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"Slovakia" or "Slovak Republic" (Slovak: "Slovensko" or "Slovenská republika", both names are officially recognized), is a landlocked country in Central pe. It is surrounded by Austria to the west, Czech Republic to the northwest, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north and Ukraine to the east. Slovakia is a modern democratic country and is a member of the pean Union.

The main reasons to visit Slovakia are its natural beauty, vivid history and great opportunities for relaxation (and due to the small size of the country, it is quite easy to combine all three). Slovakia has nine national parks, which cover a relatively big park of the country and feature the tallest part of the Carpathian Mountain Range, the High Tatras, which offer great opportunities for mountain and winter sports as well as great vistaa. Geologically, a sizable part of Slovakia is made out of limestone, which in combination with many springs and rivers has resulted in formation of numerous caves (12 open to the public, several of which are UNESCO listed) and the beautiful rocky formations, canyons and waterfalls of the Slovak Paradise and Slovak Karst. Even outside these areas, there are some beautiful landscapes, and all of Slovakia is covered by thousands of wellmarked hiking trails.

For history lovers, Slovakia has the highest number of castles and chateaux per capita in the world, ranging from simple ruins to wellpreserved habitable castles with furnishings, so if you are a fan of medieval history, look no further. There are also numerous gothic and baroque cities and towns across Slovakia, including the capital. There are also wellpreserved examples of wooden folk architecture, including churches made entirely out of wood and the tallest wooden altar in the world.

There are numerous mineral and thermal springs in Slovakia, and around some of these worldfamous spas have been built that offer great curative therapies or just simple relaxation. You can also chill out, swim and sunbathe at the shores of several local lakes and pools or try AquaCity waterpark if you are feeling more adventurous. In particular, Bratislava boasts a lively nightlife as well and is a popular partying destination.

Much of the central and northern part of Slovakia is rugged and mountainous. Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 m in the High Tatras is the highest peak. The Tatra Mountains in the north, shared with Poland, are interspersed with many scenic lakes and valleys. These areas experience lower temperatures and traditionally people here lived off sheep grazing.

The lowlands are in the south with the lowest point of the Bodrog River being 94 m above sea level. The soil here is much more fertile, especially the area between Small Danube and Danube, and was more agricultural. The weather is gentler and especially summers can get surprisingly warm.

The area that is presentday Slovakia has been settled since early Paleolithic era. Before the inward migration of Slavs and Huns, the most important cultures were the Celts and Romans, with Slovakia forming the northermost point of the Roman Empire. To this day, artefacts and evidence of the presence of these cultures can be found.

The Slavic tribes, that invaded the area in the 5th century created a succession of influential kingdoms here. During this era, lasting until the 10th century when the Great Moravian Empire disintegrated, Slavs adopted Christianity and many medieval fort castles have been built, ruins of some of which remain to this day.

Since 10th century, Slovakia became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, which, after 1867, formed an unio with the Austrian Empire and became the AustroHungarian Monarchy. This Union, lasting until 1918 was a great influence on the shaping of the entire region and was a multinational state with many cultures living together, and forms a common cultural history shared by many Central pean nations.
The castle in Levice

In 1918 the Slovaks joined the closely related Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. During WWII, Czechoslovakia briefly split, with the Czech Republic being Occupied by the Nazis and Slovaks forming their own war state. Following the chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a communist country within Sovietruled Eastern Block. Soviet influence collapsed in 1989 and Czechoslovakia once again became free.

For many years overshadowed by their northwestern "Czech" neighbors, political representatives of Czechs and Slovaks decided to strike out on their own. The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1 January 1993 and "Slovakia" became a country in its own right. This is known as "Velvet Divorce". Both countries remain close culturally and there is a high level of political and economical cooperation.

Historic, political, and geographic factors have caused Slovakia to experience more difficulty in developing a modern market economy than some of its Central pean neighbors, but now it boasts one of the fastest growing economies in pe and has been a member of the pean Union and the NATO since 2004. Slovakia is now a member of the agreement, and the country has adopted the EURO on January 1st 2009.

Ethnicities =

There are some similarities between the Czech and Slovak cultures but the two nationalities remain distinct. One of the most striking differences is that while Czechs are largely atheists, Slovaks are largely Catholics, like their Polish neighbours.

Slovakia was a part of the Hungarian empire for almost a millenium, and a strong Hungarianspeaking minority of 9.7% remains, concentrated mostly in southern Slovakia. Historic German populations were uprooted and expelled after WWII but their historical influence remains.

In the eastern part of the country, there are many Romas/Gypsies and some Rusnacs/Rusins and Ukrainians.
There are also some Czechs, Poles and still some Germans living in Slovakia.


Slovakia has a temperate climate with sunny hot summers and cold, cloudy, humid and snowy winters. The climate is continental, with four seasons, and while the overall climate is mild, there is a considerable temperature difference between summer and winter months.

It is generally warmer in southern regions and the lowlands, where summer temperatures can climb above 30 degrees Celsius on hotter days, and where rain is more common in winters than snow, which usually melts in a few days.

Northern, and especially mountaineous regions have a colder climate, with summer temperatures not exceeding 25 degrees Celsius. Especially in the mountains, snow is common in winters and it can get quite cold.

If you are planning on visiting the mountains, please note that, as in any mountaineous region, the weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes and it can rain (or snow!) even in summer. Take appropriate equipment and don"t underestimate the weather.

Holidays and Festivals
Slovakia is a predominantly Catholic Country, so major Christian holidays are observed, as well as some other holidays. Unless indicated otherwise, these days are public holidays and banks and most amenities and shops will be closed:

*" Slovak Republic Day 1st of January" Conveniently, Czechoslovakia split into two on the 1st of January, so New Year"s Day is a national holiday. It is traditionally celebrated by sleeping until midday.

*"Ephiphany 6th of January", celebrates the arrival of the Three Magi into Betlehem. Shops and banks are closed.

*"Mardi Gras period" ("Fasiangy") this is not a national holiday, but rather a festival season. Some villages will hold a traditional market with food and drinks offered, and there might be a march through the city in masks, and numerous balls, dances and carnivals are held. January the 6th till Ash Wednesday (February or March).

*"Easter" March/April, dates depend on the lunar calandar. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays. There is a number of different traditions relating to Easter. The traditional food served includes eggs and special Easter Ham, with bread and horseradish.

Religious people will go to mass, and it might be the only time when its likely to see people in traditional clothing in some villages, but this is increasingly less common. Everyone will be dressed up, however.

Throughout Slovakia, "kraslice" are prepared, which are egg shells adorned with ornaments and painted over with colours. These, along with sweets and money are given to boys, who visit friend"s and neighbours" houses, where it is their job to make sure the women will be healthy and prosperous the following year by spraying them with water or perfume and beating them with a willow wand adorned with ribbons. This is absolutely true and it is great fun. It tends to involve copious amounts of alcohol, food and wet Tshirts, and is not taken seriously by anyone. If you are female, do not wear clothes you like when venturing outside on Easter Monday as you might have water thrown or perfume sprayed at you. If you want to protest this clearly barbaric tradition, make sure to do so in waterproof clothing.

*"Internation Labour Day 1st of May" this is celebrated by not working.

