Slovakia has a temperate climate with sunny hot summers and cold, cloudy, humid and snowy winters. The climate is continental, with four seasons, and while the overall climate is mild, there is a considerable temperature difference between summer and winter months.
It is generally warmer in southern regions and the lowlands, where summer temperatures can climb above 30°C 86°F on hotter days, and where rain is more common in winters than snow, which usually melts in a few days.
Northern, and especially mountainous regions have a colder climate, with summer temperatures not exceeding 25°C 77°F. Especially in the mountains, snow is common in winters and it can get quite cold.
If you are planning on visiting the mountains, please note that, as in any mountainous region, the weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes and it can rain or snow! even in summer. Take appropriate equipment and don't underestimate the weather.
There are some similarities between the Czech and Slovak cultures but the two nationalities remain distinct. One of the most striking differences is that while Czechs are largely atheists, Slovaks are largely Catholics, like their Polish neighbours.
Slovakia was a part of the Hungarian empire for almost a millennium, and a strong Hungarian-speaking minority of 9.7% remains, concentrated mostly in southern Slovakia. Historic German populations were uprooted and expelled after WWII but their historical influence remains.
In the eastern part of the country, there are many Romas/Gypsies and some Rusnacs/Rusins and Ukrainians. There are also some Czechs, Poles and still some Germans living in Slovakia.
Much of the central and northern part of Slovakia is rugged and mountainous. GerlachovskÃ½ Å¡tÃt at 2,655 m 8,711 ft in the High Tatras is the highest peak. The Tatra Mountains in the north, shared with Poland, are interspersed with many scenic lakes and valleys. These areas experience lower temperatures and traditionally people here lived off sheep grazing.
The lowlands are in the south with the lowest point of the Bodrog River being 94 m 308 ft above sea level. The soil here is much more fertile, especially the area between Small Danube and Danube, and was more agricultural. The weather is gentler and especially summers can get surprisingly warm.
Holidays and festivals
Slovakia is a predominantly Catholic Country, so major Christian holidays are observed, as well as some other holidays. Unless indicated otherwise, these days are public holidays and banks and most amenities and shops will be closed:
Slovak Republic Day1st January - Conveniently, Czechoslovakia split into two on the 1st of January, so New Year's Day is a national holiday. It is traditionally celebrated by sleeping until midday.
Ephiphany6th of January - Celebrates the arrival of the Three Magi into Betlehem. Shops and banks are closed.
Mardi Gras period'Fasiangy' - this is not a national holiday, but rather a festival season. Some villages will hold a traditional market with food and drinks offered, and there might be a march through the city in masks, and numerous balls, dances and carnivals are held. 6th January till Ash Wednesday February or March.
EasterMarch/April, dates depend on the lunar calendar. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays. There is a number of different traditions relating to Easter. The traditional food served includes eggs and special Easter Ham, with bread and horseradish.
Religious people will go to mass, and it might be the only time when its likely to see people in traditional clothing in some villages, but this is increasingly less common. Everyone will be dressed up, though.
Throughout Slovakia, kraslice are prepared, which are egg shells adorned with ornaments and painted over with colours. These, along with sweets and money are given to boys, who visit friends' and neighbours' houses, where it is their job to make sure the women will be healthy and prosperous the following year by spraying them with water or perfume and beating them with a willow wand adorned with ribbons. It is called oblievacka and sibacka. It tends to involve copious amounts of alcohol, food and wet T-shirts, and is not taken seriously by anyone. In recent years it became less popular. If you are female, do not wear clothes you like when venturing outside on Easter Monday as you might have water thrown or perfume sprayed at you. If you want to protest this clearly barbaric tradition, make sure to do so in waterproof clothing.