Slovakia is a country of amazing natural beauty, with stunning mountains for hiking and snowboarding, forests and rivers for exploring and museums and churches to immerse yourself in whilst learning about the fascinating history of the country; it certainly has a lot to offer. It has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, and it's easy to see why.
Language and Currency
Slovak is the official language, and you'll notice that Hungarian, Russian and German are also spoken. English is becoming increasingly common too, especially amongst the younger population. Below we have given a quick guide to getting by in Slovak!
- Ahoj (“a-hoy”) – Hello
- Dovidenia (“do-vee-dye-niya”) – Goodbye
- áno (“aano”) – Yes
- nie (“niye”) – No
- Prosím (“pro-seem”) – Please
- D'akujem (“dya-kooyem”) – Thank You
Slovakia sees 4 definite seasons; Winter (December to February) can see temperatures drop to -10'c at night (or -20'c if you are in the mountains!) and the towns become snow covered. Spring (March-May) is often unpredictable, with temperatures between 9'c and 18'c, with sunshine and showers. The Summer months in the South Western part of the country reach the glorious temperatures of around 35'c - and it has been known to exceed 40'c in the height of the season! It then starts to cool down and become more Autumnal from September, although still warm. The wind and rain comes along around November time.
Spend a day wandering around the 900 year old Spis Castle, one of the worlds largest castle ruins and a UNESCO Heritage attraction; early wooden churches, mainly in the northeast, are still used and form a unique and important part of the country's heritage. You can explore the Slovak Paradise National Park via the Sucha Bela hike; a 4 hour adventure with ravines, gorges, chasms, meadows and waterfalls. Climb up rope ladders and cool off underneath waterfalls, or simply stroll the meadows - you choose!
Heading over to Slovakia's capital, Bratislava, a tour of the Old Town is a must. Be led through the cobbled streets and marvel at the beautiful churches, historic buildings and quaint cafes, whilst learning about Slovakian history and culture. A trip to The UFO for lunch or dinner is a must - with panoramic views of the city from over 300ft, it's a dining experience like no other!
For a unique experience, how about a trip to PanIQ Room which can be found in Nitra and Bratislava. An adrenaline filled 60 minutes in which you need to solve a range of strategic clues to escape from the Panic Room - similar to popular computer games over the last decade.
Or get away from it all with a trip to the Tatra Mountains, bask in the peaceful ambience of the valleys, hike your way around the National Park, or grab your Skis/Snowboards if visiting in the winter and hit the slopes. The Tatras are also home to local wildlife including Bears and Lynx, so make sure to keep your wits about you!
Traditional Slovakian craft includes pottery, textiles such as weaving and hand-embroidered clothing, and wood carving, you can find such crafts adorning smaller, local shops. For a true Slovak souvenir, make sure you pick up a handmade wooden puppet or doll, dressed in Folk Costume.
In Bratislava, the Palace Shopping Centre is worth a visit - with literally everything under one roof, including a creche for the kids, you can shop for food, clothes and electronics in peace!
A visit to Miletičova, Bratislava will bring you to a traditional outdoor market where you can purchase everything from clothes to fresh fruit, veg and meat brought in by local farmers. Markets can be found all over the country and are a big part of tradition and probably the best way to experience the Slovak lifestyle.
Dining out and Nightlife
Slovak meals are typically based around potatoes, cheese, cabbage, onions and garlic. Everything from soups and stews and breadcrumbed meats are consumed daily, with each dish reflecting influence from the surrounding regions. Below are a few traditional Slovak meals that we recommend you try!
- - Bryndzove Halusky is considered the national dish. Fluffy potato dumplings coated in a thick sheep cheese sauce and topped with pieces of bacon.
- - Goulash is a spicy beef stew served with generous chunks of bread!
- - Pierogi are boiled dumplings filled with anything from sauerkraut, ground meat and cheese, to fruit, and can form a starter, main or dessert!
- - Žemľovka is a glorious dessert made of pastry sheets cooked and then soaked in sweetened milk and layered with cooked apples and pears.
- - Do not Drink and Drive! Slovakia have a strict zero tolerance towards it and drink-drivers face serious penalties.
- - Drive on the right hand side of the road.
- - Speeding is punishable with on-the-spot fines
- - Roads are often poorly lit and may not even have reflectors
You will find an abundance of bars and nightclubs across Slovakia. From Cuban themed cocktail bars to Nightclubs hosting local rap artists, there is something to suit every taste. Head to Devils Pub and Rio in Nitra for cheap drinks and UK and European dance music. Bratislava is home to 4 large nightclubs, with The Club topping the list; expect theme nights and pool parties alongside top DJ's.
For a little more culture, keep in mind that there are still strong folk traditions that are kept up and during the summer months, folk festivals are held all around the country. Bratislava's operas and museums are said to be some of the best on the continent, so be sure to check out The Slovak National Museum and The Opera of the Slovak National Theatre (performed in two buildings)
If you are going to hire a car and explore Slovakia that way, remember: