Right in the heart of Europe, Slovakia is a land of castles and mountains, occasionally punctuated by industrial sprawl. More than a quarter-century after Czechoslovakia's break-up, Slovakia has emerged as a self-assured, independent nation. Capital city Bratislava draws visitors to its resplendent old town and tankard-clanking drinking culture. But Slovakia shines brightest for lovers of the outdoors. Walking trails in the High Tatras wend through landscapes of unearthly beauty, with mirror-still glacier lakes backed by 2000m peaks.
Almost an alternate realm, Slovakia's less-visited east is speckled with quaint churches. Within its national parks are landscapes battle-scarred by the clash of river and stone. Beyond eastern metropolis Košice, a boutique charmer of a city, the Tokaj wine region unfurls across thinly populated countryside.
Despite a storied history and varied topography, Slovakia is small. For visitors, that can mean fortresses, hiking and beer-sloshing merriment – all in the space of a long weekend.