The relatively small, landlocked Central European country of Slovakia is the Czech Republic's more traditional little sister. The emphasis here is on tradition and folklore rather than modern mores and the country is all the more refreshing because of this.
The capital Bratislava, on the banks of the River Danube and at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains has a certain charm. Wander the renovated Old Quarter; uncover the fantastic frescoes in Trinity Church and marvel at the icons and jewellery displayed at the museum in the old Corpus Christ Church. Views across the Danube plain are spectacular.
Elsewhere in the east of the country are Spis Castle, the biggest medieval castle in Europe, the church of St James, which houses the world's largest Gothic alter, a tranquil pine forest full of waterfalls and Europe's oldest ice cave, at Dobsina.
The fabulously rugged High Tatras Mountains are full of imposing natural features. The national park here is full of abundant wildlife that includes brown bears, wolves and lynxs, and thousands of plant species thanks to the large variation in altitude. Good-quality hiking trails, sporting facilities and spas compete for your attention, whilst the best downhill and bobsleigh runs can be found at Skainate Pleso.