CP offers an exceptionally useful website with integrated timetables for all trains and buses in Slovakia, including all intra-city and inter-city transports. Anywhere you want to go in Slovakia, this should be your first point of reference, as it lists every single bus and train in Slovakia. It is also useful for international travel from/to Slovakia.
There is a long tradition of hiking and mountain walking in Slovakia, and it is an extremely popular sport. Most people you meet will have gone on a hike at least once in their life, and many do so regularly, and can give you advice about the most interesting local trails. The trail network is also very well maintained. The quality and efficiency of the sign-posting system is unique in European and probably World context.
Every route is marked and signposted, different trails being given a different colour. There are four colours used - red, blue, green and yellow. Longest and most sternous trails are usually marked red, and it is possible to traverse from north-eastern Dukla Pass all the way to the west Bradlo, near Bratislava along the Slovak National Uprising Heroes trail 750km along one such red-marked path. However, the trails are numerous, suitable for various levels of fitness, and many lead through beautiful scenery.In towns, you will usually see a signpost, with arrows pointing in different directions, marking the colour of the path and the average walking times to the nearest set of destinations. All you need to do is to follow the colour, there will be a mark every hundred metres or so, and consists of a 10-cm-by-10-cm square three-section mark where the edges are white and the chosen path's colour in the middle.
It is also possible and highly recommended to purchase 'tourist maps' of smaller slovak regions. These are based on sets of former military maps, have a very good resolution 1:50000 and can be purchased from most kiosks, information centres and bookstores for bargain price of between â¬1.50-2.50. These are published by the Slovak Tourist Club KST, which maintains all the trails, and show all the marked trails in the area, including the average walking times, which makes route planning very easy and efficient.
Train is by far the best option to travel across Slovakia, provided you don't have a private vehicle. Frequent fast trains connect all important cities, but there are less local trains, even at main lines. For local transport a bus is generally a better alternative. Trains are fairly priced, with the prices competitive with buses, and cheap by western standards. They are reliable and clean.
Opt for an InterCity service if you want Western-style comfort; IC trains link Bratislava, Å½ilina, The High Tatras and KoÅ¡ice and have compulsory reservations. These can save you from the crowds: ordinary trains do get crowded, usually on Fridays and Sundays or around holidays. Watch out for pickpockets at major stations and steer clear of money scams. Also, sporadic robberies occur to sleeping passengers travelling the overnight longliners.
Domestic tickets can be bought over Internet at SlovakRail. Tickets bought over Internet are only valid in specified trains. Tickets bought at stations are valid for any one journey on the given route within a specified time period usually one or two days, depending on the distance, and thus very flexible. International tickets, as of 2011, can only be bought at stations.
Hitchhiking in Slovakia is best done by asking around at gas stations. It used to be that most people only speak Slovak and possibly understand other Slavic languages so it was difficult for foreigners who don't speak Slavic languages. However, nowadays most of the young people speak English and almost as many speak German.
Keep in mind that trains and buses in Slovakia are cheap for Westerners, and apart from extremely rural areas where people are generally less wary of hitchhikers it might take a while for someone to pick you up. You can find some offers if you travel from Slovakia and into Slovakia as well on specialized web pages. The biggest hitchhikers page in Slovakia is stopar.sk (http://stopar.sk/). There you can find offers in English, German, French, Polish, Czech and Hungarian language and it is free.
Renting a car is a convenient and efficient way to explore Slovakia, especially if you intend to visit more remote areas, where train and bus services may be more sporadic. The road network is extensive and mostly in good condition. Most roads are two lane and in good repair, but some more minor roads can get bumpy.Please note that compared some Western countries, driving can be a bit more agressive and especially speeding is common.
In Slovakia, cars drive on the right side of the road and the speed limits 50 kmh 31 mph in a village/town, 90 kmh 56 mph outside cities, and 130 kmh 81 mph on motorways.
If you intend to drive on the motorways please note that they are subject to road toll in the form of a sticker vignette, which can be purchased from most petrol stations and is valid for a week â¬7, for a month â¬14 or longer. The vignette must be fastened in the upper right corner on the car's windshield to be valid, as this is mostly checked by electronic camera system. It is not enough if you just posses one! Please note that that the vignette is compulsory on all motorways from the point of entry, and if you are caught without one you will be subject to a fine. If you are renting a car, it might already have one of these, but remember to check.
Also note that in Slovakia there is a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol. Do NOT drink and drive, the penalties are severe.
It is also compulsory to have headlights on when driving at all times, regardless of weather conditions or whether it is a night or day, so switch them on.
In winter, snow and ice is common on the roads, and winter tires are recommended. In extreme weather some minor mountain roads might require snow chains.
If you understand Slovak, many private radio stations include a great traffic coverage as a part of their news, which will inform you about any obstructions on the road, car accidents, traffic jams and even police presence so it is certainly worth tuning in.
Bus connections are usually slower than trains, but can get you where trains cannot, and some private companies also offer discounts for travellers with a foreign ISIC card state-run companies do not, unless you're a Slovak citizen. Tickets for long-haul routes including to/from the Czech Republic or within the Czech Republic can be bought from AMSBus after compulsory registration english version is also available. The travel from Bratislava to Nitra is a rare example of a route where buses are significantly faster and cheaper than trains.
Buses are punctual, and it is therefore advisable to arrive at the bus station in advance, the time specified in the timetable is the time it leaves the station. Most tickets are bought directly from the driver, so you will probably need cash. Though the bus driver will give you change, especially for shorter cheaper journeys, it is advisable to have some smaller denominations.