possible to make it with less than 2 transfers (significantly bypassing the shortest route).
There are train connections to the major Slovak cities. Banská Bystrica can also be reached from Vienna, Budapest, Poland and the Czech Republic (direct train). The city is not served well in the evening. Plan your connections from Bratislava carefully, as there are no trains between 18:01 and 23:49 (the midnight train arrives at 05:19, with the train stopping in Zvolen at 02:57, with a long wait -- to 04:47 -- for a local train to Banská Bystrica). Many of the trains to Bratislava have wifi. The "Banská Bystrica - mesto" station is located closer to the town center. The Banská Bystrica mesto station is located closer to the town centre.
There are bus connections to all major Slovak cities as well as international routes to Vienna, Czech Republic and many other cities in Western Europe. Buses to and from Bratislava cost around 9.50 EUR (RegioJet buses cost 5 EUR). As of mid-2015, the last bus leaves Bratislava for Banská Bystrica at 20:35, so be careful about connections if booking flights to Bratislava airport or to Vienna airport.
Banská Bystrica has road connections to all major Slovak cities. It can be reached from Bratislava (210km) via highway R1. Banská Bystrica also has road connections to: Ruzomberok (52km) road 59/E77, Martin (59km) road 65, Zvolen (19km) road R1/E77. From Zvolen it is possible to continue further south by E77 to Sahy (70km - Hungarian border) and Budapest (160km).
Banská Bystrica is a walkable city and all the main sights can be reached by foot in 15 minutes.
Public transport is useful if staying outside the city center or for trips around the city. It consists of buses and trolleybuses and a single trip costs 0.70 EUR (as of mid-2015). Regional buses from the main bus station (or adjacent "Parkovisko Mičinská" stop) service surrounding villages for a slightly higher price. For more information and current schedules visit this page .
Due to increased competition (triggered by complete absence of public transport over night), prices of taxi in Banská Bystrica have plummeted to flat rate of around 3-4 EUR per trip anywhere inside the city (trips outside the city are charged per km). With the official city area being quite large, it makes taxi really convenient transport option.
Banská Bystrica has a beautiful position between the mountains. Therefore it's a popular summer and winter resort. The heart of the old city is the SNP square (Námestie SNP) which dates back to the 13th century. You can find a lot of renaissance and jugendstil buildings here. These sights include:
- The Town Hall , SNP Square 1. This house belonged to a medieval miner who built this enormous house beside the town square. Nowadays it hosts information centre of the city and it is also used for the representative purposes of the Mayor.
- Central Slovakia Museum , SNP Square 4. Set in a beautiful renovated renaissance house, it has its expositions in two other historical buildings in the city.
- Marian`s Pillar. The baroque pillar was built in 1719 as a sign of gratitude to the Virgin Mary after the end of the plague.
- The Black Obelisk. Monument in honour of soldiers of the Red and the Romanian Army.
- The Clock Tower . Built around 1552 as a part of the Town market. Entrance fee to the top is 2 EUR (children go for free).
- Barbican , Štefan Moyses Square 26. The main fortification complex and the dominant point with the Petermann bell – tower. It hosts a stylish restaurant.
- Virgin Mary's Assumption Church, Štefan Moyses Square 1. Roman church built in the 13th century which was expanded in the gothic era.
Out of the main square:
- Slovak National Uprising Memorial , Kapitulská 23. Museum of items and documents of the resistance in the WW II. Wide stairs lead to a pious chamber with the symbolic grave of an Unknown Soldier, eternal fire and soil from the battlefields and burnt villages, tables dedicated to holocaust's victims and international involvement in the Uprising. The museum is characteristic with its notable Soviet-era architecture. The full fare is 2 EUR, with various discounts.
Surrounding of Banská Bystrica is great for cycling sport (cross, mountain). You can do many cycling trips according to your preferences. Villages around the town are connected by asphalt roads. In the countryside and mountains there are many paved or gravel roads used for forestry in the past but now used mainly for trekking and cycling. Treks for cycling are not marked very well but the situation is improving as cycling is becoming very popular sport among locals. For more information visit this page.  There are very useful information about cycling treks including length, profile, directions, photos, eating opportunities. Unfortunately, page is available only in Slovak language but it is very intuitive and you can use google translator. During summer weekends and holidays there are also regular bus services for cyclists with bikes to 3 cycling destinations (Malý Šturec, Harmanecká jaskyňa, Donovaly).
