Camping cards, Camping Gaz and Internet      Guidebooks and maps for Slovakia
      Driving in Slovakia      Supermarkets, credit cards and ATMs
     Beers of Slovakia      Review of Slovakian campsites

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UK passport-holders may visit Slovakia without a visa, and drive for up to 6 months with a standard UK-EU driving licence; contrary to what some (out of date) guide books say, you do not need an International Driving Permit.  Carry your passport at all times as identification.

For current official advice on travelling within Slovakia, visit the FCO web site:

    Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice on travelling to Slovakia

You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK, and carry your EHIC with you at all times in case of emergency. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, and only entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Slovakian nationals. It does not cover you for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature.  It is essential therefore to have comprehensive travel insurance.

Tick-borne encephalitis is both endemic and common in Slovakia; if you plan to spend time walking in the hills or rural areas, it is essential to have immunisation against tick-born encephalitis before you travel. For details, visit the Masta web site:

    Masta Health Clinics











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Campsites (taborisko) in Slovakia are titled Kemping or Autocamp abbreviated to ATC. They are still relatively undeveloped, having evolved from chalet-huts (chaty) encampments (Chatová osada) which provided cheap accommodation dating back to the Communist era. Many campsites still have chaty, some now looking semi-derelict, but still used; other campsites form an annexe to hotels, pensions or leisure complexes.

Standards are variable: there is no national accreditation process for campsites and despite the transition to market economy since 1990, commercial competitiveness seems to have made little impact. The majority of sites we experienced had pretty basic standards of facilities but generally were clean with hot water, and many had cooking facilities (common in Eastern Europe) with wash-ups (kuchyna lit. kitchen). With some notable exceptions (see our Campsite Review), campsite owners generally were not particularly welcoming, showing casual and indifferent attitudes which clearly indicated no awareness of the link between commercial success or failure and caring hospitality and helpfulness towards their guests, a mind set surprisingly dating from pre-1990 centrally planned economy days. As the numbers of Western European visitors increase, demanding higher standards and bringing greater competitiveness, some Slovak campsite owners are going to have to attend a charm course or go out of business.

    Slovakian Campsites Review

Campsite opening dates: the Slovak camping season is quite short with campsites opening from April/May to September; outside these times, you will be hard-pressed to find open sites; we just about managed into mid-October. It is also worth also bearing in mind that even though a campsite is officially closed, they may let you stay anyway. There are few sites open all year round; those we found are identified in the Campsite Review.

Websites listing Slovakian campsites: there is no single organisation or web site listing all campsites to help with pre-trip planning; the most useful sites we found, none of them complete and missing essential details of opening and closing dates, were:

     Travel Guide - Slovakia

     Slovakian Tourist Agency - campsites

     ABC Slovakia - Autocamps

     Slowakije Vakantieland

Another useful campsite-listing is the web site of the Dutch camping organisation ACSI. Although more selective in the sites it includes, their Google mapping facility is a helpful means of pinning down a campsite's location, essential with the sometimes unintelligible place names.

    ACSI Slovakian campsites web site

Campsite prices:  prices charged varied enormously and generally reflected the greed of the owner rather than the standards offered. In our Campsites Review, we give the nightly charge we paid. Expect to pay between 300 and 500 sk a night; with the exchange rate currently (October 2008) at around 35 sk to the pound sterling, that is equivalent to between Ł8.50 and Ł14.50 a night. Prices will include the local tourist tax.  Discounts sometimes apply, but be sure to ask for them; any pretext will do: using a Camping Card International (see below), over-60, late in the year and limited facilities.

Wild-camping:  in the more remote hill areas, with awareness of potential security issues and basic common sense and courtesy, wild-camping is certainly practicable.

