Slovakia travel guide
Like the Czech Republic minus the crowds, Slovakia may sit in the shadows of its neighbour, but the country quietly impresses with its epic alpine scenery, clifftop castles and exquisite capital.
Following the 'Velvet Divorce' of 1993, which saw Czechoslovakia split into two constituent parts (the Czech Republic and Slovakia), the nation set about reasserting its independent spirit, and today there's a humble, creative nature to Slovakia that wins over visitors of all stripes. Enthusiastic about art and music, the country is even home to a burgeoning hip-hop scene.
A small country of just five million odd inhabitants, Slovakia appeals to a broad range of travellers: from backpackers and businesspeople, to skiers and history buffs. It has one or two surprises up its sleeve. It is, for example, quietly gaining prestige as an alternative skiing destination. With its modern skiing infrastructure and new budget flights, Slovakia’s High Tatras mountains are becoming a tantalising destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
As for the capital, it may be compared unfavourably with its neighbour, Prague, but Bratislava is nevertheless an alluring option for a city break. With an air of glamorous Vienna, it is home to gorgeous churches dating back to the 15th century, countless cafes squeezed onto cobblestone streets, and a slew of terrific, sometimes quirky museums.
Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries, Bratislava’s architecture is grand Central European in style. It was the Hungarian capital for nearly 300 years, with 11 monarchs crowned in the extraordinary 500-year-old St Martin’s Cathedral.
Beyond its stunning capital, Slovakia boasts some impressive natural landscapes, which remain relatively unspoiled and uncrowded. The country has 10 national parks to speak of, which offer sprawling forests, rolling hills and meandering rivers.
Though Bratislava and the High Tatras mountains remain the star attractions in Slovakia, beyond them lies a diverse and decidedly beautiful land, rich in rewards for those bold enough to explore it.
49,033 sq km (18,932 sq miles).
5,429,418 (UN estimate 2016).
111 per sq km.
President Zuzana Čaputová since 2019.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Slovakia on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Slovakia.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to self-isolate in your accommodation until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment. See the Slovak government COVID-19 website for advice in English on “What to do if I am COVID-19 positive”.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Public spaces and services
On 14 March, the Slovak government lifted most of the restrictions placed on public life to counter the spread of COVID-19. You should check the Slovak government COVID-19 website (Slovak only) for the latest restrictions and exemptions as these can change at short notice. You may wish to use an online translation tool as the pages in English are not always updated regularly. There is also information on the latest measures in English on the IOM Migration Information Centre, Slovak Spectator and Radio Slovakia International websites.
It is only compulsory to wear facemasks when visiting healthcare facilities.
Shops, restaurants, hotels and services no longer require you to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
Healthcare in Slovakia
If you are in Slovakia and you are concerned that you may have the symptoms of coronavirus, you should follow the advice of the Slovak authorities and contact your usual healthcare provider by telephone or email, not in person. If your symptoms are severe, you should call 155 or 112, where some operators may speak English.
The Slovak government website has information in English and advice on how to get tested for Covid-19 (currently in Slovak only). You can also consult your nearest regional office of the Slovak Public Health Authority on their website.
If you test positive for COVID-19
The Slovak Public Health Authority announced that from 20 March 2023 you no longer have to self-isolate when you test positive for COVID-19.
If you are in contact with somebody who tests positive for COVID-19
If you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are not required to self-isolate, unless advised otherwise by a doctor.
The Slovak Public Health Authority defines you as having come into close contact with someone who tested positive if you were not wearing an FFP2-standard facemask and:
- were in direct physical contact
- or spent more than five minutes at a distance of less than two metres
- or spent more than five minutes inside or in an enclosed space
- or travelled on the same means of transport for more than five minutes
For more information, see the Slovak Public Health Authority website (in Slovak only) or the Slovak Spectator website (in English).
Local hospitals and further healthcare information
For contact details of local hospitals visit our list of healthcare providers. UK-issued prescriptions are not accepted at Slovak pharmacies, and you should bring sufficient supplies with you to cover your stay. If you need repeat medication you would need to consult a local doctor to get a Slovak prescription issued.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in Slovakia.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance
Further advice and information is available on the Slovak foreign ministry website and the Slovak government’s Coronavirus website.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Travel from Ukraine
There is widespread military activity in Ukraine. The FCDO advises British Nationals in Ukraine to leave immediately if they judge it is safe to do so.
If you have arrived in Slovakia from Ukraine and are in need of assistance, you should call +421 2 59 98 2000 and select the option for “consular services for British nationals.” You can also send an enquiry via the web contact form.
Take care of yourself and your belongings in the same way as you would do in the UK. Take precautions against pickpockets and bag snatchers and don’t leave things unattended. Don’t leave your passport as a deposit for services such as car rental, and don’t lose sight of your bank card when making payments.
