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Slovakia Travel Guide

Slovakia, Slovakia Travel Guide
Slovakia
Slovakia, Slovakia Travel Guide

“Travel because you have no idea who you are until you experience yourself through different people and realize that we’re all the same”

Anonymous
Slovakia, Slovakia Travel Guide

Top Seven Destinations In Slovakia

  • Bratislava Is the nation’s capital and Slovakia’s largest city. Bratislava has the Danube River right through the heart of it. This brings many riverboats to this fascinating city. It is a city with an impressive old town, but in the distance, old Soviet Union housing is apparent, one reason Bratislava is so fascinating to explore. At the city’s historic heart, one can find a magnificent hilltop castle and a range of medieval and Gothic buildings, with some fine Baroque palaces to visit. Don’t forget to visit the famous UFO Bridge and stop by for dinner.
  • Kosice Slovakia’s second-largest city, has an abundance of fun and fascinating things to see and do, with bars, restaurants, and shops alongside its many art galleries, museums, and theaters. Over the centuries, Kosice has been ruled by the Hungarians, Turks, Czechs, and Slovaks. As a result, there is a vast collection of notable monuments, statues, and cultural landmarks.
  • High Tatras Is a magnificent mountain range and home to the tallest mountains in the country. The High Tatras make for some fantastic hiking and rock climbing. There are great slopes to ski and enjoy all the winter sports in the winter.
  • Bardejov Has a charming historic center to explore. The well-preserved picturesque medieval town with a marketplace is the heart and soul of Bardejov, as it has been for centuries. There is also an old synagogue, along with a small Jewish quarter. 14th and 15th-century fortifications surround the town.
  • Slovak Paradise National Park Encompasses a wide array of wild and rugged landscapes. The Paradise National Park is a breathtakingly gorgeous part of the country to visit, with its deep canyons, valleys, and rivers cutting through the forests that seem to go on forever.
  • Vlkolinec Is one of the only remaining folk villages in Central Europe. The town has impressive architecture, with traditional log houses, a beautiful Baroque chapel, and an antiquated old bell tower. A quaint and charming village is set in an idyllic spot amidst forest-clad hills and fields, with mountains seen in the distance.
  • Levoca is known for its beautiful old townhouses, spectacular historic central square, glorious Gothic church, and a 15th-century town hall. Levoca is full of incredible historic sights and cultural landmarks, with magnificent architecture scattered around town; you’ll see Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic features.

Did you know?

Slovakia Stats

  • Population: 5.46 million
  • Capital City: Bratislava
  • Currency: Euro
  • Government type: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • Ethnic populations: German 88.5%, indigenous minorities 1.5% (includes Croatians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Roma), recent immigrant groups 10% (includes Turks, Bosnians, Serbians, Croatians) (2018)
  • Languages: Slovak is official and uses the Roman alphabet. Hungarian
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 55%, Orthodoxy 5.1 Other Christina 3.8 No religion 26%, Muslim 8.3%, other 1.2%,
  • Urban Population is 55%
  • Independent Slovak Republic since 1993 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia
  • U.S. State Department Risk Level: Level 1 (August 2022)
  • Terrorist groups: ISIS
  • President: Zuzana Caputova
  • Slovakia is an industrialized nation with a growing service sector.
  • The area of Slovakia is 18,933 square miles,
  • Border countries are Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine.
  • Slovakia’s national flag consists of three horizontal bands of color, from top to bottom: white, blue, and red. Superimposed over the bands on the left (hoist) side is a shield displaying the national emblem: a double apostolic cross in white sits atop the middle peak of three blue mountaintops, all on a red background.
  • The Slovak landscape is primarily known for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the country’s northern half.
  • Slovakia produces metal and metal products, fossil fuels (oil, gas), chemicals, synthetic fibers, machinery, paper, ceramics, transportation vehicles, rubber products, optical and electrical apparatus, food and beverages, electricity, and nuclear fuel.
  • Export partners are Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Australia, Hungary, Poland, and Franc,e
  • GDP(PPP) 2023 is 229 billion (70th),
  • Typical Slovak families have two or three children. At the same time, most women hold jobs outside the home. 
  • National Holiday is September 1, Constitution Day
  • The literacy rate is 99.62%
  • Life expectancy is 76.87 years

