Košice is the biggest city in eastern Slovakia and in 2013 was the European Capital of Culture together with Marseille, France. It is situated on the river Hornád at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains, near the border with Hungary. With a population of approximately 240,000, Košice is the second largest city in Slovakia after the capital Bratislava.
The city has a well-preserved historical centre, which is the largest among Slovak towns. There are many heritage protected buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau styles with Slovakia's largest church: the St. Elisabeth Cathedral. The long main street, rimmed with aristocratic palaces, Catholic churches, and townsfolk's houses, is a thriving pedestrian zone with many boutiques, cafés, and restaurants.
The biggest music festival in the Slovak Republic’s second biggest city also happens to be among the country’s oldest music festival. Both the Czech and Slovak philharmonic orchestras make beautiful music during this week-long May classical music festival which was first held in 1956. The festival also attracts chamber orchestras, opera performers, and other talented classical musicians.
Košice lies in the north temperate zone and has a borderline continental and marine climate with four distinct seasons. If defined as marine due to the winters just above -3 °C, it would be one of the farthest inland areas with this climate type. It is characterized by a significant variation between hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
The D1 motorway connects the city to Prešov and more motorways and roads are planned around the city.
Given the efficiency and value of the train system, you shouldn't need to use the bus system very much. Eurolines coaches come to here from numerous European cities, and bus is the most efficient way of reaching the nearby town of Levoca. There are also several companies linking Košice with Prague, usually with several stops on the route, including Brno. Direct buses from Budapest or Vienna to Kosice by Eurobusways.
Public Transport in Košice is managed by Dopravný podnik mesta Košice. The municipal mass transit system is the oldest one in present-day Slovakia, with the first horse-car line beginning operation in 1891 (electrified in 1914). Today, the city's public transportation system is composed of buses (in use since the 1950s), trams, and trolleybuses (since 1993).
Košice has a small and compact city center, and is mostly navigable by foot.
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Wifi and broadband can be found more or less everywhere, and there will be an internet cafe available somewhere even in smaller towns. Also, hostels, pubs, cafes, and some public institutions such as libraries or government buildings offer (free) wifi.
See also International Telephone Calls
The international calling code for Slovakia is +421. In case of an emergency, call the universal number 112. You can also call directly on 150 for fire brigade, 155 in a medical emergency or 158 for the police.
Slovak phones operate on the GSM standard, which covers most of the country, and 3G covers most of the area. The coverage is surprisingly good, and you will often have signal even in mountain areas, unless you are in a deep ravine. There are three main operators - Orange, T-mobile and O2, and they all use 900 or 1800Mhz standard, which might not be compatible with some U.S. phones operating on 1900Mhz.
They all (along with some virtual operators, biggest of which are Funfón and Tesco Mobile) offer a variety of prepaid cards with various "pay as you go" schemes (some market research is advised, if you want the best deal) and incentives. If you have an unlocked phone, these are easy to pick up in any phone shop, or you can purchase a cheap phone with a prepaid card included.
There are still some phone boxes available, but with mobile phones now commonplace, they are declining in number. Also note that you might need to purchase a prepaid card to use some of them.
Slovenská pošta is the national postal service of Slovakia. They have affordable, reliable and relatively fast services. You can choose to send letters/postcards first (express) or second class. Prices start at €0.40 for a second class letter (up to 50 gram) domestically, €0.60 for express services. Within Europe prices start at €0.90 (Czech Republic €0.80), outside Europe prices start at €1.00, all for second class letters/postcards up to 50 grams. Post offices are available in all villages and provide banking services like money transfers as well. The post offices are usually open from Monday to Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturday until 1:00pm. The main post offices in larger towns or shopping malls are open daily to 8:00pm. It is possible to buy post stamps for post cards and letters directly in the post offices or in some newspaper stands.
You can use parcels services with Slovenská Posta as well, although you might be better off with companies like UPS, TNT, FedEx or DHL, which offer similar prices, but usually faster and more reliable services.
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