There is a risk of petty crime, especially in Bratislava. Pickpockets operate around the main tourist areas, particularly the popular Christmas markets and in bars, and foreigners are easily identified and targeted.
There is a risk of drink spiking and thefts from visitors in night clubs and, strip clubs around the old town pedestrian area in Bratislava.
- you should seek recommendations for bars and clubs from trustworthy sources.
- research bars and clubs in advance.
- if travelling in a group, stay together.
- keep a close eye on your drinks and only accept drinks that you have seen being prepared. Alcoholic drinks might be stronger than in the UK.
There have been some instances of extortionate charging for drinks or having fraudulent transactions debited against credit/debit cards.
- always ask to see a menu to check drink prices before ordering.
- when paying by credit or debit card, make sure the transaction is completed in your presence and be wary of attempts to make you re-enter your pin number.
- if you’re told that the card payment transaction didn’t go through, ask for a receipt before doing the transaction again.
If you have been the victim of a crime while in Slovakia and wish to report the crime, you should do so to local police prior to leaving the country. You should ask the police to provide you with a statement or confirmation of the incident.
Taxi drivers sometimes try to overcharge tourists by adding unauthorised supplements or by not setting the meter at the start of a journey. Insist that you’ll pay only the fare shown on the meter.
Be aware that foreign-registered cars can be targeted by criminals who may puncture your tyres at a filling station, or fake a break down and then rob you when you stop.
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
Political protests can happen at short notice and may turn violent. You should avoid large gatherings.
Only use registered car rental companies. You can find a list of car rentals on this Slovak Business Directory website.
If you are planning to drive in Slovakia, see information on Driving Abroad.
Licences and documents
You can drive in Slovakia on your UK driving licence.
It is a requirement under Slovak law to have at least valid third-party motor insurance cover for your car.
If you’re living in Slovakia, you may need to exchange your UK licence for a Slovak one. Check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
Driving a British car abroad
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
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.
By law, you must use winter tyres when there’s snow or ice on the road.
All vehicles must have headlights switched on all year round.
Speed limits in towns are 50km/h.
There’s zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or narcotics. If you are involved in an accident while driving the police will give you a breath test regardless of who is to blame. Drivers with any trace of alcohol in their body will be arrested.
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 a genuine police officer.
See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Slovakia.
Although in reasonably good condition, many main roads have only a single carriageway in each direction making overtaking difficult. Beware of oncoming cars overtaking on your side of the road (particularly on bends and hills). Road markings are difficult to see in poor weather and can be faded. Traffic signs and junctions can be confusing to those not used to the roads. In winter, equip your car for severe driving conditions.
If you use Slovak motorways (‘Dialnica’) you must display a motorway vignette (sticker) on the inside of the windscreen of your vehicle as you enter Slovakia. Failure to display one may incur a heavy fine. You can get a motorway vignette at all major border crossings into Slovakia and at larger petrol stations.
An electronic toll system applies on motorways to all vehicles weighing over 3.5 tons. All truck drivers are strongly advised to study the 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 from the toll system operator or from their call centre on +421 2 35 111 111 (available 24/7 and in English).
If you use public transport you should buy a ticket before boarding the vehicle. You can buy tickets from ticket machines at some public transport stops or newspaper stands. Immediately after entering the vehicle you must validate the ticket using a marking machine inside the vehicle. An unmarked ticket is invalid and may result in a fine from 50 to 70 Euros. You won’t be treated more leniently if you’re a tourist or claim to be unaware of the rules.
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
Those planning a winter sports holiday in Slovakia, should read the SkiSafe guidance including for information on things to do before you go and staying safe at your resort.
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
Bears and wolves are occasionally encountered by visitors in Slovakia, particularly in mountain areas. You should exercise caution while hiking, but attacks on people are rare. For advice on minimising risks, see the Slovak Wildlife Society website.
Travellers with limited mobility
There are many interesting places in Slovakia that are accessible to all people, but wheelchair access may be limited in certain places due to uneven paving and a lack of ramps.
An attack on a bar popular with the LGBT+ community in the capital Bratislava on 12 October 2022 which resulted in 2 deaths was classified as a terrorist act. Prior to this attack, there was no recent history of terrorism in Slovakia. Further attacks cannot be ruled out.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public places, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
You must carry your passport (or Slovak identity card if you have one) with you at all times as identification. Keep it safe in a zipped up pocket or secure bag, and keep the details separately in case you lose it.
The Residence Permit card issued in Slovakia (Trvaly Pobyt) isn’t considered acceptable proof of identity and can’t be used to travel outside Slovakia. You’ll need to use your passport to leave the country.