*"Day of Victory over Fascism 8th May" end of WWII in pe

*"International Children"s Day 1st of June" Not a national holiday, but children might have time off school and various activities will be organised for them, and they usually get treats.

*"St. Cyril and Methodius Day 5th July" arrival of the first Christian missionaries to Slovakia

*"Slovak National Uprising Memorial Day 29th August" Holiday to commemorate uprising against Nazis during WWII.

*"Constitution Day 1st of September" children love this one as school starts one day later.

*"Day of Blessed Virgin Mary 15th September" she is a patron saint of Slovakia

*"Vinobranie" This is not a national holiday, but a festival that celebrates the wine harvest, usually held in October in winemaking regions. Cities cooperate so it is held on different weekends in differentr places and you can visit several. This includes open air markets selling street food, drinks (especially young wine), and various handicrafts.

*"All Saints Day" 1st of November, this is a day to remember those that have passed away. Halloween is not celebrated in Slovakia, and this is quite a serious religious holiday. All shops are closed and many people will go to the cemeteries to light a candle for their loved ones.

*"Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day 17th November" commemorates student demonstration that brought about the end of Communism

*"St Nicolaus" Day" 6th of December. This is not a national holiday, but is seen as a start of the Christmas period. Traditionally, St Nicholaus leaves some sweets (if the child was good) or coal/onion (if the child misbehaved that year) in their shoe overnight (surprisingly enough, most children get sweets, not onion). Celebrations are held in towns, where someone dressed as St nicolaus (think Santa Claus) and his helpers angels/devils help him distribute sweets among crowds of eager kids. Christmas markets open and Christmas lights are turned on.

*"Feast of St Lucy 13th December" Not a national holiday, but many traditions are connected with this day, varying by the region. For example, you can take 13 pieces of paper, leave one blank and write names of 12 boys on the others if you are a girl. One is burned every day until Christmas Eve, what remains is a name of your future husband (blank = single forever).
traditional christmas cookies
*"Christmas" Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (2426th of December) are national holidays. In Slovakia, Christmas is mainly celebrate during Christmas Eve, when a traditional family dinner is held, after which presents are opened. As Christmas Eve is meant to be a fast in Christian Calendar, no meat is eaten that day. The tradition dinner starts with a thin wafer, eaten with garlic (for health) and honey (for happiness and properity). This is followed by a soup (either mushroom or cabbage soup), and a main of fried carp and special potato salad. Many varieties of Christmas cakes (e.g gingerbread) are also eaten. Traditions differ, however.

*"Silvester 31st December" New Year"s Eve is not a national holiday, but is widely celebrated, mostly by partying. At midnight, people toast the New Year with a glass of champagne. Many cities will have a firework display to celebrate New Year. Fireworks and drunk people abound.


Map of Slovakia with regions colourcoded


*Bratislava capital and the largest city of Slovakia with a beautifully restored historical centre full of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches, houses and palaces, cobblestone streets, fountains, pleasant cafes and lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere

*Banská Bystrica was one of the most important mining towns of Hungarian part of AustroHungarian Empire; beautiful restored square, many churches, castles and museums and memorial of the Slovak National Uprising
*Košice metropolis of the east, second biggest city of the country with the easternmost situated Gothic Cathedral in the World, the oldest pean coat of arms, a great historical city centre with the Cathedral Complex, numerous churches, palaces and interesting museums.
*Poprad the entryway into High Tatras
*Prešov the best example of renaissance architecture in Slovakia, numerous churches and nearby lying Solivar which is one of the most interesting salt mine museum in pe
*Rajecké Teplice very peaceful spa town surrounded by magnificent Mala Fatra National Park
*Trenčín one of the most beautiful Slovak towns with a castle lying above the city overlooking the historical centre and the river Váh
*Trnava the oldest Slovak town with the highest number of churches (12) and well preserved baroque architecture
*Žilina Fourth biggest city with a well preserved historical city centre influenced by German architecture and unique museum of the tinker´s culture located at the Budatín castle

Other destinations
Vysoké Tatry
*Slovak Paradise National Park "Slovenský Raj" consists of deep ravines and canoyons created by the water cascading in waterfalls through the limestone.
*High Tatras is the biggest national park in Slovakia and a centre winter sports and hiking.
*Vlkolínec UNESCO heritage list village, preserving the character of a traditional Carpathian village
*Spissky Hrad one of the biggest castles in pe, UNESCO listed.
*Nizke Tatry Low Tatras National Park
*Slovak Karst
*Levoca magnificent medieval pearl of the Spis region surrounded by town walls with a unique renaissance town hall, burger´s houses, numerous churches and St. James Cathedral where the biggest gothic wooden altar of the world is situated
*Bojnice the most visited castle in Slovakia, almost intact with beautifully preserved interiors.
*Piešťany the most famous spa town in Slovakia
*Bardejov is a spa town in NorthEastern Slovakia that exhibits numerous cultural monuments in its completely intact medieval town center and is one of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.

Get in

Recognised refugees in possession of a valid travel document issued by the government of any one of the above countries/territories are exempt from obtaining a visa for Slovakia (but "no" other country, except Germany and Hungary) for a maximum stay of 90 days in a 180 day period.

Slovakia became a part of area only relatively recently, and local crossborder transport services might be limited in certain areas, though this is improving, and in some places it is very easy to cross over. You should have ID with you anyway, but to avoid hassle, make sure to keep an ID on you in border regions.

If you need a visa, always apply at an embassy beforehand. There are zero chances you will get a visa at a Slovak border, no matter how you enter or what your nationality is.

By train

From The Czech Republic
As parts of former Czechoslovakia, the trains between the Czech Republic and Slovakia are frequent. EC trains operate every two hours from Prague to Bratislava and Žilina. There is one daily train from Prague to Banská Bystrica, Zvolen, Poprad and Košice. All these cities have a direct overnight sleeper car connection from Prague.

Cheap tickets you can buy at Czech Railways eshop , when bought at least 3 days in advance. the price begins at €19 for seat or €26 for couchette. Please note that such eticket is valid for only one specified train!

If you want greater flexibility or cannot buy in advance over the Internet, you can get a significant discount at a railway station if you buy a "return" ticket, not just oneway. Such international return ticket is valid for "one month" (and sadly cannot be bought over the Internet at all).

From Germany
There is two daytime and one overnight train from Berlin to Bratislava. Cheap tickets you can buy at German Railways eshop , when bought at least 3 days in advance. The price begins at €29.

From Austria
Hourly regional expresses operate from Vienna to Bratislava. You can use EURegio ticket for €14 – a return ticket valid 4 days.

From Poland
There is a through car from Warszawa to Bratislava via Czech territory. Direct train connection from Poland is very poor, a bus is generally a better alternative. There are only few local trains going just over the border line – one train Zwardoń (PL)–Skalité (SK), and two weekend trains Lupków (PL)–Medzilaborce (SK). Since Dec 2010 there"s no international passenger traffic at Nowy Sącz–Prešov line.

If you really want to travel from Poland by train, prepare for a fullday trip with a lot of train changes. It"s cheaper to buy Polish ticket only to border point (Skalité Gr. or Lupków Gr.) and then buy a Slovak domestic ticket at conductor (€1.30 surcharge).

