How should you travel around the country? What are the driving rules?
Vienna International Airport: Most visitors to Slovakia fly into Vienna’s Schwechat International Airport (60 kilometres away from Bratislava), which is larger than Bratislava’s M. R. Štefánik Airport. Taxis from Vienna (if Slovak) start at €59, but could be three times as expensive if they’re Austrian.
Bratislava International Airport: M. R. Štefánik Airport is 8 km from downtown Bratislava. A taxi into town costs from €6.6 to €12. By bus, take number 61 to the main railway station, not forgetting to buy a €0.9 ticket from the yellow dispenser and mark it in the red punch machine. You will also need a €0.35-ticket for each large bag.
Košice International Airport: Košice International Airport is located six kilometres from the centre of town. Vienna, London, Prague etc. are among its flights’ destinations.
TRAINS IN SLOVAKIA
Trains are the safest, cheapest, and most agreeable way to travel. The most frequented line in the country, the Bratislava-Košice route, costs from €9 to €29 (depends on the type of train) and takes roughly 5.5 hours. For travellers, three web sites with time chedules as well as details of the trip are crucial: www.cp.sk, www.regiojet.sk and www.slovakrail.sk. Tickets bought online and in advance are cheaper.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. There is also possibility to take RegioJet (private railway company) train which is more comfortable. International trains to Bratislava run from Vienna (1 hour), Budapest (3 hours), and Prague (4-5 hours) several times a day, and from Krakow (8 hours) once a day. International tickets can be bought at the window reading KVC (Komplexné vybavenie cestujúcich).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 Most SNP 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 several European countries (open Mon-Sun 6:30-18:30, Å+421 18-211 or Å+421 (0)2 5542-2734, www.eurolines.sk).
Bus connections are available to all towns of the country, however to get to smaller villages the traveller might switch buses. A comfortable way to check bus connections and purchase tickets for express buses is www.cp.sk. 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.
Taxi service is still cheap by Western standards. Some drivers may try to rip off foreigners by not turning on the meter and then claiming an outrageous total, so make sure it’s running before the car gets moving. Advice: Call for a taxi or use HOPIN application. Getting a taxi from a rank can be significantly more expensive. For a tip, just round up to the nearest €0.5 figure. Some taxis in the regional capitals (N pages: 265-267) offer a unified ride rate within the city.
TRAVELLING BY CAR
Driver requirements: All foreign national driving licences are recognised. Visitors driving cars or trucks must be at least 18 years of age. 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 30 km/h, while in the city it is 50 km/h, on the highway 90 km/h, and on the freeway 130 km/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.
* Headlights have to be turned on at all times while driving.
Fines for some common offences:
* using a mobile phone while driving €50
* not wearing a seatbelt €50
* not stopping at a STOP sign €150
* speeding: in the city, from €50 for driving 6-20 km/h above the speed limit, 21-50km/h above the limit from €150 – €600, from €500 to €1000 for driving 50 and more km/h above the limit
* driving without headlights €20
Motorway stickers: Vehicles using certain sections of freeway and selected highways must purchase a sticker. It can be bought online (e-vignette) on www.eznamka.sk
or at most gas stations, and cost €50 for one year or €10 for 10 days.
Breakdown service: The roadside assistance service can be reached at 18-124. The service operates 24 hours a day.
Another option for traveling from/to Bratislava is BlaBlaCar, which helps people find available space in other people’s vehicles. Through simple registration on www.sk.blablacar.com or via the BlaBlaCar mobile application it is possible to find a driver to a chosen destination. Prices for longer distance are usually cheaper then public transport.