Fun Facts

  • Slovakia has hundreds of caves and caverns under its mountains, of which 30 are open to the public.
  • Slovakia is home to more than 180 castles.
  • Bratislava is the only city in the world that borders two countries. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, sits on borders with Austria and Hungary.
  • The highest wooden altar in the world is located in Slovakia. The altar of St. Jakub, created by Master Paul, is in the Church of St. James in Levoča.
  • After Austria, Slovakia has the most extensive natural freshwater supplies. It’s mainly the underground reserves of Žitný Ostrov. High-quality drinking water is flowing right from our taps.
  • The tallest cave column in the world is also located in Slovakia. The Krasnohorska Cave is a unique karst formation, with a giant column reaching over 100 feet.
  • The highest statue of a horse in the world is located in the Sport and Congress Center in Šamorín-Cilistov. It is made entirely of stainless steel, rises to almost 30 feet, and weighs 20 tons.
  • Slovakia has the first folk architecture village in the world. Wooden Čičmany village is at the foothill of the Strážov Hills. All the gingerbread houses are original! The first mention of the village dates back to the year 1272.
  • You can celebrate two birthdays. There is the day you were born, but there is also your namday. Every day of the year has assigned one or two names. When your name day comes up, you can expect well wishes, cards, and sometimes even gifts. The tradition’s origins can go back to the Catholic calendar of saints.
  • Central Europe’s oldest archeological toy discovery was in the archaeological site near Košice—the four-wheeled pushcart from a child’s grave dates from around 1600 BC.
  • In Slovakia, we have a unique active geyser that spouts water to a height of around 45 feet. It erupts every one and a half days. Similar geysers are located only in Iceland. This one is in Herľany.
  • Slovakia is home to the world’s newest and most accurate astronomical clock. It is located in the tiny Slovakian village of Stará Bystrica.
  • Slovaks are enormous fans of Andy Warhol, whose mother is Slovak.
  • Almost 50 well-preserved wooden churches stand all over Slovakia. They are part of the cultural heritage of UNESCO, all wood and without a single nail. The oldest is the church of St. Francis of Assisi in Hervatov (near Bardejov). It originated in 1500.

