Although it lacks the household recognition of its former Czechoslovakian brethren, that doesn’t mean you should leave Slovakia out of your Central European travel plans. Few countries in the region are as tame as Slovakia in terms of tourist numbers, a surprising fact once one realizes the breadth of experiences awaiting travellers here.
From meandering along woodsy hiking trails through the magnificent High Tatras to marvelling at picture-perfect medieval towns with castles furrowing the countryside, start planning you trip to one of Central Europe’s most underrated destinations with this Slovakia travel guide…
Looking to explore other countries in the region? Check out our Central Europe Travel Guide for more destination ideas & tips!
When to visit Slovakia
Like much of Central Europe, Slovakia experiences a typical continental climate with four distinct seasons. Summers in Slovakia tend to be hot & humid while winters are chilly. Spring & autumn tend to fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Overall, the best time to visit Slovakia is in the spring, particularly during the months of May and June. In these two months, the weather tends to be warm on average with less rain than in the hot & humid summer season. The flowers in full bloom at this time of year create a memorable scene for anyone passing through.
Tourism high season in Slovakia peaks (like most European destinations) during the summer months of July and August. Although the weather is hot, the crowds tend to be thicker at this time. The availability of accommodations, especially in the capital of Bratislava, can sometimes be an issue for travellers without some advanced planning. The occasional heatwave can see temperatures in Slovakia in summer soar to an uncomfortable 30ºC+ for days on end.
Besides spring, autumn is another a great time to visit Slovakia. Late September and October provide plenty of beautiful days for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. If you get a chance to visit Slovakia’s countryside at this time of year, you’ll appreciate the spectacular beauty of the country’s fall foliage.
Winters, although cold, offer a great alternative for some travellers. The ski resort towns of Eastern Slovakia are superb destinations at this time of year. Even if you’re looking for winter city escape, the quiet streets of Bratislava look stunning under a soft blanket of snow.
Where to go in Slovakia: The top destinations & best places to visit
Few European cities surprised me more than Bratislava. Within the Central European backpacker scene, you’ll often hear unfair comparisons between the Slovak capital and nearby travel destinations like Prague, Budapest, Vienna, or Krakow. And while the truth is that Bratislava won’t hold your attention quite as forcefully as any of these other iconic cities, that doesn’t mean you should write it out of your travel plans.
Despite sitting among a “second-tier” of European capitals, Bratislava is truly one of the continent’s most underrated places to visit. Long at the crossroads of east and west, Bratislava showcases a history that was anything but ordinary. As you scale through its streets, the past comes alive as architectural styles from Gothic to Baroque to Renaissance flourish alongside brutalist socialist that square-off on the opposite banks of the Danube.
While most travellers scoot through on a quick day trip, approaching Bratislava at a more leisurely pace will bring more of its unheralded charms to the surface. Spend a little time getting to know Bratislava and you’ll discover a city high on life as you sip on coffee lazily in quaint cafés or follow the beat to nightclubs tucked away in cobblestoned alleys.
Even if the city doesn’t grab your attention, Bratislava makes for the perfect base to launch trips into the Slovakian countryside, where you’ll find some of Europe’s most underrated outdoor adventures.
Ready to plan your trip to Bratislava? Get started with these resources:
- One Day in Bratislava: A Complete Itinerary
- Things to Do in Bratislava
- Where to Stay in Bratislava: The Best Hotels & Areas
…more Slovak destinations to come!
Transportation in Slovakia
By air: The major air gateway to Slovakia is Bratislava M. R. Štefánik Airport (BTS). Several airlines fly into BTS including Ryanair, AirExplore, Go2Sky, and Smartwings Slovakia. Many travellers also come into Slovakia via Vienna International Airport (VIE), located just 57 kilometres west of Bratislava.
By train: Slovakia’s capital of Bratislava is well-connected by train to major cities in neighbouring countries. Some of the most popular train routes in Slovakia for travellers include:
- Vienna to Bratislava (1h6m)
- Prague to Bratislava (4h8m)
- Budapest to Bratislava (2h22m)
By train: The easiest and most comfortable way to get around Slovakia is by train. Most major towns and cities in Slovakia are well connected by train. Some of the most popular routes include:
- Bratislava to Kosice (4h47m)
- Bratislava to Poprad (3h38m)
- Bratislava to Trencin (57m)
- Kosice to Poprad (1h20m)
By bus: If you’re travelling to smaller towns, bus may be the only option. The bus network in Slovakia is quite extensive and covers the entirety of the country. Buses, although often slightly less expensive than trains and more frequent, often tend to take longer and are far less comfortable than travelling by train.