Going strong over two decades as an independent state after the break-up of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, Europe’s most castellated country, is a bastion of untrammelled wildernesses, where some of the continent’s densest forest coverage gives way to dramatic fortresses and craggy mountains harbouring outstanding hiking. It savours wine over beer and, in its tradition-steeped hinterland, cradles an entrancing folk culture most European nations have lost.
Slovakia’s small size is possibly its biggest attraction. You can traipse woodsy waterfall-filled gorges one day and yodel from 2500m-plus peaks the next. Dinky capital Bratislava is awash with quirky museums and backed by thick forests. With its rabbit-warren old town, it might just win world prize for most cafes per city resident.
Don’t leave without heading east, where fortresses tower over tradition-rich medieval towns such as Levoča or Bardejov and hiking trails lace the hills. Down a slivovica (firewater-like plum brandy) and drink a toast for us – nazdravie!
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