Slovakia © Marcin Szala
Situated in central Europe, Slovakia is an up-and-coming tourist destination that lures travellers from around the world with its rugged mountainous scenery, rich architectural history and, perhaps notably, its very competitive prices.
The centre for Slovakia's arts and culture is the capital city of Bratislava, which boasts many museums, art galleries, palaces and ornamental churches in and around its historic Old Town district.
The Tatra Mountains are a popular destination year round, offering skiing in winter and hiking and climbing in summer. The country also boasts a number of mineral springs and natural spas that cater for health-conscious tourists looking to relax and unwind.
Scattered among the hills and valleys of the lowlands are numerous fortified castles, relics from the Middle Ages that were built near hamlets and major roads for protection from invaders. Also among the country's greatest architectural treasures are the ancient wooden churches in northeast Slovakia. Still functioning as religious buildings today, these are unique in their construction in that they were built without nails.
Slovakia became an independent nation in 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak Republics. The Czech Republic went on to revel in the glory of its capital city, Prague, which has become one of the must-see cities in Europe, while Slovakia's quiet charms have remained relatively unexplored.
Nowadays, the beautiful scenery, ski resorts, historic towns, and easy access from the rest of Europe mean that more and more travellers are starting to wake up to Slovakia's various and well-priced delights.