Travellers usefull tips
Things to know about Slovakia
Religion: most of the population are Catholics. Orthodoxy, Judaism and Protestantism aren’t so popular.
Official language: Slovak. Hungarian, German and English are also spread.
Climate is continental. The country has cold and dry winters, warm and wet summers. Mountain regions annually receive more than 1.000mm of rainfall, and lowlands – 500 mm per year. In the mountains, snow remains for three months; and the lowland regions experience changeable snow cover. In Bratislava the average temperature of January is −1°С, in June +21°С.
Currency: €1 consists of 100 euro cents. International sign – €. Circulated banknotes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and also 50 cents.
National currency – Slovak koruna (Sk). One euro = 30,126 Slovak koruna, 1Slovak koruna = 100 haliers (h). Banknotes are in denominations of 5000, 1000, 500, 200,100, 50, 20 Sk. Coins are in denomination of 1, 2, 5, 10 Sk, and 10, 20, 50 halier.
Means of payment: A wide range of cards, including Eurocard, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Eurocheque and others, are acceptable in hotels. You can also pay in Slovak koruna, American dollars and euros.
Currency exchange: Exchange offices are located in all banks, saving banks, huge department stores, supermarkets, hotels, post offices and travel agencies. You can recognize them by the sign “Zmenaren”. You can exchange any freely convertible currency. On weekdays, exchange offices usually work from 7:00-8:00am to 5:00-7:00pm with one hour break. Some of them are open 24-hours a day. On weekends, they work from 8:00am to 12:00am-3:00pm.
Banks work everyday, except Sunday, from 9:00am to 11:00am, and from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. On Saturday, they are open till 12:00am. Exchange rates offered by different exchange offices may vary. You’re advised to review conditions of exchange, before making a decision.
Telecommunication: Public phone boxes accept coins and phone cards. Such phone cards can be bought at kiosks and post offices. You can call abroad from a payphone, and also from a post office (where rates are higher by 10-15%) or from hotels (where it’s 30% as much).
Mobile communication has a range of GSM 900/1800. Slovak mobile operators are T-Mobile, Orange and O2.
Calls to Slovakia from other countries: +421 – dialling code or code of region – phone number.
Calls from Slovakia to other countries: 00 – country code – dialling code or code of region – phone number/fax.
Useful phone numbers in Slovakia:
Directory inquiries – 120 (0120)
Police – 158
Road emergency and ambulance – 154
Ambulance – 155
Fire department – 150
Information about internal telephone service – 1181
Information about international telephone service – 12149
Time zone: CET (UTC +1)/ Summer time: CEST (UTC +2)
Daylight saving time in summer: the last Sunday of March.
Daylight saving time in winter: the last Sunday of October.
You can bring into country duty-free:
- up to 200 cigarettes (or 100 small cigars), 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco;
- up to 2 litres of wine or 1 l of alcohol beverage (which have more than 22%of alcohol), or 2 l of beverages (which have less than 22% of alcohol);
- up to 250 ml of perfume of 50 ml of cologne;
- 2 photo cameras, 1 video camera, 1 radio and 1 tape recorder;
- 1 bike, 1 boat, 2 pairs of skis, 2 tennis rackets, 1 kayak or surfboard.
From the EU countries you can bring in:
- up to 800 cigarettes (or 400 small cigars), 20 cigars or 1 kg of tobacco;
- up to 10 l of alcohol beverage (which have more than 22%of alcohol); up to 20 l of beverages (which have less than 22% of alcohol); up to 60 l of sparkling wine, 90 l of table wine, 110 l of beer.
Shopping in Slovakia
Most shops work from 9:00am to 6:00pm on weekdays. On Saturday they are usually open from 9:00am to 1:00pm.
a) Public transport
1. Buses, trams, trolleybuses. A ticket for your trip can be bought at an orange automatic machine located on the stop. Before you drop a coin, be sure that green light is on. The bought ticket must be punched inside a bus. One-time ticket is valid for one trip and costs about 0.15 American dollars, a daily ticket – 1 American dollar, a weekly ticket – about 3-5 American dollars. You can buy tickets at DPHMB offices, underpasses, kiosks and ticket offices, as well as at railway stations. You’re advised to buy your tickets only before a trip, as they must be used after the purchase.
