For a country with so many attractions, Slovakia is bewilderingly, yet gloriously, underrated. Bratislava, the capital, boasts an enticing mix of old architecture and cosmopolitan allure. You’ll quickly lose track of how many Gothic churches, medieval cathedrals and Baroque castles you happen to pass by, though the likes of Bratislava Castle, Devín Castle and St. Martin’s Cathedral are not easily forgotten. Later, wind down the day in one of the cozy pubs or cafés crammed onto the old town’s cobbled streets. Yet, for all its urban appeal and historic charm, Slovakia’s greatest asset is its beautiful hinterland, which dominates much of the central and northern areas. National parks like Slovenský Raj and Slovak Karst are covered in primeval forests, and riddled with deep ravines, tumbling waterfalls and natural caves. Wrap up warm and descend into the surreal Dobšinská Ice Cave for a memorable experience. North-eastern Slovakia is also a gateway to the Tatra Mountains, a sprawling, rocky region packed with scenic lakes, pine forests and hiking trails. If you’ve the time and energy, climb to the summit of Gerlach, the tallest mountain in Central Europe. Or, spend your days driving between the steep valleys, visiting one medieval castle after the next. There is plenty to see, including 12th-century Spiš Castle, spread over four hectares atop a travertine hill.
Slovakia has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, from luxury hotels to private apartments and friendly hostels. The majority is found in Bratislava and the eastern city of Košice, while chalets and lodges in the Tatras cater to some of Europe’s up and coming ski resorts.