Practical Information

Area: 49 035 km2
Location: Central Europe (17° - 22° E, 47° - 49° N)
Population: 5 413 548 (as at 31/3/2009)
Language: Slovak
Capital: Bratislava (population 426 091 as at 31/12/2006)
Membership: YES (since 1st May 2004) / YES (since 21st December 2007)
Entrance: For the citizens of the European Union a valid personal ID is sufficient. The list of countries, the citizens of which need a valid visa to enter Slovakia, you find on the home page of the Ministry of foreign affairs of SR or you can get informed directly at the competent Embassy.
Currency: euro (since 1st January 2009)
Climate: Moderate climatic zone, with changing four seasons, average temperature in winter

 

Telephone, electricity, internet, holidays

Telephone, Electricity, Internet: Mezinárodní předvolba pro volání na Slovensko je 00421. 230 Volts at 50 Hertz

Restrictions
In catering facilities, in trains and at workplaces smoking is allowed only in areas reserved for smokers. Smoking prohibition is valid in closed public areas (covered bus stops, closed sports fields), in publicly accessible spaces (stations, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, exhibition grounds and similar) and at schools.

Opening hours, days off, public holidays

Opening Hours of Shops
Most shops are open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on Saturday to 12:00 or 1:00 p.m.
Smaller grocery stores called „večierka“ are open daily till 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m.
Shopping centres (e.g. Aupark or Polus in Bratislava) are open 7 days a week and the stores inside are usually available daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
TESCO Hypermarkets and petrol stations are open NON STOP.

Shopping and Entertainment Centres
The largest shopping and entertainment centres are located in Bratislava. The best known are Polus City Center, Aupark, Shopping Palace or Avion. Except the chance to buy everything under one roof and a wide palette of offered services (pharmacies, exchange offices, banks, post office, telecommunications...) provide also a lot of entertainment possibilities. You can visit a multiplex cinema, fitness centre, play bowling, squash, somewhere even go ice-skating. They are often the centre of social events, various competitions or cultural events or advertising actions.

 

Accommodation

Slovakia hotels
In Slovakia you can find international hotel networks Accor (Ibis), Best Western, InterContinental Hotels (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza), Carlson/Rezidor SAS (Radisson). Also the first Kempinski hotels are under construction. They are situated in the beautifully reconstructed historical buildings or in newly built modern premises and provide a guarantee of international quality standards enriched by a specific Slovak charme.

Besides the brands known also across the borders there is in Slovakia an increasing number of smaller and bigger hotels, which were during the last few years reconstructed to a high extent and the quality of their services is increasing constantly. In the whole, the number of hotels and accommodation facilities in general is increasing, so is the quality of services and therewith the price level.

The categorisation of hotels at present divides the hotels into 5 classes. The lower class hotels (** and *) are suitable for less demanding clients, provide simpler accommodation for lower price. You find standard accommodation in ***hotels of the Ibis type, the ****facilities like Crowne Plaza and similar offer higher comfort.

In the higher class hotels breakfast is usually provided in form of buffet breakfast and it is almost always included in the accommodation price. Many hotels of higher classes are equipped by newly built vital worlds and wellness centres and they are becoming an ideal place to relax and get new power. Similarly in more and more hotels conference rooms and equipment is available and they enable to organise the most various events from a smaller seminar to international conference.

In the hotels usually English and German is spoken, less frequent is the knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian or Russian. In the southern part of Slovakia Hungarian is often used.

It is recommended to book the accommodation well in advance, because especially in larger towns the offer is below the demand. It is possible to perform reservations through travel agencies, tourist-information centres or specialised internet portals.

Botels
This accommodation type can be found only in Bratislava, on the largest Slovak river, the Danube.

Tourist lodging houses and hostels
In the past years several new hostels grew in the centre of Bratislava, which offer accommodation also in shared rooms, a common kitchen at your disposal, dayrooms and often also internet usage. So they enable especially for the young, who travel with a thin purse and a backpack on their backs, to enjoy the advantages of an accommodation directly in the centre and concurrently meet similar travellers and exchange their adventurous experience.

The simple accommodation style, which the traditional tourist lodging houses provide, is recommended mainly for those, who do not plan to stay in the facility for longer than just for bed. These services are often used by groups of young sportsmen or tourists, who do not care for luxury and want to be close to nature, so that they can dedicate themselves to training or hiking.

In the summer season the offer of this type of accommodation is enlarged by budget priced student dormitories. Those can be found in larger towns.

Campings in Slovakia
Camping (formerly autocamping) enables its guests to stay in their own accommodation facilities such as tents, caravans, camper cars or in camp site mobile and stable accommodation facilities such as mobile houses, bungalows, cottages or log houses.

Slovakia has a relatively large number of campings that are scattered all over the country - from Bratislava through Low and High Tatras up to Košice. Most of them are located in beautiful mountain areas or near lakes or rivers.