From Hungary
There are EC trains from Budapest to Bratislava running every two hours and two IC trains a day from Budapest and Miskolc to Košice. Unlike trip from Poland, it wouldn"t be cheaper to buy the Slovak section at conductor.

From Ukraine and Russia
There is a daily direct sleeper car from Moscow, Kiev and Lvov to Košice, Poprad and Bratislava. The journey is very long – 2 nights from Moscow and Kiev and 1 day and night from Lvov – because of poor rail state in western Ukraine, lengthy customs process at UA/SK border and bogie changing (Ukraine has different gauge than pe).

It is much more cheaper to buy Ukrainian or Russian ticket only to the Ukrainian border station Chop, then buy a ticket from Chop to the first Slovak station Čierna nad Tisou, and then buy a Slovak domestic ticket at conductor (€1.30 surcharge). But then you have no berth reservation for the Slovak section and you have to change to seat car in Chop.

By bus

Among many others, there are regular services from Vienna, Prague and Budapest to Bratislava; and from Uzhhorod, Ukraine to the eastern Slovak town of Michalovce and from Krakow, Poland through Zakopane, Poland to Poprad.

Taking a bus from Prague to Bratislava is slower but cheaper than train if you buy a ticket in advance, e.g. at , , or using the common bus reservation system .

Buses from Poland and Ukraine are the best option, they are faster and more frequent than trains.

From Budapest the travel is 4 hours, the bus stop for 5 minutes at Györ and in a small restaurant in the road.

By foot
* There"s a pontoon ferry accessible to cardrivers and pedestrians between "Angern an der March" (Austria) and "Záhorská Ves" (Slovakia). Open from five o"clock to twenty two o"clock.

By plane

Bratislava has its own . The budget airline, operates flies to Bratislava from various pean cities, inluding London Stansted, and London Luton, Dublin, Rome (ciampino), Paris (Beauvais) and Brussels (Charleroi), and a few others. As these flights can be quite cheap, if you are arriving from outside pe, you might end up saving a lot of money by flying to a bigger airport and then connecting to Bratislava.

Full service carriers providing service to Bratislava BTS are Czech Airlines and Lufthansa . Czech Airlines (CSA) provides several flights a day to/from its Prague hub. Czech Airlines connects its Praha hub also with Slovak airports in Kosice, Sliac and Zilina. One can also fly between Kosice and Vienna (OS) and between Kosice and Bratislava (Danube Wings).

The other alternative is Vienna , which is just about 35 kms from Bratislava. It provides a more convenient way of arriving to Slovakia by the major airlines, but can be more expensive. It also operates a mnuch greater number of longhaul flights. Buses leave for Bratislava hourly, optionally you can take the airport shuttle.

Other options include airports in Prague and Budapest, with both cities about 4hrs away by public transport. There are also direct flights operated between Prague and Bratislava and Prague and Kosice, the latter in conjunction with a flight to Prague providing the most convienient access by plane to the Eastern part of the country.

Poprad Tatry Airport is also connected with Bratislava, Bologna and Basel thanks to scheduled routes operated by Danube Wings.

You can also fly to Krakow if you want to go to the Tatra Mountains. Buses from Krakow run to several Slovak towns around the Tatra mountains and Orava.

Get around
Train from Bratislava to Košice underneath the High Tatras
offers an "exceptionally useful website" with integrated timetables for all trains and buses in Slovakia, including all intracity and intercity transports. Anywhere you want to go in Slovakia, this should be your first point of reference, as it lists every single bus and train in Slovakia. It is also useful for international travel from/to Slovakia.

By train

Train is by far the best option to travel across Slovakia, provided you don"t have a private vehicle. Frequent fast trains connects all important cities, but there are less local trains, even at main lines. For local transport a bus is generally a better alternative. Trains are fairly priced, with the prices competitive with buses, and cheap by western standards. They are reliable and clean.

Opt for an InterCity service if you want Westernstyle comfort; IC trains link Bratislava, Žilina, The High Tatras and Košice and have compulsory reservations. These can save you from the crowds: ordinary trains do get crowded, usually on Fridays and Sundays or around holidays. Watch out for pickpockets at major stations and steer clear of money scams. Also, sporadic robberies occur to sleeping passengers travelling the overnight longliners.

Domestic tickets can be bought over Internet at . Tickets bought over Internet are only valid in specified trains. Tickets bought at stations are valid for any one journey on the given route within a specified time period (usually one or two days, depending on the distance), and thus very flexible. International tickets, as of 2011, can only be bought at stations.

By bus
Bus connections are usually slower than trains, but can get you where trains cannot, and some private companies also offer discounts for travellers with a foreign ISIC card (staterun companies do not, unless you"re a Slovak citizen). Tickets for longhaul routes (including to/from the Czech Republic or within the Czech Republic) can be bought from after compulsory registration (english version is also available). The travel from Bratislava to Nitra is a rare example of a route where buses are significantly faster and cheaper than trains.

Buses are punctual, and it is therefore advisable to arrive at the bus station in advance, the time specified in the timetable is the time it leaves the station. Most tickets are bought directly from the driver, so you will probably need cash. Though the bus driver will give you change, especially for shorter (cheaper) journeys, it is advisable to have some smaller denominations.

By car
Renting a car is a convienient and efficient way to explore Slovakia, especially if you intend to visit more remote areas, where train and bus services may be more sporadic. The road network is extensive and mostly in good condition. Most roads are two lane and in good repair, but some more minor roads can get bumpy.
Please note that compared some Western countries, driving can be a bit more agressive and especially speeding is common.

In SLovakia, cars drive on the right side of the road and the speed limits 50kmh in a village/town, 90kmh outside cities, and 130kmh on motorways.

If you intend to drive on the motorways please note that they are subject to road toll in the form of a sticker ("vignette"), which can be purchased from most petrol stations and is valid for a week (7 €), for a month (14 €) or longer. The vignette must be fastened in the upper right corner on the car"s windshield to be valid, as this is mostly checked by electronic camera system. It is not enough if you just posses one! Please note that that the vignette is compulsory on all motorways from the point of entry, and if you are caught without one you will be subject to a fine. If you are renting a car, it might already have one of these, but remember to check.

Also note that in Slovakia there is a "zero tolerance" policy towards alcohol. Do NOT drink and drive, the penalties are severe.

It is also compulsory to have headlights on when driving at all times, regardless of weather conditions or whether it is a night or day, so switch them on.

In winter, snow and ice is common on the roads, and winter tyres are recommended. In extreme weather some minor mountain roads might require snow chains.

If you understand Slovak, many private radio stations include a great traffic coverage as a part of their news, which will inform you about any obstructions on the road, car accidents, traffic jams and even police presence so it is certainly worth tuning in.

Hitchhiking in Slovakia is best done by asking around at gas stations. It used to be that most people only speak Slovak (and possibly understand other Slavic languages) so it was difficult for foreigners who don"t speak Slavic languages. However, nowadays most of the young people speak English and almost as many speak German.

Keep in mind that trains and buses in Slovakia are cheap for Westerners, and (apart from extremely rural areas where people are generally less wary of hitchhikers) it might take a while for someone to pick you up. You can find some offers if you travel from Slovakia and into Slovakia as well on specialized web pages. The biggest hitchhikers page in Slovakia is . There you can find offers in English, German, French, Polish, Czech and Hungarian language and it is free.

