Get on Board in Slovak Republic
Bratislava, unlike many capitals, is not at all in the heart of Slovakia but far off, just a few miles away from the Austrian border. That means that even if Slovakia is not a gigantic country, you’ll have to travel significant distances if you want to visit other cities (Slovakia is like a bean, Bratislava being at the left end).
Train is a good way to travel in Slovakia: the network is dense, and trains are comfortable enough to do long trips. It is highly recommended to go 1st class: it is very affordable and a good choice to make longer journey more relaxing and enjoyable.
Reservations are compulsory on some InterCity/EuroCity trains and night trains, recommended on others: in all cases, Rail Europe ticket will come with a pre-assigned seat (except in the case of an open-seating train of course). If you hold a pass, you can check here whether you need a reservation or not and book it from rail Europe, or buy it locally (ask for “miestenka” in Slovak). Watch out: if you want to travel overnight, reservations close 2 hours prior to departure (you’ll have to purchase it directly on-board but with no guarantee of availability).
One of the nicest things when traveling by rail in Slovakia, beyond the beauty and diversity of landscapes, is how architecturally interesting the stations are: Stary Smokovec station is a large timbered house; Banska Bystrica is a perfect expression of the Communist-era architecture (but at a human scale), as is the fresco inside Bratislava Hlavna Stanica station; Ruzemborok is a long, pale blue house with eccentric roof design… However modest these stations are, they all present some interest, and betray the passion Slovaks have for their railway.
For more information on Slovakia contact the Slovakia Tourist Board.