With its craggy mountains, imposing fortresses, luscious and dense forests, Slovakia is a dream to visit and explore. This landlocked country from central Europe is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. Slovakia is a delightful old place brimming with historical wonders which tourists would love to visit.
Kick-start the trip by visiting the capital and largest city of Slovakia - Bratislava. It is a marvelous, restored historical centre packed with Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches, homes and palaces. Walk down the cobblestone streets, admire the fountains, grab a bite in any of the street-side cafes and truly absorb the cosmopolitan air. Some of the attractions worth visiting are: the beautiful and magnificent Bratislava Castle, St. Michael's Tower - houses the Museum of Arms, 18th-century Primate's Palace and St. Martin's Cathedral - coronation palace of four Hungarian monarchs.
Housed just outside the Slovakian capital, do follow the Carpathian wine route that follows through the fabulous countryside, and move past old wine towns and the extraordinarily well-maintained ?erveny Kame? Castle. The route is home to a plethora of stopover options where one can taste the local wine. Do make it a point to catch a glimpse of the Vratna Valley. Go for skiing during winter or indulge in biking or hiking in the summer months. There's a lot to do in the Mala Fatra mountain range resort of Vratna.
Spend some time at Slovakia's second city - Kosice. It is renowned for its spectacular Old Town. Theatre enthusiasts can get a sample of the city's artistic legacy by making a beeline to the State Theatre. Waterways, fortifications and the castle's foundations can be viewed underground at Kosice's archaeological site. There's a maze of passages connecting together varied parts of the ancient town.
Hikers will be delighted to find out that the Tatras National Park is a haven for them. The oldest national park in Slovakia is home to the popular High Tatras Mountains. Spanning an area of 741 sq km ( 286 sq miles), hikers have plenty on their plate. One can occasionally catch glimpses of chamois (mountain goat), bears and marmot. Do visit the Stary Smokovec. With its glorious vistas over the Tatras mountain range, the town is famous for its mineral waters. It is home to plenty of therapeutic spas where tourists can indulge in mineral-charged, hot spring waters, claimed to treat everything from asthma to arthritis.
When it comes to shopping, be on the lookout for souvenirs such as pottery, porcelain, woodcarvings, hand-embroidered clothing, food items, folk ceramics and so forth. There are plenty of shops specializing in glass and crystal as well. As for cuisine, do indulge in local fare during your stay here and dig into Bryndzovehaluisky (Small potato dumplings with sheep's cheese), Mutton with sauerkraut (Flavoured with prunes, mushrooms and apples) and Sulance ( Potato dough turnovers filled with plum jam).
The stay options in Slovakia are abundant with the best luxury hotels, cheap accommodations and rental apartments available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Slovakia experiences continental climate with four distinct seasons. The best time to visit would be May, June and September for the temperatures are relatively pleasant during this time.