On foot
Hiking signpost in High Tatras
There is a long tradition of hiking and mountian walking in Slovakia, and it is an extremely popular sport. Most people you meet will have gone on a hike at least once in their life, and many do so regularly, and can give you advice about the most interesting local trails. The trail network is also very well maintaned. The quality and efficiency of the signposting system is unique in pean (and probably World) context.

Every route is marked and signposted, different trails being given a different colour. There are four colours used red, blue, green and yellow. Longest and most sternous trails are usually marked red, and it is possible to traverse from northeastern Dukla Pass all the way to the west (Bradlo, near Bratislava) along the Slovak National Uprising Heroes trail (750km) along one such redmarked path. However, the trails are numerous, suitable for various levels of fitness, and many lead through beautiful scenery.In towns, you will usually see a signpost, with arrows pointing in different directions, marking the colour of the path and the average walking times to the nearest set of destinations. All you need to do is to follow the colour, there will be a mark every hundred metres or so, and consists of a 10cm x 10cm square threesection mark where the edges are white and the chosen path"s colour in the middle.

It is also possible (and highly recommended) to purchase "tourist maps" of smaller slovak regions. These are based on sets of former military maps, have a very good resolution (1:50000) and can be purchased from most kiosks, information centres and bookstores for bargain price of between 1.50 and 2.50EUR. These are published by the Slovak Tourist Club (KST), which maintains all the trails, and show all the marked trails in the area, including the average walking times, which makes route planning very easy and efficient.


The official and most widelyspoken language is "Slovak". Slovaks are very proud of their language, and thus, even in Bratislava you will not find many signs written in English (outside of the main tourist areas). Also, most older people except some in Bratislava are unable to converse in English; however, most young people speak at least some English, as it has been taught in most schools since 1990. "Czech" and Slovak are mutually intelligible, yet distinctive languages (at first, one might think they are dialects of each other).

Slovak is written using the same Roman characters that English uses (with some added accents or diacritics), so Western travellers won"t have any trouble reading signs and maps. While some words are tongue twisters, the knowledge of the alphabet including the letters with diacritics will go a long way as Slovaks pronounce every letter of a word with accent always on the first syllable.

Since the territory of Slovakia was under Hungarian influence for centuries, there is a significant Hungarianspeaking minority of 9.7%. Most of the Hungarians live in southern regions of the country and some of them speak no Slovak. Other Slovaks however normally do not speak or understand the Hungarian language.

While you can make do with English and German in Bratislava, in smaller towns and villages your only chance is trying to approach younger people that speak some English. Older residents may know some German. People born between 1935 and 1980 will have learned Russian in school, though few Slovaks will appreciate being spoken to in Russian as this language has some negative connotations due to the Communist era. Due to the significant tourism growth in the North and the East of Slovakia, English is becoming more widely used and you may try Polish. Other Slavic languages, especially Russian, Serbian, Croatian, and Slovene may also work. In the east Rusyn, a Ukrainian dialect close to Polish is spoken. It is also intelligible with Russian to some extent. Attempts to speak Slovak will be very appreciated.

If you speak the international language Esperanto, you can take advantage of the network of Esperanto delegates scattered across Slovakia.

High Tatras
* Slovakia boasts a recordhigh number of castles and chateaux . Some of them are little more than a pile of stones hidden in a deep forest, others are luxurious baroque mansions or citadels in the middle of towns. Especially worthwhile for tourists are the , reported to be the largest castle in Central pe, the built in the 19th century in a pseudoromanesque style, and , an ancient archeological site and a sacred place for all Slavs
* Vlkolínec, a hamlet high in the mountains, where time stopped in the 19th century
* Countless wooden churches in northern and northeastern Slovakia
* Medieval mining towns of Kremnica and Banská Štiavnica
*Ochtinska aragonite cave truly unique and one of the few such caves open to the public in the world, aragonite is a needlelike crystal that forms flowerlike patterns on the walls Ochtinska Aragonite Cave
* Slovak Paradise National Park smaller mountain range famous beautiful canyones and ravines with many waterfalls and rocky formations created by the streams you can hike along.
*High Tatras a mountain range featuring a variety of terrain and beautiful vistas offers great opportunities for hiking and winter sports.


Until January 1, 2009, the official currency was the "koruna" ("crown", sk) which can still be found and accepted by the central bank until 2017 at a rate of 30.126sk to €1.

Automatic teller machines (ATM, "bankomat" in Slovak, pl. "bankomaty") are widely available in Slovakia except in smaller villages, and obtaining money there should not present a problem. In most of small villages you can gain money at local postal offices (cashback). Credit cards and debit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Visa Electron, Cirrus Maestro are widely accepted both in shops and restaurants in bigger cities.

Slovak cuisine focuses mostly on simple and hearty recipes. Historically, what is now considered genuinely Slovak has been the traditional food in the northern villages where people lived off sheep grazing and limited agriculture in the harsh conditions many crops don"t grow, and herbs are more accessible than true spices. Therefore, the staple foods mostly involve (smoked) meat, cheese, potatoes and flour. This does not make the food bland, however, and much of it is quite filling and flavoursome, though can be a bit heavy. As no strong spices or truly exotic ingredients are used, sampling local wares is a safe and rewarding experience.

Some dishes are authentically Slovak, many others are variations on a regional theme. A lot of cheese is typically consumed, out of meats pork and poultry products are the most common, with some beef and game dishes, most common accompaniments being potatoes and various types of dumplings. Since Slovakia is a landlocked country, fish and seafood options are limited (carp is served at Christmas, trout is the most common fish). Soups are quite common both as an appetiser and, as some are quite filling, as a main dish.

If you are a "vegetarian", the variety of food in the cities should be decent. However, when venturing out into the countryside, the offer may be limited as vegetables are mostly considered a side and/or eaten mostly raw or in salads. Also, be aware that even though some dishes will be in the vegetarian section of the menu, this merely means that they"re not predominanty meatbased and still might be prepared using animal fats or even contain small pieces of meat, so make your requirements clear. Fried cheese with ham or ceasar salad(!) are good examples. Still, almost every restaurant in the country will serve at least the staple choice of fried cheese (the normal, nonham variety) with fries, which is a universally popular. There should be a good selection of sweet dishes as well, with pancakes, dumplings filled with fruits, jams or chocolate and sweet noodles with nuts/poppy seeds/sweet cottage cheese most common. Seeking out the nearest pizzeria is also a good and accessible option mostly everywhere.

The main meal of the day is traditionally lunch, though this is changing especially in cities due to work schedules, and dinner is increasing becoming the main meal there.

In establishments where you sit in (cafes and restaurants), it is common to "tip around 10%" or at least round the amount up to the nearest euro or note (depending on amount). Tips are not included in the bill, if there is a percentage shown on your bill, this is usually the VAT. Tip is added to the bill and should be handed to the waiter while you pay, before you leave the table. Tipping is not compulsory, so if you are not satisfied with the service, don"t feel obliged to tip! You will not be hassled if you don"t. Tipping is not common in overthecounter establishments, bars or for other services.

