By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for Slovakia?
Since point-to-point train tickets are cheap in Slovakia, as they are in most of its neighboring countries (but not Austria), a rail pass isn't likely to save you much money. The main reason to buy a rail pass in this region is to avoid the hassle of buying tickets as you go. If a rail pass happens to match the countries you plan to visit, it can be a smart choice. If you're just dipping your toes into Slovakia from Austria (rather than exploring more of the region), you'll probably save money just buying a point-to-point train ticket to Bratislava (about $10 in second class from Vienna).
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. (Dotted lines show ferry routes and dashed lines show bus routes, neither of which are covered by rail passes.)
Also, follow the links below for:
• More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
• The basics on choosing among rail passes
• More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
• Advice on deciding between first and second class
• Fare-estimate maps outside Slovakia/Hungary
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Do I need to make seat reservations on Slovakian trains?
For the most part, you can hop on nearly all Slovakian trains with just your rail pass in hand. Only overnight trains, and some international routes, require reservations (as indicated in online train schedules).
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.