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Getting to Slovakia

Everything you need to know about Slovakia and general information covering airports, weather and more.

Airports

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There are international airports in Bratislava, Košice, Pieštany, Sliac, Žilina, and Poprad.

The biggest airport in Slovakia is M. R. Štefánik Airport in Bratislava. Recently the low-cost air companies have won great popularity in Slovakia, among them is Ryanair.

Many of foreign visitors prefer the Viennese airport Schwechat that is only 50 kilometers far from Bratislava and there are regular bus lines connecting Bratislava with Schwechat. This airport lies on the new A6 highway from Bratislava to Vienna, opened in November 2007, so the car ride from Bratislava to Schwechat does not take more than approximately half an hour.

Best Time to Travel

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The main tourist season lasts in Slovakia from May to September. They recommend visiting towns in spring or autumn months (May, June, September or October). In this period it is usually not too hot and besides, out of the main summer holiday are less local tourists moving around in the tourist areas.

The spas are traditionally most occupied at the beginning of the year (January, February, arch).

The skiing season starts in December and lasts approximately to March - April.

Currency

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Beginning in 2009, Slovakia uses the Euro.

It is recommended to exchange money at the border crossings, in official exchange offices concentrated in bigger towns and tourist centers, in hotels, at post offices or in banks. Travel checks are cashed in banks.

Banks and ATMs accept the common international credit cards. Those can be used in bigger towns for cashless payment in stores, restaurants and hotels. The banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; in larger towns also to 6:00 p.m. in the largest shopping centers the bank services are available also during weekends, holidays and that to 8:00 p.m. The supreme bank institution in Slovakia is the Národná banka Slovenska/National Bank of Slovakia.

Language

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English and German are the most often used foreign languages. Less frequent is the knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian or Russian. In the South of Slovakia, Hungarian is used much more.

Medical

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There are hospitals in all larger towns. In smaller towns and tourist areas, outpatient clinics and pharmacies are available. Pharmacies are open usually on workdays from 8:00 to 18:00, during weekends and holidays there is always one pharmacy in town non stop on duty.

It is recommended to close a health insurance contract before coming to Slovakia, which is usually a part of the travel insurance package. When needing emergency health care, call 112 or specialized rescue service/ambulance.

Tipping

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In the restaurants and bars it is usual to leave some tip for the waiter by rounding up the resulting amount, in the majority it is about 5-10% of the bill. It is not obligatory and the amount should within the possibilities reflect the guests satisfaction with the service.

Transportation

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By Car

It is necessary to possess the International Car Insurance Card at the entry to the country. Photocopies of travel documents are also recommended; in case of a loss or theft it makes the arrangement of new documents much simpler.

The Road Network

The road network of Slovakia is dense and fairly well maintained one. It consists of motorways, expressways, 1st and 2nd class state roads, and local roads. In the total of 18,000 kilometers of public road communications, the 1st class roads represent about 17 percent.

The roads running across Slovakia from the south to the north are a bit more demanding for drivers as they pass through mountain ranges. The road mountain passes of Donovaly (Ružomberok - Banská Bystrica), Velký Šturec (Martin - Banská Bystrica), and Certovica (Liptovský Mikuláš - Brezno) are the most frequented ones.

The Motorway Network

The current motorway network with the total length of 415 km has been continuously expanded. Apart from Prague, Bratislava also has direct motorway connection to Vienna and a direct motorway connection to Budapest.

The use of motorways must be paid for. If you want to use motorways, you have to purchase the relevant motorway toll stickers, normally sold at the frontier crossings, post offices, and petrol stations. Toll stickers valid for a week, a month, and a year are offered.

By Train

The railway network of Slovakia with density of 74 km per square kilometer and the length 3,600 km connects the majority of the Slovak towns.

Železnicná spolocnost Slovensko, a. s. is the railway company securing passenger transports. The most important railway track is the northern transversal from Bratislava over Žilina and Poprad to Košice. It is recommended to purchase a seat card for the trains in the most frequented hours.

Slovakia is communicated via railway with several European metropolises (Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow, Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, Munich, Bucharest...).

By Bus

International Bus Transport

EUROLINES Company and several private transporters carry out the passenger transport between Slovakia and other European countries. Eurolines buses (like the majority of other buses that travel on international routes) are normally luxurious vehicles (for instance Mercedes) with standard facilities (WC, air-conditioning, TV, sale of drinks). Dense regular lines communicate capitals of the neighboring countries (Prague, Vienna); bus lines communicate Budapest, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, London, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Zurich, Rotterdam, etc.

Tickets with seat cards have to be bought in advance either via Internet (in case of Eurolines), or at the bus station (in bigger towns) or in some travel agencies. Otherwise it is recommended to have them reserved by phone. Some international lines are sold out several days before journey.

Intercity Bus Transport

Slovakia is one of the European states with best developed domestic bus transport. Buses of the Slovak Lines carry the passengers to almost all Slovak towns and villages. Private transporters also operate on the most frequented routes and their offer may be advantageous compared with big companies. Most of buses start in Bratislava from Autobusová stanica Mlynské Nivy (Bus Terminal on the Mlynské Nivy St.) or in Nitra and Košice. The bus drivers normally sell bus tickets but they can be also purchased in advance with the seat card at bus stations in every larger town.

By Boat

Boat is an attractive option of transport to Slovakia. The personal port on the Danube in Bratislava offers regular boat lines to Vienna, Hainburg, Budapest and other river ports on the Danube.

Sightseeing boat tours can also be an interesting part of holiday either in Bratislava or at one of several water bodies.

Visa Info

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A visa is required for all U.S citizens visiting Slovakia for longer than 90 days.

Weather

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The Slovak Republic is located in a moderate zone with characteristic changes of season. The average daily temperature is -2ºC in winter and 21ºC in summer. The coldest month is January; the warmest are July and August. Snow remains on the ground an average of 130 days per year in the highest elevations.