SLOVAKIA – looking for basic information?
A short general overview is especially useful for travelers they are planning their first trip to Slovakia.
We regularly update this information and links.
Official name: Slovak republic / Slovenská Republika
Population: 5.459.000 (2020)
Position: Slovakia is a landlocked country in Central Europe
Area: 49,035 km2 / 18932mi2
Geographic coordinates: 48 09 N, 17 07 E
Independence: 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, event nicknamed as “Velvet divorce”
Government: Parliamentary democracy (last elections in Feb 2020)
President of the Republic: Zuzana Čaputová (last elections in March 2019)
Prime Minister: Igor Matovič
Head of the NA: Boris Kollár
International affiliations: 1 May 2004 member of the European Union, member of NATO, member of Schengen zone (2007)
Bratislava castle – one of the city symbols
Capital & largest city: Bratislava, population: 432.864 (2018)
Other major cities: Kosice (240000), Presov (90000), Zilina (80000), Banska Bystrica (78000), Nitra (76000), Trnava (65000)
Administrative division: 8 administrative regions, 79 counties, 2890 municipalities
Official language: Slovak (West Slavic language), Hungarian is widely spoken in southern regions
Religion: Roman Catholic (62%), Protestants (8.9%), Greek Catholics (3.9%)
Currency: euro (EUR), valid since 1 January 2009.
GDP per capita (in EUR): EUR 20.495 (estimate for 2020)
Unemployment rate: 6,37% (2019)
Industry: Automotive – VW cars, Kia cars, Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar, Landrover, IT sector
Time: UTC+1, summertime UTC+2
Climate: moderate, continental with warm, dry summers and cold winters
Temperature – Western Slovakia – Bratislava city
Highest average temperature: 27C/81F in July, August
Lowest average temperature: -2C/25F in January
Temperature – North-East Slovakia – Poprad town (High Tatras)
Highest average temperature: 22C/72F in July, August
Lowest average temperature: -8C/18F in January
Main voltage: 230 V
Units of measurement: metric – meters, kilometers, grams, kilograms,
temperatures are expressed in degrees Celsius
Length of borders: 106,7 km / 65mi (Austria), 251,8 km / 155mi (Czechia), 541,1 km / 336mi (Poland), 97,8km / 60mi (Ukraine), 654,8km / 406mi (Hungary)
Total length: 1,652,2 km / 1026mi
Highest peak: Gerlach, 2,655 mASL / 8710ft (High Tatra Mountains)
Lowest point: 94m/308ft, Klin nad Bodrogom / Kosice region
Longest rivers: Vah (403km/250mi), Hron (298km/185mi), Ipel (232km/144mi), Nitra (197km/122mi), Hornad (193km/119mi)
Administrative regions (8): Bratislava region, Trnava region,
Nitra region, Trencin region, Banska Bystrica, Zilina region, Presov region, Kosice region
Strbske Pleso summer-winter resort, High Tatra Mountains
NATIONAL PARKS (9)
TANAP – Tatra national park (oldest, established in 1949)
NP Nízke Tatry – Low Tatra national park (largest in size)
NP Slovenský raj – Slovak paradise national park
NP Pieniny – Pieniny national park (smallest in size)
NP Velká Fatra – High Fatra national park
NP Malá Fatra – Low Fatra national park
NP Poloniny – Poloniny national park
NP Muránska Planina – National park Muranska planina
NP Slovenský Kras – Slovak karst national park
More details? Read our blog – The Beauty of National Parks of Slovakia
UNESCO sights (8)
Banska Stiavnica town, Bardejov town, Vlkolinec village, Wooden churches, Levoca town, Spiss Castle, Caves, National park Poloniny
Intangible cultural heritage – Fujara musical instrument
More details? Read our blog – Lovely Unesco sights in Slovakia
Belianska, Brestovska, Bystrianska, Demanovska Cave of Liberty, Dobsinska Ice cave, Domica, Driny, Gombasecka, Harmanecka, Jasovska cave, Ochtinska aragonitova, Vazecka
INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCE FESTIVALS (2)
Detva folk festival takes place on 2nd weekend in July every year
Vychodna folk festival takes place on 1st weekend in July every year
WINE REGIONS IN SLOVAKIA (3)
There are 3 wine-growing regions in Slovakia known for wines that receive international awards.
