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Slovakia Country Information
Centrally situated in Europe, Slovakia, or the Slovak Republic, is an up-and-coming tourist destination that beckons travellers from around the world to its rugged mountainous scenery, rich architectural history and competitive prices.

The centre for arts and culture is the capital city, Bratislava, which boasts many museums, art galleries, palaces and ornamental churches in and around its historic old town.

The Tatra Mountains are a popular destination year round offering skiing in winter and hiking and climbing in summer, while throughout the country numerous mineral springs and natural spas cater for the health-conscious tourist for whom relaxation and pampering tops the priority list. Scattered among the hills and valleys of the lowlands are numerous fortified castles, relics from the Middle Ages that were built near to almost every hamlet and major road for protection from invaders. Among the country's greatest architectural treasures, however, are the ancient wooden churches in northeast Slovakia, unique in their construction without nails, and still functioning as religious buildings today.

The Basics
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 220/230 volts, 50Hz. Round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin are in use.

Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. The Euro replaced the koruna (SKK) as the official currency on 1 January 2009. Travellers cheques are the safest way to carry money and are accepted at all major banks and exchange offices (dollars and pounds sterling give the best exchange rates). Shops are increasingly accepting credit cards, but it is best to check beforehand. ATMs are common.

Language: Slovak is the official language, which is closely related to Czech. English and German are the most commonly spoken foreign languages, although outside Bratislava, English is not widely understood.

Travel Health: There are no vaccinations required for travel to Slovakia. No special precautions are necessary, except for visitors intending to spend time in the forests, in which case a vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis is recommended. Bird flu was first detected in February 2006, and although there is little risk to travellers, close contact with live birds should be avoided and all poultry products well cooked as a precaution. No human deaths or infections have been reported. Slovakia has a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries providing emergency health care on the same terms as Slovak nationals. EU travellers should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them. It is still recommended that visitors take out comprehensive medical insurance, including mountain evacuation. Hospitals are available in all major towns, and pharmacies and clinics exist in the tourist areas and smaller towns, but little English is spoken.

Tipping: 10% is expected in restaurants if the service has been good. Taxi fares are usually rounded up to the nearest 10, and other service staff commonly receive about 20 Sk.

Safety Information: Slovakia is generally a safe country to visit and most visitors will experience a trouble-free holiday. In the cities though, it is wise to be careful of personal possessions, particularly in popular tourist areas and on public transport, due to increasing incidents of pick-pocketing and bag snatching.

Local Customs: Visitors must carry passports with them at all times for identification purposes. Rowdy behaviour and loud noise are not allowed between 10pm and 6am. Bratislava has become a popular destination for stag parties and tourists have been fined or imprisoned for causing a public disturbance.

Business: Slovakians tend to be fairly formal in their business dealings, particularly the older generation, and women may encounter some chauvinism. The normal greeting is a handshake. Meetings usually begin with socialising and an alcoholic drink, which should not be refused. Although business may be conducted in English or German, an interpreter should be arranged and all written documents should be translated into Slovakian. Punctuality and politeness are always appreciated. Most businesses open Monday to Friday from about 9am to 5pm.

Communications: The international dialling code for Slovakia is +421. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Area codes are used, e.g. Bratislava is (0)2. Internet cafes are common in most large towns and there is free wireless connection in Primates and Hviezdoslavs squares in Bratislava. Cellular network coverage is good, extending even into parts of the Tatras. Most towns have public phones and cards can be purchased in post offices and newspaper agents.

Duty Free: Passengers arriving from EU countries do not need to pay duty on any items provided they are for personal use or intended as gifts. Travellers to Slovakia from non-EU countries do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 2 litres of wine or 1 litre of distilled liquor and spirits; and 50g of perfume.

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Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport valid for the period of stay, but no visa is needed for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens do not require a visa and must hold a passport valid for the period of stay. British Nationals (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizens or British Subjects with right of abode in the UK, with a passport valid for the period of stay, do not need a visa for up to 90 days in any six-month period. Other passport holders require a visa and a passport valid for at least three months after expiry date of visa.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for the period of stay, but no visa is needed for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for the period of stay, but no visa is needed for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a visa for entry to Slovakia and passports must be valid for at least three months past the expiry date of visa.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period of stay, but no visa is needed for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for the period of stay, but no visa is needed.

Passport/Visa Note: Passengers are required to hold health insurance covering the period of stay in Slovakia, as well as funds equal to at least US$50 per day of stay (credit cards not accepted). The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Weather and Climate in Slovakia
The Slovak climate is generally temperate, with four seasons. Summers are warm with temperatures in July averaging 70°F (21°C), while the coldest month, January, averages 28°F (-2°C). Winter brings snowfall, which usually lasts from November to May in the Tatras. The mountains are colder and wetter than the lowlands in general, with most rain falling in June and July. Autumn is the driest time of year to visit, and along with the months of spring, is a good time to visit Slovakia, with less crowding and milder weather.

