Also known as the Slovak Republic, Slovakia is a Central European landlocked country, bordered by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, and Austria. The country is divided into three large regions, as follows.
Western Slovakia represents the country’s urban core, so to say, and it shelters its capital, river valleys, the Danube, forests, and hills.
Central Slovakia, on the other hand, is a mostly mountainous region that consists of small towns, national parks, and medieval mines.
In the end, Eastern Slovakia is capped with the mountainous formation known as the Tatras, as well as with agricultural pastures and forests. It is also home to the country’s second city.
Naturally, as a main touristic attraction, you’d want to definitely see Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital and largest city. Here you can see a restored historical centre that’s full of Baroque, Gothic, as well as Renaissance churches, cobblestone streets, palaces, riverside parks, fountains, and so on.
But keep in mind that there are many other beautiful places that you should visit. For example, the city of Bardejov, which is a spa town, comes with a completely intact medieval town centre.
Still, when it comes to travelling to foreign countries, we must all remember that the most important thing is safety and, naturally, keeping ourselves safe throughout our journey. In order to help you answer the question is Slovakia safe to visit, we have come up with this guide, detailing all the risks the country comes with, as well as with means to avoid and prevent them.
Therefore, without any further ado, let’s jump right into our Slovakia safety guide!
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Slovakia
Overall Risks in Slovakia: LOW to MEDIUM
In short, Slovakia is overall safe, as there are several online sources/ articles that claim the country has been deemed safe for tourists, including US and UK citizens. If we are to look at its crime levels, back in 2014, Slovakia had a crime level of 31.82, being the 66th country out of the 93 countries that were analyzed.
Most visits to this country are usually trouble-free, in terms of serious crime, but – as you will see shortly – you do have to take some safety measures for the duration of your stay. For example, pickpockets and petty thieves exist throughout the country and will most likely try to take advantage of the fact that you are a tourist/ foreigner.
Moreover, there are also a few scams that you are subject to while in Slovakia – we’ll soon tell you everything you need to know about them.
Overall, you can have a great time in Slovakia and visit the country in its entirety. However, you must not forget to apply some basic safety measures in order to keep yourself out of trouble.
So, let’s see how safe is Slovakia for tourists, taking into account each type of risk you expose yourself to.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Slovakia: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, the country comes with a risk of petty crime. Pickpockets and petty thieves usually operate in the main tourist areas, especially in the country’s capital, Bratislava.
If you are travelling during Christmas, be extremely careful when around the popular Christmas markets, as they are seen as a goldmine by pickpockets. You should also be careful when visiting nightclubs or bars, as petty thieves may operate around them. You have a small chance of being robbed/ pickpocketed while in such a location, but these chances increase when you are about to enter or after you leave it.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Slovakia?
In order to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Slovakia, our Slovakia safety guide recommends you to always keep an eye on your belongings. You should never leave your luggage or your backpack/ bag unattended and you should also take precautions against bag snatchers.
For example, don’t keep your backpack on your back and rather have it in front or sideways of you. Don’t flash any valuables, such as gadgets or large sums of money, as such actions may attract unwanted eyes. In short, you can keep yourself safe with the help of just some basic safety measures.
Scam Risk in Slovakia: MEDIUM
In terms of scams, there are reports of extortionate charging for food or drinks, as well as of fraudulent transactions being debited against debit and credit cards.
Naturally, taxi drivers will try to scam you as well, either by overcharging you at the end of the trip – via unauthorized supplements -, or by leaving the meter off. There have also been some instances of fake police officers issuing speeding tickets or fines for other traffic offences.
In Slovakia you can also encounter road pirates – but we really hope you won’t. These usually stab a car’s tires at petrol stations and then follow the car until it stops. Then, they will offer to help the person in need, only to – in fact – rob them. Some of these groups might also simulate breakdowns on the road and such in order to attract naïve travellers.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Slovakia?
So, you may wonder, how to avoid all these? Well, you can do so pretty easily – just follow these Slovakia safety travel tips!
When it comes to bars and restaurants scams, you should always ask for a menu before ordering so that you can check the prices of the things you want to order. If you are paying with your debit or credit card, make sure that the transaction is completed under your very eyes. Before re-entering your PIN number – in case of a failed transaction -, you should always ask for a receipt. If you don’t do so, you risk being charged twice for a single bill.
In terms of taxi scams and fraudulent drivers, it is recommended that you decide on a fare at the beginning of your trip. You should also make sure that the driver turns on the meter when he/ she should and that the taxi is licensed with a reputed taxi service.
