Travel guide to Slovak Republic

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» Slovak Republic
Malá Fatra National Park was established in 1988 in order to protect the unique natural phenomena of the region. The park, situated in northern Slovakia, measures 200 square kilometres and possesses many impressive landscapes and sights.

Facts

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Local name
Slovenska Republika
Capital
Bratislava
Size
49,036 square kilometres
Principal Languages
Slovakian
Principal Religion
Catholicism
Inhabitants
5,396,193
Government
Republic
Geography
Slovakia sits in the heart of Europe and borders the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. The landscape is much varied and consists of mountains, lowlands, canyons, lakes, grottos, forest and grassland.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

May, June and September are the best months to go - with April and October as somewhat cheaper and cooler alternatives. As most Slovaks are on holiday in July and August, these are the months when hotels and attractions are mostly frequented.

Literature

Lonely Planet Czech & Slovak Republics Rough Guide Czech and Slovak Republics Fodors the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Local conditions

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Currency

Euro

Net cafes

There are only a few Internet cafés in Slovakia, of which most are situated in Bratislava.

In case of emergency

For emergency calls in Slovakia dial: Fire Department (150) Auto Breakdown Service (154) Ambulance (155) Police (158)

Tipping

A five per cent tip is common at restaurants. At bars it's common to round up to the nearest Euro, this also goes for taxi drivers, hairdressers and hotel staff.

Timezone

When it is 12 noon in the UK, it is 1 pm in Slovakia.

Weight and Measures

In Slovakia they use the following units of measure: Weight: kilo Distance: metre

Photography

There are no apparent restrictions on photography, but it you want to photograph the locals, it is a good idea to get their permission first.

Drinking water

Tap-water is drinkable but tastes a little of chlorine from the chemical treatment. It is recommended to buy bottled water

Electricity

In Slovakia they use the following power source: 220V/50Hz

Behaviour

Courtesy is greatly appreciated in Slovakia. Therefore, it is customary to take off your shoes in the hall and to look people in the eyes when toasting.

Business Hours

Banks are open from 8 am to 3 pm (Monday-Friday). Post Offices are open from 8 am to 6 pm (Monday-Friday). Shops are open from 8.30 or 9 am to 6 pm (Monday-Friday) and from 9 am to 12 pm (Saturdays).

Food and drink

Slovak food is a curious mix of culinary impressions from more than a hundred years of Hungarian dominance. This means that Slovak meals are rather spicy, often seasoned with paprika and red pepper. Slovaks also eat a lot of potatoes accompanied by flesh like pork or beef. The unofficial national dish is Bryndzové halusky, which is noodles with ewe's milk cheese and bacon.

Disabled travellers

In general it isn't easy to be disabled in Slovakia. Only a few places have thought of making ramps and lifts and at most attractions there are stairs to climb.

Holidays

Origin of the Slovak Republic, 1 January Catholic Epiphany, 6 January Labour Day, 1 May Liberty Day, 8 May Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, 5 July Anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising, 29 August Constitution of the Slovak Republic, 1 September Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, 15 September All Saints Day, 1 November Christmas Eve, 24 December Christmas Day, 25 December Boxing Day, 26 December Moveable public holidays Good Friday, March or April Easter, March or April

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

Camping is prohibited outside the public camping sites. All mountain passes allow caravans.

Hotels

Since the Velvet Revolution only a few new hotels have been built in Slovakia and some of the older hotels are still owned by the state, which makes the service quite slow. However, it doesn't change the fact that Bratislava is a city where you can find hotels in all categories.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Private accommodation is rare in Bratislava, but usually a good form of accommodation in the rural districts. There are also traditional B & Bs in all categories.

Hostels

The few hostels, which exist, are often campus dormitories turned into inexpensive overnight accommodation during the tourist season. Most hostels are situated some distance from the cities, however.

Other Accommodation

In the mountains it is possible to rent a rustic mountain cabins. In this connection it's a good idea to contact the information centre in the nearest town, when you are going to book the cabin.

Local transport

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Planes

There are only domestic flights between the largest cities in Slovakia. The country's international airport is situated near the Bratislava suburb, Vrakuna, only 15 kilometres from the centre of the capital.

Bus

Bus transport in Slovakia is run by the national Slovenská automobilová doprava (SAD), and it's a good choice for local travelling. The stations are usually right next to the train station and if there isn't a ticket stand at the station you have to buy a ticket from the driver.

Trains

Slovakia has an elaborate and cheap train network. The National Slovak Railways, keleznice Slovenskej republiky (ZSR), runs two kinds of train service: The Rychlik trains are the fastest and only stops in the cities, while Osobni- or the local trains stop at all stations and runs at a speed of 30 kilometres an hour.

Taxi

It's relatively easy to get a taxi in Slovakia, but call the taxi companies directly instead of hailing one in the street, as this will double the fare. If you avoid the different tourist traps, a taxi is a cheap way to get around. Be aware, however, that the driver remembers to switch on the meter.

Car rental

There are car rental companies in all cities. It's possible to rent a car at the international car rental companies but much cheaper to find a local company.

Other Transport

It's quite common to hitchhike in Slovakia, and it's only illegal to hitch-hike on the motorway. As in any other country you have to be careful and always travel accompanied, but all this said hitchhiking is a good way to meet the locals.

Special conditions

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If you are giving a Slovak a bunch of flowers it's important that it's an odd amount, unless you're at a funeral. So don't try to impress a Slovak girl with a dozen roses.

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