2. Taxi. This kind of transport isn’t popular due to the small size of Slovak towns. Such trips are not expensive. Taxis are equipped with meters.
b) Long-distance transport
1. Trains. Osobni (Os) are slow regional trains, which stop at every station. The fastest trains are called Rychlik (R) and Express (Ex). InterCity (IC) are high-speed trains.
A second class ticket costs about 12-15 euros; first class – about 20 euros. If you buy a sleeping berth in the night train, you must pay in addition. Tickets can be purchased at box offices, and should be saved until the end of the trip. A ticket for an electric train costs 0.25 – 0.5 American dollars. There are some discounts during weekends. Slovakia has also European discount system for students and young people.
2. Buses. You can buy tickets either at kiosks on the bus station or from a driver. The average cost of one ticket is 1 euro for 50 km. Bus schedule can be changed, such information must be shown on the information board. ("premava" means "running bus" and "nepremdra" – "not running").
The sign "R" on a bus means that you can buy tickets for this bus in advance.
3. Aircrafts. Slovakia has 9 air companies. Airports that serve domestic flights are located in Piešťany and Prievidza. The only passenger airline is Bratislava – Košice. Its value ranges from €40 to 60, depending on available flights and advance time of ticket purchase.
To rent a car you must have a driving license, a passport and a credit card. You can also pay in cash, but you must give your credit card for the bond security. Your rental price depends on a car and time period, and also on a day of the week. It is more expensive (not including distance) on weekends from 3:00pm Friday to 9:00am Monday and on public holidays. In addition, you must pay for daily accident insurance (about 8 euros) and insurance against theft (about 8 euros). All major international car rental companies are represented in Slovakia. Car rental costs from 40 EUR per day.
Traffic rules in Slovakia
- It’s forbidden for foot-passengers to use mobile phones and players while crosswalking.
- The country has penalties for cyclists who ride without helmets.
- In Slovakia, the headlights or low beam lights must be switched on 24-hours at any time of the year.
- Speed limits in cities – 50 km/h, outside cities – 90km/h, autobahns – 130 km/h.
- Penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol – from €150, exceeding the speed limit by 20km/h – from €50, exceeding the speed limit by 50km/h – €350, travel to the red light – €150, violation of overtaking rules – about €150, using mobile phone without a headset – from €60.
- Children under 12 years old can sit in the backseats.
- If a width of the road is less than 3meters, you must drive wearing safety belts.
In Slovakia, there are simple hotels, hostels, campuses, luxury hotels, spa hotels, hotels for extreme sport fans and even for motorists. You can also stay in a family hotel or resort.
Tips: you’re advised to leave tips in restaurants and a taxi driver. It’s 10% of the bill.
Electricity in Slovakia
Mains voltage – 220V, frequency – 50 Hz. Hotels have sockets of European standard.
1 January – Republic Day
6 January – Epiphany and Orthodox Christmas
March /April – Easter
1 May – Labor Day
8 May – End of World War II
5 July – St. Cyril & St. Methodius Day
15 August – Assumption
29 August – National Uprising Day
1 September – Constitution Day
1 November – All Saints' Day
17 November – Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy
25-26 December – Christmas
Visa is not required for citizens of such countries as Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Hungary, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Sweden. Citizens of other countries wishing to visit Slovakia must apply for a visa.
You should know:
- In the highlands snow remains up to 130 days;
- The most popular souvenirs you can bring from Slovakia are dolls dressed in folk costumes, ceramics, wood products, leather goods, fabrics (embroidered tablecloths, pillows, costumes).
- Twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday, you can go across Bratislava on a historical tram. The cost of a 40-minute trip is about €40.
- In Slovakia, you can often find fortune-tellers, who ask for money. You’re advised to ignore them. Also, you’d better not change money "in the street" or leave valuable things, bags and cameras in your car.