Bratislava has become a popular destination for stag parties and tourists have been fined or imprisoned for causing a public nuisance. Unruly or rowdy behaviour between 22:00 and 06:00 is illegal and could attract the attention of the police. It is an offence in Bratislava Old Town to drink alcohol in the street. There may be exceptions for seasonal markets (such as the Christmas Market) and outside seating areas of restaurants and bars. But drinking alcohol (for example bought in a supermarket) in other public areas could result in a fine of €33.
Don’t get involved with drugs in any way. Penalties for smuggling, possession and use of drugs are severe.
Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as a military establishment or somehow security related, may result in problems with the authorities.
Same-sex relationships are legal in Slovakia, but same-sex marriages and civil partnerships aren’t recognised in Slovak law. Public displays of affection may be frowned upon or attract unwanted attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Taking food and drink into the EU
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
This page has information on travelling to Slovakia.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Slovakia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Slovakia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for Slovakia before travel.
Fines of up to €1600 can be given to travellers who stay longer than legally allowed.
All COVID-19 related entry requirements have been lifted and there are no longer any COVID-19 related restrictions on foreigners entering the territory of the Slovak Republic. Please see the Ministry of Interior website for further information - Slovak Ministry of Interior Advice
If you’re transiting through Slovakia
There is no airside transit allowed at any Slovak airport. All passengers must go through immigration control on arrival at an airport in Slovakia.
There are no specific requirements for those transiting through Slovakia.
You should also check the entry requirements for the relevant neighbouring countries on your route on the FCDO Travel Advice pages.
Slovakia’s international airports at Bratislava, Kosice and Poprad are operational with flights to certain permitted destinations.
Most major routes between Slovakia and Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are open with spot checks at the borders.
Neighbouring countries can change their entry requirements at short notice. You should check the FCDO Travel Advice for all countries on your route.
Entry into Slovakia from Ukraine
The FCDO advises against all travel to Ukraine. British nationals in Ukraine should leave immediately if they judge it is safe to do so. You should not attempt to cross into Ukraine from Slovakia and you should abide by the instructions of the authorities at all times.
Border checks remain in place with Ukraine. For more information on entering Slovakia from Ukraine, and assistance for those arriving, see the Slovak Interior Ministry website and this Slovak government website (also in English).
The Slovak government has simplified entry requirements for people arriving under immediate threat of armed conflict. This includes the option to show other identity documents if your passport is not available. For more information, see the Slovak Ministry of Interior website.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
Your passport must be:
- Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
- valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)
You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.
Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
- you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.
- if you are travelling to Slovakia and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90 day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
- to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Slovak government’s entry requirements. Check with the Slovak Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
- if you stay in Slovakia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Slovakia or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At Slovak border control, you may need to queue in separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens.
Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Slovakia as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.
You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
If you are resident in Slovakia your passport should not be stamped. You should proactively show your proof of residence as well as your valid passport at Slovak border control. For further information, see our Living in Slovakia guide.
Registering with the Slovak authorities
If you plan to stay in Slovakia for a longer period of time, you should register with the police within 3 days of arrival. You’ll need your passport, 2 photographs and proof of accommodation. You’ll have an option to apply for a Slovak ‘green card’, which can be used as proof of your ID, while your passport is kept in a safe place. Visit the website of Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic for further information.
Registering your stay with the Slovak authorities
Foreign nationals must report the place of their stay in Slovakia at their nearest Foreigners Police Department. If you are staying at a hotel, the hotel will do this for you. If you are in private accommodation, you must notify the Foreigners Police by letter, email or in person within 3 working days from the date of your entry into Slovakia.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Slovakia. They are also accepted for a return to Slovakia if you normally live there.
Travelling with pets
You cannot use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, you’ll need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations.
Follow the guidance for taking your pet dog, cat or ferret abroad.
If your pet passport was issued in an EU Member State, it remains valid for travel to Slovakia.
See the Slovak Financial Administration guidance on travelling from the UK to Slovakia with pets (in Slovak only).
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Slovakian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
If you’re living in Slovakia, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Slovakia guide.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
The standard of medical facilities in Slovakia varies. Doctors are generally very good and medical equipment is constantly being improved. However, many hospitals are under-maintained and there are few English- speaking receptionists and nurses.
The currency of Slovakia is the euro.
Only exchange money in banks and certified exchange offices. You can find these in all major hotels and some department stores. Travellers’ cheques aren’t generally accepted in stores, small hotels or restaurants. You can’t exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.
ATM machines accept UK bank or credit cards (Cirrus, Maestro or Visa) are common. Shops - particularly in the main tourist areas - increasingly accept credit cards, but are sometimes reluctant to accept cards issued by foreign banks. Check first that the shop will accept your card and that it can be read (there are sometimes problems with “Maestro”). Check your statements carefully when you get home.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.