Camp sites offer not only their services, but also the experience of seeing  attractions in their surroundings, for example selected campings in Slovakia, in the most important tourist areas - in Liptov and Orava, in the Tatras or Slovenský raj as well as near some lakes and thermal swimming pools.

Facilities and quality of services of particular camp sites differ. In some of them  chalets or bungalows are available in which you can stay, elsewhere possibilities of eating out, sports or cultural and social activities are better. The majority of campings are open during the summer season only.

Slovak camp sites are popular especially with Dutch visitors and all those, who like to be in touch with nature.

Camping and tent camping in protected areas in the open air out of the designated areas in Slovakia is prohibited and will result in a fine.

Pensions/ Boarding-houses
To an often visited accommodation type belong the pensions, which often provide comfort and quality for a very good price. Nicely reconstructed and well equipped facilities are no exception. Moreover, thanks to the family atmosphere, they sufficiently handle the role of „substitute home“. The tidy surrounding with the possibility to grill or sitting in a garden will be appreciated above all by families with children.

Boarding houses are available in all tourist centres. During skiing season and the summer months it is however recommended to make advance reservations, because there is a big interest in frequently visited areas. In case of larger groups it is necessary to have an advance booking also in off-season period. It is possible to place reservation also through travel agencies, tourist-information centres or specialised internet portals.

Above all tourists from Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary prefer this kind of accommodation. Some boarding houses offer also breakfast or half-board included in the accommodation price, in other places also price without meals can be agreed.

Farms and ranches
There is no doubt that to a perfect country holiday belong domestic animals, nature, grandmothers good cuisine and activities, which are hardly known by the children from towns. Ride a horse, drink fresh cow milk, play hide and seek in the mown hay or play catch on the endless green meadows. And that is just a small part of the adventures, which can be experienced during a stay on a farm. If you like the cock-crowing in the morning and romantic sunsets, pick one of the increasing amount of ranches or farms in Slovakia. In order to provide the real peace (of mind) and atmosphere, many of them are hidden far away from the civilisation. But it is definitely worth to be looking for them. Because you will surely return from there with a satisfied smile on your lips.

Payment
On January 1, 2009, euro was introduced in Slovakia, simultaneously in the cash and scriptural circulation, using the so-called "Big Bang" method, i.e. without the transition period. Euro thus became the legal tender currency in the territory of the Slovak Republic. Slovak koruna became a subunit of euro in the conversion rate that was set by the EU Council in July 2008: 1 EUR = 30.126 SKK.

Banks and ATMs in Slovakia 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 some cases also to 6:00 p.m. In the largest shopping centres, the bank services are available also during weekends, holidays to 8:00 p.m.

 

Transport

Air
There are international airports in Bratislava, Košice, Piešťany, Sliač, 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 Danube Wings and Ryanair.Many of foreign visitors prefer the Viennese airport Schwechat that is only 50 kilometres 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.

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

Železničná spoločnosť 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...).

Bus
International bus connections between Slovakia and other countries and intercity bus transport within Slovakia.

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 neighbouring countries (Prague, Vienna); bus lines communicate Budapest, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, London, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Zurich, Rotterdam, etc.

Traffic regulations
All traffic signs comply with European standards.
It is forbidden to drink alcohol prior to and whilst driving (it applies to beer as well) or to use any other addictive substance and to drive a vehicle while you still could be affected by the substance - 0 ‰ of alcohol in blood is permitted!
A person sitting on the seat equipped with a safety belt must use it while the vehicle is moving (this is applicable also for rear seats). The use of safety belts is obligatory also in towns. Persons smaller than 150 cm must be seated in special safety seats.
It is forbidden to transport children younger than 12 and animals in front seats.
As of February 1, 2009, drivers of motor vehicles must have the dipped headlights on any time of the day all year round.
It is forbidden to use mobile phones whilst driving and to use anti-radar devices. Motor vehicles can only be used on roads (this also applies to motorcycles, scooters, four-wheelers, etc. used for sports and entertainment in the open air, with some exceptions - vehicles used for safety and security purposes and for provision of supplies to inaccessible places, etc.). Both the four-wheeler driver and the passenger must wear safety goggles and in case of four-wheelers with the design speed above 45 km/h a helmet is required too.

 
 
Why to visit Slovakia?

In a world, behind wild forests and deep valleys, you will find the fairyland. When you see majestic mountains, charming castles, and unspoiled nature, you will fell in love with the country that awaits you in the heart of Europe. Discover that wonder, the real fairytale! Slovakia – Little Big Country!

 
 
 
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Do not miss the opportunity to take part at the 27thFestival of European Folk Craft in Kežmarok, the first and the largest festival of its kind in Europe, which traditionally takes place the second weekend of July. This year, the Festival is dedicated to the guild of weavers.
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