It's been referred to as a pocket-size country, but Slovenia is perhaps more justly thought of as Europe's first "boutique destination." Crammed with jaw-dropping scenery and packing in more history than its marginal 20,273 sq. km (7,906 sq. miles) should allow, this tiny central European nation is studiously being developed as one of the finest tourism destinations on earth. You may have trouble pointing it out on a map, but with just over two million inhabitants, smart little Slovenia is already setting the tone for fashionable travel; in 2007, visitor numbers exceeded the country's population.

Only recently discovered by a select group of globe-trotters who've tuned into tales of its idyllic beauty, Slovenia is considerably more tranquil and sophisticated than any other destination cast under the "Eastern European" banner, with almost none of the hang-ups associated with its former Communist connections; 18 years after gently wresting itself from Yugoslavia, there's a fresh exuberance of spirit here suggesting a nation not only still enjoying its independence honeymoon, but simultaneously relishing a distinct cosmopolitanism that results from the myriad influences of its contact with diverse cultures.

Its good looks have drawn comparisons with Switzerland, a country that is twice its size, and while there are similarities, Slovenia's relative anonymity and lack of pretense mean that you can still enjoy yourself here for fewer euros. In fact, considering how much beauty is packed into such a compact space, it's got to be said that Slovenia offers tremendous value. Imbued with fantastic, scraggy mountains, turquoise rivers and silver lakes, vast subterranean caves, and just enough medieval castles to conjure up a fairy tale or two, Slovenia is one of those destinations you wish you could make your regular weekend getaway.