Small Carpathian Wine region – western Slovakia
South Slovakia Wine region
Tokaj Wine region – eastern Slovakia
Undoubtedly the most traditional Slovak dish is “bryndzové halušky” – potato dumplings (halušky) with sheep cheese (bryndza) and on the top pieces of fried bacon. Where to try it? There are regular restaurants where you can order it, but it tastes much better in typical wooden chalets called Koliba, where also other traditional Slovak meals are on the menu.
Piestany – world-famous spa town, medicinal geothermal water, and medicinal sulphuric mud
Trencianske Teplice – located in a lovely area in Strazovske hills in western Slovakia
Rajecke Teplice – Aphrodite Spa – situated in scenic natural surroundings of Mala Fatra national Park and Strazovske hills
Turcianske Teplice – legend has that King Sigismund of Luxembourg bathed in local springs in the 15th century
Bardejov – located in north-eastern Slovakia. This oasis of health and relax visited Russian Tzar Alexander I, Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) and many more)
GETTING TO SLOVAKIA
Slovakia is situated in Central Europe and borders Austria, Czechia, Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary. It is only an hour’s drive away from Vienna. Slovakia is also easily accessible from other neighboring countries, only 2hrs by car from Budapest and 3hrs 30min from Prague. It has good road and rail connections, with daily flights from some European cities. The river Danube flows through Bratislava, you can also get to Slovakia by boat, e.g. from Vienna and Budapest.
In addition to the daily flights to some European cities, there are low-cost flight providers such as Ryan Air and Wizz air flying from the main Bratislava airport, Poprad, and Kosice airports.
RECOMMENDED for overseas travelers:
Fly into Vienna Schwechat airport / Austria
Official web here, in only 40min by car you reach Bratislava / Slovakia
Fly into Bratislava airport / Slovakia
Official web here, only 15min by car from Bratislava center.
Fly into Kosice airport, (flights only from few European destinations)
Official web here, the gateway to Eastern Slovakia
Fly into Poprad airport, (flights only from few European destinations)
Official web here, the gateway to High Tatra mountains for summer and winter holidays, North-East Slovakia
Other option for overseas travelers:
Fly into Budapest airport / Hungary
Official web here, it takes 2hrs45min by car to get to Bratislava / Slovakia
Fly into Krakow airport / Poland
Official web here, it takes 2hrs 15min by car to get to the resorts in High Tatra mountains (North-East Slovakia)
Most of the cars enter Slovakia by motorways, which is also the easiest way to travel around the country. It is easy to travel the Slovakian roads by car since they are well and clearly signposted. For driving on motorways (expressways), it is mandatory for you to have a vignette.
Trains to Slovakia run daily from different European cities. If traveling by train, it is also possible to ride in a sleeping car. You can buy a ticket at every railway station as well as on the train. Slovakian trains stick to the timetables. Official web here.
Buses run to Slovakia from different European cities. In Slovakia, you can also get to most of the towns and the countryside by bus. You can buy a bus ticket directly from the bus driver, while at major bus stops you can also buy a bus ticket for a specific date. Official web here.
Twin-city liner runs 5 times a day and connects Bratislava city center with Vienna city. Official web here.
Saints Cyril and Methodius, “Apostles to the Slavs”, Great Moravia
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN SLOVAKIA
1st January – New Year’s Day
6th January – Feast of the Epiphany – Three Kings
April, Friday – Good Friday (movable holiday)
April, Monday – Easter Monday (movable holiday)
1st May – Labor day
8th May – Victory day
5th July – St. Cyril and Methodius day
29th August – Slovak National Uprising
1st September – Constitution Memorial Day
15th September – Day of the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows
1st November – All Saints Day
17th November – Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy
24th December – Christmas Eve
25th December – Christmas Day
26th December – St. Stephen’s Day
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
Telephone area code for Slovakia +421
112 Emergency call center – emergency medical assistance, fire-fighters, rescue units|
155 First aid
150 Fire Brigade
13 800 Mountain rescue service
VISAS AND NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
For the citizens of the European Union, a valid personal ID is sufficient. Non-EU citizens, visit the web of the Ministry of foreign affairs of SR here or get informed directly at the competent Embassy.
VACCINATION AND MEDICAL MEASURES
Before arrival in Slovakia, no special health precautions or medical measures are necessary.
There is drinking water from the taps
SAFETY (AND SECURITY)
It is safe here. The level of crime is very low. We always recommend to use a common-sense (occasionally like in any other big cities there might be pickpockets, however, cities are supervised by municipal and state police and by cameras). Therefore, we say it is safe in Slovakia.
Thanks for going through this basic information.
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Peter, founder & CEO of Best Slovakia Tours
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