Tourists & Visitors
Tourism in Slovakia is growing every year. In the late 90s, the number of foreign visitors to Slovakia was around 500k, since then it grew up to almost 1.8 million tourists in 2008:
|Year||Overall No.||Most Tourists||2nd Most Tourists||3rd Most Tourists||4th Most Tourists||5th Most Tourists|
|2003||1.387 mil.||Czechs 470k||Poles 215k||Germans 176k||Hungarians 101k||Austrians 51k|
|2004||1.401 mil.||Czechs 419k||Germans 188k||Poles 179k||Hungarians 111k||Italians 50k|
|2005||1.515 mil.||Czechs 425k||Poles 198k||Germans 194k||Hungarians 122k||Italians 59k|
|2006||1.612 mil.||Czechs 455k||Poles 224k||Germans 190k||Hungarians 122k||UK 63k|
|2007||1.685 mil.||Czechs 491k||Poles 244k||Germans 176k||Hungarians 94k||UK 63k|
|2008||1.765 mil.||Czechs 537k||Poles 309k||Germans 165k||Hungarians 90k||UK 60k|
|2009||No numbers available yet.|
- Bratislava: 40 – 41%
- High Tatras: 24 – 25%
- Košice: 7 – 8%
- Piešťany: 6 – 7%
- Nitra: 3.5 – 4.5%
- Poprad: 3.5 – 4.5%
- Liptovký Mikuláš: 3.5 – 4.5%
- Žilina: 3.5 – 4%
- Trenčianske Teplice: 2.5 – 3%
- Banská Bystrica: 2.5 – 3%
There are thousands of accommodation possibilities in Slovakia. In cities like Bratislava or Košice, the most common accommodation facility is a hotel. Hotels are rated with stars as usual and the Slovak services do not differ much from European standards. Cheaper hotels are rated with one (tourist class – hostels) or two stars (economy class), the standard class hotels are rated with three stars and those more expensive are rated as four star (first class) or as five star hotels (luxury class).
Recently, short-term apartment rentals are getting very popular in cities, but in mountainous areas, too. Apartments can be sometimes cheaper than hotel rooms, still offering the same luxury and even more space and privacy.
In regions such as Tatra Mountains, more usual than hotel it is to have accommodation booked in pensions or guest-houses, but for the best holiday it is very recommended to rent a chalet. Chalets always give special feeling to the vacation, visitors feel more connected to the nature.
Visitors can use a travel agency for the accomodation booking, which is very advisable in case they don’t know the region or where to look for it. Travel agencies usually put a booking fee to the price, but it is not too much and it is absolutely worth for the help. Of course, for knowledgeable travellers it is usually cheaper to book the accommodation directly at the facility provider.
Sports & Adrenaline
Thanks to the mountainous topography of Slovakia and the fact that much of these mountains are covered by snow from late October till late March / April, the conditions for skiing and other winter sports are perfect. On such a small territory there are more than 1000 ski-tows, 40 ski-lifts and more than 50 ski resorts can make artificial snow in case it is not snowing. Many of the ski slopes comply even with the international criteria for ski competitions. U-ramps and other opportunities for snowboarding are offered by all of the bigger skiing centres.
In summer, Slovakia’s mountains offer a lot of rivers and streams that can be used for rafting and other white water activities – Dunajec river with its beautiful scenery is one of the most popular. Also, Slovakia is home of one of the best artificial white water channels in the world. 20 km from Bratislava, in Čuňovo, many international competitions are held. The proof of this long tradition are Slovak rafters, who belong to the top in the world and they’re always winning medals in Olympic games or on World Championships.
High peaks and deep valleys provide opportunities for hiking and walking tours. Whether a beginner or an experienced hiker, everyone will be able to enjoy beautiful sceneries, which probably can’t be found anywhere else in the world at any time of the year.
Sightseeing & Tourist Attractions & Relaxing
40% of Slovakia’s territory is covered with forests. Slovakia’s forests contain a wide biodiversity; animals include brown bears, wolves, foxes, wild boars, muskrats, chamois and lynxes. There are hardly any mountain ranges and areas not under some form of protection. The highest form of protection is a National Park; there are 9 of them in Slovakia:
- Tatra National Park
- Low Tatras National Park
- Lesser Fatra National Park
- Greater Fatra National Park
- Muránska Planina National Park
- Pieniny National Park
- Poloniny National Park
- Slovak Karst National Park
- Slovak Paradise National Park
Slovakia has the highest number of castles per capita. The best known castles are Bojnice Castle, Spiš Castle (the largest fortified castle in Europe, on the UNESCO list), Orava Castle, Bratislava Castle, and the ruins of Devín Castle. Čachtice Castle used to be the home of the world’s most prolific female serial killer, the ‘Bloody Lady’, Elizabeth Báthory.
The country is also a European leader in the number of caves per capita. Caves are mostly located in the karst areas. Thirteen caves are open to the public, the longest one is 9 km long. Some of them have been proclaimed UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Among them, Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is one of three aragonite caves in the world.
7 sights of Slovakia are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List – 5 cultural and 2 natural:
- Banská Štiavnica
- Levoča, Spiš Castle and associated cultural monuments
- Caves in the Slovak Karst
- Primeval beech forests in Poloniny National Park and Vihorlat Mountains
- Wooden churches in central and eastern Slovakia
Slovakia has numerous mineral springs and spas where people can relax or have health treatments:
- Climatic spas: Nový Smokovec, Štós, Štrbské Pleso, Tatranské Matliare, High Tatras
- Balneological spas: Bojnice, Brusno, Dudince, Lúčky, Piešťany, Sklené Teplice, Sliač, Smrdáky, Trenčianske Teplice, Turčianske Teplice
- Mixed spas: Bardejov Spas, Číž, Nimnica, Rajecké Teplice and Vyšné Ružbachy
New water parks are being built, such as Tatralandia in Liptovský Mikuláš, Aquacity in Poprad or Aquathermal in Senec.