It should be noted that in all but the most exclusive restaurants it is not customary to be shown to your table by the staff. So when you enter, do not hang out by the door, but simply pick a table of your choice and enjoy. Once you are comfortably seated, waiting staff will be over shortly to give you the menu and let you order drinks.

Again with the possible exception of the most exclusive establishments, there is mosrly "no dress code" enforced in restaurants and informal clothing is fine. Hauling yourself into a restaurant for welldeserved meal after a day of hiking/skiing in your sporty clothes might attract a few frowns, but you certainly won"t be turned away. Generally, anything you would wear for a stroll in town is perfectly fine. You don"t need a jacket or closed shoes and in summer shorts are also acceptable.

Slovak food
Bryndzove Halusky
"Bryndzové halušky" is a Slovak national dish made out of potato dumplings and special kind of unpasteurized fermented sheep cheese called "bryndza". This meal is unique to Slovakia and quite appetising (and surprisingly filling), and you should not leave Slovakia without trying it. Please note that while this dish will usually be listed in the vegetarian section of the menu, it is served with pieces of fried meaty bacon on top, so if you are a vegetarian make sure to ask for halušky without the bacon. Halušky can be found in many restaurants, however, the quality varies as it is not an easy dish to prepare. I you at all can, seek out an ethnic Slovak restaurant (this can be harder than it sounds), or at least ask locals for the best place in the vicinity. In the northern regions you will find also authentic restaurants called "Salaš" (this word means sheep farm in Slovak and many take produce directly from these), which serve the most delicious and fresh variety. Sometimes, a variety with smoked cheese added on the top is available. A separate dish called "strapačky" might also be available where sauerkraut is served instead of bryndza, but it is not as typical (this will also come with bacon on top).

A "salaš" will usually serve also other typical Slovak dishes, and many will offer several varieties of sheep cheese to buy as well. They are all locally produced, delivious, and well worth buying if you are a cheese fan. Verieties include "bryndza" (primarily used to make "Bryndzové halušky", but it is a soft spreadable cheese which is very healthy and often used as a spread), blocks of sheep cheese (soft and malleable, delicious on its own or with salt), "parenica" (cheese curled in layers into a small peelable roll, sold smoked or unsmoked) and "korbáčiky" (this word means hair braids in Slovak, and korbáčiky are threads of cheese woven into a pattern resembling a basic braid). Some of these cheeses are available to buy in supermarkets as well but these are mass produced and not as good.

Most other dishes are regional, and their varieties can be found elsewhere in Central pe. These include "kapustnica", a sauerkraut soup typically eaten at Christmas but served all year round in restaurants. It is flavoursome and can be mildly spicy based on what sausage is used. Depending on the recipe it may also include smoked meat an/or dried mushrooms.

Various large dumplings called "pirohy" can be found and depending on the filling can be salty or sweet. Fillings include sauerkraut, various types of cheese or meat or simply fruits or jam. They closely resemble Polish pierogy.

"Goulash" is a regional dish made with cuts of beef, onions, vegetables and squashed potatoes with spices, which is very hearty and filling. Depending on the thickness it can be served as a soup (with bread) or as a stew (served with dumplings). Goulash can be sometimes found outdoors during BBQs or at festival markets, where it is prepared in a big cauldron, sometimes with game instead of beef this is the most authentic. A variety called "Segedin goulash" also exists, which is quite distinct and prepared with sauerkraut. Goulash can be quite spicy.

Apart from kapustnica and goulash, which are more of a main dish, other "soups" are quite popular as an appetiser. Mushroom soup is a typical Christmas dish in many parts, and there are several soups made out of beans or bean sprouts. In restaurants, the most common soups are normal chicken and (sometimes) beef broth, and tomato soup and garlic broth (served with croutons, very tasty, but don"t go kissing peopel after) are also very common. Some restaurants offer certain soups to be served in a small loaf of bread ("v bochniku"), which can be an interesting and tasty experience.

Other typical "streetfood" includes "lokše," potato pancakes served with various fillings (popular varieties include duck fat and/or duck liver pate, poppy seeds or jam) and "langoš", which is a big deep fried flat bread most commonly served with garlic, cheese and ketchup/sour cream on top. A local version of a burger is also common, called "cigánska pečienka" (or simply cigánska). This is not made out of beef, however, but instead pork or chicken is used and is served in a bun with mustard/ketchup and (sometimes) onions, chilies and/or diced cabbage. If you are looking for something sweet, in spa cities such as Piešťany, you will find stands selling "spa wafers", which are usually two platesized thin wafers with various fillings. Try chocolate or hazelnut.

Especially in the western parts, lokše can be found in a restaurant as well, where they are served as side for a roasted goose/duck ("husacina"), which is a local delicacy.

Other foods worth trying are chicken in paprika sauce with dumplings ("paprikas"), Schnitzel ("Rezeň" in Slovak, very common dish. "Čiernohorsky rezeň" is a variety that is made with potato dumpling coating used instead of batter and is very good) and Svieckova (sirloin beef with special vegetable sauce, served with dumplings). From the desert section of the menu, try plum dumplings (sometimes other fruit is used, but plums are traditional); this is a good and quite filling dish on its own as well.

In some parts of the countryside, there is a tradition called "zabíjačka", where a pig is killled and its various meat and parts are consumed in a BBQlike event. This is a lot more historic celebration than you are likely to find in mostly modern Slovakia, but if you have an opportunity to attend, it may be an interesting experience, and the meat and sausages are homemade, delicious and full of flavour. If you can find homemade "hurka" (pork meat and liver sausage with rice) or "krvavnicky" (similar to hurka, but with pork blood) on offer elsewhere, they are both very good. There is also "tlačenka" (cold meat pressed together with some vegetables, served similar to ham), which is served cold with vinegar and onion on top, and can be bought in supermarkets as well.Various other type of sausages and smoked meats are available commercially.

A thick fried slice of cheese served with French fries and a salad is also a common Slovak dish. It is served in most restaurants, and worth trying out, especially the local variety made from smoked cheese ("udeny syr"/"ostiepok") or "hermelin" (local cheese similar to camembert). This is not considered a substitute for meat.

There is a good variety of bakery products, inclusing various sweet pastries try the local fillings of poppy seeds and/or (sweet) cottage cheese ("tvaroh"). "Strudel" (štrúdla) is also popular, try the traditional apple and raisins filling or fancier sweet poppy seeds and sour cherries version. For something savoury, try "pagáč", which is a puff pastry with little pork cracklings. Local bread is excellent, but please note that some of the several varieties are sprinkled with caraway seeds. You may or may not like this! Baguettes and baguette shops/stands are very common and you will be able to choose from a variety of fillings.

For dessert, visit the local "cukráreň". These establishments, though slowly merging into cafes, exclusively specialise in appeasing your sweet tooth and serve a variety of cakes, as well as hot and cold drinks and (sometimes) icecream. The cakes resemble similar fare in the Czech Republic or their Viennese cousins. The selection is diverse and on display, so just pick one you like the look of, perhaps a "krémeš" (a bit of pastry at the bottom, thick filling of vanilla custard, topped with a layer of cream or just chocolate) or "veterník" (think huge profiterole coated in caramel), selection of tortas etc.