Now, moving on to the fake police officers, if you are issued a fine, you should always ask for a receipt when paying it – naturally, if the officers refuse to give you one, then you should call the authorities and check if you are dealing with the real deal, so to say.
In order to avoid meeting road pirates, you should only use petrol stations that are well lit – you may also want to check your car before leaving the station. Also, you should not stop during your travel in case of any external events, such as another car’s breakdown.
Kidnapping Risk in Slovakia: LOW
There haven’t been any reports of kidnappings in Slovakia in recent years. As we mentioned before, the levels of serious crime in Slovakia are quite low – for example, the murder rate is around 1.74 cases per 100,000 population in a year.
Therefore, you should not be too worried about something more serious happening to you. Naturally, this means that you have to apply the protection/ prevention measures that we provide you within this Slovakia safety guide.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Slovakia?
In order to avoid getting kidnapped, you should stay away from any remote areas and from places that simply don’t look friendly. In this respect, you can also rely on locals, as they usually warn tourists against travelling to what they classify as deprived areas.
You should also not be travelling during the night, especially if you are alone. Don’t display any valuables and plan your routes beforehand – your route should not include any shady alley or such.
If you plan on visiting a nightclub or a bar, it is recommended that you do not do so alone, for obvious reasons.
Terrorism Risk in Slovakia: LOW
There have been no terrorist attacks in Slovakia in recent years and there are no ongoing threats or such related to terrorism as well. Also, there are no terrorist groups that activate or that have a major number of supporters here.
Therefore, you should not be afraid of possible terrorist attacks while in Slovakia. However, given the fact that these attacks usually come with little to no notice, it is better if you are always prepared.
- How to avoid terrorism in Slovakia?
In order to avoid terrorism, our Slovakia safety travel tips recommend you always keep an eye on your surroundings. Naturally, you can’t do so in all of the places that you visit. But there are a couple of locations that you should be vigilant around: places of prayer, official buildings, public places that can get really crowded, shopping malls, and places that see high tourist traffic.
The aforementioned areas are known to be usually targeted by terrorists, so it is better if you are cautious when visiting them.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Slovakia: LOW to MEDIUM
There are no reports of sexual assaults or harassment targeted towards foreign woman travellers in Slovakia. However, the reports suggest that solo woman travellers are more likely to be targeted by pickpockets and thieves.
So, is Slovakia safe for solo woman travellers? Well, it depends on how careful they are. Obviously, the fact that they are alone might attract the unwanted eye but, with some basic safety measures, they can easily avoid most, if not all trouble.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Slovakia?
In order to avoid crime as a solo woman traveller while in Slovakia, it is recommended that you approach a decent dress code, avoid any remote or shady areas, and don’t display valuables.
Naturally, we also recommend you to not walk alone during the night and to be accompanied if you plan to visit nightclubs or bars. Stick to the main tourist areas and, if you plan some long-distance trips, you should rely on a reputed taxi service or on a guide.
Rape Risk in Slovakia: LOW to MEDIUM
Back in 2009, Slovakia’s rape rate was 2.6 cases per 100,000 population – making it the 55th country out of the 77 countries analyzed. Now, given the fact that there are no reports of such incidents in recent years, it is safe to assume that the rate is either the same or even lower.
However, it is important to mention the fact that there have been some cases of drink spiking in Slovakia. While these have not resulted in rape incidents – were mainly focused on robbing the victims -, you still cannot fully rule out such risks.
- How to avoid getting raped in Slovakia?
First of all, you should avoid walking alone during the night. Then, if you plan to visit nightclubs or bars, it is recommended that you stick to your own drinks and refuse any offered by strangers. Also, choose your company wisely.
You should avoid remote and poorly lit areas, as well as bad-reputed parts of the city you are accommodated in. Extreme vigilance is not required, as there the risks of such incidents are fairly low – but remember to keep yourself safe at all times!
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Slovakia: LOW
Now, how safe is Slovakia for tourists that are travelling with children? Well, it is quite safe. The only dangers that you might be exposed to are pickpockets and petty thieves. Other than that, if you apply some basic safety measures, both you and your children should be very safe.
Naturally, you’ll most likely stick to the main tourist areas and avoid any remote or shady-looking ones. Therefore, your children will be always safe and out of any trouble.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Even if your children won’t be exposed to any crime or such, there’s still one thing that you have to do to keep them safe. Obviously, we refer to keeping an eye on them at all times. If you are travelling to Slovakia during a certain holiday – such as Christmas -, you might encounter large crowds, of both tourists and locals.
