Slovakia is a fairly small country in Central Europe that is often overshadowed by the bigger tourist drawcards of Vienna, Budapest and Prague nearby. But don’t overlook this country when heading to Central Europe.
For starters, Slovakia’s capital Bratislava is a charming city only one hour from Vienna, and far more affordable. Day trips from Vienna to Bratislava are popular, but ideally spend a few nights here instead.
Then there’s the beautiful natural scenery and wealth of history in Slovakia, from old towns to historic churches to ruined castles.
The country is fairly dog-friendly, although it’s a little harder to find dog-friendly restaurants than in some of its European neighbours. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Slovakia with your dog.
Travelling to Slovakia with a Dog
The standard EU rules apply for travelling to Slovakia with your dog, whether you are travelling from another EU country or outside of Europe. Basically, your dog will require a microchip, valid rabies vaccine and either an EU pet passport or EU animal health certificate.
If you are travelling to Slovakia with your dog from Ukraine, the rules are similar to those for travelling from outside of Europe, with a pet health certificate or “Annex IV” required if you don’t have a pet passport from the EU or a related country. Your dog will also require a rabies titre test. You will also need to enter Slovakia at a valid “Travellers’ points of entry”; view the list here.
Dining Out in Slovakia with a Dog
In Slovakia, we found it was hit-or-miss whether a restaurant would allow dogs inside. Probably less than 50% of places where we tried to dine allowed dogs inside, with many having a sticker on the door saying no dogs. And considering we were in the country as it started to cool down in mid-Fall, generally outdoor dining was not an option.
This was probably more pronounced outside Bratislava, the capital city. Afterwards I read elsewhere that Bratislava is more dog-friendly, although thanks the great kitchen in our apartment and supermarket downstairs during out stay there, we didn’t actually try to dine out often in Bratislava.
Even in Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia, we found that even when dogs were allowed inside, it was more “tolerated”.
After our visit in 2017, we found out from a local that technically dogs aren’t allowed at restaurants in the country, even outside dining areas. While there was a vote in an attempt to change the law, it wasn’t successful. I’m not sure if the rules have since relaxed. In any case, even the Bratislava tourism page mentions dogs being allowed at restaurants and cafes, at least outdoors.
A potential workaround in the cities if you have trouble finding a restaurant that allows your dog inside, is to visit a shopping mall with your dog. Dogs are usually allowed in shopping malls, including food courts.
In the mall close to our apartment in Bratislava was a shopping mall, that allowed dogs inside. We ate there a couple of times, along with our dog, with a variety of food options available (everything from Asian to Mexican to sandwiches). I also noticed a shopping mall in Košice allowed dogs.
Shopping in Slovakia with a Dog
As I mentioned above, dogs are usually permitted in shopping malls in Slovakia, at least in both malls that I visited in Bratislava and Košice, and likely all other malls. Both within the malls and in other areas, dogs are allowed in most shops, just not in grocery stores and other food shops.
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Slovakia
Dogs, both large and small, are allowed on all forms of public transport in Slovakia.
On trains, pets are allowed in 2nd class carriages and couchettes, but not in 1st class carriages and berths. Small pets in a container are carried for free, while larger dogs generally required a half-price fare. Click here to view the full pet policy of the Slovakian railway company.
On local public transport (trams and buses) within Bratislava, Košice and other cities, pets are allowed as long as they don’t make other commuters less comfortable.
Small animals should travel in a cage or carrier with a sold bottom and require a luggage ticket. For larger dogs, they are required to be on a short leash, wear a muzzle and you need the driver’s permission. Dogs not in a container (or where the container is larger than 30 x 40 x 60cm), require a 30-minute discounted ticket, which is then valid for 3 hours.
Make sure you board through the door marked with a dog symbol. Click here for the pet policy of the transport company.
During our time in Slovakia, we hired a car, partially as we found a very cheap rental from the airport in Bratislava. (It was about €13 per day for an small-size 5-door automatic car.) We found the car rental prices far cheaper in Bratislava than in Vienna or Budapest, comparing prices for the same dates.
One additionally tip: if catching a taxi, notify the driver in advance, as not all taxi drivers allow dogs. In Bratislava, Uber operates and is very cheap.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Slovakia
In Slovakia, we had no problems finding dog-friendly accomodation, staying at multiple Airbnbs and a cheap pension in Banská Štiavnica. In fact, in my investigation into dog-friendly hotels across Europe, Bratislava was ranked equal fifth with Vienna for having the highest percentage of dog-friendly hotels, out of 40 cities across Europe.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Slovakia
Generally, sightseeing in Slovakia is fairly dog-friendly. Here’s some recommendation of what to do in Slovakia with your dog.
1. Go Hiking!
My main regret from visiting Slovakia is that we didn’t have time to go hiking. I’ve heard great things about the hiking options, particularly in the Tatra and Low Tatra mountains.
We visited in the Fall, when many of the trees were vividly changing colours making for beautiful scenery, but anytime from Spring to Fall offers ideal hiking weather. In Winter, it’s instead all about snow sports.
2. Visit Spiš Castle
The ruins of Spiš Castle are located in eastern Slovakia, about a one hour drive from the city of Košice (and not far from the main east-west highway). Originally built in the 12th century, its one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe and UNESCO World Heritage listed.
Since a fire in the late 18th century, the castle has lain in ruins, but still offers a good idea of what it was once like. Dogs are allowed inside the castle, except inside the enclosed exhibit sections.
3. Wander the Old Town of Bratislava
While dogs aren’t allowed in the castle in Bratislava (probably because it’s not lying in ruins), wandering through the streets and squares of the Old Town is a great dog-friendly activity. Along the way, spot the sculptures that dot the city, including one of a man lifting a man-hole cover!
If you’re looking to relax for awhile in a grassy area, head to the waterfront lawn behind the Eurovea shopping centre. Alternatively, the local tourism website (which has a great page of dog-friendly tips) recommends the woods at Železná Studnička, just north of the city, which dogs may walk off leash.
4. Explore the Main Square of Košice
The Old Town of Košice is neatly arranged around its long and charming Main Square. The square is home to the huge St Elisabeth Cathedral, St Michael’s Chapel, the State Theatre, plus a “singing” fountain. It’s a delightful place to go for a wander, before relaxing at one of the main cafes that open out onto the square, particularly in the late afternoon sunshine.
Also keep an eye out for Hrnčiarska Street coming off the square. Also known as “Crafts Lane” this laneway is full of medieval-style shops.
5. Visit the Heritage Village of Vlkolínec
Vlkolínec is a delightful historic village located in the centre of Slovakia, amongst the Lower Tatra mountains. A great example of traditional folk architecture in the region, it has even been UNESCO World Heritage listed.
It makes for an interesting short stop in the area, or it’s also possible to rent cottages in which to stay. Dogs are welcome to join you for a wander around the village.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.
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