Sunday, August 7, 2022

How To Travel To Slovakia

EuropeSlovakiaHow To Travel To Slovakia

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By plane

The city of Bratislava has its own airport.

Ryanair provides low-cost flights to Bratislava from a number of European cities, including London, “Milan”–Bergamo, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Dublin, Rome (Ciampino), “Paris” (Beauvais), “Brussels” (Charleroi), and others. These flights may be very inexpensive, so if you are coming from outside Europe, you may be able to save money by flying to a larger airport and then connecting to Bratislava. Because they do not usually operate on a regular basis and occasionally utilize remote/unusual airports, you may be better suited flying into Vienna.

Norwegian Airlines has flights from Copenhagen and Oslo, while UTAir and Sun d’or Airlines have flights to Moscow and Tel Aviv, respectively.

Vienna Airport (IATA: VIE) is a 35-kilometer (22-mile) drive from Bratislava. It is a more convenient method for large airlines to arrive in Slovakia, although it may be more costly. It also has a considerably higher number of long-distance flights. Buses depart Vienna Airport every hour for Bratislava, taking you directly to the city’s major bus terminal. You may also take the airport shuttle or a cab, which will cost about €70.

Other possibilities include Prague (IATA: PRG) and Budapest (both approximately 4 hours distant by public transportation). There are also direct flights between Prague and Bratislava and Prague and Kosice, with the latter, in combination with flights to Prague, offering the most convenient air access to the country’s eastern region.

The only other international airports in Slovakia are Poprad – Tatry Airport and Koice International Airport.

If you wish to see the Tatra Mountains, you may alternatively travel to Kraków. Buses operate from Kraków to numerous Slovak settlements in the Tatra and Orava mountains.

By train

From the Czech Republic

Trains run frequently between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are both former Czechoslovakia. Every two hours, EC trains run from Prague to Bratislava and ilina. From Prague, there is one train each day to Banská Bystrica, Zvolen, Poprad, and Koice. From Prague, all of these cities offer a direct overnight sleeper train link.

Ticket prices are low. SporoTiket Evropa may be purchased at least three days in advance via the Czech Railways e-shop. The pricing starts at €15 for a seat and €26 for a couchette. Please keep in mind that such an e-ticket is only valid on the stated train!

If you want more flexibility or are unable to purchase in advance through the Internet, you may receive a substantial discount at a train station by purchasing a return ticket called CityStar. This international return ticket is valid for one month and may be used on any train (and cannot be bought over the Internet at all).

From Germany

From Berlin to Bratislava, there are two-hourly daytime trains and one nighttime train. When purchased at least a day in advance, cheap tickets may be purchased on the national railway’s website (three days in advance for the overnight train). The pricing starts at €29. Unfortunately, Eurocities, particularly night lines, have been reduced by Deutsche Bahn in recent years, with little signs of reversal as of 2015.

From Austria

Regional express trains run every hour from Vienna to Bratislava. EURegio tickets are available for €16 and are good for four days.

From Poland

There is an overnight train from Warszawa to Bratislava that travels through Czech territory. The direct rail connection from Poland is extremely weak; a bus is usually a preferable option. There are just a few local trains that cross the border – one train from Zwardo (PL) to Skalité (SK). Since December 2010, there has been no international passenger traffic on the Nowy Scz–Preov line and the Lupków–Medzilaborce line (since Dec 2009).

If you truly want to go by rail from Poland, plan for a full-day journey with several train transfers. It is less expensive to purchase a Polish ticket just to the border point (Skalité Gr.) and then a Slovak internal ticket at the conductor (€1.30 surcharge).

From Hungary

Every two hours, EC trains operate from Budapest to Bratislava, while two IC trains run daily between Budapest and Miskolc to Koice. Unlike the journey from Poland, purchasing the Slovak portion at conductor would not be less expensive. Instead, there is a 60% bilateral return discount (i.e. a return ticket is cheaper that a one-way ticket).

From Ukraine and Russia

There is a direct sleeper train from Moscow, Kiev, and Lvov to Koice, Poprad, and Bratislava every day. Because of the condition of the rail network in western Ukraine, the lengthy customs procedure at the border, and the gauge difference between Ukraine (Russian wide gauge) and Slovakia, the trip is extremely long – two nights from Moscow and Kiev and one day and night from Lvov (standard gauge).

It is much less expensive to purchase a Ukrainian or Russian ticket just to the Ukrainian border station Chop, then a ticket from Chop to the first Slovak station ierna nad Tisou, and finally a Slovak internal ticket from the conductor (€1.30 surcharge). However, you do not have a berth reservation for the Slovak portion and must change to a seat car in Chop.

Another alternative is to purchase a CityStar ticket in Russia (or Slovakia, where the costs are lower), which is good for groups of up to 5 people. The CityStar ticket is sold as a one-month valid two-way ticket between the stations and includes a discount for each additional passenger on the ticket. Of course, you must also purchase a berth ticket.

By bus

There are frequent services from Vienna, Prague, and Budapest to Bratislava, as well as from Uzhhorod, Ukraine to the eastern Slovak town of Michalovce and from Kraków, Poland to Poprad through Zakopane, Poland.

Taking the bus from Prague to Bratislava is slower but less expensive than taking the train, especially if you purchase your ticket in advance, such as through Student Agency, Slovak Lines, or via the common bus reservation system AMSBus.

Buses from Poland and Ukraine are the most convenient alternative since they are quicker and more frequent than trains.

The journey from Budapest takes 4 hours, including a 5-minute break at Györ and a little restaurant along the way.

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