There is a risk of petty crime, especially in Bratislava. Pickpockets operate around the main tourist areas, particularly the popular Christmas markets, and foreigners are easily identified and targeted. Take precautions against bag snatching and mugging. Don’t leave valuables unattended. If you put your jacket or coat on the back of a restaurant chair, make sure any valuables are kept securely elsewhere.
Some visitors to Bratislava have been given ‘spiked’ drinks and woken several hours later to find all their valuables gone. Be wary of drinks offered by strangers.
Be vigilant at Bratislava airport. Keep valuables and cash with you, rather than in checked baggage.
Foreign-licensed cars have been targeted by criminals. If you have a breakdown, lock the vehicle if you leave it. Remove all valuables from your car when parking.
Be aware of ‘road pirates’ who target foreign-registered cars. Some will stab a tyre at a petrol station, then follow their target until the car stops; they then offer assistance and rob the target. They might also simulate a breakdown and ask for help. You should not leave belongings in view in your car. If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, only do so in a well-lit public area such as a service station. Make sure you lock your car and in general be extremely wary of anyone offering help.
If you’re stopped by the police and asked to pay a fine for speeding or other traffic offences, you should be given a receipt for any money paid. If the officers refuse to give you a receipt, call 158 (police) to make sure you’re dealing with genuine police officers.
Taxi drivers sometimes attempt to overcharge tourists by adding unauthorised supplements or by not setting the meter at the start of a journey. Insist that you will pay only the fare shown on the meter.
When making payments don’t let your credit card out of your sight.
Report the loss or theft of a passport to the closest police department as soon as possible. Ask the police authorities to provide you with a statement or confirmation of the loss/theft.
Don’t leave your passport as a deposit, for example in hotels or with car rental companies.
It is a requirement under Slovak law to have at least valid third-party motor insurance cover for your car.
You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you intend to drive in Slovakia for longer than 6 months, you should exchange your UK driving licence for a Slovak one before the 6-month period runs out.
Children under 150cm tall or under the age of 12 must not sit in the front seat of moving vehicles and must use an appropriate child restraint Only use registered car rental companies. You can find a list of car rentals on this Slovak Business Directory website.
Although in reasonably good condition, many main roads have only a single carriageway in each direction making overtaking difficult. Road markings are difficult to see in poor weather.
The standard of driving is not high and can be aggressive. Beware of oncoming cars overtaking on your side of the road (particularly on bends and hills).
In 2015 there were 274 road deaths in Slovakia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.
In winter, equip your car for severe driving conditions. The use of winter tyres is a requirement by law in Slovakia when there’s snow or ice on the road. All vehicles must have headlights switched on all year round. Speed limits in towns have been reduced to 50kmh.
Drivers with any trace of alcohol in their body will be arrested. There is zero tolerance for both alcohol and narcotics. If you are involved in an accident while driving the police will give you a breath test regardless of who is to blame.
A new electronic toll system was introduced in Slovakia on 1 January 2010. It applies to all vehicles with a weight of over 3.5 tons. All truck drivers are strongly advised to study the new rules and pay the necessary fees. Failing to do so may result in fines from €1,655 to €2,655.
More information on the toll system and a road network map is available on the website of the toll system operator or from their call centre on +421 2 35 111 111, which is available 24/7 and in English.
If you use public transport you should buy a ticket before boarding the vehicle. Tickets can be purchased using the ticket machines at the public transport stops and in some of the newspaper stands. Immediately after entering the vehicle the ticket must be marked by a marking machine placed inside of the vehicle. An unmarked ticket is invalid and may result in a fine from 50 to 70 Euros.
For more information on using public transport in Bratislava, visit the DPB website.
Foreign students may not qualify for discounted fares even with a student card. Check with your public transport provider for further information.
Swimming and water sports
You should observe local rules and regulations on publicly accessible lakes, rivers and other water sources. Jumping into unknown waters can result in serious injury, including paralysis or death. Check with local authorities or sporting organisations for further information and advice.
Skiing and hiking
If you ski or hike in the Slovak mountains and need help from the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service (HZS), you will have to meet their full costs. These could range from €116 to €9,960 depending on the size of the operation. Anyone ignoring or violating HZS commands or laws will be liable for a fine of up to €3,320. Make sure you have sufficient insurance to cover any rescue costs. Mountain rescue services instructions in English can be found on the Mountain Rescue Service website
Physically handicapped travellers
Slovakia, in general, does not cater for those who are physically handicapped. Some effort is now being taken to make buildings more accessible, but the vast majority of buildings only have steps rather than ramps.