Žilina is Slovakia’s third largest city, and its industrial heartland. But with the river flowing through the centre and parks and gardens dotting the landscape, it’s also one of the prettiest. The old town is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture, and the main square is a lively place, especially in the summer when the outdoor cafes and restaurants spill out onto the cobbles. There are plenty of museums and galleries, and a lively nightlife, with a good selection of bars and clubs. Žilina is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, with hiking and cycling trails, and plenty of opportunities for skiing and white-water rafting in the winter.