The eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia is now the modern Republic of Slovakia. For a small compact country it contains some of the finest mountain ranges in central Europe stretching from the High Tatras in the north down to the Danubian plain in the south where it meets Hungary.
The Slovak capital Bratislava is barely an hour from Vienna by river, road or rail and can also be reached by a selection of British airlines. On the North of the mighty Danube river you can find the hilltop castle looking over small medieval thoroughfares while across the river you can see one of Europes largest tower block estates Petrazalka dominating the skyline before the land opens out into the forests of windfarms that is central Austria.
In the North, before you reach Poland, the land rises steeply as you encounter the Carpathian chain in the form of the High Tatra Mountains, home to bears, pretty much guaranteed skiing (not the bears) and perfect high altitude mountain walking.
A country of folk music tradition with a strong Gypsy influence the mountain Kolibas are a pleasant way to appreciate the Slovak culture and cuisine with a variety of locally produced wine, beers and borovicka (yet another locally made strong spirit).