Šamorín - Čilistov
Západné Slovensko, Nitra Region
97901 Rimavská Sobota
Rimavská Sobota, Teplý Vrch, Košice Region
Liptovsky Mikulas, Zilina
Slovakia (also known as the Slovak Republic, but there's no need to use this term - apart from official documents - unlike the term Czech Republic, in Slovak: Slovensko) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is surrounded by Austria to the west, Czech Republic to the north west, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north and Ukraine to the east. With numerous medieval towns, high mountains, caves and a lively capital city, there's probably something for every traveller to enjoy in Slovakia. Slovakia is said to be the country with the highest number of fortified castles per capita in the whole world.
- Bratislava Region (Bratislavský kraj) (capital Bratislava)
- Trnava Region (Trnavský kraj) (capital Trnava)
- Trenčín Region (Trenčiansky kraj) (capital Trenčín)
- Nitra Region (Nitriansky kraj) (capital Nitra)
- Žilina Region (Žilinský kraj) (capital Žilina)
- Banská Bystrica Region (Banskobystrický kraj) (capital Banská Bystrica)
- Prešov Region (Prešovský kraj) (capital Prešov)
- Košice Region (Košický kraj) (capital Košice)
(the word kraj can be replaced by samosprávny kraj or by VÚC in each case)
- Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia
- Banska Bystrica
The Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst them are the high peaks of the Tatra mountains, where High Tatras are a popular skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 metres (8,711 ft). Lowlands are found in the southwestern (along the Danube) and southeastern parts of Slovakia. Major Slovak rivers, besides the Danube, are the Váh and the Hron.
The Slovak climate is temperate, with relatively warm summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters. Some 40 percent of Slovakia is forested. Slovakia's forests are home to brown bears, wolves, foxes, wild boars, rabbits, squirrels, weasels, and muskrats. Chamois and lynx can be seen in mountain areas. As one of few good heritages from the former Communist regime, Slovakia features an extraordinarily high percentage of national parks and other protected area spaces (see National Parks in Slovakia). There are hardly any mountain ranges and areas not under some form of protection.
Speed limits are 50km/h in cities and towns, 90km/h on open roads and 130km/h on multilane freeways (unless otherwise marked). Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers. Children under 12 and animals are not allowed in the front passenger seat. Be aware that all vehicles must have a first aid box, tow rope, hazard triangle and a spare tire. If you are caught violating any of these laws a fine is payable on the spot or your vehicle will be impounded.
The blood-alcohol level in Slovakia is 0.0. Basically, if you drink any alcohol you can't drive.
One of Slovakia's main tourist attractions are the Alpine Tatra Mountains (see Tatra, High Tatras, Vysoké Tatry and Low Tatras for details), the highest part of the Carpathians. They feature many rare plant and animal species and offer numerous ski, mountain walking and mountaineering opportunities. The High Tatras have been a final candidate for the Winter Olympics several times.
Rivers and streams in the mountains of Slovakia are often used for rafting and other white-water based activities. Using boats, kayaks and canoes is also very popular in Slovakia (and the country has won many of its Olympic medals in these sports). The use of rafts has a very long tradition in Slovakia and especially rafts on the spectacular Dunajec river are very popular among tourists.
Slovakia has also become world known for its numerous mineral springs and spas, the most famous one being that of Piešťany.
Slovakia's spas include:
- Balneological spas:
- Sklené Teplice
- Trenčianske Teplice
- Turčianske Teplice
- Climatic spas:
- Nový Smokovec
- Štrbské Pleso
- Tatranské Matliare
- High Tatras
- Mixed spas:
- Bardejovské Kúpele
- Rajecké Teplice
- Vyšné Ružbachy
New water parks are mushrooming through the country (for example Tatralandia in Liptovský Mikuláš, Aquacity in Poprad, and Aquathermal in Senec).
Slovakia's karst areas offer an extremely high number of caves and their list is being expanded every year due to new discoveries. The number of caves per capita is the highest one or among the highest ones in Europe. Thirteen caves are open to the public, the longest one of which is 9 km long. Some of them have been proclaimed UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Among them, Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is one of three aragonite caves in the world.
Slovakia is reputed to be one of the countries with the highest number of fortified castles (most of which are unfortunately ruined) per capita in the world. In the Middle Ages, castles or at least forts were built in proximity of virtually every settlement. The best known castles are the Bojnice Castle (featuring in many international movies, especially fairy tales), Spiš Castle (the largest fortified castle in Europe, on the UNESCO list), Orava Castle, Bratislava Castle (some 4,000 years old) and the ruins of the Devín Castle. The Čachtice Castle used to be home of the world's most prolific female serial killer, the 'Bloody Lady', Elizabeth Báthory.
Bryndzove halusky is Slovak national meal made with potato dumplings and special kind of not Pasteurized fermented sheep cheese called "bryndza". You will get pieces of fried meaty bacon on top of Bryndzove halusky. Apart from being very tasty and delicious, the bryndza is also extremely healthy. Scientists suppose it can even prevent cancer and treat allergies.
For non-alcoholic drinks try Vinea, a soft drink made from grapes, in both red and white and also non-carbonated. Kofola, another soft drink, is similar to Cola, is also very popular among locals and is available both on tap and bottled.
Mineral waters are some of the best in the World and can offer positive effects, such as helping get rid of heart burn. There are many types available from shops and supermarkets, for example Budis, Baldovska, Salvator, Slatina, Klastorna etc. Others are only available directly from the many spas that naturally spring up all over the place.
For beers, there are a great variety of local brews that are similar in style to Czech beers. Try out the local Zlaty Bazant, Smadny Mnich, Topvar and Saris. Saris is also available in a dark version that is thicker and heavier on your stomach. If the local tastes do not satisfy, "Western" beers are sold in the bigger restaurants and pubs. Note that quality of the tap beer may vary dramatically between different restaurants and pubs, depending on how well they can prepare the beer (good temperature, not too much carbon dioxide) and how they care about the equipment (clean pipes etc.).
Slovakia has also some great local wines, many similar to Germanic Riesling styles. There are also sweeter wines from the Southern border regions called Tokaj. Slovak wine might not be widely known outside the region but it is certainly worth a try. The best recent wine years in Slovakia were 2000 and 2003
Slovakia produces good vodkas. Excellent is the plum brandy (Slivovica), pear brandy or liquer Demanovka. But the most popular alcohol is Borovicka, a type of gin. In some shops you may try a 25 or 50 ml shot for very little money, so as to avoid buying a big bottle of something of unknown flavour, then decide whether to buy or not to buy ;)
If you are a more adventurous type, you can try some home-made Slivovica that the locals sometimes offer to foreigners. While it is allowed to ferment alcohol at home by law, it is prohibited to destill it. All home-made liquers are destilled in certified destileries so you don't have to be afraid of any health risks (apart from getting drunk). The home-made liquers are very strong (up to 60% alcohol) and usually not very tasty. However, if Slivovica is matured for 12 or more years, it can become a pleasant digestive drink.
Modified: 2007-02-14 10:40:28+01