- Europa Shopping Center , Na Troskách 25. Large shopping mall offering wide range of stores. Joined with Europa Business Center (the tallest building in the city).
- healthy food, kollarova 18. vegetarian cafeteria with Slovak specialities
- Koliba u sv. Krištofa , Uľanská cesta 170, 97411 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 48 419 81 51: Nice traditional restaurant next to the road E77 direction to Donovaly. Unfortunately accessible only by own car but if you are driving around it is worth to visit. You can taste Slovak national meal called Halušky (Potato dumplings with Bryndza cheese) in traditional atmosphere.
At the central square in the city several small bars are located, which serve beer as well as other drinks and dishes.
- YMCA Banská Bystrica 
- Turistická ubytovňa MILVAR , Školská 9, 97401 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 48 413 87 65: Basic tourist dorms. Costs around 10 EUR/night per person.
- Stavoprojekt , Robotnícka 6, 97401 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 918 109 680: Cheap guesthouse, central location close to the bus station. Costs 25 EUR/double room.
- Penzion Bella , Sládkovičova 9, 97405 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 903 808 960: Situated in a residential quarter, 10-15 min walk from the center. Its rating on Booking.com is very good (8/10), with reviews mentioning cleaniness and friendliness of the staff. Typical price in 2015 was 40 EUR for a double room.
- Penzion H44 , Horná 44, 97401 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 948 948 494: Decent and very centrally located guesthouse. Costs 42 EUR for a double room + 4 EUR/pp for breakfast.
- Hotel LUX , Námestie Slobody 2, 97401 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 48 414 41 41: The most famous hotel in Banská Bystrica has become the city landmark since its construction in 1970 and even nowadays its a significant reminder of Communist era architecture (although it has undergone a partial reconstruction recently). Costs around 50 EUR for a double room (breakfast included).
- Dixon Hotel , Švermova 32, 97404 Banská Bystrica, tel. +421 48 471 78 00: 4* Hotel Dixon is located in a quiet city zone nearby open swimming pool and sport-relaxing area surrounded by enjoyable greens. Double room costs up to 90 EUR (breakfast included).
- Kaskady - Hotel & Spa Resort , Letecká 19, 96231 Sliac, tel. +421 45 530 00 00: Located just off the highway R1 between Banská Bystrica and Zvolen, it includes wellness, spa and restaurant. Basic double room costs 90 EUR (presidential suite is 300+ EUR/night).
- Urpín . A mountain situated on the left bank of Hron river, above the old town. The most popular trail "Serpentine Urpin" is moderately demanding, 3.6 km long trail with a total elevation 173 m (peak in 510 m). Walking time may very between 1-2 hours (allow more time with children). There is a chapel and an astronomical observatory ("Vartovka") at the top of Urpín.
- Harmanec Cave , Dolný Harmenec 976 03. Harmanec Cave ranks among the most important caves in Slovakia by remarkable origin of cave spaces, mighty breakdown domes and number of wintering bats. It is located 15 km north from the city by road E77 and 65/14 (direction to Martin). It is possible to take regional bus no.601454 to "Horný Harmanec - jaskyňa" stop. From the bus stop, it is a 1.5 km long uphill hike (260 m in elevation) to the entrance. The full fare is 6 EUR and there are discounts for children, students and seniors. Make sure to bring warm clothes even during summer as the average temperature of one hour cave tour is around 5-7°C.
- Špania Dolina , Špania Dolina. A mountain sleepy village lying 728 m above the sea level, on the borderline of the Low Tatras and Great Fatra National Parks. Once famous all over Europe for the rich deposits of copper ore, nowadays a place of natural mountain beauty. It is located 15 km north from the city by initially taking road E77 then turning off to a potholed hilly road. It can be reached by an infrequent regional bus no.601468.
- Hronsek , Hronsek 976 31. The village is situated on the left bank of Hron river, 10 km south of Banská Bystrica. Its main attraction is the wooden articled church (UNESCO World Heritage). Hronsek can be reached by car from the main highway R1 heading to Zvolen or by a regional bus no.601455.
- Suchý vrch. A hill creating south-west boundary of the city, lying on the edge of Kremnica Mountains. With its numerous easy and moderate trails, it is an ideal option for a family day trip. In spite of some facilities on the top (restaurant, horseback riding), the forest routes provide no facilities, so it is necessary to bring own supplies. It is best accessible from adjacent villages Tajov, Králiky and Malachov or from the city quarter Fončorda (trolleybus stop "Nad Tulskou").