CAMPING CARD INTERNATIONAL (CCI): The Camping Card International (CCI - Camping Carnet) is a worthwhile small investment; it only costs Ł4.75, lasts for a year and can be bought through Camping Organisations  eg  Camping and Caravan Club  It gives a degree of camping insurance, and since it also carries passport details, you can offer it to campsites in place of your passport during your stay. But on leaving, always ensure you have been given back the right card.

Even more importantly, some Slovak campsites will give up to 10% discount for having a CCI; always be sure to ask for a discount.

CAMPING GAZ IN SLOVAKIA: Camping Gaz is simply unavailable in Slovakia; we failed to find even any semi-legitimate sources of re-filling empty 907 cylinders. So make sure you take a good stock of gas with you.

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Very few Slovak campsites yet have wi-fi internet hotspots (those that did have wi-fi are identified in the Campsites Review).

There is however a ready availability of relatively cheap internet cafés in every town and city; check at the Tourist Office.



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Guidebooks we found most helpful were:

  Rough Guide to Czech         published by Rough Guides, 7th edition Jan 2006
  and Slovak Republics: 
      ISBN no: 1-84353-525-4  Price Ł14.99
  Slovakia rather gets second place in this combined volume, but it's still
                       the most detailed and thoroughly researched guidebook available

   Bradt Guide to Slovakia:    published by Bradt Guides, 3rd edition May 2007
                                        ISBN no: 978-1-84162-192-0  Price Ł13.99
Despite being devoted entirely to Slovakia, this is far from being the most
                       exciting of guide books; despite the author's pillaging of detail from Rough Guide
                       verging on plagiarism, there are some useful original sections

                       Sunflower Walking Guide    published by Sunflower Books,
                             to Tatras Mountains:
         Landscapes series,  1st edition 2006
                                                              ISBN no:
1-85691-305-8  Price Ł14.99



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For the soundest advice and supply of Slovakian maps, as always we recommend consulting:

   The Map Shop, Upton upon Severn, Worcs

For planning and 'big picture' general use, the most useful overall map of Slovakia is Slowakei die General Karte published by the German cartographers Mair Dumont 1:2005k scale (see right) price Ł6.50; details on The Map Shop web site.

The 1:100k scale Detailed Road Atlas of Slovakia (Podrobný Autoatlas Slovenská Republika) (see left) published by the Slovak military survey organisation VKU covers the whole of the country, is superbly detailed and is invaluable for travelling around.

Walking maps can be expensive and variable in quality, but the most economic solution is the 1:50k Ringbound Atlas of the Slovak Republic (Turistický Atlas Slovensko) (see left) published by the Czech cartographers Shocart. Although this seems ultra-expensive at Ł48, it does cover the entire country and the mapping is of excellent quality. Where ever you are, simply extract from the ring-binder the relevant sheets and carry them with you in the provided plastic wallets.

Local tourist information offices can supply town and city plans, as well as generally useless glossy brochures by the forest load.











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Driving standards: driving standards in Slovakia are without doubt some of the worst in Europe: compulsive speeding, complete indifference to other road users, aggressive tail-gating, and homicidal overtaking and cutting-in make driving in Slovakia a stressful experience especially close to cities like Žilina. It is essential constantly to drive defensively allowing yourself more thinking time.  Specifically, watch out for oncoming cars overtaking on your side of the road particularly on bends and hills. In 2005 there were 560 road deaths in Slovakia, equating to 10.4 road deaths per 100,000 population, twice the UK average.

Road standards: Slovakia has benefitted by huge amounts of EU development funds in recent years; as a result road conditions and signposting are generally good on both main and minor roads.

