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Košice is a place where contemporary culture fits alongside historic architecture, and modern life tussles through the cobbled streets. The city dates back to medieval times and has the buildings to prove it, with Gothic, Baroque and classicist structures lining the lanes and squares. Košice is an energetic place with excellent restaurants, lively bars and a thriving art scene, boosted by its title of European City of Culture 2013. It's not on every traveller's agenda, so you can get off the beaten track.
Some Košice hostels are located in the historic centre of town, so you'll always be nearby the sights, sounds and bustle of the city. Choose from private rooms or dorms, or for something a little different, you can stay in a Košice hostel with mobile homes, apartments and even cottages. To make the most of your experience and meet fellow travellers, look for hostels with social spaces or on-site bars. Free Wi-Fi means you can stay in touch with the folks back home.
Košice Old Town is where you'll find the main historic attractions, with many dotted around the city's central square, Hlavné námestie. The main street, Hlavná Ulica, is here too, with its bustling bars and shops. Košice-Barca is close to the centre and home to Steel Aréna – Košický štadión L. Trojáka, where the city's super-successful ice hockey team plays. A day trip to the Tokaj region is a great chance to take in the rolling hills and explore the tasting cellars of the local wineries.
There are lots of cultural and historical sights to see in Košice. The Cathedral of St Elisabeth is a 14th-century Gothic cathedral that took more than 100 years to build. You can see the foundations of the 13th-century fortification, the Dolná brána (meaning 'lower gate'), which were uncovered in the 1990s and now make for an unusual place to see a concert or a gallery show. Mikluš Prison is a former jail and torture chamber that now houses a museum on the subject. To get out into nature, head to Slovak Karst, a national park where you can hike, mountain climb, cycle and, in winter, hit the slopes.
Košice International Airport is less than 20 minutes from the city centre by bus, which is welcome if you're on a later flight. If you prefer travelling over land, you can get a bus to Košice railway station from many places in central Europe. Most of the main attractions can be walked or cycled between, and buses will take you further out.