Slovakia: detailed travel guide

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Slovakia: detailed travel guide

Slovakia is located in Central Europe, its capital is Bratislava. This state borders on Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. The territory of Slovakia is 49,035 km², it is divided into 8 regions, which bear the names of their administrative center: Bratislava, Prešov, Kosice, Trenčinsky, Banskobystritsky, Trnavsky, Nitransky and Zhilinsky. The regions, in turn, are subdivided into districts, of which there are about 80. Popular tourist cities and resorts in Slovakia: Bratislava, Banska Bystrica, Tatranska Lomnica, Jasna, Piestany.

The tourist potential of the country is high, the most popular places to visit are Bratislava and the High Tatras. And although Slovakia is not yet very popular with Russian tourists, nevertheless there are no less beauty and sights here than, for example, in neighboring Czech Republic, which has long been chosen by “our people”.

Old town, Bratislava

Old town, Bratislava

The main tourist advantage of Slovakia is its nature. And even if there is no sea here, but there are still corners of nature untouched by man: mountain peaks, national parks and ancient architectural landmarks in the form of fortresses and castles that complement the picturesque landscapes.

In total, there are 25 national parks and protected areas in the country, of the most popular we note: Slovak Paradise, Veельká Fatra, Tatra, Mala Fatra, Slovak Karst, Muranska Planina, Poloniny, Nizke Tatry, Pieniny. There are ski resorts on the territory of many parks. One of the most beautiful local national parks is the High Tatras, the main territory of which is covered with coniferous forests and numerous lakes. There are several climatic resorts and a well-developed tourist infrastructure in the park.

A popular destination for recreation in Slovakia is to combine it with medical procedures in spas and holiday homes based on the site of thermal and mineral springs. In total, there are over 1000 such springs in Slovakia and over 20 specialized spas. Popular health resorts: Piestany, Smrdaki, Dudince, Rajecke Teplice, Bardeevskie Kupeli.

Slovakia is surrounded by the Western Carpathians, the highest point of the country – the Gerlachovski Shtit peak reaches a height of 2655 meters. Those who love mountains and outdoor activities should come to the ski resorts of Podbanske, Tatranska Lomnica, Smokovec, Strbske Pleso, Jasna, Ruzomberok and Donovaly. If you are interested not only in skiing, but also in snowboarding, you can go to Otupne, where there is a real snow park with trails for both amateurs and professionals. Also equipped for snowboarders is the Mlynicka Valley complex, where there are all conditions for freeriding. There are also snowboard trails in the Tatranska Lomnica ski resort.

Extremists will find activities to their liking in Slovakia. Many mountain rivers allow you to go rafting. The most turbulent and difficult river for rafting is Bela, and beginners are advised to first overcome the easy descent along the Orava. You can also go rafting when visiting the Pieniny National Park.

Jasna ski resort

Jasna ski resort

An equally extreme activity for tourists is descending into caves, of which there are about 4000 in Slovakia. Only 12 of them are open to the public, and the most popular are Dobsinskaya, Okhtinskaya, Jasovskaya, Gombaseckaya and Domica – some of them are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There is no sea in Slovakia, but there are excellent conditions for diving: on the lakes Gulaska, Golden Sands, Strkovetskoe and Seneckie.

How to get to Slovakia

You can fly to Slovakia by plane, as well as by train and bus from neighboring countries.

Buses, trolleybuses and trams run in Slovak cities, travel in which is paid for with coupons, they can be bought from vending machines at stops and then punched in the passenger compartment.

Weather and climate in Slovakia for tourist travel

The climate of Slovakia is continental, which means that winters are quite cold and snowy here, and summers are warm and humid. The average temperature in January is -1°C in the capital of Slovakia, and +21°C in July. At any time of the year, tourists will feel comfortable here – both in winter at ski resorts and in summer, exploring the many attractions of this country. Although 80% of Slovakia is located at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level, fertile valleys and the Middle Danube lowland stretch south of the Carpathians, along which numerous rivers flow into the Danube – this is the main granary of Slovakia. And in the mountains there are zones of alpine meadows.

Cities and regions for travel in Slovakia

Regions of Slovakia

Regions of Slovakia

Slovakia consists of 8 regions, which are named according to the names of their administrative centers (in brackets – the number on the map on the right): Bratislava (1), Presov (7), Kosice (8), Trencinski (3), Banskobystritskiy (6), Trnavskiy (2), Nitransky (4) and Zhilinsky (5).

The region of Banska Bystrica borders Hungary. These territories have both mountains (Tatras) and a plain (southern part). Banska Bystrica is famous for its picturesque landscapes, because it is here that there are 3 national parks and many nature reserves.

The Bratislava region is the smallest in area compared to the rest and, at the same time, the most densely populated. The region includes the Danube and Zakhor lowlands, which are divided by the Small Carpathians. The region borders on 3 states at once: Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.

