The Best Pubs & Bars in Slovakia!

It would be tempting, partly through my own laziness, to think the guide to Slovakian drinking could be done simply by copy-pasting the information from the Czech guide, but there are some immutable differences between the two that are worth exploring.

First of all, Slovakia has the euro, so while it still is a place for incredibly cheap drinking, the economic effects naturally increase the prices by a touch from what they would otherwise have been. In the right places though, you can still find a very good desitky (light) lager for around 1.50 in a backstreet Pivaren in the sticks to 3 or 4 euros for a legit independently brewed beer in central Bratislava.

Another difference is simply the lay of the land and the infrastructure. Slovakia is nowhere near as densely populated as Czechia, and the shape of the country itself, largely spread West to East covers a surprising amount of terrain. By the time you reach the eastern city Kosice you're snaking close to the Ukrainian border and the sub-Carpathians. It's impossible not to concede that there will be cultural consequences of that.

Most people will find themselves in Bratislava, being within a day trip of Vienna and on one of the fastest train lines in central Europe. The city is not so different from many Czech places, just with a smidgen more of an Austrian vibe to some of the streets. The beer scene reflects that a little bit, with fewer traditional Pivnice style places and more modern and alternative bars. There are some decent Hospodas around that offer a classic slice of Czechslovak drinking, and although Slovakia's primary beers aren't a patch on Czech ones, there are some good beers on offer at the central brewpubs and a nascent craft scene.

Out in the rest of the country, beer has to compete with schnapps and slivovitz in the mountainous regions, and wine in the south and east.

The craft beer revolution doesn't suit Czechia much as they already had very high standards, while their obsession with the price of a pint is only matched in England and Germany. However, I think there is room in Slovakia for this, firstly because the self-contained brewery tap concept would work well considering how much of an arseache distribution is in such a rural country, secondly because certain areas are lagging behind in their offerings, when you consider their neighbours, including Poland are enjoying a better quality and better variety of beer.

Lastly, while in the countryside make sure to visit a mountain lodge or inn, akin to Slovenia's Gostilnas or Polish Karczma's. These places with their chunky wooden seats, roaring fires and home cooking are famous for good value, good portions and a homely 'Traveller's Rest' feel.
Name Location Our Rating
Klub Bosorka Banska Bystrica 7.7
Cierny Pes Bratislava 8.6
Hostinec Opapa Bratislava 8.6
Hostinec U Deda Bratislava 8.5
Muzejny Hostinec Bratislava 8.4
Omama Bratislava 8.3
Steinplatz Bratislava 8.1
Bernard pri Lyceu Bratislava 8
The Peach Bratislava 7.8
Americke Bar Bratislava 7.8
Kollarko Bratislava 7.7
Za Rohom Bratislava 7.6
Dungeon Pub Bratislava 7.6
Mestiansky Pivovar Bratislava 7.5
Borozo Komarno 7.7
Gentlemen's Beer Shop Komarno 7.5
U Cierneho Psa Komarno 7.5
Furkotka Štrbské Pleso 7.7
Chata Pod Rysmi  Rysy 9.5

Bratislava // pop. 424,428

A good rule of thumb to use when deciding to drink in Bratislava is to ask yourself ‘does this stand out?’ If the answer to that is Yes, you are probably going to the wrong venue. Most of the quality venues in Bratislava are tucked away, and are certainly not located along the main tourist streets in the old town which contain ripoff joints and bland/towny venues. Fairer prices and local life can largely be found on the periphery with some inconspicuous/hiding in plain sight spots in the city centre.

Bratislava follows a Czech style format in its offerings. There are multiple brewery pubs – a surprisingly high number actually - and simple backstreet hospodas, Pivaren over here in slovakia which, by contrast, are heavily drinks-focused, with food being more of a side-interest.

The best idea is to visit Omama/Opapa in the same evening, as they are located very close by, and are enjoyably enough to spend a long time in. Any other pub you find on the way there or way back will supplement those, which really are classic examples of the 1st Republic era Czechoslovak format and fondness for ruralism, and simplicity.

Banska Bystrica // pop. 76,939

Central Slovakian mining town surrounded by hills with pretty sloped thoroughfare, not really a market square so much as an elongated pod. Quite typical of this part of the world. The bar scene isn't exactly electric here, but the central pub Klubovna provides a safety first option, there's a Bernard pivni bar down the road, and a late night cult punk club Bosorka not far away either, which on balance is the best of all the options in the centre. It is all very provincial after that, slightly disappointing for a relatively sizeable place.

Komarno // pop. 32,778

This border town faces the Danube and offers a sweet opportunity to pass through countries on a land border. Its sister town Komarom on the Hungarian side is the poorer of the two in a number of ways and can be passed over, while Komarno has a number of low-key sites and an unusually avant-garde town centre that may surprise you after a diet of beautiful pastel shaded burgher houses in Czechia. The nightlife has a central focus too, with a natural crucible and meeting points. The bars Borozo, a truly unvarnished city boozer for young folk stood out for its atmosphere, U Cierneho Psa for its musical leanings and the craft beer destination Gentleman's Beer Shop on the fringes of town - still easily walkable, which unquestionably offers some of the finest Czech and Slovak beers in bottles and on tap, even if the venue itself is too white and sterile to call charming.

Poprad // pop. 51,922

The gateway to the Tatras is no shining jewel of architecture as you'll discover. The centre offers the typical seedpod type shape and a degree of historic ensemble can be seen. Otherwise it is a little bleak and run down in areas. However, there is a historic town that has been subsumed into its whole - Spisska Sobota, some 20 minutes walk from the centre. While low key there is some charm to be found there. The nightlife veers between very rough and ready Pivarens and overly sterile pub restaurants. As you would expect, the central brewpub is warm, safe, friendly and does nice beers, but won't win any awards for its decor or atmosphere.

Trenčín // pop. 55,725

Trenčín, castle aside, has a pretty but one-horse old town on the east bank of the river and plain, working class suburbs on the west bank. You’ll find prices take a nosedive towards 1.60 euro in some places (still not as good as Czechia though) but none of the venues stand out especially –simply try to avoid the Herna bars – 24 hour sports/betting venues which are often very depressing places, even if they sometimes are the only ones open at certain times of day/night. Nevertheless, Trenčín has a prolific and experimental brewery, Lanus, which, while relatively expensive, is certainly worth dropping by for lunch, or a post-lunch drink. While pleasant and tastefully done, it is a safe, warm and friendly option, but there isn’t the kind of atmosphere we’re really looking for.

Trnava // pop. 65,515

A provincial town with a scattering of limited attractions – a large central tower, surprisingly enormous church and some city walls. On a winter’s day there’s not much to hold your attention above an hour or two, leading to immediate thoughts of the Pub. If you scratch around there are a few passable pubs which have jumped on the recent growth in multi-tap regional/small brewery offerings. The venues themselves are nothing special but beat chain-pubs hands down.