Slovakia Map

Good to know before you go

  • Tipping is not customary or even normal in Slovakia. Of course, tipping a server, hotel staff, or taxi is always a nice gesture. Ten percent would be very welcome. It is often best to leave it in cash to ensure the service staff receive the tip. You can also round up to the closest euro or two.
  • In their everyday life, the Slovaks dress like people anywhere else in the Western world. It is casual, often jeans and sneakers. This is the trend all over Europe. People will dress up in the evenings, especially for dinner, and a collared shirt and long pants for men are recommended. A dress, slacks, and a nice blouse are recommended for women. Clothing in urban areas is fashionable, while older, rural people remain more conservative. 
  • Driving in Slovakia is usually relatively easy. The roads are overall well-maintained. In the Slovak Republic, vehicles travel on the right side of the road. Headlights must be on at all times (day and night). The maximum legal speed on highways is 130 kilometers per hour (78 mph). On smaller roads, the maximum speed is 90 kph (54 mph). Seat belts are a requirement for all passengers, even in the back seats. Right turns on red are not permitted. Using your mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited. The blood alcohol tolerance level is zero percent. A highway user decal/vignette must be purchased online for travel on most major roads outside Bratislava. People seemed respectful drivers and not aggressive.
  • Credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants, and some shops, with plenty of ATMs in larger towns. Exchange offices can be found, but it’s usually better value to change your money in a bank. Always exchange in local currency rate and not your home rate.
  • Economically, this is a strong country with low unemployment. Many international automobile companies base their operations here due to the local expertise of the population.
  • When meeting strangers, shake hands, and don’t use first names when addressing older people. Casual greetings like ahoj are only for close friends.
  • Slovak cuisine rests on three elements: potatoes, pork, and cabbage. Because of the many neighboring countries, you’ll also find hints of Polish, Hungarian, and Ukrainian cuisine. The main courses are usually a combination of meat with potatoes or dumplings. Slovak dumplings are similar to gnocchi. Meat is usually breaded and fried or cooked in a sauce. The main meal of the day is lunch, which starts with soup.
  • Whether in a restaurant or at home, starting your meal with soup is the norm in Slovakia. Some soups are broth-based with veggies, while others are cream-based. Some soups pique your appetite, while others feel like entire meals!
  • Table manners are Continental, where the fork is in the left hand, and the knife is in the right while eating. Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. Finish everything on your plate.
  •  If invited to a Slovak home, you must remove your shoes at the door, even when told not to (they’re just being polite.)
  • Bring wine or chocolates if you’re invited to dine at a local home.
  • Vineyards in the southeast produce good white wine, the most distinctive being Tokaj, a sweet dessert wine. For a few weeks in September, you can get fresh burčák, a fruity, bubbly, semi-fermented white with which Slovaks and Czechs toast the harvest. We bought some during our travels and enjoyed it. Slivovica, made with plums, and borovička, made with juniper berries, are popular spirits. 
  • Due to various occupations in the last century. The feelings about Russia and Czechoslovakia can differ widely based on the generations. Our driver from Slovakia told us that in his family, his parents did not feel life was bad under communist rule. They felt safer, and life was predictable. The younger generation can see it in a very different. He said it is a topic that can cause a lot of strain, so it is best not to go there. This is a good recommendation for a visitor as well. Avoid such topics so as not to insult their view of the past.
  • Keeping fish in the bathtub before Christmas is a tradition because eating carp at Christmas is supposed to bring good luck, but since they are bottom feeders, they taste better if kept in clean water in a tub for several days before eating. Keeping the fish in the bathtub also ensures it stays fresh until Christmas Day. These days, many families in the countryside still carry on this tradition.
  • May 1 is a national holiday in Slovakia, without school or work. Instead, the men go out into the forests to find tall trees to use as Maypoles. The Slovak traditional Maypole is a tall tree that has been stripped of all of its branches except the very top two to three feet, which are left intact to look like a small Christmas tree. Slovaks tie colorful ribbons to these branches, symbolizing love, new life, and good growth. 
  • The Slovaks love their tea. Herbal teas are an incredibly popular way to heal whatever ails you. If you get ill, ask the local pharmacist what they recommend. Many of these herbal tea blends are produced in the country. Slovakia’s tea obsession isn’t evident only during illness but also in health. Several beautiful tea houses, like Čajovňa na zámku in Zvolen Castle or Čajovňa Klopačka in Banska Stiavnica, offer a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the perfect cup of tea.
  • The Slovaks tend to be reserved yet have a friendly demeanor. They value good humor and hard work.
  • Ice hockey and soccer are the most popular team sports. Slovaks enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating in winter. 
  • It is a safe country with low crime.

Slovakia Essential Info

U.S. Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a U.S. Phone is 1-888-407-4747
Outside of U.S., 011-202-501-4444

US Embassy Bratislava
811 02 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
Phone: +421-2-5443-0861
Emergency +421-9-0370-3666

Visa Call Center:+421-2-3305 7000 (on business days from 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM) from Slovakia
+703 520 2569 from the U.S.

Email: consulbratislava@state.gov

Embassy Website

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112
Medical 155 Fire 150 Police 158

Country Code
+421

Time Zone
UTC+1

Adaptors for Slovakia
“Standard” Euro plug
Type C or F

Driving
Right side

Official online travel guide Bratislava

Official Slovakia Tourism Office

When to go to Slovakia

The dry continental air brings in the summer heat and winter frosts. There is often fog in the lowlands and valleys, especially in winter. The Slovak climate lies between the temperate and continental climate zones, with relatively warm summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters. The weather differs from the mountainous north to the plains in the south.

Bratislava and Southern Slovakia are the warmest regions, where temperatures may reach 86 °F in summer. During the night, the temperatures drop 68 °F. The daily temperatures in winter average in the range of 23 °F to 50 °F. It may be freezing at night, but usually not below 14 °F.

Spring is characterized by colder weather, with an average daily temperature of 48 °F in the first weeks, about 57 °F in May and 63 °F in June. In Slovakia, the weather and climate in the spring are unpredictable and can get rainy.

Late Spring and early Fall are the loveliest months of the year to visit. Though the country is still not a typical tourist destination, even in the summer months, you will not see the crowds seen in so many other European cities.

Our Favorite Slovakia Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

Rick Steves Eastern Europe There is no dedicated book for Slovakia, but there is still great info in this guide. Full disclosure: We are huge Rick Steve fans; it would be rare not to recommend one of his wonderful guides. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint and are an excellent resource. This great travel companion is full of expert advice and independent reviews on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and suggestions for exploring this fascinating country. He offers a pocket guide to Vienna as well. Find this guide here.

