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Slovakia Tourist Board ( Multilingual and thorough official tourist website; info and listings from castles to winter sports.

Englishman in Slovakia ( Hiking, eating and all manner of tips from an on-the-ball expat living in Bratislava.

Top Tips

  • Stop for roadside food vendors. Farm-fresh cheeses and apples shaken from trees make for memorable picnics.
  • Plan a hike, even if you aren't a hiker. Walking in Slovakia taps into the country's lifeblood – iconic mountains, folk heroes, traditional food – and a night in a bare-bones but beautifully located chata (mountain hut) is not to be missed.
  • Get local tips on nightlife. Some of the most interesting bars and entertainment venues are hidden in nondescript buildings, often on upper floors. Locals are often happy to point you to the latest places to party.
  • Consider transport when shaping an itinerary. Hiring a car allows you to pack a lot in. Public transport and small villages means losing hours to bus connections. If hiking and biking, allow wiggle room for detours.

What to Take

  • Sturdy hiking boots for long walks and craggy castle ruins.
  • Spork or penknife to aid picnics of smoked cheese and fruit.
  • Reusable water bottle.
  • Lightweight rain coat for sudden showers.
  • Sunblock in summer (and indeed winter, if you ski).
  • A small day-pack – crucial for hikes.

What to Wear

Bratislava parties hard, but hasn't caught up on neighbouring Central European countries when it comes to subcultures and edgy fashion. Bring good shoes (keep them clean!), shirts and frocks for Bratislava nightclubs, but expect glances if your preference is ultra-revealing or unconventional attire. Other cities, like Košice, also err on the side of casual chic. Beyond big towns, sartorial choices are more practical: layers prevail in mountain areas, and flashy threads will attract surprise, unless you're in a spa town. Be tidy, comfortable and weather-appropriate and you'll fit right in.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • From a non-EU country? Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months past your departure date.
  • Book accommodation two months ahead for midsummer (July and August) or ski season (mid-December through March).
  • Ensure travel insurance covers winter sports or adventure activities.
  • Contact mountain, wildlife or cultural guides at least a week in advance.