Therefore, in such scenarios, keeping an eye on your children is a must, as you don’t want them to get lost. So, have someone watch for them at all times if you can’t. We recommend that, when travelling with children, you should not be alone – have a friend or relative accompany you on your trip.
Natural Disaster Risks in Slovakia: MEDIUM
The most common natural disasters in Slovakia are floods (with a frequency of 63.2%), extreme temperatures (26.3%), storms (5.3%), and wildfires (5.3%). Out of all of the aforementioned, extreme temperatures come with the highest mortality rate, namely 63.7%, followed by floods, which have a rate of 32.3.
As the two are rather common, so to speak, meaning that they can happen on short notice, we recommend you check the local news and weather report every time before leaving your accommodation.
If you plan a long-distance trip – with a travel agency or by personal car -, you should prepare accordingly for any type of scenario, have enough supplies with you, as well as a first-aid kit that can provide basic treatment for wounds or injuries that can be caused by the natural hazards mentioned above.
Transportation Risks in Slovakia: MEDIUM
Many of Slovakia’s main roads are in overall good condition. However, most of them come with only one single carriageway – in each direction -, a fact that makes overtaking difficult. So, depending on the traffic intensity, you’d better refrain from making any dangerous manoeuvres.
Also, when driving your personal car, Slovak law states that you must have at least third-party motor insurance for the vehicle.
Weather can drastically affect the driving conditions, as it can make road markings difficult to see. Headlights are to be switched on at all times.
Be aware of the fact that Slovakia has a zero-tolerance for those driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are involved in an accident, you will be tested no matter if you cause the accident or not. Any trace of alcohol in your blood will result in your arrest.
Public transportation is generally safe. It is based on a ticket system – you have to buy your tickets before boarding the vehicle and validate them after boarding. Invalid tickets will result in a fine of around 70 Euros – claiming to be a tourist and unaware of the rules won’t get you out of such scenarios.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Slovakia: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, there have been a couple of incidents involving the use of spiked drinks. These are mostly used by thieves in order to facilitate the robbing of tourists/travellers.
Most reports come from certain areas of Bratislava – old town pedestrian areas, strip clubs, and nightclubs. You should be careful around and within such locations no matter the city you are in.
We recommend you keep an eye on your drink at all times, as well as order your own. Never accept any drinks from strangers or from people that you barely know. When leaving a nightclub or a bar, you should rely on a reputed taxi service as your means of getting back to your accommodation.
Also, it is worth mentioning that rowdy or unruly behaviour is forbidden between 22:00 and 06:00. Bratislava is quite popular when it comes to stag parties – drink responsibly and return to your accommodation once you’ve had enough. Moving the party on the street is not recommended – you may be fined, as well as arrested.
Health Risks in Slovakia
When it comes to health risks, there are no diseases or endemics that you expose yourself to while in Slovakia. The medical facilities here come with a variable standard – however, it is known that the medical equipment is being improved constantly.
The doctors and medical staff are usually very good and well-trained, but most of them do not speak English. Also, many of the hospitals in Slovakia are under-maintained.
As always, when travelling to a foreign country, you should make sure that you have proper travel health insurance and enough funds to cover the costs of any treatment or medicine that you might have to take. The emergency number is 112.
List of Vaccines You Need in Slovakia
It is recommended that, at least eight weeks before your trip, you check the latest health advice specific for Slovakia – on the TravelHealthPro website -, and visit your doctor. If you do so, you’ll know exactly which vaccines you have to take and if there are any outbreaks or health risks that you should be aware of.
Here is a list of the basic vaccines that you have to take before visiting Slovakia.
- Routine Vaccines
- Hepatitis A and B
Most Dangerous Areas in Slovakia
- Bratislava – main tourist areas, night-clubs, Christmas markets. There is a heightened risk of petty crime here.
- Petrol stations in remote areas.
Obviously, as you might have figured it out, there are no very dangerous areas in Slovakia and the only things that you expose yourself to are petty theft, scams, and robbery.
Concluding Remarks: Is Slovakia Safe to Visit?
Well, in the end, is Slovakia safe to visit? The answer is, naturally, yes. Overall, Slovakia is quite a safe country, as there are not that many things you have to be worried about.
The levels of serious crime are quite low, meaning that you have to keep an eye out only on petty thieves, scammers, and opportunist thieves. In short, by applying the basic safety measures we have mentioned above, you should be able to stay away from most, if not all crime and possibly dangerous situations.