If you’re one of the people who got Slovakia confused with other Central European nations, you're in good company. However, the eastern half of former Czechoslovakia is garnering much more attention these days. Think Switzerland on a budget – towering mountains, medieval castles and alpine lakes star alongside the up-and-coming capital city of Bratislava
, located on the country’s western border with Austria. In the capital you’ll find all the fixtures of a large European city, plus the chaos of a city undergoing a surge of investment after Slovakia’s ascension to the EU in 2004 (of which the locals are very proud). On the northern border with Poland you’ll find one of Slovakia’s gems: the Vyoske Tatry, or the High Tatras
. During the winter, ski resorts here provide recreation and the majestic snowcaps provide the scenery. The mountains are alive during the summer as visitors enjoy hiking and discovering their very own alpine lake. Perched atop a hill just south of the High Tatras is Spissky Hrad, one of Europe’s largest castles.