Our favorite websites

1. Official Slovakia Tourism Office

2. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs Slovakia Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. The U.S. Federal Government addresses the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency U.S. and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, exceptional circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Switzerland. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this critical info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

3. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Slovakia Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Malta.

Our favorite maps

Slovakia (National Geographic Adventure Map, 3323) Easy to read maps with practical road and travel information. These maps are meant for the adventure traveler and are very durable. Detailed highlights and weather info. Significant sites and landmarks are well-marked. Great for planning your route before your trip. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here.

Our favorite apps

Google Maps  Enter any address, landmark, or city in the app will instantly display all your travel options, and booking info, along with accommodation providers and things to do. Find it on your local app store.

Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find it on your local App Store.

Rick Steves Audio Europe This app includes Rick Steve’s audio content library. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. A must-have. Find it on your local App Store.

Google Translate We did find not as many people spoke English in smaller towns but Bratislava is a bit better. As we always encourage, it is essential to learn the basics of greeting and thanking people in the local language. Google Translate was an easy app to use. If needed, you can enter text in English, and it will speak back in the language you need to aid in communicating with locals.

To check out the best travel apps, visit Best Travel Apps for the Savvy Traveler.

Do you have a favorite Slovakian travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

© 2024 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Squaremouth.com

Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you book a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well-insured. Not just for the little stuff but the big things like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, uses top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover COVID-19 medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.

To empower you as a consumer, we suggest you read our blog post on the importance of travel insurance and how to get the best coverage from top-rated companies for an affordable price.

MedjetAssist

Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover COVID-related transport as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for around $300. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

To learn more about how Medical Evacuation membership with Medjet Assist works, check out our blog post for a more detailed review.  

Expedia.com 

Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, and cruises to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always check Expedia and Booking.com to verify prices. At times, one is sold out of rooms while another at the same place has rooms. As well we often find some European hotels, especially smaller ones, on Booking.com but not on Expedia. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Are you traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network with access to all lodging forms should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family with no problems.

Viator

As the leading marketplace for travel experiences, Viator believes that making memories is what travel is all about. And with 300,000+ experiences to explore—everything from simple tours to extreme adventures (and all the niche, interesting stuff in between)—making memories that will last a lifetime has never been easier.

With industry-leading flexibility and last-minute availability, it’s never too late to make any day extraordinary. This one site has it all and has experiences throughout the world. We use them often during our travels, especially for food tours. We especially take the time to read the reviews provided.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

We now have our own Amazon Storefront with all our favorite travel accessories and gear in one place. Check out our travel store at the link below.

Wanderers Compass Amazon Storefront

Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com offer extensive options to customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

HYDAWAY

This is not your ordinary drinkware company. The HYDAWAY difference is what their products do when you’re not using them. Practical and portable, HYDAWAY doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your already-packed life or pile up in landfills. We all know that trying to pack light while being environmentally conscious can be difficult. Having the right items can make a world of difference. HYDAWAY provides that.

We have used their collapsible water bottle, carrying case for the water bottle, and collapsible insulated drink tumbler. They are all lightweight and durable. A conservation-focused product you can be proud to buy.

Use our Promo Code. WANCOM15, at checkout for 15% off your Hydaway order

Welcome Pick-ups
(Airport and sightseeing service)

A global leader in ground transportation for travelers. They help hundreds of companies worldwide enhance their services and boost their revenue with our 5-star ride experiences and hassle-free automation.

Founded in 2015 in Athens, Greece, Welcome Pick-ups goes above and beyond the standard transfer service as the first company to deliver a holistic, in-destination travel experience. From the moment a traveler arrives at a new destination until they return home, Welcome accommodates all their travel needs (transfers, travel products, things to do, information) as the easiest, friendliest, and most personalized solution.

PhotoAiD

Do you feel like you are wasting time visiting an on-site photographer only to be embarrassed by the photo? Would you like control of the final product? Get the perfect VISA or passport photo online with PhotoAID.

When traveling, you often need to apply for official documents such as a passport, ID, and different kinds of licenses or cards. Those applications require a picture that must meet specific conditions to be accepted, depending on the country. Now, it is possible to take this picture at home without the help of a professional photographer. PhotoAiD allows you to take the perfect biometric photo that will be approved by you without leaving your home.

This article contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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