The Kosice region has a border with Hungary and Ukraine. There are many fertile lands, therefore viticulture is developed and excellent wine is produced. Also in Koszczyca industrial production, transport infrastructure and has its own airport.

The Nitra region borders Hungary and is characterized by a flat landscape. It is also a region favorable for viticulture and agriculture. There is a small airport here and a shipyard in Komarno.

The border with Ukraine and Poland runs through the Presov region. It is a mountainous region, in the west of which there is the High Tatras National Park. Poprad has an international airport, and 40 km from Presov – Kosice airport, so it is very convenient for tourists to get to this region.

The Trencin region borders the Czech Republic. On the territory of this region there are the Carpathians and Yavorniki mountains. Trencin is a large economic center of the country and one of the most industrialized, like Bratislava. The textile industry and the mining industry are especially developed here. Half of the territories here are forests, therefore, forestry is also important for the economy of the region.

Territories of the Trnava region are bordering with Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The transport infrastructure is well developed here: there is an airport, as well as rail and road communications. Moreover, the capital of Slovakia is just an hour’s drive from this region.

The Zilina region borders on the Czech Republic and Poland. Here you can find nature and relief for every taste: from lowlands and valleys to mountain ranges. More than half of the territory of this region belongs to nature reserves, sanctuaries and national parks. It is convenient for tourists that this region is actually a crossroads of various transport routes in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. And the local airport provides communication both within the country and with European countries.

Meanwhile, Slovakia is divided not only into administrative regions, but also into tourist regions. If, for example, Bratislava, Tatras or Kosice are well known to Russian tourists, then there are mysterious corners of this country to which you can make an equally fascinating journey.

Lomnický Shtit, Tatras

Lomnický Shtit, Tatras

The Spiš region in the north-east of the country includes the Spiš Castle and the ancient town of Levoču, famous for its handicrafts. Sarish is a region rich in medieval architectural monuments. Here you can visit the ancient cities of Presov, Bardejov and Stara Lubovna. In addition, this region is the center of Slovakia’s brewing. The Liptov region boasts one of the best ski resorts in the country – Strbske Pleso. Tourists can also visit the cities of Ruzomberok and Mikulas here.

Turiec is an attractive region for tourists. Here is the city of Martin, famous for its ancient rural architecture, as well as the local resort of Turcianske Teplice. Novograd is partly located in Slovakia and partly in Hungary, and the Gemer region is located between Novograd and Spis. It is famous for its medieval monuments, which remained here from the time when precious metals were mined in this region. The main cities of this region are Roznava and Rimavska Sobota.

The rest of the regions are not so much architectural as natural enclaves, which will be of interest to tourists in terms of outdoor activities and hiking. For example, Zagorje, Dolny Zemplin, Pogronje and Gorny Zemplin are renowned for excellent opportunities for ecotourism. It is here that you can get acquainted with the real Slovakia – its nature, traditions and hospitable locals.

Notable tourist cities in Slovakia:

  • Bratislava

    Blue Church, Bratislava

    Blue Church, Bratislava

  • Ruzomberok
  • Nitra
  • Trencin
  • Banska Bystrica
  • Bardeevskie Fonts
  • Piestany
  • Zvolen
  • Kosice
  • Presov
  • Liptovsky Mikulas
  • Zhilina
  • Rajecke Teplice
  • Banska Stiavnica
  • Bojnice
  • Dudince
  • Komarno
  • Podbanske
  • Poprad
  • Smrdaki

Sights of Slovakia

In Bratislava, from where tourist routes in Slovakia usually start, you can visit the Bratislava Castle, St. Martin’s Cathedral, the ruins of the ancient fortress Devin, the Primacial (Archbishop’s) Palace, Michal Tower, Grassalkovich Palace, the Municipal Museum and the Museum of the Old City Hall, as well as other sights of Bratislava.

Having visited Slovakia, it is worth not only strolling along the streets of the Old Town of Bratislava, but also seeing the Gothic cathedrals of Kosice, the ancient city of Trencin and the town of Banska Bystrica. You can also go to neighboring Vienna or mystical Prague. An interesting tourist route is the mining town of Banska Stiavnica, the picturesque rural settlement of Vlkolinec with folk architecture, the Gothic town of Bardejov with a preserved fortress system and, of course, numerous ancient castles.

New bridge, Bratislava

New bridge, Bratislava

Orava Castle rises picturesquely on a rock and consists of several buildings “attached” to it. And local legends tell that ghosts live in the castle in Bojnice. Of the fortresses, one of the largest in Europe – Spissky Castle, which is under the protection of UNESCO, can be noted. The Trenčianska Fortress includes the Barbora Palace and the Cannon Tower; this area hosts exhibitions of edged weapons and firearms, which were produced from the 13th century to the present day. In addition, the ruins of the ancient Slovak fortresses Chahtice, Empty and the fortress in Zagoria are interesting.