Slovakia Attractions

  • Bratislava Castle - Situated on a hill 269 feet (82m) above the city, Bratislava Castle is a prominent structure on the city's skyline and provides excellent views of Bratislava, as well as over Austria, and even Hungary in fine weather. It has been inhabited for thousands of years due to its important location on the Danube River in central Europe, and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in its history, as well as undergoing a series of reconstructions and extensions. Four towers make up the enormous castle building, enclosing a courtyard and collections of the Slovak National Museum, as well as a Treasure Chamber.

Slovakia Airport

M. R. Štefánik Airport (BTS)

  • Location: The airport is situated six miles (9km) north east of Bratislava.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +421 (0)2 3303 3353.
  • Getting to the city: Bus 61 travels between the airport and Bratislava's central bus station every 10-20 minutes (25 minutes). A taxi stand is located outside the arrivals hall.
  • Car rental: Car rental stands are located in the arrival hall and include Avis, Hertz, Budget and Europcar.
  • Facilities: Both arrival and departure halls have money exchange facilities and ATMs. There is a restaurant in the departure terminal, as well as bars and cafes throughout both terminals. A business club lounge provides business travellers with PCs, Internet, phones and fax facilities. Other facilities include duty-free shopping, newsstands, public telephones, left luggage, a children's play area, first aid and a hairdresser. Facilities for the disabled are good.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
Strictly forbidden. Nil percentage of alcohol allowed in the drivers' blood. Penalties include fine, withdrawal of licence and imprisonment.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle (exceeding 50cc) 17.

Fines:
On-the-spot (up to 20000 SKK), an official receipt should be obtained. Wheel clamps are in use and vehicles may be towed away.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol (95 octane), diesel (Nafta) and LPG is available, no leaded petrol. Petrol in a can permitted.

LPG can only be used for road vehicles on the condition that a safety certificate covers the equipment for its combustion.

Credit cards accepted at filling stations, check with your card issuer for usage in Slovakia before travel.

Driving Distances:
Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for driving distances


Lights:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. Any vehicle warning lights, other than those supplied with the vehicle as original equipment, must be made inoperative.

Motorcycles:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. Wearing of a crash helmet is compulsory when riding a machine over 50cc. Forbidden for motorcyclists to smoke while riding their machine.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory. Green Card recognised.

Passengers / Children in cars:
No person under 1.5 metres in height or child under 12 may travel in a vehicle as a front seat passenger. The use of child seats is compulsory for all children under 12 years of age or 150cm tall.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers; Motorways and expressways outside built up areas 80 mph (130 km/h), motorways and expressways in built up areas 55mph (90 km/h).

Other roads outside built up areas 55mph (90 km/h), other roads in built up areas 31 mph (50 km/h). Drivers must not exceed a speed of 30 km/h, 30 metres before a level crossing and whilst crossing over it.

Minimum speed on motorways 49 mph (80 km/h), 40 mph (65 km/h) on urban motorways.

Compulsory equipment:

  • First aid kit
  • Warning triangle – not required for two wheeled vehicles.
  • Spare bulb set – and spare fuses
  • Winter tyres (M+S type) - compulsory when compacted snow or ice is on the road.
  • Reflective jacket - compulsory for 2 and 4 wheeled vehicles on all roads outside built up areas, day and night. The person getting out of the vehicle as a result of a breakdown, puncture or accident must wear a reflective jacket. A fine of up to 5000SKK will be imposed for non compliance. Reflective jackets must comply with EU standard EN 471.

Other rules / requirements:

Motorway tax is payable for use of certain highways and motorways. A windscreen sticker must be displayed on the right hand side of the windscreen of all vehicles except motorcycles as evidence of payment. Stickers may be purchased at border crossings and from selected filling stations and post offices for periods of one year, 9 months, one month, one week or one day. Fines are imposed for non-display.

Radar detection equipment is strictly prohibited in Slovakia.

The authorities at the frontier must certify any visible damage to a vehicle entering Slovakia.

If any damage occurs inside the country a police report must be obtained at the scene of the accident. Damaged vehicles may only be taken out of the country on production of this evidence.

Drivers are advised by the Slovak Police to be wary of people approaching their vehicle at border crossings and petrol stations near the border who, may cause damage to tyres and then offer their assistance further on your route when the tyre becomes deflated.

Spiked tyres are prohibited and snow chains may be used only where there is enough snow to protect the road surface.

All foreign visitors are required to show proof of medical insurance cover on entry. Horns may only be used to warn of danger or to signify intention to overtake.

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