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Slovakia

Slovakia

The landlocked country of Slovakia is the most castellated European country, with high mountains in the north, low mountains in the central part, hills to the west and the Danube basin to the south. It has dense forests and rough mountains, ideal for an unforgettable hiking experience, and there is an excellent opportunity for caving in the Karst. Its pocket-size is also its biggest attraction, and enables you to visit waterfall-filled gorges one day and enjoy the sights from 2500m-plus peaks the next. Its tradition-steeped hinterland cradles an entrancing folk culture that most European nations have lost.

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Why visit

Its size is its major benefit

Although Slovakia’s marketing slogan “Little Big Country” sounds a little awkward in English, it could not be more accurate. While small, the country boasts a great diversity. Consider only the numerous sites which have been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage, including the gold mining town of Banska Stiavnica, the free royal town of Bardejov, Dobsinska Ice Cave, Ochtinska, the largest aragonite cave – there are only three in the whole word – Slovak Karst National Park, where 12 out of 700 caves have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the medieval Spis Castle, Spisska Kapitula, one of the largest and most interesting Romanesque monuments in Slovakia, Vlkolinec village and last but not least, the wooden churches of the Slovak part of Carpathian Mountains, with specific examples of religious architecture.


A hidden wine gem

Slovakia is not a globally famous wine destination, but this is another reason to visit, as its wine can easily match wines from the better-known producers. Wine has been made on Slovakian soil since the 6th century, when Celtic peoples exported their wine to the north. Gruner Veltliner is the most popular grape variety in Slovakia, but you will also find Rieslings, Blaufrankisches, St. Laurants and other varieties here. There are six wine-making regions scattered around the country. The Small Carpathians viticulture region extends northwest from Bratislava and is by far the most visitor-friendly, with many vineyards having open days. Twice a year (May and November) 80 wine cellars here open to visitors during the Days of Open Wine Cellars.


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Places to see

The many faces of Bratislava

Bratislava, with Europe’s greatest river as a backdrop, has witnessed a long and proud history, starting in pre-Roman times. This is reflected in impressive architecture, language and traditional cuisine. Its old-town charm, sophisticated restaurants, traditional pubs and good music, ranging from jazz to opera, make Bratislava a place to visit. The handsome homes of Austro-Hungarian aristocrats dot the city, with many now open to the public as museums and galleries. Bratislava Castle offers great views over the medieval old town and the Danube Valley. Apart from this, Bratislava was once one of the most important centers of Jewish learning in Europe. A unique memorial to its most renowned rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, and the city's Museum of Jewish Culture celebrate this heritage.


The High Tatras

The High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) is the highest range in the Carpathian Mountains, with some 25 peaks measuring above 2500m. At 2,655m, the pyramid-shaped Gerlach is the highest mountain in northern and eastern Central Europe. Lying on the border with Poland, the mountain range, which is visible from space, boasts pristine snowfields, ultramarine mountain lakes, thundering waterfalls, undulating pine forests and shimmering alpine meadows. If you are lucky enough, you might even glimpse a lynx, wild boar, brown bear or Tatra chamois.


Košice Slovakia

Košice – 2013’s European Capital of Culture

Košice, formerly known as East Slovakia's industrial powerhouse, is a recently discovered city-break destination. It gained its popularity in 2013, when it was chosen as a European Capital of Culture and accordingly initiated a new string of attractions, including major arts installations and cultural events that enliven the city streets. Actually, it was only a matter of time before travelers discovered the medieval gem of Košice, which received its city coat of arms in 1369 and was the eastern stronghold of the Hungarian kingdom. With its location in the midst of nature leading you into Central Europe's grandest cave network, the town is a perfect destination for all culture and nature lovers.


Czech Republic

The land of Švejk is not solely about Prague, though Prague is one of the most beautiful european cities, there are also an abundance of world-class castles, medieval towns and healing spas. And don't forget the breweries neither.

Hungary

It is not only the distinctive language that differentiates hungarians, but also the melancholic character linked to the days of the Empire gone by bearing similarities to the slowly winding flow of Danube as it cuts through the country.