The little-known country that loved Warhol and invented the parachute

Today marks 30 years since Slovakia declared its independence following the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia known as the Velvet Divorce. This makes it – along with the Czech Republic – the eighth newest country in the world. Only Eritrea, Palau, Timor-Leste, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and South Sudan are younger.

This European country is sometimes overlooked – “The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas,” George W once said. Bush. Except he had met the Slovenian minister, not the Slovak – so what else is there to learn about that, and why would one want to visit? Continue reading.

1. It’s perfect for people who hate beaches but love the mountains

Don’t go here if you need beaches to enjoy your vacation. Because Slovakia has none. It is one of 45 landlocked countries in the world. But what it lacks in the sands, it makes up for in the summits. About 80% of Slovakia is more than 750 meters above sea level, and its highest point is the Tatras. The highest Carpathian range, they form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland, are a Unesco-designated biosphere reserve home to bears, eagles, wolves and lynxes, and contain 29 peaks over 2,500 meters, 110 high lakes, 35 valleys, and a handful of waterfalls.

They can be explored via a network of hiking trails and The Natural Adventure offers a week-long itinerary Slovak Alps: High Tatras, with many of its most photogenic spots, from £585 pp (accommodation and some meals; flights extra).

2. Making it an offbeat alternative for skiers

Are you tired of the Alps or simply tired of insane prices? Slovakia – and more specifically the resort town of Jasna – could be the answer.

“I’m not a big fan of skiing in Eastern Europe,” our winter vacation expert Peter Hardy said recently. “There is, however, one resounding exception: the resort town of Jasna in Slovakia. Never heard of it? You are missing something.

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