Landlocked Slovakia is situated right in the heart of Europe. Located on the Danube River, its capital city, Bratislava, is a melting pot of history and culture with medieval, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture.
Slovakia Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- Slovakia has the world’s highest number of castles and chateaux per capita
- Bratislava is the only capital in the world to border two independent countries, Austria and Hungary
- One of Slovakia’s 6,000 caves, the Krásnohorská Cave, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the biggest stalagmite in the world, extending a massive 32m high
- Each day has a designated name/s assigned to it on the Slovakian calendar, so when your ‘nameday’ comes up, you have a party just like you would for your birthday
- Borovička, the national drink of Slovakia is a spirit made from juniper berries, and tastes similar to gin
- Štefan Banič born in Nestich (now part of Slovakia) invented the parachute
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Slovakia do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian Embassy in Austria is responsible for Slovakia:
The Icon, Gertrude-Fröhlich-Sandner-Str. 2
Ph. +43 1 506 740
Fax. +43 1 506 74185
The official currency of Slovakia is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. The recommended currency to take to Slovakia is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euros with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Bratislava is approximately €2
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €6
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €18
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €2.50
Commonly referred to as Slovakia’s national dish, Bryndzové Halušky is the delicious combination of potato dumplings topped with sheep’s milk cheese and fried bacon and is available in most Slovak restaurants. In fact, potatoes, sheep cheese, dumplings and meats including pork, beef and chicken, are at the heart of most Slovak dishes. You can even get sweet dumplings, known as Parené buchty, steamed and filled with jam, sweetened poppy seeds and cheese or chocolate. If that sounds scrumptious, try their Šišky, fried dumplings with marmalade and sugar. Luckily, you’ll find most of these tasty selections are often cheaper than meals throughout the rest of Europe.
You’ll also find well priced drinks, with local beer Zlaty Bazant typically just €1. Growing in popularity is one of the smallest and oldest wine regions in the world, Tokaj, and should be sampled if only to say you’ve tasted the ‘wine of kings, king of wines’!
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Slovakia enjoys four distinct seasons, and while the lowlands tend to stay warm and dry, the mountains suffer much colder and wetter seasons. The warmest month is July, while in January expect temperature to drop just below zero.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
You’ll find a number of options to get around the cities of Slovakia. Buses, trolleybuses and trams can be found in Bratislava and most cities, along with well-priced, metered taxis. A rail network connects most main cities with express trains available at a surcharge. If you’re up for the challenge, why not cycle through the gorgeous countryside.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Slovakia…
A great start for souvenir hunting is the corn husk doll, known as šúpolienky. Available in most local markets, these dolls depict stories of rural life in Slovakia and are often dressed in traditional folk clothing. Fancy taking home some folk clothing of your own. A memorable keepsake, you will find many options to buy all sorts of clothes with customary embroidered patterns. Keep an eye out on the quality however, even if you must pay a little extra. Traditional hand-made majolica pottery makes a lovely gift and is produced just outside Bratislava in the town of Modra. Honey wine, or medovina, is a specialty of Slovakia, along with their impressive herbal tea selection. They even have an alcoholic variety of tea, known as Tatratea, a tea-based liqueur, named after the High Tatras mountain range bordering Slovakia and Poland.
- Men will shake hands upon meeting holding direct eye contact, while women will offer a kiss on the cheek to other women
- Expect to remove your shoes upon entering a home, with slippers often provided
- When drinking, as you clink glasses you must look everyone at the table in the eye, and say ‘Nazdravie’ (to your health)
- Though the smoking and drinking legal age limit is 18, it is rarely enforced
- Children of Slovakia are expected to say ‘dobry den’ (hello) to adults, but adults are not expected to reply
- Slovaks value their privacy and are often shy upon first meeting, which shouldn’t be mistaken for rudeness
- Initial greetings will include titles ‘Pan’ (Mr) or ‘Pani’ (Mrs) and their surname. First names are only used by close friends or when invited to do so
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Hontianska paráda, or Hont Parade is a festival celebrated in the Slovakian village of Hrusov's, whereby villagers open their farms to the public allowing visitors to learn of their ancient agricultural ways and even partake in some activities including bread baking, threshing crop and burning coal. The start of summer brings an open-air festival to the small town of Východná, situated between the stunning landscape of the Tatra mountains. Celebrating the traditional folk culture the festival includes live music with over 1,400 performances, wood chopping, handicrafts and delicious mountain cuisine.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- Republic Day (January 1st)
- Epiphany (January 6th)
- Good Friday and Easter Monday
- Labor Day (May 1st)
- End of World War II (May 8th)
- St. Cyril & St. Methodius Day (July 5th)
- National Uprising Day (August 29th)
- Constitution Day (September 1st)
- Day of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th)
- All Saints' Day (November 1st)
- Fight for Freedom and Democracy Day (November 17th)
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- St. Stephen's Day (December 26th)
Bratislava offers visitors a fascinating look into its unique history shaped by Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque architecture. Overlooking the city, the dominating Bratislava Castle perched atop an isolated rock hill provides incredible views reaching as far as neighbouring Austria and Hungary, and houses the collections of the Slovak National Museum. Other incredible sites include St Martin’s Cathedral, easily recognised by its 300 kilogram replica crown atop the tower’s spire and St Michael’s Gate, all that remains of the medieval fortifications. Surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, and straddling both banks of the picturesque Danube River, Bratislava is well worth a visit.
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