Motorways: although the main section of motorway running up the Vah Valley from Bratislava to Žilina is limited, further sections upgrading existing main roads, particularly the main west~east Route 18, are in constant state of development. The web site below gives up to date information about current motorway and highway development:

   Slovakian Motorway and Highway development

Slovak motorway vignettes:  a Dial'nica známka (lit. motorway stamp) is required when driving on motorways and some highways; for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, these cost 150 sk (€5 Ł4.20) for 7 consecutive days and can be bought at border-crossings, post-offices and garages. They are not publicised and, unlike Austria, Vignette information is not displayed at borders or on motorways. The first many people are aware of the need for a Dial'nica známka is when they are stopped and fined by the police when driving on a motorway; unmarked police cars do patrol and penalties for failing to have a vignette are costly. Signs displayed on some major roads state in English "Vehicles over 3500 kgs with payment". Vehicles over 3500kgs are restricted to 80 kph (50 mph) on main roads and motorways and for them, a 5 day vignette will cost 750 sk (about Ł13.90); there are no extra charges when towing a trailer. The vignette comes in two parts: one (see left) you stick in the windscreen top right hand corner; write your vehicle registration number on the backing-strip and keep it in case of being stopped.

Fuel:  fuel is readily available throughout the country and credit cards are accepted at garages. Fuel prices are no cheaper than UK with diesel at around 43 sk/litre (Ł1.22).

Speed limits:
      within built-up areas:     50 kph (30 mph)
                    open road and highways:     90 kph (65 mph)
                                      motorways:   130 kph (80 mph)

Slovak drivers however show total obliviousness to both speed limits and other drivers. Do NOT follow suit: Slovak unmarked police cars patrol the roads and on-the-spot fines for speeding are hefty.

Driving regulations: Slovakia has a zero alcohol policy for drivers, and penalties for offenders are SEVERE. Drivers with any trace of alcohol in their body will be arrested; there is no permitted level other than 0%.  If you are involved in an accident while driving the Police will give you a breath test regardless of who is to blame.

From October 2008, the use of dipped headlights at all times is compulsory all year round.





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Part of the experience of finding your way around a new country is doing your daily shopping; the cost of foodstuffs is still cheaper in Slovakia and your supermarket bills will not sting the pocket unduly. The dreaded Tesco seem to have a monopoly of supermarkets in most Slovak towns and cities around the country. Similarly you will find a number of supermarkets operated by the Austrian Billa supermarket chain and Czech Hypernova chain. All offer good choice and value.

Almost every village has a mini-market (potraviny lit foodstuff) often run by the Co-op and some towns have a vegetable market (tržnica).

There was no difficulty anywhere in Slovakia with supermarkets or garages refusing to accept payment by credit card. Similarly you trip over ATMs every few paces in every town, city or supermarket foyer, so obtaining cash in Slovak korunas (SK) was problem-free.








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Slovakia has a well-established record of brewing and no visit to the country would be complete without enjoying their beers. Their bottom fermented beers are as unlike the overpriced, tasteless, chemicalised lager-fizz served in English pubs as the proverbial chalk and cheese, and the different companies brew distinctively tasting products.
But you'll need a little background understanding of basic terms:
  • pivo = beer
  • svetlé = light beer
  • tmavé pivo = dark beer
  • výčapné pivo = draught beer

They also use a distinctive terminology for distinguishing the different strengths of beers:

  • 10° - desat'ka - about 4% alcohol, what we might call 'ordinary'
  • 12° - dvanást'ka - about 6% alcohol, what we might call 'best'

Given the zero alcohol policy for drivers, most of the brewers produce an alcohol-free beer (Nealkoholické pivo or simply Nealko) which, unlike its English equivalent, is reasonably acceptable in taste.

After much experimentation, our 4 favourite Slovak brewers were:

  • Zlatý Bažant: (meaning Golden Pheasant), brewed at Hurbanovo near to Komárno in southern Slovakia, founded in 1968 as a state-owned enterprise and taken over by Heineken in 1995
  • Šariš: brewed at Vel'ký Šariš near to Prešov in eastern Slovakia
  • Topvar: brewed at Topol'čany in western Slovakia
  • Steiger: brewed at Vyhne near Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia founded in 1473

You can enjoy distinctive beers from local breweries (pivovar) in all 4 corners of the country.

       Review of Slovakian campsites
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