When Czechoslovakia split into two countries after the fall of the Iron Curtain, tourists began pouring into Prague to see all the sights they’d been barred from for decades
. Which left the equally beautiful – if not smaller – capital of Bratislava relatively unfettered, and it’s still an architectural marvel with far smaller crowds. Topped by Bratislava castle, the old town is full of relics from the Austro-Hungarian empire, as well as small memories from the brutalist Soviet era.
Up until the 1980s, the city itself was full of vineyards and wineries, though most of those have now moved out of town. This means that within a short drive you can visit one of the best undiscovered wine regions in Europe, wiling away the day sipping rich reds with views of the Central European countryside. Slovakia is all the best parts of this region without many tourists. And a welcomed budget-friendly destination to boot.