Sport and recreation
Slovakia ’s beautiful outdoors provides unsurpassed playgrounds. To our country’s traditional sports of skiing, hiking and river sports, every year brings new additions: waterparks, bungee jumping, mountain biking and paragliding to name a few. The active visitor to Slovakia has a wide choice of sporting experiences available.
Most memorable experiences available are in Slovakia’s spectacular outdoors, ranging from gentle hikes suitable for young children to extreme adrenaline experiences in white-water boating, cliff-climbing and bungee jumping.
Families enjoy a variety of activities:
- Slovakia has a multitude of hiking trails, some of which lead to the very peaks of the Tatra mountains or through river gorges in deep primeval forests.
- Skiing is available at many levels, and Slovakia’s hilly terrain means in winter it is always reachable within an hour or two (although artificial snow-making is still limited to a small number of ski areas).
- Cross-country skiing is best supported in Strbske Pleso in the High Tatras, but many other regions also have some trails, rentals and other facilities.
- In some areas, canoeing is gentle enough to be a family activity.
- Bicycles can be rented in the main vacation areas, such as the High Tatras.
- Aquaparks are springing up, with the first large facility near Liptovsky Mikulas (an hour west of the High Tatras), but others planned in and near Bratislava.
As mentioned above, Slovakia draws many active visitors with its adrenaline sports. Mountain climbing guides with world-wide experience can take you through the more demanding approaches to Slovakia’s summits. There are opportunities for most other highly active sports, winter and summer, especially those that involve mountains - paragliding is a recent addition.
Indoor and Other Recreational Sports
Facilities are also improving for traditional participant sports as well. Although the facilities are usually not world-class, they give some satisfaction:
- Fitness centres are now very common; some are simple, others are equipped with most facilities found in western Europe
- Tennis courts are everywhere, mostly clay-court.
- Now there are even several simple golf courses, mostly around Bratislava.
- Squash courts are easy to find in and around Bratislava, and in some other locations.
- Swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, are available in most towns for lap swimming; often they are on the chilly side, and have limited hours for the public.
Sporting events occur non-stop in towns of all sizes throughout Slovakia. In general, Slovaks perform well enough in sports to hold the attention of interested spectators, but are not outstanding in world-wide context. However, there is one exception...
Slovaks are among the best ice hockey players on earth. Their finest are NHL stars, most of whom come home to play with the national team in tournaments. Having won the world championships in 2002, Slovakia placed third in 2003 and fourth in 2004. It is a rare joy and pride for this small country to achieve such a powerful position in a major sport.
Although visitors will not have much chance to see the national team play, many towns of even medium size have professional teams and junior teams. Indoor ice rinks abound. Boys on skates play pick-up matches everywhere from frozen ponds and rivers to carefully-manicured iced-over car parks. In other words, the infrastructure that made Slovakia a world power in hockey is worth seeing in its own right.
Though they do not to achieve at the level of the hockey players, sportsmen and sportswomen compete at most other olympic-class sports at a respectable level. Ask locals for information about which sports are in season in towns of interest to you.