WHY VISIT SLOVAKIA
A country positioned at recently created borders and still little known to the outside world, Slovakia does not lack attractions; cultural as well as natural. Bratislava, the capital, deserves to be seen: The monuments of the old city, the museums, the national theatre whose fame extends well beyond the borders and the castle dominating the Danube are all interesting stopovers.
The contrast will strike you as you continue your visit through the High Tetras (Vysoké Tatry), narrow mountain chains with 600 km of hiking trails, many summits, and around ten glacial lakes.
Another natural curiosity, the Gorges of Dunajec have 500 metres of cliffs dominating the landscape which lead to a monastery dating from the XIV century.
Do not miss the Domica cave, immense and decorated by gigantic stalactites, which you will visit while sailing on an underground river.
You will not resist the charm of the innumerable wooden churches which can be seen particularly in the North-East of the country and which constitute one of the country’s treasures.
The Slovak Paradise national park, in the south-east of the country, is the perfect occasion to discover many picturesque villages, but also imposing landscapes with many waterfalls and canyons, as well as a wildlife protected by the thick forests.
Throughout your trip, you will no doubt be touched by the hospitality of the population, which is not the least of the country’s attractions.
WHAT TO SEE IN SLOVAKIA
Top destinations in Slovakia are:
- Tatra National Park
- Malá Fatra National Park
- Slovak Paradise National Park
- Banská Bystrica
- Banská Štiavnica
- Slovak Karst National Park
WHEN TO GO TO SLOVAKIA
Weather in Slovakia
The best period to visit Slovakia is from May to September.
In general, the climate is continental, with short, fairly hot summers and chilly winters. Spring can be the best time to visit, as the days tend to warm quickly, with consistently pleasant, mild weather for most of May. This is also the blossom season when the fruit trees that line so many Slovak roads are in full flower. Autumn is also recommended, with clear and settled weather often lasting for days on end in September and October. With Slovakia being heavily forested, this is also a great time to appreciate the changing colours of the foliage.
Winter can be a good time to come to Bratislava: the city looks beautiful under snow. Other than the High Tatras, most other parts of the country have little to offer during winter, and sights generally stay firmly closed between November and March. Summer is, of course, still the season that sees the largest number of tourists. Certainly, temperatures are at their highest, with the occasional heatwave pushing readings well above 30°C.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Slovakia
- January–February: Ice-skating rink on Hviezdoslav Square, Bratislava
- Early April: Bratislava Marathon
- Early May (weekends only): International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits, near Prievidza at Bojnice Castle
- Early May: Bratislava May Festival (concerts along the Danube, fireworks)
- Late June or early July: Anniversary of Napoleon’s Siege of Bratislava (1809 battle reenacted in Janka Kráľa park, across the river from the Old Town)
- June 24–26: Coronation Festival, Bratislava (medieval procession, fireworks)
- June–August: City beach, Bratislava (imported sand, beach chairs on the riverbank)
- Late June: Viva Musica! Festival, Bratislava (classical, jazz, world music)
- Early July (3 days): Východná Folklore Festival, west of Levoča
- Early September: Salamander Days, northeast of Bratislava in Banská Štiavnica (tribute to Slovakian miners’ traditions, culminates in evening parade on second Friday of September)
- October 21–23: Bratislava Jazz Days
- Late November (1 week): One World Film Festival, Bratislava (human rights documentaries from around the world)
- November 18–December 4: Bratislava Music Festival (classical concerts, opera, ballet)
- November 8–15 (likely): Bratislava International Film Festival
- December: Christmas Fair, Bratislava
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH SLOVAKIA
To move around inside the country, the trains run between the large cities, but you may prefer the bus, even if it is a little expensive, to travel between towns and villages.
by plane, the main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON SLOVAKIA
health tips & vaccination: none
local currency: European euro
local time zone: GMT+1 (+2)
electricity: type C and type E (230 V – 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN SLOVAKIA
typical food in Slovakia
- Bryndzové haluisky: national food, small potato dumplings with sheep’s cheese (bryndza).
- Zemiakové placky: potato pancakes fried in oil with garlic and flour.
- Granadír: pasta with potato.
- Siroke Rezance: pasta.
- Fried cheese: cheese fried in bread crumbs.
- Lokse: potato pancake.
- Bean soup: beans and various root vegetables such as carrots and parsley.
- Garlic soup: usually cooked in chicken broth.
- Goulash soup: using beef, paprika, marjoram and potatoes.
- Treska v majoneze: salad containing cod, mayonnaise and various vegetables.
- Klobasa: sausage from pork with salt, garlic (cesnak) and pepper.
- Kapustnica: a thick soup made of sour cabbage and smoked pork sausage, variations can be by adding mushrooms or plums.
- Mutton with sauerkraut: flavoured with prunes, mushrooms and apples.
- Cabbage Leaves: filled with minced meat, served with a milky sauce.
- Sulance: potato dough turnovers filled with plum jam.
- Polievka: soup infused with garlic (cesnaková) or sauerkraut (kapustnica).
- Párok: hot frankfurter, a typical morning snack.
- Jaternica: blood sausage from slaughtered pig and rice.
- Langoše: deep-fried dough topped with crushed garlic, cheese, ketchup or sour cream.
- Parené Buchty: steamed buns.
- Bryndza: sheep’s cheese that’s light and salty.
- Parenica: traditional Slovak semi-soft, unripe, steamed sheep cheese with a very delicate taste.
- Oštiepok: traditional Slovak Walachian product from sheep cheese.
- Žemľovka: a sweet pudding made from apples and white bread steeped in sweetened milk or eggs.
- Dolky: a smaller and thicker variety of pancake.
- Ryzovy Nákyp: sweet baked rise cake.
- Parene Buchty: steamed dumplings filled with jam with a sweet topping.
- Perky: jam-filled pasta with a sweet topping.
- Sisky: fried dumplings.
- Valassky Trdelnik: wives hollow cake.
- Bábovka: pound cake.
- Borovicka: strong gin.
- Slivovica: plum brandy.
souvenirs from Slovakia
- Šúpolienka corn husk dolls
- Majolica ceramics
- Valaška shepherd’s axe
- Košik braid long baskets
- Paličkovanie, lace works
- Rapkáč, traditional Slovak extremely loud tool made from wood
- Mineral Ore from Banská Štiavnica
- Tatranský čaj herbal liqueur, Medovina honey wine or Slivovica alcoholic beverage made of fermented plums
- Fujara long, deep-bass folk flute of Slovak shepherds
- Pijacka Poharik leather covered glass to be worn around the neck
- Veľkonočné Kraslice hand-painted easter eggs
How are you?: Ako sa máš?
Thank you: Ďakujem
What is your name?: Ako sa voláš?
How much is it?: Koľko to je?