When you are shopping in the supermarket, remember to pick up "Tatranky" and/or "Horalky", two brands of similar wafers with hazelnut filling and lightly coated in chocolate that the locals swear by.

For more information visitSlovensko.

International Cuisine

Italian restaurants and pizzerias are extremely popular in Slovakia, and have become ubiquitous. Even if you don"t go to an ethnic Italian restaurant, there will be a pizza or pasta dish on almost every restaurant menu. Italian (and generally Mediterranean)ice cream is also very popular.

Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine is also becoming more common everywhere, and kebab/gyros (a bun with sliced bits of meat) stands are very common.

In bigger cities, you will find selection of ethnic restaurants including Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian, French and many others. Moreover, as mentioned above, many Austrian, Czech, Hungarian and Polish dishes with Slovakian twist are commonplace.

Fast food establishments can be found in Slovakia as anywhere else in the world, McDonalds and Burger King can be found in many bigger and smaller cities. However, due to the other food being relatively cheap in comparison to the Western prices in fast foods, this is not usually considered the truly budget option. A food in a cheaper restaurant will cost 11.5x the price of a meal combo and might prove a better value. Still, these establishments are reasonably popular, especially with the younger generation.

Nonalcoholic drinks
For nonalcoholic drinks try "Vinea", a soft drink made from grapes, in both red and white and also noncarbonated. "Kofola", a Coketype soft drink, is also very popular among locals and is available both on tap and bottled. Slovakia is one of three countries in the world where Cocacola is not the number one in the market.

"Mineral waters" are some of the best in the World, come in numerous varieties and each has unique positive health effects (e.g. getting rid of heartburn, improving digestion etc) depending on the type of minerals naturally found in the water.
There are many types available from shops and supermarkets, for example Budiš, Mitická, Slatina, Rajec, Dobrá Voda, Zlatá studňa, Mattoni etc. Others are only available directly from the many natural mineral springs common all across the country. As these are true "mineral" waters, they will invariably contain minerals, and the taste will differ according to the brand/spring. If you don"t like one, try a different brand! You may also try mineral waters with various flavourings, ranging from raspberry to "mojito".

In contrast to what you might be used to, "sparking water" is the default option, so if you prefer still you might have to look for this specifically. The level of carbonation is marked by the label. Dark blue or Red label usually indicates carbonated ones ("perlivá"), a green label indicates mildly carbonated ones ("mierne perlivá") and white, pink or baby blue indicates those without carbon dioxide ("neperlivá"). Due to the excellent local choice and quality of the water, international brands are not as common.

In restaurants, serving of a free glass of water is not a part of the culture, so remember that if you ask for one it is quite likely that you will be brought (most likely sparkling) mineral water instead (and charged for it).

Out of hot drinks "coffee" is available everywhere, mostly in three varieties (cafes in cities will offer more) espresso, "normal" coffee which is served mediumsized, small and black and Viennese coffee which is "normal" coffee with a dollop of cream on top. Cappuchinos are quite common as well. Coffee is served with sugar and cream/milk on the side. Hot chocolate is popular as well. "Tea" rooms are quite popular as a place to chill out in major cities. These usually have a laidback, vaguely oriental ambience, and offer a great variety of black, green, white and fruit teas. Schisha might be on offer as well. A part of this culture spread to the other catering establishments, most of which will now offer a choice at least between fruit and black tea. Note that black tea is served with sugar and lemon in Slovakia, serving of milk or cream is not common. Some places may offer a beverage called "hot apple", which tastes a bit like softer hot apple juice.

Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking is very much a part of the Slovak culture and some form of alcohol will be served at most social occasions. However, the locals mostly hold their liquor well and BEING visibly drunk is frowned upon, so be aware of your limits. Note that some locally brewed spirits may be stronger than what you are used to, and that "the standard shot glass in Slovakia is 50ml", which may be more than you are used to if arriving from Western pe. If you order double vodka, you will get 1dl of it! Alcohol in general is cheap compared to Western pe or the US. There are no special shops, and alcoholic beverages can be purchased in practically any local supermarket or food store. You can legally drink and purchase alcohol if you are 18 years or older, but this is not very strictly enforced. You still might be IDed in some city clubs if you look very young, however.

For "beers", there are a great variety of excellent local brews that are similar in style and quality to Czech beers (which are also widely available), and beer is mostly the local drink of choice. Try out the "Zlatý Bažant", "Smädný Mních", "Topvar" and "Šariš". Šariš is also available in a dark version that is thicker and heavier on your stomach. If the local tastes do not satisfy, "Western" beers are sold in the bigger restaurants and pubs.

Slovakia has also some great local "wines", many similar to Germanic Riesling styles. There is a number of winegrowing regions in the south with centuries worth of tradition, including the area just outside Bratislava. If you can, try to visit one of the local producer"s wine cellars, as many are historical and it is a cultural experience as of itself. You might also be offered homemade wine if you are visiting these areas, as many locals ferment their own wines. The quality obviously varies. Every year at the end of May and beginning of November, an event called "Small Carpathian Wine Road" takes place in Small Carpathian Wine Region (between Bratislava and Trnava), where all the local producers open their cellars to the public. Buy a ticket in the nearest cellar and you will recieve a wine glass and admission into any cellar in the region, where you can sample the best produce from the previous year.

There are also sweeter wines grown in SouthEastern border regions called Tokaj. Tokaj is fermented out of the special Tokaj grape variety endemic to the region (part of which is in Hungary and part in Slovakia) and it is a sweet dessert wine. Tokaj is considered a premium brand with a worldwide reputation and is arguably some of the best Central pe has to offer. Other Slovak wines might not be widely known outside the region but they are certainly worth a try. The best recent wine years in Slovakia were 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. Around the harvest time in the autumn, in the wineproducing regions, young wine called "burčiak" is often sold and popular among the locals. As burčiak strenghtens with fermentation (as it becomes actual wine), its alcohol content can vary quite wildly.

Slovakia produces good "spirits". Excellent is the plum brandy ("Slivovica"), pear brandy ("Hruškovica") or herb liquor "Demänovka". But the most popular alcohol is "Borovička", a type of gin. "Fernet", a type of aromatic bitter spirit is also very popular. In some shops you may try a 25 or 50 ml shot for very little money, so as to avoid buying a big bottle of something of unknown flavour, then decide whether to buy or not to buy. International brands are also available, but at a price premium (still cheaper than in most Western countries, however).

If you are a more adventurous type, you can try some homemade fruit brandys that the locals sometimes offer to foreigners. Slivovica is the most common, but also pear brandy, apricot brandy, or raspberry brandy can be found. Drinking is a part of the tradition, especially in the countryside. If you are visiting locals, don"t be surprised if you are offered homemade spirit as a welcome drink nor that the host may be quite proud of this private stock. The homemade liquors are very strong (up to 60% alcohol), so be careful. If Slivovica is matured for 12 or more years, it can become a pleasant digestive drink.

In winter months, mulled wine is available at all winter markets and mulled mead is also common. A mixed hot drink called "grog", which consists of black tea and a shot of local "rum" is very popular, especially in the skiing resorts, and really warms you up.

The medieval mining town of Banská Štiavnica
*Visit the nearest chateau/castle many are hundreds of years old, some preserved in a habitable state with period furnishings and many guided tours are offered.

