Slovak Road Trip

Old May 16, 17, 10:08 am
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Slovak Road Trip

In August, we (a family of three, including an energetic toddler) plan to be in the heart of Europe for a week, flying into WAW and out of PRG. Does anyone have any advice for a road trip? I was thinking of heading down to KRK quickly, renting a car, and then driving around Slovakia: Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras, probably staying at the Kempinski, taking in some world heritage at Vlkolínec, and then heading east to see Levoča and Spišský Hrad, maybe spending a night in Košice. The caves at Domica seemed potentially interesting for a couple of hours the next day, and then we would make our way west to Prague, maybe spending a night at Trenčín and another somewhere in Bohemia before returning the car at Ruzyne.

Besides suggestions as to different places to explore, I’m particularly interested in observations about the driving. Are the Google Maps estimates reliable in your experiences? I expect I'll have a Škoda Superb. The distance isn’t discouraging on its face, but it may depend whether I’m looking at bucolic, scenic drives versus harrowing dances with aggressive trucks--and getting a boot on the car in every town when I don’t understand the parking rules. Without the little one in a car seat, I probably would do this differently, maybe using more mass transit and doing real hiking in one place instead of driving to many sites.

Last edited by HLS2002; May 16, 17 at 4:52 pm Reason: Clarifying my questions.
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Old May 17, 17, 6:56 am
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Originally Posted by HLS2002 View Post
In August, we (a family of three, including an energetic toddler) plan to be in the heart of Europe for a week, flying into WAW and out of PRG. Does anyone have any advice for a road trip? I was thinking of heading down to KRK quickly, renting a car, and then driving around Slovakia: Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras, probably staying at the Kempinski, taking in some world heritage at Vlkolínec, and then heading east to see Levoča and Spišský Hrad, maybe spending a night in Košice. The caves at Domica seemed potentially interesting for a couple of hours the next day, and then we would make our way west to Prague, maybe spending a night at Trenčín and another somewhere in Bohemia before returning the car at Ruzyne.

Besides suggestions as to different places to explore, I’m particularly interested in observations about the driving. Are the Google Maps estimates reliable in your experiences? I expect I'll have a Škoda Superb. The distance isn’t discouraging on its face, but it may depend whether I’m looking at bucolic, scenic drives versus harrowing dances with aggressive trucks--and getting a boot on the car in every town when I don’t understand the parking rules. Without the little one in a car seat, I probably would do this differently, maybe using more mass transit and doing real hiking in one place instead of driving to many sites.
@HLS2002: Regarding the driving times provided by Google Maps for central/eastern Slovakia, they are relatively reliable for main roads (such as the E50 dual-carriageway between Poprad and Levoča), but not so accurate for country roads (Google Maps tends to underestimate the actual driving time - probably factor in an extra 25% or so to be on the safe side).

The High Tatras are beautiful. You may also enjoy AquaCity in Poprad - lots of fun for kids!

I hope you have a wonderful family holiday!
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Old May 18, 17, 8:35 am
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Sounds like a great trip!

In the last 18 months, we have driven Budapest-Prague-Budapest three times. The last two times, we made detours from the expressway that would take us through the countryside of Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. We found the GPS was very accurate regarding travel times.

Our only issue with the GPS is when we encounter a new section of road, roundabout, or bridge that the GPS updates do not seem to know about. This made for a couple of interesting detours. Eventually, the road always get back on the GPS track and all is well.

Parking in the cities is challenging since you do not know all the nuances associated with that particular area. We have found that parking in a lot/garage seems to be less hectic versus on street parking. The attendants/pay machine often speak English and have an English language option (if needed).
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Old May 18, 17, 3:13 pm
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Thank you both! I'm getting increasingly excited about the adventure the more I research. I'm thinking of rerouting a bit to make the trip more of a straight line: Kraków-Barejov-Spišský hrad-Levoča-Štrbské Pleso-Vlkolínec-Banská Štiavnica-Trenčín-Zelená Hora-Prague 6. I hate to cut off Košice (or anything), but I have to be disciplined given the limited time--and I suspect I'll face dramatic tantrums if I try to leave AquaCity before closing time!
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Old May 19, 17, 6:40 pm
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The wife and I drove Vienna - Bratislava- Banska Stiavnica - Kremnica - Vienna a couple years ago. Google map drive times were reasonably accurate except for a one or two situations with some local construction delays. We also had our GPS unit with European maps and a GPS built into the car - once I figured out how to set to English. As we've found everywhere, including around home, Google maps and GPS sometimes make some "interesting" choices about routes. But that can be part of the adventure of travel.

Overall driving in Slovakia was pretty straightforward. The major highways are easy driving. The smaller roads aren't bad either. We didn't encounter any major traffic problems, overly aggressive drivers, overly slow drivers, or any real problems.

A couple tips:
- Buy the road tax "vignette" permit at the border or nearby gas gas station if you'll be driving any of the major roads. It's 10 euros for 10 days.

- The blood alcohol limit is 0.0. There is no tolerance for drinking and driving.

- You'll need an International Drivers License. You can get one from AAA for $20.

- Headlights should be on at all times.

- Not right turns on red.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old May 22, 17, 4:12 pm
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Just be careful where and what you eat. I got food poisoning last time I was in Poprad many years ago. Hygiene was pretty dodgy out there in the 1990s, maybe improved now.
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Old May 25, 17, 4:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
Just be careful where and what you eat. I got food poisoning last time I was in Poprad many years ago. Hygiene was pretty dodgy out there in the 1990s, maybe improved now.
With EU food safety and hygiene standards in place now, I don't think you need to worry too much (tap water is safe to drink, though many people still buy bottled water).
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