Getting Around Slovakia
Czech Airlines (www.czechairlines.com) runs domestic flights within Slovakia. Since distances are not too great, it’s generally easier and better value to use the excellent bus and rail network however.
The major routes run from Bratislava to Presov and Kosice, via Kralovany and Poprad. The network of roads and supporting services is dense and reliable. Motorways are equipped with emergency telephones every half a mile or less.
The Slovakia emergency system provides a fast and reliable network of garages, tow trucks and medical services. Road signs comply with European standards. Drivers may have to pay tolls on some highways and express roads.
Side of the roadRight
Roads are standardised as motorways, first-, second- and third-class metalled roads, and are generally in good condition, particularly on the main arteries.
You can book self-drive cars through the tourist office in main towns and resorts, or at Bratislava airport. Drivers must be over 18 (although some companies require the driver to be over 21).
These are available in all the main towns and are metered and cheap; higher fares are charged at night.
Slovakia's size and comparatively quiet roads make it relatively easy for visitors to get around under their own steam, either by car, motorbike or bicycle. Cycling in Slovakia is one of the best ways to see the sights through rolling countryside and forests and by the side of lakes, rivers and vineyards. Several companies offer mountain-bike tours and it‘s possible to hire mountain or road bikes in all major cities.
Buses are more expensive than trains, although weekend bus fares are sharply reduced. Slovak Lines (tel: tel: 18211, in Slovakia only or +421 2 5542 2734; www.slovaklines.sk) is the country’s major bus service provider with connections to many domestic and international destinations.
Seat belts are compulsory. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in towns, 90kph (56mph) outside towns and 130kph (81mph) on motorways. Cars must have their lights on 24 hours a day from 15 October to the 15 March.
Autoklub Slovakia Assistance (tel: 18112, in Slovakia only); Slovenský Autoturist Klub (tel: 18124, in Slovakia only).
Most hire companies require a valid EU driving licence or International Driving Permit. If you are stopped by police you also need to produce your passport or ID card and your car hire documents, including proof of valid insurance.
Buses, trolleybuses and trams exist in Bratislava and several other towns. All the cities operate flat-fare systems, and pre-purchase passes are available. Tickets should be punched in the appropriate machine on entering the tram or bus. A separate ticket is usually required when changing routes. There is a fine for fare evasion. Blue badges on tram and bus stops indicate an all-night service.
The rail network is operated by Slovak Republic Railways (ŽSR) (tel: +421 2 4485 8188; www.slovakrail.sk). There are several daily express trains between Bratislava and main cities and resorts. You should make reservations in advance on major routes. Fares are low, but supplements are charged for travel by express trains.
InterRail One-Country Pass: offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month within Slovakia. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children under 12 travel free when accompanied by an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).
Eurail Slovakia Pass: offers travel for three, four, five or eight days in one month within Slovakia. Available to non-EU nationals from Eurail (www.eurail.com).
The Danube is the main artery for transport by ship. Lod/Slovak Shipping and Ports (tel: +421 2 5293 2226; www.lod.sk) runs cruises on the river.