Slovakia, known officially as the Slovak Republic, is a charming country with beautiful landscapes and a wide variety of cultural attractions. See relics from its time under communist rule, visit the magnificent castles dotted around the countryside or hike up towering mountains overlooking sparkling lakes and wide valleys.
Start in the capital, Bratislava, where everything from historic castles and modern restaurants await. Stroll along the Danube River, which winds its way through the city, and discover more about Slovakia’s history at the museum in Bratislava Castle. For fresh-air adventure, hit the dedicated biking trails of Bratislava Forest Park.
For a quieter vacation, retreat to the mountain village of Vlkolinec in central Slovakia. Here, cozy log cabins dot the landscape and a small museum tells the history of the region. The region around Orava River also makes for a nice quiet getaway. Don’t miss the stunning Orava Castle, which is set on a rocky hill just south of the Polish border.
In the east of Slovakia is the High Tatras, the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains. In summer, go hiking here to see powerful waterfalls, dense pine forests and vast meadows. Skiing is popular here in the winter, with Strbske Pleso being the busiest ski center. Head a bit further away for peace and quiet in the village of Tatranska Lomnica.
The easiest way to reach Slovakia by air is to fly into a bordering country, such as Austria or Hungary and then take a bus or train into Slovakia. Another option is to rent a car, as Slovakia has well-maintained roads. Pay ahead to receive a permit, which allows you to drive on the highways.
Visit Slovakia in January and February for peak skiing season, or come in summer when you can be assured that the majority of hiking trails will be open. September is wine harvest season, which is the perfect excuse to head out to the vineyards.
To relax and unwind, consider spending a day at one of Slovakia’s mineral spas to experience a mud bath or simply soak in the warm water.