Slovakia is one of a handful of countries in Central Europe that regularly features in lists of countries with the most beautiful cities. It borders Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and is home to picture-book towns, fairytale castles, numerous churches, and lush, verdant forests. Although Slovakia is less frequented than its better-known neighbors, it's just as rich in cultural significance and stateliness. If you are planning a trip to Europe during the summer season and want to escape the crowds from Europe’s most popular tourist spots, make sure to put Slovakia on your itinerary.

01Bratislava

Bratislava - outlook form st. Martins cathedral to the castle sedmak / Getty Images

Bratislava is located on the River Danube and is bordered by Austria and Hungary. The capital is situated in a densely vegetated area and consequently features numerous parks, gardens, and lakes within the city. The majority of visitors to Bratislava spend their time in Bratislava's Old Town. Its historic center has an old-world charm courtesy of its cobbled streets, pastel-colored facades, castles, cafes, and wine bars.

02Spis Castle

Spis Castle - Spissky hrad, Slovakia orava / Getty Images

Spis Castle is one of Central Europe’s largest castles and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Construction on this castle was completed in the first half of the 12th century and after weathering a number of turbulent centuries, the castle was abandoned in the 18th century. Situated on a hilltop overlooking the sprawling landscape of Eastern Slovakia, Spis Castle has never returned to its grandeur, as it was destroyed by a fire in 1780.

03Slovak Paradise National Park

Train passing through lake near Mlynky village in the Slovak Paradise (Slovensky raj) national park, Slovakia. rusm / Getty Images

Slovak Paradise is a national park located in Eastern Slovakia, in close proximity to Spis castle. One of Slovakia’s nine national parks, it encompasses the Slovak Paradise mountain range. Days can be spent hiking its 300km of trails, exploring its 350 caves and climbing the vertical cliffs and gorges. The park is also home to a wide range of diverse species, including 2,100 species of butterfly and endangered species such as the European otter and ground squirrel.

04Liptov

Hill Chopok in Low Tatras, Slovakia jarino47 / Getty Images

Locals consider Liptov to be one of the most impressive regions of Slovakia. It's home to the country’s largest ski resort, Jasná, which offers numerous trails to winter sports enthusiasts of all levels of ability. The resort’s transport system of funicular railways, chair lifts, and cable cars is very efficient and effortlessly transports skiers up and down the mountain slopes, rewarding them each time they reach the top with magnificent views.

05Košice

Kosice - Slovakia TomasSereda / Getty Images

Košice is Slovakia's second-largest city and contains so many interesting sights in its historic center. The city's main street separates into two roads that pass by large monuments such as the Gothic ensemble of the Cathedral, Urban Tower, and St. Michael Chapel. It also features Slovakia's largest church as well as the St. Elisabeth Cathedral.

06Slovak Karst Caves

Demanovska ice cave at Slovakia jarino47 / Getty Images

Slovakia has more than 2,400 caves. Many of them remain unexplored, with only 400 having been discovered and a number of them being unable to be explored by anyone but experienced spelunkers. Among these caves is the record-holder for the world’s tallest stalagmite, as well as an ice-filled cave—a rare sight for central Europe due to its height above sea level. Very few of these caves are accessible to the public.

07Pieštàny

Historical buildings in Piestany spa, Slovakia Vrabelpeter1 / Getty Images

Pieštàny is a world-famous spa town known for its medicinal geothermal waters and sulphuric mud said to treat inflammatory disorders. On Spa Island, enjoy the many benefits of the mineral pools that collect from the nearby mountains. The island also features hiking trails and a park where visitors can glimpse the local wilderness and admire the surrounding architecture.

08The Tatras Mountains

Wonderful sunrise at Czarny Staw Gasienicowy in summer, Tatras Shaiith / Getty Images

The Tatras mountains are the tallest range in the Carpathian mountains and occupy an area of 785 square kilometers, forming a natural border with Poland. With its pristine meadows, aquamarine lakes, waterfalls, forests, and snowy mountain peaks, this mountainous area is one of Slovakia’s most majestic sights. It is also an excellent alternative to the Alps and will make a much smaller dent in the wallet of anyone visiting.

09Man at Work

bratislava - man at work statue sanniely / Getty Images

Cumil, the Man at Work, is a sculptural landmark in Bratislava’s Old Town and a sight not to be missed. Sculpted by a Viktor Hulik, a local sculptor, it depicts a worker who has opened a manhole and is resting on its rim, watching the world go by. The amusing statue was installed in 1997 as part of an effort to rejuvenate the area and revive tourism in the Old Town. Up until that time the area had prominently featured architecture dating back to the Communist era.

10Stará Lubovna

Stara Lubovna Castle ewg3D / Getty Images

The castle of Ľubovňa is perched on a hill overlooking the city of Stará Lubovna. The city is famous for the Stará Lubovna Open Air Museum, which encompasses the Ľubovňa Castle as well as the surrounding log houses that display the rustic folk architecture of the early 19th century. The museum also features a blacksmith’s workshop, a school, and a water mill that allows visitors to get a glimpse of village life in days gone by.