Hungarians and Turks came to Slovakia for its natural resources, and so does the modern tourist. Broad, sprawling mountains mean good skiing and snowboarding, there's excellent caving in the Karst, and the rambling hilly midlands are a hiker’s paradise.
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Sharing borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, Slovakia is landlocked, with high mountains in the north, low mountains in the centre, hills to the west, and the Danube basin to the south. The population is fairly diverse, with over half a million ethnic Hungarians, hundreds of thousands of Roma (Gypsies), and several thousand Rusyns in the east.
Where to go in Slovakia
Bratislava is a badger sett of cobbled streets, low arches and tiny squares. It’s small enough to explore in a day, but big enough to hold your interest for a long weekend. In Central Slovakia is lovely Banská Štiavnica, a UNESCO-protected medieval mining town in a lunar landscape of dead volcanoes. East and north are the High Tatras, as decent a mountain range as any in Central Europe. They’ve long been the site of enthusiastic skiing, hiking and sonnet- writing. Heading east towards Ukraine is the wild, rocky Spiš region, home to medieval mammoth Spiš Castle and the twelfth-century walled town of Levoča. Continuing south, almost to the Hungarian border, you’ll find Slovakia’s second city, the lively town of Košice.
Top image: Spis Castle © RastoS/Shutterstock