Wooden churches and churches in Slovakia

Many wooden churches have survived in Slovakia, the history of which goes back several centuries. These are unique buildings erected by the hands of folk craftsmen. The oldest are Gothic Catholic churches made of wood in the towns of Gervaty and Tvrdosin. Also in Slovakia, there are evangelical (articular) churches, which can be seen in the settlements of Svyaty Kriz, Kezmarok, Leshtiny and Gronsek. These churches were built during the reign of Emperor Leopold of the 1st century. XVII century. The third type of Slovak churches is Orthodox, which were built in the 18th century. They are located in the settlements of Ladomirova and Bodruzhali. The iconostases in these churches are decorated in the Rococo and Baroque styles; here you can also see unique Carpathian icons. The wooden churches of the Carpathian arc became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, which speaks of their uniqueness and significance in the religious history of Slovakia.

Sights of Slovakia outside Bratislava

  • Pushkin Literary Museum in Brodzyany

    Sights of Slovakia outside Bratislava

    Sights of Slovakia outside Bratislava

  • People’s cemetery in Martin
  • Central Slovak Museum
  • Scanzen in Old Love
  • Slovak Bethlehem
  • Danube Limes
  • Postal Museum
  • Vlkolinets
  • House Thurzo
  • Brchlovce

Churches of Slovakia

  • Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kosice
  • Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Roznava
  • Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Drazhovets
  • Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Kosice
  • Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Trnava
  • Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Zilina
  • Wooden church in the village of Gronsek
  • Church of St. Luke the Evangelist
  • Church of St. James in Levochi
  • Cathedral of St. Elizabeth in Kosice
  • Gronsky Monastery Benyadik
  • Bzovik monastery-fortress
  • Church of St. Margaret

Castles of Slovakia

  • Bojnice castle
  • Spissky Castle
  • Trenciansky Castle
  • Lyubovnyansky Grad
  • Budatyn castle
  • Orava Castle
  • Chakhtitsky Castle
  • Zvolensky castle
  • Fortress Komarno
  • Kezmarsky castle
  • Filyakovsky Grad
  • Galich castle
  • Murano castle
  • Sharisha Castle
  • Beckov Castle
  • Bitchyansky Grad
  • Golic castle
  • Svety Anton Castle
  • Betliar Castle
  • Blatnitsky Castle
  • Smolenitsa castle
  • Breznitsky Castle
  • Strechnyansky Castle
  • Budmerice castle
  • Castle Tematin
  • Sitnyansky castle
  • Red Stone
  • Fortress of Banska Bystrica

Getting around Slovakia

The most popular ways for tourists to travel around Slovakia are by car, bus or train. In addition, the country has both domestic and international flights. In the suburbs of Bratislava is the airport. Stefanik. There are also airports in the cities of Poprad, Kosice and Sliach. And the movement on domestic flights is provided by small airports in Piestany and Prievidze. For example, flights Bratislava-Kosice are operated 3 times a day, and their cost starts from 50 euros. For businessmen and busy people, this is the best option for moving around the country.

Railway transport

Railway transport in Slovakia

Railway transport in Slovakia

Since Slovakia is a rather “compact” country, most locals and tourists prefer to travel by rail, since it has an extensive network throughout the country. In addition, the local railway offers passengers a high quality of service and a decent speed of transportation at quite affordable prices. The slowest trains are called Osobni and stop at every available stop. Fast trains in Slovakia are called Rychlik and Express, and the fastest trains are called InterCity. Express trains from the Slovak capital go to Trencin (123 km distance and less than 2 hours on the way), to Zilina (203 km distance and 3 hours on the way), to Poprad (the train covers 334 km in 5 hours), to Spisska Nova -Weight (distance 370 km and 5.5 hours on the way), to Kosice (distance 445 km and 5.5 hours on the way). If a train ride around the country costs an average of 3–15 euros, then for a train trip over shorter distances, you will have to pay only 0.5–1 euros. If you want to ride the train at night and take a reclining seat, you will have to pay extra for this pleasure. On weekends, as a rule, there are discounts on tickets, and in addition, students and young people can use them on any day. It is especially convenient for tourists that railway stations in large cities are equipped with scoreboards in Slovak and English. The website where you can find out the train schedule and book a ticket: Slovakrail.sk.

Bus

Bus communication is no less well developed than the railway one. The only disadvantage of bus travel is that it is more expensive than travel by train. But you can always save money if you travel on weekends, when there is a discount for all types of transport in Slovakia. There are several types of buses in this country: express (goes long distances abroad), local bus in Slovakia and urban transport. On international routes, you can reach Prague, Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Cologne, Paris, but a prerequisite for such a trip is the presence of a Schengen visa in your passport. If you are traveling around the country, keep in mind that local routes (especially on weekends and holidays) are often congested, so it is better to take a seat in advance so that you do not have to stand all the way later.

