Where to Go in October 2013: Slovakia

Nestled among tourism heavy-hitters Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, Slovakia flies under most American travelers' radars. Plan a trip here, and you may get a few blank stares, which is exactly why we like it as an off-the-beaten-path destination.

The small country delivers across the board: its lake and waterfall-strewn mountainous terrain is a skiing and hiking haven, while history and castle buffs can choose from medieval, gothic and baroque architecture. In fact, the country boasts more castles and chateaux per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Bratislava, the capital, is worth a visit for its medieval old town, and while the country's economy is one of the fastest growing in Europe, it still presents a great value compared to many of its western neighbors.

While you're here, be sure to catch some of the October festivals. If you haven't had Slovakian wine (and let's face it, you probably haven't), be sure to check out Vinobranie, a harvest festival that travels from city to city in winemaking regions throughout the month. This year, Kosice shares the title of Europe's Capital of Culture (shared with Marsailles). Among the various cultural events in the city is White Night, a festival of lights and art on October 5 which claims to be so enthralling you won't fall asleep.

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