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Perhaps not as popular as its neighbour to the north, the Czech Republic, with which it shares history and culture, Slovakia still lures visitors with its medieval fairytale-like castles, beautiful national parks and stunning mountain range. The country has a number of beautifully preserved heritage villages which are reachable by car, including Vlkolínec, OsturÅa, Sebechleby and many more.
The extensive road network covering Slovakia's territory is mostly in good condition, especially the roads running through major destinations Bratislava, Presov and Kosice. Road signs are in compliance with European standards and adequate lighting is available, except outside the main cities.
Driving licences: driving with a UK driving licence is possible here for up to six months.
Which side does Slovakia drive on: the right.
Motorways: 40mph (65kph) to 80mph (130kph)
Rural areas: 31mph (50kph)
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: Nil. Breathalyzers are in use, with penalties including fines, suspension of licence and imprisonment.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: required for front and rear seat passengers, if fitted. For children weighing less than 5 stone, 10 pounds (36kgs), a car seat is compulsory.
Mobile phones and GPS: it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Using a mobile phone with a hands-free kit is acceptable. GPS devices must not be placed on the windscreen.
Cost of fuel in Slovakia: petrol is only slightly cheaper here than in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are accepted in most petrol stations and by all major car hire suppliers.
Insurance: the quoted price of car hire includes compulsory third-party insurance. Collision and other types of coverage are optional but recommended.
Traffic and parking: parking is on the right-hand side of the road. In one-way streets, it is acceptable to park on the left. Most cities have designated parking areas.
Trains in Slovakia are reliable, clean and considered the best way to get around, second only to driving your own vehicle. The rail network, operated by the Railways of Slovakia (ZSR), is extensive and connects all the main cities. Ticket prices are cheap by western standards. A day return from Vienna to Bratislava is available and costs around £11.00.
Taxis are available in the main cities, but are not hugely popular as a means of transport due to the fact most cities are compact and therefore walkable, and have excellent public transport. Meter taxis are relatively cheap. However, cab drivers charge higher fares at night.
If the railway network does not reach your destination, then taking a bus will be the next best bet, even if buses are slower. Nitra, a well-known tourist attraction, is best reached by bus. Slovakia's bus network is punctual so travellers are advised to arrive early at the station. The main provider is the state-run Slovak Lines, which offers both international and domestic services. A journey from Vienna to Bratislava will cost around £5.00.
There are two main international airports in Slovakia. The largest is Bratislava Milan Rastislav Stefanik Airport, close to the capital Bratislava. A public bus links the airport to Bratislava city, and is much cheaper than a taxi. The other major international air hub is Kosice International Airport, in eastern Slovakia near the town of the same name.
A good way to start experiencing what Slovakia has to offer is to head to Bratislava Castle, which has commanding views of the medieval houses and structures of the capital's old quarter, as well as some communist-era buildings.
Standing above a 656-foot dolomite hill, Spis Castle is the largest castle in the country and a top tourist attraction which is well-known for its dramatic setting in the country’s east. Those visiting in late April or early May may want to head to another castle, Bojnice Castle, as this centrally located attraction is where the strangely lively Ghost Festival mainly takes place.
A number of traditional settlements in Slovakia, such as Vlkolínec, OsturÅa and Sebechleby, have been named as World Heritage sites due to their beautifully preserved structures, some dating back to the 1300s. A drive to these villages is definitely worth anyone's time.
The beautiful year-round tourist destination of the Vrátna Valley, meanwhile, attracts visitors with its skiing opportunities in winter and hiking in summer. Another wilderness attraction is Tatra National Park, home to the stunning, snowy peaks of the High Tatras Mountains.
The climate in Slovakia is generally continental, with temperature variations in each of the regions, partly due to the mountains and elevation in many areas. There are four distinct seasons, with January temperatures averaging -2°C and winter seeing tourists head to the slopes for skiing. July and August are the hottest months of the year, with temperatures averaging 21°C.