Safety and security
Take care of yourself and your belongings in the same way as you would do in the UK. Take precautions against pickpockets and bag snatchers and don’t leave things unattended. Don’t leave your passport as a deposit for services such as car rental, and don’t lose sight of your bank card when making payments.
There is a risk of petty crime, especially in Bratislava. Pickpockets operate around the main tourist areas, particularly the popular Christmas markets and in bars, and foreigners are easily identified and targeted.
There has been an increase in reports of thefts from visitors in night clubs and, strip clubs around the old town pedestrian area in Bratislava as a result of drink spiking.
- you should seek recommendations for bars and clubs from trustworthy sources.
- research bars and clubs in advance.
- if travelling in a group, stay together.
- keep a close eye on your drinks and only accept drinks that you have seen being prepared. Alcoholic drinks might be stronger than in the UK.
There have been some instances of extortionate charging for drinks or having fraudulent transactions debited against credit/debit cards.
- always ask to see a menu to check drink prices before ordering.
- when paying by credit or debit card, make sure the transaction is completed in your presence and be wary of attempts to make you re-enter your pin number.
- if you’re told that the card payment transaction didn’t go through, ask for a receipt before doing the transaction again.
Report the loss or theft of a passport to the police as soon as possible. Ask them to provide you with a statement or confirmation of the loss/theft.
Taxi drivers sometimes try to overcharge tourists by adding unauthorised supplements or by not setting the meter at the start of a journey. Insist that you’ll pay only the fare shown on the meter.
If you’re stopped by the police and asked to pay a fine for speeding or other traffic offences, you should be given a receipt for any money paid. If the officers refuse to give you a receipt, call 158 (police) to make sure you’re dealing with a genuine police officer.
Be aware of ‘road pirates’ who target foreign-registered cars. Some will stab a tyre at a petrol station, then follow their target until the car stops; they then offer assistance and rob the target. They might also simulate a breakdown and ask for help. You should not leave belongings in view in your car. If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, only do so in a well-lit public area such as a service station. Make sure you lock your car and in general be extremely wary of anyone offering help.
You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you intend to drive in Slovakia for longer than 6 months, you should exchange your UK driving licence for a Slovak one before the 6-month period runs out.
It is a requirement under Slovak law to have at least valid third-party motor insurance cover for your car.
Children under 150cm tall or under the age of 12 must not sit in the front seat of moving vehicles and must use an appropriate child restraint.
Only use registered car rental companies. You can find a list of car rentals on this Slovak Business Directory website.
Although in reasonably good condition, many main roads have only a single carriageway in each direction making overtaking difficult. Beware of oncoming cars overtaking on your side of the road (particularly on bends and hills). Road markings are difficult to see in poor weather and can be faded. Traffic signs and junctions can be confusing to those not used to the roads. In winter, equip your car for severe driving conditions. By law, you must use winter tyres when there’s snow or ice on the road. All vehicles must have headlights switched on all year round. Speed limits in towns are 50kmh.
In 2016 there were 242 road deaths in Slovakia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2016.
There’s zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or narcotics. If you are involved in an accident while driving the police will give you a breath test regardless of who is to blame. Drivers with any trace of alcohol in their body will be arrested.
An electronic toll system applies on motorways to all vehicles weighing over 3.5 tons. All truck drivers are strongly advised to study the rules and pay the necessary fees. Failing to do so may result in fines from €1,655 to €2,655. More information on the toll system and a road network map is available from the toll system operator or from their call centre on +421 2 35 111 111 (available 24/7 and in English).
If you use public transport you should buy a ticket before boarding the vehicle. You can buy tickets from ticket machines at some public transport stops or newspaper stands. Immediately after entering the vehicle you must validate the ticket using a marking machine inside the vehicle. An unmarked ticket is invalid and may result in a fine from 50 to 70 Euros. You won’t be treated more leniently if you’re a tourist or claim to be unaware of the rules.
For more information on using public transport in Bratislava, visit the DPB website.
Foreign students may not qualify for discounted fares even with a student card. Check with your public transport provider for further information.
Swimming and water sports
You should observe local rules and regulations on publicly accessible lakes, rivers and other water sources. Jumping into unknown waters can result in serious injury, including paralysis or death. Check with local authorities or sporting organisations for further information and advice.
Skiing and hiking
If you ski or hike in the Slovak mountains and need help from the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service (HZS), you will have to meet their full costs. These could range from €116 to €9,960 depending on the size of the operation. Anyone ignoring or violating HZS commands or laws will be liable for a fine of up to €3,320. Make sure you have sufficient insurance to cover any rescue costs. Mountain rescue services instructions in English can be found on the Mountain Rescue Service website
Travellers with limited mobility
There are many interesting places in Slovakia that are accessible to all people, but wheelchair access may be limited in certain places due to uneven paving and a lack of ramps.