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Hockey Guide: Basic facts for tourists

Read more about the Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia in our Hockey Fan Guide.

Read more about the Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia in our Hockey Fan Guide.

Population: 5,418,156; 48.6% men, 51.4% women
 Nationalities: Slovak: 86%, Hungarian: 10%, Roma: 2% (10 % estimated), other: 2% (Czech, German, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Polish).
 Religion: Roman Catholic (69%), Evangelical (7%), Greek Catholic (4%), Reformed (2%), Orthodox (1%), other
 Capital: Bratislava (pop. 425,533)
 Currency: euro €
 Language: Slovak (for some Slovak phrases see page 12)
 Business hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00
 Time zone: GMT/UTC +1 hour

Geography


 Area: 49,035 square kilometres.
 Borders with neighbouring states: Hungary (679 km), Poland (598 km), the Czech Republic (265 km), Austria (127 km) and Ukraine (98 km)
 Land use: Forest: 40.61%. Arable land: 30.24%. Meadows and pastures: 17.02%. Urban areas: 2.62%. Water: 1.91%. Gardens: 1.59%. Other agricultural land: 1.03%. Other: 4.98%. (Statistics from the Environment Ministry, as of 1994)
 Highest point: Gerlachovský štít (2,655 m)
 Longest river: Váh River (403 km)
 Towns: 136 (settlements with more than 5,000 inhabitants)
 Villages: 2,717 (settlements with less than 5,000 inhabitants)
 National parks: 7 - High Tatras, Low Tatras, Pieniny, Slovenský raj, Malá Fatra, Muránska planina, Poloniny.
 Caves: 660
 Castles and castle ruins: 300
 Major cities: Bratislava (population 425,553), Košice (240,915), Banská Bystrica (84,919).

Climate


 Slovakia has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters.

Shopping


 Most stores in Slovakia are open from 8:00 to 18:00 Mon - Fri and 8:00 - 12:00 on Saturday. Shopping centres typically have opening hours for all shops from 9:00 – 21:00 during the entire week. Several TESCO hypermarkets are open non-stop.

Drinking water


 It is safe to drink water from all water supply sources unless there is warning otherwise.

Telecommunications


 Most pay phones are card operated. Buy phone cards (telefónna karta) at news-stands, gas stations, or at the post office. International calling cards also work.
 To place an international call, dial 00, the country code, city code, and number. Example: to call San Francisco, dial
00 + 01 (country) + 415 (city) + number.
GENERAL PHONE NUMBERS:
 Information 1181
 General emergency 112
 Police 158
 Ambulance 155
 Fire 150
 Emergency Road Service 18124
HOTLINES - ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
You can obtain answers here to any questions you may have.
 Bratislava
+421 (0)2 16 186 (Slovak, English, German, Russian)
 Košice
+421 (0)55 625 8888 (Slovak, English, German, Russian)

Getting around

TRAVELLING BY CAR
If you drive in Slovakia, be careful. There are few freeways, so driving here often means jockeying for space on crowded two-lane roads with large trucks, sputtering Škodas, and zooming BMWs. Even the freeways are not safe, as fast-moving traffic may be travelling at twice the speed of slower vehicles. Road dangers such as sharp curves and bad bumps are often inadequately marked, so drive defensively.
Driver requirements: All foreign national driving licences are recognised. Visitors driving cars or trucks must be at least 18 years of age. International driving permits are recognised.
Traffic regulations: The current traffic regulations are the same as in other European countries.
Some important differences:
 The use of mobile phones is forbidden while driving.
 Speed is limited at railway crossings to 30km/h, while in the city it is 50km/h, on the highway 90km/h, and on the freeway 130km/h. These speed limits are not signposted.
 Trams turning right have the right of way.
 There is no right turn on a red light.
 No amount of alcohol in the blood is tolerated.
Motorway stickers: Vehicles using certain sections of freeways and selected highways must purchase a sticker and place it on the right-hand side of the windscreen. Any sticker not fixed is invalid. Stickers can be bought at most gas stations, and cost €50 for one year or €7 for one week.
Breakdown service: The road assistance service can be reached at 18-124. The service operates 24 hours a day.

TAKING THE TRAIN
Trains in Slovakia are the safest, cheapest, and most agreeable way to travel. The most frequented line in the country, the Bratislava-Košice route, costs about €15 and takes roughly 5.5 hours.
For travellers, two web sites are crucial: www.slovakrail.sk and www.cp.sk. The former is the official site of the national railway company, where you can find when your desired train is leaving as well as details of the trip. At the train station, tickets can be purchased at the window reading KVC (Komplexné vybavenie cestujúcich). Make sure you’re being booked for a fast train (rýchlik) rather than a slow train (osobný), as the latter stops at every station on the line and can take hours longer than the rýchlik.
International trains to Bratislava run from Vienna (1 hour), Budapest (3 hours), and Prague (4-5 hours) several times a day, and from Krakow (6 to 7 hours) two or three times a day. International tickets can be bought at the international ticket office (Medzinárodná pokladňa).
Trains from Vienna often arrive at the Bratislava-Petržalka station, south of the Old Town and across the Danube. Getting there by car to pick someone up can be complicated, but take the Nový Most bridge over the Danube and keep going past the Renault car dealership, hanging right.
Beware of crowded trains, especially on Friday and Sunday evenings when swarms of university students travel to and from school. On those lines it can be nearly impossible to find a seat in the regular cars. To assure a seat, buy a miestenka (seat reservation). Or bypass the crowds altogether and ride first class, where plenty of personal space is a virtual guarantee.

TAKING THE BUS
Bratislava’s main bus station (Hlavná autobusová stanica) is in the Mlynské Nivy district, a 15 minute walk from the centre. You can buy international bus tickets either at the ticket office (zahraničná pokladňa) or with Eurolines, which provides service to 21 European towns (open Mon-Sat, 5:20 to 20:00, Sun 6:30 to 20:00, Tel: +421 (0)2 5556-7349).
When travelling by bus domestically, buy tickets as you board after telling the driver your destination. On crowded routes, drivers will sell tickets to as many people as can be squeezed on, even if it means people have to stand for five hours.

TAXIS
Taxi service is still cheap by Western standards. Some drivers may try to rip off foreigners by not turning the meter on and then claiming an outrageous total, so make sure it’s running before he takes off. In Bratislava, avoid taking cabs from the main railway station and the bus station. For a tip, just round up to the nearest €0.50 figure. Calling a cab service will get you a cheaper ride.

Keeping in touch

THE POST OFFICE
At a Slovak post office (Slovenská pošta), you can make phone calls and buy phone cards, pay your utility bills, send a telegram, get film developed, buy lottery tickets, and, of course, send mail. Often, the simplest thing to do with outgoing mail (odosielanie listov) is hand it to the person behind the counter; they will stamp it and send it off for you. For incoming packages, many post offices have a “poste restante” window - bring your passport.

Money


Slovakia’s basic currency unit is the euro (€). When changing money, look for signs saying zmenáreň, or “change,” and steer clear of strangers offering to exchange money on the street (i.e. crooks who will either stick you with worthless bills or just snatch yours).
You can get cash from international accounts at an automatic teller machine (ATM), usually marked Bankomat. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at most banks and some exchange offices. Credit cards are gaining acceptance, especially in tourist areas and bigger towns.

Read more about the Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia in our Hockey Fan Guide.

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