Avoiding Petty Crime in Slovakia - Travel Safety Tips

Slovakia is among the safest countries in Europe, with crime rates that have been falling steadily since 2005. But like other countries, it has its minor hassles. Find out how to avoid petty crime.

That doesn't mean crime is gone. Like many European countries, it is rife with petty misdemeanours like pickpocketing and purse snatching. A smart traveler will never drop his guard, even in places that seem pleasantly secure.

Crime Hotspots

Pickpockets operate in crowded touristic area, and they do go after the obvious foreigner. Be especially wary in Bratislava's Old Town, the popular Christmas markets, and on public buses, trams, or trains.

Like in other places in Europe, thieves can work in teams. One will distract the victim while the other snatches the goods and hands it off to a swift accomplice. Likewise, a group of children might divert your attention by begging or with cute antics, while another fishes your pockets. This happens in a matter of seconds.

Campsites can also be places of theft. The Zlaty Piesky area has been known to house a robber or two. Err on caution when leaving valuables in your tent.

As you would with any flight, always put your valuables in your carry on luggage.

Going out for a night on the town carries its own safety issues. There have been a few reports of visitors getting spiked drinks from locals. They woke up several hours later with their pockets emptied. Don't be paranoid, but exercise sober judgment when accepting drinks from people you don't know. Better yet, go with your new friend to the bar and watch the drinks being made.

Slovakian bouncers are notorious for being big and rough. They don't waste time with courtesies and will settle boisterous behaviour with a heavy hand. Some of them carry firearms. The bar is not a place to assert yourself. Bouncers don't care about your dignity. If you get into a bind with one, calm down, lower your head, and walk away. By no means argue or show any kind of defiance.

Taxis: some might try to rip you off by adding an imaginary surcharge to the metered value, what might be described as a dumb tourist tax. Others might not run the meter at all and dream up an exorbitant fare at the end of the journey. Don't fall for either. Insist on the meter and only pay the fare shown on it. Ask the driver what the expected fare would be (usually around 25 - 30 euros, depending on traffic).

Car break-ins can also be a nuisance, and thieves might smash your windows whether or not valuables are in plan view. Better to take everything you don't want to lose with you.

If you're driving a car with foreign licence plate, you might be a target of theft. There have been a few cases where someone was fixing a flat tyre and robbers helped themselves while the driver was busy. Lock the car before sorting out any such problem.

Unfortunately, racial harmony does not prevail in this part of Europe, and visible minorities can be subject to harassment or worse. Past incidents happened against persons of Roma (gypsy), African, and Asian descent.

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11 Comments

  • Ps said

    This article makes me laugh. I come from slovakia and live in London - and Slovakia is much safer! Only issues I ever had was with Hypsies and they live in a specific areas.

  • Amiena said

    Had a terrible experience as an asian in Bratislava. Was violently pushed without provocation by a presumably white neonazi. Terrible experience and the first in over 25 years of global travel. WIll never visit this place again! Suggest that people of colour stay away.

  • Lauryn said

    Slovakia is not at all friendly to people with brown skin. I felt very unwelcome. It was nearly impossible to place food orders, passers by stared at me as if I was a Martian. It's a beautiful country I loved the sights and mideval ruins. I wish the people were nicer. I don't wish to return.

  • M said

    If people stare at you,it's not because they have some ill intent. Slovakia is very homogeneous country and seeing foreigners,especially of other races is uncommon. Not to mention not so many tourists come here and even if they do,they mostly just stay in Bratislava for a few hours. So yes,people do stare. Because they are interested. Don't forget that not that many years ago we were cut from the Western world and people could not travel,nor anyone could come here. No Western movies or music either...so this whole thing is pretty new concept to us. I remember when i was about 5 years old, i travelled with my grandma to Bratislava to visit our relatives (i am from Eastern Slovakia) and there was African guy on the same tram as us. I have never ever seen black person in my life before,so i sure did stare and even pointed out how his hair was like a sponge. Grandma shushed me immediately but i was innocent fascinated kid...these days i would just get slammed for racism. But it's not so different from when white folk goes to Africa...And what do you mean by "nearly impossible to place food orders"?customer service is not exactly great here...but that is for us Slovaks too.Did they not understand you?or idk...i find it hard to believe they would refuse your order because of your skin colour...as long as you pay,they do not care if you are Martian either. Ad neo-nazis. Yes,they are a problem and embarrassment but that is just a few brainless twats. This country has over 5 million inhabitants and i can assure you the majority is not neonazi nor hates people of colour. The neonazis are harassing even our people...they just hate everything that is different. I am a fan of metal music and while i was lucky,presumably because i'm a woman, but many of my metalhead friends were attacked by neonazis before. So please don't judge over 5 million people on one bad experience. When i was in Korea, i was told that foreigners ruin their country and that i should get out by an old guy...but I would never ever advice to anyone to not go to Korea because it's wonderful country and 99% of people i encountered were very lovely. So it kinda hurts when i see some foreigners saying stuff like that about my country.

  • Tom Miskell said

    I have just spent 4 days in Bratislava anc found it the most laid back and safe place I have ever travelled to. I found this blog because it seemed so safe I wanted to find the exact crime rates

  • robin jones said

    Felt very safe in Trnava and travelling around Slovakia

  • John said

    I want to travel there this coming year. I hope that I am able to. With friends..

  • No name said

    I am living here quite long, i would say the nicest place and safe, but not welcoming foreigners mostly brown color, you may face one question every day "why you came to slovakia " I've never faced this question in any another country people or not open and friendly, not good food everyone know that but it's quite and nice place

  • dobes said

    M -- I believe you are entirely correct. Except for a few neo-Nazis, whom the majority of people disapprove of and are embarrassed by, gypsies are the people who face the most racism -- curiosity is the response in general to people of African or Asian descent. All across Europe, food orders are taken in a cursory and what we Americans would consider a rude way. Shop assistants and waiters definitely do not go out of their way to be friendly, helpful, or even polite. But the Slovak people in general are a friendly group, perhaps a little shy, especially outside of cities, but generous and good-natured when you get to know them. They may -- again, especially outside the cities -- be a little afraid of the unknown -- but they are not a loud or violent people and there's not a lot of reason to be afraid. The source of my opinion: I lived there for ten years, and have missed that beautiful country and its lovely people every day of the five years I've been back in North America.

  • Pete said

    In early October we will be driving from Budapest to a very small town in Southeastern Slovakia, not far from the Hungarian border.
    Questions:
    1. any problems crossing the border ?
    2. how long should the trip take ?
    3. are ATMS available near the border ?
    4. are the small towns safe during daylight hours?

  • George said

    I have been living in Bratislava for over a year now and I find the article very accurate. My comments:

    - Kinda racist people (not all but the biggest majority of them). If you are black / Asian or from Middle East expect to experience some sort of harassment. Of course, also the beautiful local girls do not prefer these types either :)

    - Locals have very limited knowledge of English language, so communicating is for sure going to a struggle for you

    - Bad customer service overall

    - Try to avoid areas outside of the old town

    - Nightlife can be pretty wild at certain venues so you will have to be very careful. Few totally drunk people walking around which can make things unpredictable

    - As stared above, be careful of bouncers. Definitely do not try to argue with them for anything

    - Never take a random taxi from the street. They will charge you a lot and never use a taxi meter. Always prefer apps such as Uber and HopeIn

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