The country of Slovakia has the most battlements and historic defences in Europe. It's surrounded by other countries including Poland, Hungary and Austria. The history of the country is fairly short, as it was part of Czechoslovakia until 1993, and as such it's seen as a youthful and fresh European holiday destination. Slovakia's population is close to half a million people, and they'll usually be happy to tell you more about their country and things to see.
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Slovakia is a relatively small country, making it easy to get around. If you buy a Bratislava City Card when you arrive, you can use the area's public transport for free. Holidays in Slovakia are scenic and relaxed as much of the country is still hills, villages and forests. Wander around the waterfalls and gorges one day and watch the world go by from a pavement café the next.
The capital city is Bratislava. Book a hotel through lastminute.com and you'll get a great deal on city breaks and European getaways to Slovakia. The city boasts a variety of museums, such as the Slovak National Museum, the Bratislava City Museum and the Water Museum. The Danube River passes through the city, as does part of the Danube Bike Tour.
Start with Bratislava Castle in the capital, where on a clear day you can see out to Hungary and Austria. It sits on a hill overlooking the city, and is recognisable from the tall towers at each corner. You can also make a day trip from Bratislava out to Devin Castle, recognisable from its appearances on Slovakia's currency and stamps. The castle is very family-friendly and surrounded by popular restaurants.
In the east of the country, Spis Castle dates back to the 12th century. Bojnice Castle is a shining example of neo-Gothic architecture, and it's regularly used in filming fantasy and fairy-tale movies.
Slovak cuisine is based on wheat, dairy and potatoes. Try a potato pancake – lokse are baked and zemiakove placky are fried. Around Christmas, the locals start to make traditional Slovakian sweets. These are hard to find in shops, so trying a walnut roll or bread pudding is a real treat if you see it on the menu.
If you're over 18, you can try the local slivovica, a plum brandy with a real kick. You can also visit a brewery – the country produces more than 60 types of beer. Kids can try kofola, which is similar to cola and found almost everywhere.