*Go hiking! the entire Slovakia (except flatlands) is covered with hundreds of miles of extremely wellmarked hiking trails, that especially in the national parks lead though georgeous landscapes. Get the idea .

*Visit one of the traditional wooden churches , they"re unique to the region. These might not be readily accessible without a car, however.

*Go spelunking caves are interspensed around Slovakia and as many are open to general public they are some of the most accessible in the world. Many are UNESCO listed, including "Dobsinska Ice Cave" (in Slovak Paradise), and "Ochrinska Aragonite Cave, Domica, Jasovska Cave" and "Gombasek Cave" (all in Slovak Karst)

Domica Cave in Slovak Karst

*Visit a local festival in the early spring "Fasiangy" (Mardi Gras) is celebrated, especially in the countryside, and in early autumn the end of the harvest period is celebrated in wineproducing regions. The part of the centre of the town will be closed and a traditional market available, mostly with local produce and handicrafts for sale and plenty to eat and drink. In bigger cities, similar Christmas markets open in December/around Christmas.

*Ski and snowboard in the mountains, especially High Tatras and Low Tatras. Smaller ranges are also very suitable for crosscountry skiing

*Navigate down the rivers Váh or Dunajec on a raft through picturesque gorges. For a more gentle ride, raft down the Small Danube.

*If you"re into railway history or would like to spend a day romantically, Slovakia offers a number of phasedout railway tracks, which were once used for transporting wood, but now transport only tourists in cosy steam trains through forests and valleys. The bestpreserved of them all is near the town of "Brezno".

Cultural Events
*"International Film Festival Artfilm" Yearly in June/July in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín.
*"International Film Festival Cinematik" Yearly in early September in Piešťany. Young and relatively small film festival. Accreditation for the whole festival is less than €7.
*"International Film Festival Bratislava" forever in December.

*"ComicsSalón" A event dedicated to Japanese Anime & Manga, Fantasy and SciFi and its fans, but not only them! Great atmosphere, friendly folk and lots of fun awaits you there. This events roots stretch back to 2004, when it was held in "Súza" for the first time. Now, once every year early in September Bratislava enjoys the rush of fine individuals from all over pe to participate in this unique event. For the past 2 years, the location was moved to "Istropolis" exhibition halls due to space constraints.

Music Events

*"Pohoda Music Festival" one of the biggest Slovak music festivals. Yearly in July in Trenčín.

*"Aquabeatz" one of the many local events you should definitely not miss. Yearly twice in February and July in Nové Zámky. Divided to Winter and Summer edition WE being held within the clubbing complex itself, while SE being held open air at the city"s so called "Airport" just ask the locals for directions.

Slovakia offers many excellent spas and water parks. If you enjoy stinking mud and are willing to pay for it, the best, most famous (and most expensive) spa is located in Piešťany. Important spas are also in Trenčianske Teplice, Rajecké Teplice, Bardejov, "Dudince" and "Podhájska".

If it"s too boring for you and you"d welcome some water slides and fun, try water parks in "Bešeňová", Liptovský Mikuláš, Poprad, Turčianske Teplice, "Oravice", "Senec". Significantly cheaper are classical openair pools, some of the best are in "Veľký Meder" and "Štúrovo".

There is a wide rangeof accommodation available in Slovakia. These range from AquaCity, based in Poprad, through to budget priced rooms in rental chalets.

The most luxurious hotels can mostly be found in major cities such as Bratislava and Košice and in the major tourist destinations like the High Tatras or the spa towns (the situation here is unique as the price of the hotel usually includes some of the spa procedures). These hotels offer Western style comfort and prices.

There will at least one hotel available in every major town or tourist area, but the quality varies. Some of the midrange hotels were built during the Communist era in the corresponding architecture style, which might make them look less appealing from the outside, though the interiors might be perfectly adequate.

Budget hostels are mostly concentrated in the major cities, and you can expect typical hostel prices as in the rest of (Central) pe. If you are venturing outside of cities, there are numerous mountain huts available for shortterm rent in the mountain areas. Especially in touristy areas there will be many private rooms available for rent, look out for "Zimmer Frei" signs. This typically does not include breakfast.

When hiking, official maintained mountain cabins offer cheap accommodation for hikers on trails in all of the national parks and a lot of the national conservation areas. They have a limited number of beds (if any) and generally limited capacity, so for the more frequented places during the high season an advance booking might be necessary and is recommended. If you don"t manage to book a bed, you might be allowed to still stay overnight, sleeping on the floor in designated areas. Either way, you will probably want to bring your own sleeping bag. The facilities, due to the location, are limited, but there will be a shared toilet and possibly a shower. There"s usually a kitchen that serves several hearty hot dishes and a number of drinks at pretty reasonable prices. For more information about prices and contact for mountain cabins in High Tatras see .

It is only legal to pitch a tent in Slovakia outside national parks and propected natural zones (where should be signposts but there might not depending on how and where you enter these), but camping is reasonably popular in summer.
Camping grounds in Slovakia "(nonexhaustive list)":

The most important universities in Slovakia include:

* the oldest Slovak university, in Bratislava
* located in Bratislava, technical subjects such as IT, engineering, physics etc
* located in Bratislava, focus on business and economics
* in Komarno, the only university in Slovakia offering tuition in Hungarian
* the main Trnava university
* in Kosice, best technical university in Slovakia

At the secondary schooling level, there are several bilingual schools in Slovakia. The International Baccalaureate program with international recognition and transferability that is taught entirely in English can be studied at in Bratislava.

A number of Slovak language courses and/or private tutors should be available in most major cities.

Video to help you learn about Slovakia can be found at High Tatras TV

Slovakia is a member of the pean Union so if you are a citizen of another member state, you can legally reside and work in Slovakia without restrictions. The most popular website for job listings is

Most Embassy offices will advise pean Citizens as well. Average salary in 2009 was 750 EURO a month. Best paid are IT experts with average salary over 1500 EURO a month (construction workers earn around 560 EURO a month and waiters 340 EURO a month).

If you are from outside the EU, you will need a visa to work in Slovakia, and it"s best to contact your and/or Slovak embassy for more information. Teaching English as a second language is a popular work option. Note that unless you are applying for certain positions in international firms and similar organisations where English/German might do, you will probably need a working knowledge of Slovak for most other jobs.

Stay safe

"Slovakia is generally safe", even by pean standards, and as a visitor you are unlikely to encounter any problems whatsoever. Violent crime is especially uncommon, and Slovakia sees less violent crime per capita then the USA, Canada or even many pean countries. However, the biggest fear for a traveler is most probably the "roads".

Driving in Slovakia itself is extremely dangerous, and it has a bad reputation for road fatalities . Most of this is attributed to Aggressive driving habits, improperly built roads and ignorance of both guidelines and lax. Roads are generally poorly lighted, and are very narrow. If you plan to drive you must not be "under the influence of alcohol." Penalties are very severe if you are caught in such an act.

In case of an emergency, call 112, the universal emergency number. For police you can call 158, ambulance 155, and firefighters 150.

