Slovakia, not to be mistaken with Slovenia, is a landlocked country sandwiched within Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. For such a small country, Slovakia boasts of diverse landscapes from waterfalls to karsts, and canyons to mountains. It is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Central Europe!
Some Tips on Visiting Slovakia:
- The best way to get to Slovakia is via Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Poland by bus or train. You can visit local stations for updated schedules and fees, as only third-party agencies have their rather exorbitant rates published online.
- As there is no Slovakian consulate in the Philippines, it is best to apply for a Schengen visa with the EU country you’re spending the most time in, or your first port of entry. For more info, visit VFS Global, now the only authorized Schengen visa processing facility in the Philippines.
- You can schedule your visit around these festival dates. Dates vary every year, so make sure you visit Slovakia’s official events page prior to travel:
- January 6- Ash Wednesday: Mardi Gras or Fasiangy period
- Early May: International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits at the Bojnice Castle in Prievidza
- June 29- July 2: Vychodná Folklore Festival in Levoča
- Early September: Salamander Days in Banská Štiavnica
- December: Christmas Fair in Bratislava
- (Interesting Fact): While January 1 is the Slovak Republic Day– when Czechoslovakia split into present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia– it may not be a good time to visit because it is celebrated by sleeping until noon!
- Download Google Maps and make use of its offline access feature. I used to download a different app per country, but this just beats all of them for finding the best routes and restaurants. Plus, I don’t have to be on data all the time. CNET has a definitive guide on how to make the most of this new feature.
- Why I want to go back: I only got to visit the city and as locals put it, Slovakia’s beauty lies in its scenic hiking trails.
- As with any country in the world: do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂
P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut