There are multiple ways to get to Slovakia. There are good connections by air and by bus, but also by train, regardless where you are coming from and which part of Slovakia you want to visit. The most popular destinations of Slovakia are mainly Bratislava and the Tatra Mountains around Poprad. The first part of this article deals with information on how to get to Slovakia, and afterwards, you get a bit of information about best ways to travel inside Slovakia.
How to get to Slovakia
Going by Bus/Train
There are quite good bus connections to get to Slovakia from several big cities in Europe. Although this will never beat the time of flying in, it is usually cheaper, definitely if you take quite some luggage. On buses, they are more flexible regarding max. weights etc. Also is bus and train a more ecological friendly option. Over the years I have used a couple of bus companies to travel back and forward to Slovakia:
- RegioJet/Student Agency
Student Agency/RegioJet is a Czech company providing trains and buses mainly in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Maybe you noticed them already, they are the yellow buses driving around. You don’t need to be a student to use their services. They also offer long-distance buses and even have a section on flights on their website. Overall, I like their approach. On the bus, you have a little multimedia screen (like in most long distance planes). Furthermore, they offer free thee or coffee, newsletters (in Czech though) on the bus. On the train, you also get a free bottle of water. Additionally, they have staff that’s able to speak English and are very friendly and helpful. Drinks and snacks on the bus are on very reasonable prices. During your time in the Czech Republic, most buses have Wi-Fi available. The trains also have Wi-Fi in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. These are all small things, but it makes you feel more comfortable.
To give you an idea about prices, for example, Brussels to Poprad (Slovakia) costs normally €65 on way (even if you book a couple of days in advance). If you book in advance you can get it down to €33, or even in winter, I had once a promotion going for €19 one way.
The disadvantage of their long-distance buses is that they mostly go over Prague. It’s not entirely a bad thing, as my connection Brussels-Poprad has 2 parts: a bus from Brussels to Prague, in Prague I get on a train to Poprad (all in this 1 price).
Flixbus is a German bus company, which are these bright green buses. I took this bus only twice (to get to Slovakia), but overall they have a very good service. The main reason why I didn’t use them more is a lack of good connections from Belgium to Slovakia. Their staff also speaks English and is very friendly and helpful. They also have an app to organise your bookings.
About their Wi-Fi: *Wi-Fi is only available on FlixBus’ own bus routes. Connections to Prague, Pilsen, St. Gallen, Zurich and Hahn are excluded; the upgrade to LTE in buses is underway. This service will soon be available everywhere. The data speed depends on the mobile network coverage of our provider.
Eurolines has been one of the pioneer cheap bus companies. Although it’s a cheap option, there is basically no service whereas Student Agency and Flixbus provide decent service on their busses. It’s still a great way to travel across Europe, it’s always an adventure. Usually, it’s still one of the fastest bus options available, but just no service at all. A Eurolines bus to eastern Europe usually has no English-speaking staff and or not eager to give you any information. Some complains from myself and/or friends (all before 2014 though, it might have changed): they don’t wake you up if you are asleep and you get to your stop (but they drop off your luggage), they don’t announce changes in the route, etc.
In the beginning, I was happy I had the cheaper option to go by bus using Eurolines, although a couple of new bus companies popped-up and I’m glad I tried a couple of them. Currently, my preference is going to Student Agency, but Flixbus is a good option as well. It all depends a bit on what connections are available.
Arriving by Air
Slovakia can easily be reached by Bratislava Airport or Vienna Airport. Vienna and Bratislava are very close to each other. Furthermore, if you are planning to visit the Tatras, there are a couple of smaller airports. There is an airport in Poprad (Poprad Tatry), but there are limited connections. For example, London Luton is the only connection for western Europe. A flight into Krakow (Poland) might be a better option. Although making your way to Slovakia is a bit more difficult from there.
Background about trains and busses in Slovakia
Slovakia has 2 main train companies, state trains and Regiojet.
Both schedules can be found on http://cp.atlas.sk (you can click on English somewhere)
State train: http://www.slovakrail.sk/en.html
RegioJet is the same as student agency, they are these yellow trains or busses, very comfy and good service.
The State Trains have still good service, and they have usually a restaurant on the train.