Bratislava is the small and cozy capital of Slovakia. The bright, clean, friendly city doesn’t look at all like the gloomy ghetto from the movie. After the introduction of direct flights from Russia, the flow of tourists here has increased: many tourists use Bratislava as a transfer point when traveling to Vienna.
There are no bright and world-famous sights in Bratislava. The city has recently become like a well-maintained European capital, but it still has a cozy old center. What to see and what to do in Bratislava if you come here for one or two days?
To see a flying saucer
The Most SNP (Most SNP) Bridge — the UFO Bridge — sprawls over the Danube: it is so called because of its flying saucer-shaped observation deck. At a height of 85 meters there is an observation deck and a restaurant with a panoramic view of the city on both sides of the river — in good weather, the viewing range reaches 100 kilometers.
- The observation deck is open daily from 10 to 23.
- Admission: 7,5 €.
A glimpse into history in Bratislava Castle
Above the city on a steep mountain is Bratislava Castle. The castle offers a panoramic view of the city and the Danube. The castle is laconic and has minimal decorative elements — it almost completely burned down in the 19th century and was rebuilt only in 1968. On the castle grounds there is a historical museum (Historicke muzeum), where you can see the Venus of Moravan, the skull of a Neanderthal, and walk through the Hall of Fame of Slovak ice hockey.
- The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
- Admission: 10 €.
The Bratislava Castle used to house Hungarian coronation relics, and in the 18th century the castle was the residence of the Habsburgs — at that time a small beautiful park was laid out on one side, which you can enter even today absolutely free of charge.
In front of the castle is an equestrian sculpture of Prince Sviatopolk, ruler of Great Moravia. This was probably Slovakia’s finest hour: Sviatopolk’s empire in the ninth century included half of the Balkans as far as Serbia, and in the west and north covered the territories of Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Ukraine. It was here that Cyril and Methodius created the Slavic script. Where did you think?
The climb up to the hail is quite steep, but there are options with public transportation. How to get to Bratislava Castle:
- Bus Nos. 203 and 207 to the Zámocká stop; streetcar Nos. 1, 5, 9 and 10 to the Kapucínska stop;
- On foot from the town: from the Námestie SNP square along Kapucínska and Zámocká or from St. Martin’s Church along Beblavého Street;
- By car: there is a paid parking lot right in front of the main Vienna Gate.
To hear mass at the Blue Church
Not far from the old center is the Church of St. Elizabeth (Kostol svätej Alžbety), or Blue Church. Elizabeth of Thuringia came from Bratislava. She is revered for her virtue and mercy: after the death of her husband, she established a hospital for the poor, worked there and lost her health there.
The ornate Art Nouveau church is sky blue and covered with colorful mosaics. A model of this church in miniature represents Bratislava and Slovakia in the Mini-Europe park in Brussels.
- Open to the public during business hours — 7:00 to 7:30 (Sundays until 12:00 noon) and 5:30 to 7:00 pm.
Find the Napoleonic core in Old Town.
From the fortress gates, which were demolished in the 18th century, only St. Michael’s Gate with a watchtower remains — it now houses a weapons museum. The old town preserved the old Bratislava: many buildings are already 7—8 centuries old. A cannonball fired by Napoleon’s cannons is stuck in the town hall building. Try to find it.
Explore street art
In early June, the city hosts a street art festival — Bratislava Street Art Festival. Artists create murals on buildings all over the city. And on the wall of St. Martin’s Cathedral (Katedrala sv. Martina) near the SNP bridge there is a gallery of graffiti-style drawings by children.
Taste the local cuisine
While walking around, look for kebab shops — the Balkans even cook a vegetarian version. Although kebab is not a Slovak specialty, it is a widespread street food in Bratislava. Halushki and grilled cheese are worth checking out on the menus of cafes and restaurants. Slovakia also produces tart blackcurrant wine — ribezľak, ribezľové vino.
At Urban House you can have coffee and lunch. In the evening, the place turns into a club with music from trendy DJs — beer and cocktails are poured.
- Urban House website
- Open from 09:00 to midnight, Friday and Saturday until 02:00.
1st Slovak Pub
The most popular place in town is designed for tourists, but the food is delicious and made from products grown on their own farm. Each room is decorated in its own style.
- Website 1st Slovak Pub
- Open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
In the very center of the old town there is a huge rock bar called Barrock. There are posters of rock bands and guitars on the walls, inexpensive beer on the menu, immortal rock hits playing from the speakers, and occasional concerts and parties.
- Barrock's website
- Open daily from 6:00 p.m.
Go on a river cruise
From Bratislava there are pleasure boats on the Danube — a cruise to Vienna and back will take one day, leave you remembering the views of the Danube and cost about 30 €.
Go to a neighboring country
Bratislava is the only European capital that is located on the border with two countries. Leaving Bratislava, one can find oneself in Austria and Hungary. Bratislava’s Kopčianska Street passes into the Austrian countryside. You can reach the capitals of these countries in a couple of hours by bus or train. It is quite affordable to make a foray into a neighboring country for one day and see the most iconic places.
Tourist costs in Bratislava are much cheaper compared to neighboring Vienna and Budapest. It is convenient to stay in Bratislava and rent accommodation here, and travel to neighboring cities by public transport or rented car.
Bratislava is historic and hipster. In the city, you can attend a liturgy in the Blue Church and explore contemporary street art, climb a flying saucer and try halushki with currant wine.