Dunajská Streda (Hungarian: Dunaszerdahely) is a city in Southern Slovakia. It is in Trnava county and is the centre of eponymous Dunajská Streda district.
Dunajská Streda is located in the southwestern part of Slovakia, in the center of the Rye Island (Csallóköz) region, located between the river Danube and its branch called the Small Danube. It is close to both the Hungarian and the Austrian borders. It is one of the centres of the Hungarian community in Slovakia, with members of this ethnic group constituting some 80% of the population.
In the Middle and Modern Ages the settlement was a little market town in the southern part of Pozsony county and a commercial and administrative centre for the neighbouring villages. The population of the town has been predominantly Hungarian at least since the late Middle Ages. In the middle of the 15th century Szerdahely became an oppidum, or market town.
Many Jews settled here in the 18th century. In 1880 the town had 4,182 inhabitants of which were 3,531 Hungarian and 416 German by mother tongue. The number of the Jewish population was 1,874. In 1910 there were 4,679 Hungarian by mother tongue from a total 4,762. In 1930, the town had 5,706 inhabitants, including 2,944 Hungarians, 2,186 Jews (mostly Hungarian-speaking) and 503 Slovaks. According to the 2001 census, 18,756 Hungarians, 3,588 Slovaks, 353 Roma people, 147 Czechs and 24 Germans live in the city, meaning a Hungarian majority of over 80%, one of the highest proportions of any municipality in the country.
In 1919 it became part of Czechoslovakia. It became part of Hungary again in the First Vienna Award in 1938, but was returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 after World War II. In 1947-48, Czechoslovakia forced a part of the town's Hungarian population to emigrate to Hungary as a part of the forced population transfer carried out in the frameweork of the so-called Hungarian-Czechoslovakian population exchange. During the communist era the town underwent rapid modernization and industrialization. Almost all of the old houses of the centre and 85% of the town-apartments were replaced with new ones. In the 1990s the centre of the town was totally rebuilt and revitalized according to the plans of Imre Makovecz, a Hungarian architect of the "Organic" school. Today, it is one of the centres of the Hungarian national community in Slovakia and is the fastest growing city of southern Slovakia.
There has been no regular border control between Austria, Slovakia and Hungary since January 1, 2008. This has opened up the possibilities for the region, which has always served as a bridge between Hungary and Slovakia, Budapest and Bratislava.
The city lies on the rail track between Bratislava and Komárno, with the trip into either direction taking approximately 1:10. The tickets are relatively cheap, and can be purchased at the station. The trains are rather decrepit and make several stops. The train station itself is very disheartening and generally not a very good place to hang out at. The staff is rather unfriendly and not even the local Hungarian is spoken, let alone English.
From March 2012, new, privately operated electric trains will be available for travel in both direction. In addition to increased comfort, the new trains will also cut travel time to some 43 minutes to Bratislava. The train station is also scheduled to undergo a reconstruction, a move much welcomed by the local audience.
The bus station is located near the train station and offers a wide selection of intrastate destinations, with the most popular being Bratislava, Komárno and Nitra. Tickets can be purchased directly from the bus drivers. State-run SAD mostly offers local lines (which make stops in several of the villages), while the Slovak Lines have several express options along the main routes. Fares are cheap, travel time to Bratislava is below an hour by express - but you can very well end up in a traffic jam.
Bratislava Airport is a 35 minute drive away along the road #572, about 50 minutes on the bus and has many low-cost flights. Vienna Airport and Budapest Airport offer competitive prices, they are both reachable in just over two hours.
The town is served by the road #63, a broad first-class road in an excellent condition. This road runs through the middle of the Rye Island, touching Bratislava, Šamorín, Dunajská Streda, Veľký Meďer and Komárno, which are the population centers of the region. Dunajská Streda itself is located on a small bypass of the road, designed to spare it of transit traffic. If arriving from Hungary, use the border crossing at Komárno, which is quicker than the alternative route through Győr. Connections to the highway system are available at Bratislava (D2), Senec (D1), Sereď (R1) and Komárno/Győr (Hungarian M1).
Keep in mind that this is a relatively small town, so it's a good idea to walk. A car is handy is travelling around in the region, free parking places are available in abundance in town. There is also one local bus serving the town, but the schedule is quite erratic.
The city center and the promenade offer the usual globalized selection of shops. There is a mall just north of the center, and you can find several supermarkets nearby.
Although in most cases the price is right, it is a bit hard to find food of reliable quality in Dunajská Streda. Most of the places are OK, but only a few offer real culinary treats.
There is a number of hotels and private rooms across the town, with a large number of options around the thermal bath.
The place is generally OK, and though the city is a bit empty during the nights, you should expect no trouble. It is sometimes better to stay clear of the venues with a sortiment of SUVs standing outside, as these not necessarily attract the kind of crowd you'd want to mingle with.