Water communication

Water transport is also represented in Slovakia, since the main waterway runs through the whole country – the Danube River, which connects Bratislava not only with many cities of the country, but also with Vienna and Budapest. And the Danube-Rhine-Main canal connects the Black and North Seas. You can order tickets for motor ships and ferries in Slovakia online at Lod.sk.

Urban transport in Slovakia

Urban transport in Slovakia

Urban transport in Slovakia

The cities have developed public transport: buses, trolleybuses and trams. To pay for travel, you need to purchase special coupons from vending machines (they are usually orange and located at bus stops). As in the old Soviet times, these coupons are composted in the passenger compartment. Since tickets are valid on the day of purchase, they must be purchased immediately before traveling by public transport. A single ticket will cost you about 15 eurocents, a day pass – about 1 euro, and for a week – from 3 to 5 euros. These passes can be purchased at underground passages, DPHMB offices and ticket offices at train stations. If you are going to visit the capital of the country, then you can read more about Bratislava transport here.

Car

To rent a car in this country, a foreigner must have an international driver’s license and a passport. And in the form of collateral, you may be required to have a credit card. The amount of car rent on weekends and holidays is usually more expensive. You will also have to pay a certain amount for car insurance against theft or accidents. Please note that in built-up areas the speed limit is 60 km / h, outside of them – 90 km / h, and on some motorways – up to 130 km / h. Be sure to wear your seat belt and do not drink alcohol, because even a sip of beer can be the reason for local services to fine you. Parking in cities is allowed in parking lots, and you need to buy a parking ticket in advance by attaching it to the car window. Coupons are sold at special machines, newsagents, or from a parking attendant.

Slovakian cuisine

The national cuisine of Slovakia is very diverse and includes many dishes that are prepared exclusively in this country. If you look into national restaurants with an authentic atmosphere and folk music, you will definitely be offered to try sauerkraut soup and Segedin goulash. Dumplings with feta cheese, potato dumplings and village sheep’s cheese are no less tasty dishes. Local wines are no worse than famous French or Spanish wines, their quality is high, while the price is quite low, so you can stock up on the best varieties of Slovak wines as gifts to family and friends.

Shopping in Slovakia

Shop in Slovakia

Shop in Slovakia

Shops in Slovakia are usually open from 9 am to 6 pm, Sunday is a day off. As souvenirs from Slovakia, you can bring: Easter eggs, ceramics, national handmade dolls, figures from grains, the national wind instrument “Fujara” and wooden jugs. If you are interested in folk crafts as souvenirs, buy them in the unified ULUV network, whose shops are in every city. You can read separately about shopping in Bratislava here.

The country’s monetary unit is the euro. You can exchange currency at exchange offices, banks, hotels and post offices. Banks usually work from 9 to 16 hours with a lunch break, and on Saturday from 9 to 12 hours. The working hours of exchange offices are from 8 to 18 hours. In Slovakia, it is customary to tip for good service. They usually represent about 10% of the total bill.

Communication in Slovakia

Calls from Slovakia to anywhere in the world can be made using pay phones, cards for which can be purchased at newsstands or at hotels. The calling code of this country is +421.

You can also use the cellular services of local operators: T-Mobile, Telefonica O2, Orange and others. Free Wi-Fi is available in many areas of Bratislava and other tourist destinations. As a rule, this kind of internet access is available in many cafes and in almost all hotels. You can also get free access to the Internet in specialized Internet kiosks (for example, in Bratislava – in the building of the City Hall on Primacial Square).

Safety for tourists in Slovakia

Slovakia is a fairly prosperous European country, and the crime rate is relatively low here. Moreover, the police patrol the street both day and night. If, nevertheless, force majeure happens to you in Slovakia, you can call the emergency number (112) or contact the police station. And the best way to protect yourself from theft in this country is to observe basic security measures, that is, to be careful in public places (in transport, on excursions, in shops, in markets) and not keep money in external pockets.

If you leave the car, do not leave valuables in sight. To prevent such an unpleasant incident as the loss of your passport or other important documents from happening to you abroad, make copies of them and write down the credit card numbers before the trip, and store the valuables that you took with you on your trip exclusively in the hotel safe.

Only citizens of the European Union can receive free medical care in Slovakia, so Russians will have to pay for medical services. If you take out insurance in advance, you may be reimbursed part of the money spent, provided that you keep receipts, receipts and other confirmations of money spent on treatment. Pharmacies in this country are called Lekaren and usually work from 8 to 18 hours, and in big cities you can also find pharmacies working around the clock.

Emergency phones

  • Unified emergency service 112
  • Ambulance 155
  • Fire brigade 150
  • Police 158
  • Assistance in road accidents 154