It shouldn"t be necessary to mention that the "2006 film Hostel", whose plot takes place in "Slovakia" "is a complete work of fiction", and the probability of tourists being kidnapped and tortured is the same in Slovakia as in any developed city in the USA or Western pe astronomically low. Slovakia is considered a safe travel destination for all tourists, as is much of pe. Similarly, the American movie "trip" (2004) might prove a sensitive topic, because it portrayed Slovakia as a terrifyingly undeveloped country, which is also false.

When visiting cities, exercise the same caution as you would in any other pean city use common sense, be extra careful after the dark, stay aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings in sight and avoid drunks and groups of young men. Pickpockets sometimes can be found in bigger crowds and at major train/bus stations.

When visiting mountainous areas of Slovakia, especially the "High Tatras", let the hotel personnel or other reliable people know where exactly you are going, so that rescuers can be sent out to find you if you don"t return. The relative small area and height of the High Tatras is very deceptive it is steep and difficult terrain with unpredictable weather. Never hike alone and use proper gear. The mountain rescue service is a good source of additional and current information, take their warnings seriously. In an event of emergency they can be contacted by calling 18300 or the universal 112. Make sure your medical insurance coverage includes the mountain activities before you venture forth, as a rescue mission in the inaccessible terrain may prove expensive.

Also note that the weather in the High Tatras is prone to sudden changes, especially during spring and autumn.

Slovakia is one of the few countries left in pe, where the likes of "bears" and wolves still live in the wild. While no one has died from a bear attack in the last 100 years, a few attacks occur each year. Your chance of encountering one as a tourist is very low, but the possibility exists. A bear will avoid you if it knows you"re there, so the best way to avoid this is by making your presence known by talking loudly/singing/clapping etc, especially in an area where it can"t readily see you from a distance. If you see a bear, do not run, but leave the area slowly in the opposite direction. If you see one from your hotel possibly feeding from the rubbish bins which is a bit more common, though still unlikely DO NOT approach or feed it.

Stay healthy

No vaccination is necessary to visit or stay in Slovakia although if you plan to visit countryside areas, tick vaccination is recommended. Also Hepatitis "A" and "B" vaccination is advisable as with all pean countries.

"Ticks" can be found in the countryside forests and also sometimes in larger parks, and in some areas they may carry "tickborne encephalitis". As they reside in bushes and taller grass (when they fall of the trees). Therefore, when going hiking try to avoid thick undergrowth and always check all over your body when you return (ticks tend to seek warm spots). Remove the tick as soon as possible, by gently wiggling it out of the bite by its head (never break off or squeeze the body as the head will stay lodged in skin and might become infected). Do not touch the tick at any stage with bare hands, use tweezers and latex gloves.

Most of the food and drink is perfectly safe, the hygiene standards in Slovakia are the same as elsewhere in Western/Central pe.

Tap water is drinkable everywhere according to one study, water used as tap water in the BratislavaVienna region is the cleanest in the world. If you prefer mineral waters, you can choose from a multitude of brands, since Slovakia has quite possibly the highest number of natural mineral water springs per capita.

The High Tatras might not be the biggest or the most tallest mountain range, but some trails may feature strenuous climbs, rocky terrain, and the weather may prove unpredictable. Take proper gear, do not overestimate your abilities, and use common sense.

If you decide to swim in the local rivers/natural pools/lakes, as many locals do, remember that unless expressly stated otherwise, these activities are not supervised by a life guard, and you are doing so at your own risk.

The standard of health care is quite high, but the language barrier might be a problem as not many doctors speak English.

There are no overthecounter drugs sold in Slovakia in supermarkets or drug stores, you will need to head to a pharmacy even if you just need an aspirin. In even smaller cities, there should be one open 24/7. Look out for the nearest green cross sign even if this particular pharmacy is closed, a sign in the door will point you towards the nearest open one. If you need a specific medicine, make sure you have your prescription ready as many drugs require it.

Slovaks are friendly and peaceful people living in a free democratic state. There is not a single issue that would provoke hostility or real trouble. Usually the worst thing that could happen is that you would be thought a bit boorish and the history explained to you over another beer. However, it pays to be respectful and sensitive when discussing certain topics.

Remember that Slovakia is a separate nation that has been independent since 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. It is also a "young nation", as for most of its history it was a part of other multinational states such as AustriaHungary or Czechoslovakia. Therefore, some people may be sensitive when it comes to nationality issues. There is no hostility or resentment when it comes to the Velvet divorce that split Czechoslovakia, and the two nations remain very amicable. Do not refer to Slovakia as a part of another state and you should be fine.

Slovakia"s position during WWII was quite complex, and this topic is best avoided when speaking to nationalists. Similarly, the decades of Communism left its mark on the country and this can be a sensitive topic. Slovakia, while formerly a part of the Soviet bloc, has never been a part of the USSR or the Russian Empire. Please remember this.

Out of the more current issues, the relations with the Roma/Gypsy minority are sometimes strained and people may hold strong views on the subject. Do not venture into a debate unless you are intimately acquainted with the problem.

Slovaks are quite hospitable, and if they invite you into their home, expect to be well looked after and offered a variety of food and drinks. If you are invited in for lunch, expect a 23 course meal just as for dinner, as lunch is traditionally the main meal of the day. It is considered polite to bring a small gift for the host, such as a bottle of wine or good spirit, a box of chocolates, or a small bouquet of flowers. Never money.

Most people do not use their outdoor shoes inside for hygienic reasons, so take your shoes off in the hallway when entering somebody"s home. Don"t worry, they will find you a spare pair of slippers to keep your feet warm.

When dining in a restaurant with the host"s family, it is customary for them to pick the bill. This might not happen, but don"t be surprised if they do.

When being introduced to or meeting someone, even of the opposite sex, and even for the first time, it is not uncommon to kiss each other on the cheek once or twice (depending on the region) instead of shaking hands. It is not common between two males, but is quite normal for women. Do not be alarmed, and remember that this is not a sexual gesture.

The international calling code for Slovakia is +421.

In case of an emergency, call the universal number 112. You can also call directly on 150 for fire brigade, 155 in a medical emergency or 158 for the police.

Slovak phones operate on the "GSM standard", which covers most of the country, and 3G is also becoming increasingly widespread. The coverage is surprisingly good, and you will often have signal even in mountain areas, unless you are in a deep ravine. There are three main operators Orange, Tmobile and O2, and they all use 900 or 1800Mhz standard, which might not be compatible with some US phones operating on 1900Mhz.

They all offer a variety of prepaid cards with various "pay as you go" schemes (some market research is advised, if you want the best deal) and incentives. If you have an unlocked phone, these are easy to pick up in any phone shop, or you can purchase a cheap phone with a prepaid card included.

There are still some phone boxes available, but with mobile phones now commonplace, they are declining in number. Also note that you might need to purchase a prepaid card to use some of them.

Wifi and broadband can be found more or less everywhere, and there will be an internet cafe/gaming room available somewhere even in smaller towns. Also, hostels, pubs, cafes, and some public institutions such as libraries or government buildings offer (free) wifi.

All foreign embassies are located in Bratislava, in the old town part of the city. A list of embassies in Slovakia with contact information can be found If your home country does not have an embassy in Slovakia, the nearest embassy can probably be found in Vienna in Austria, which is readily accessible by train, bus or car from Bratislava.




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(13.04.2021 08:54)

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