When you think of city break, Bratislava probably is not on your travel list, but it’s definitely worth putting it on your city break list. Many people choose trendy Vienna, Budapest or Prague, but Bratislava should be on your list of city break. Bratislava is well known by its nightlife, so that’s why many Slovaks call her partyslava. Many people visit Bratislava at the end of the year and they celebrate the New Years Eve here.
By the way, did you know that Slovakia has the world’s highest number of castles and chateaux per capita?
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and it’s located on the borders with Austria and Hungary, which makes it the only national capital that borders between two countries. Just like Vienna, Bratislava is streched on the bank of Danube river and you can even take the boat cruise from Vienna to Bratislava.
The historic Old town is kinda small and main tourist attractions are easily accessible, so the best way to explore city is by foot. The city is small enough to be handled within one weekend and it’s perfect stopover on your way to other European cities or for a weekend getaway. During your visit you shouldn’t miss the Bratislava Castle and UFO tower. During your walk around the Old Town you’ll find cute statues of schoner naci and Cumil.
When to visit and what do you need?
Best time to visit Bratislava is from May to September or in December, when you can visit the Christmas Markets in town. Bratislava isn’t very famous for its Christmas markets and it’s not as much decorated as Vienna or other European cities. Since it is not on the top of the list, you will easily blend in with other tourists and explore the city in peace.
If you are coming by car, you’ll need Slovakia e-vignette and you can buy it here or at the tourist office on the border (10€ for 10 days). If you visit in winter months, take warm clothes with you, because it can get really cold and windy.
There are many accommodation options in Bratislava and your choice depends on your budget. I’m not familiar with hostels or Airbnb accommodations, but you can find nice hotel for a very decent price. You can choose LOFT Hotel, which is a new hotel, located in the city centre of Bratislava.
Getting around Bratislava
The best way to explore Bratislava is on foot. You can visit all attractions within one day, as they are concentrated in and around the city centre. You can also use the public transport, which is very user friendly and the city is very well covered by trams, buses and trolleybuses.
WHAT TO DO IN BRATISLAVA?
VISIT THE BRATISLAVA CASTLE
If you like castles as much as I do, you should visit the Bratislava Castle. The castle will amaze you as soon as you will see it. I’ve had a bad luck with weather, but it’s even more amazing in sunny weather and it’s absolutely amazing at night. You can visit Museum of History, enjoy great views or stroll through Baroque Gardens.
There is also one of the Christmas Markets here if you visit in December.
ADMIRE THE CITY FROM BIRD PERSPECTIVE
If you want to enjoy the great views, cross over the river and go to the top of UFO Tower. The name comes from the shape of the restaurant and this is the best place to observe the city.
EXPLORE THE OLD TOWN
Streets of Bratislava are full of history, architecture, statues, restaurants, pubs, cafes and local shops. I guarantee you won’t get bored here. You can also visit Slavin – a memorial monument and military cementery, which is the burial ground of thousands Soviet Army soldiers. First head to the main gateway to the historic city – Michael’s Gate. As soon as you’ll pass the St. Michael’s Gate, turn right and you’ll face the oldest street in town (now there’s a hotel and a nightclub). I really loved the atmosphere of the city and I really enjoyed walking around the old streets. There are so many pretty building and picturesque streets.
Fun fact: As you will cross the bridge on your way to the Michael’s Gate, you will see two possible ways – wide and narrow. In the past, there was a legend, that a single girl will never get married, if she is not going to be quiet, when walking through the narrow street.
ENJOY THE BRATISLAVA NIGHTS
Bratislava is well known by its nightlife and there are many pubs and nightclubs. If you have enough time and you want to party, find one of the Slovak pubs or one of many nightclubs and go to have fun. It will make your city break more fun.
VISIT THE BRATISLAVA CHRISTMAS MARKET
Visiting one of the many Christmas Markets during your city break in Bratislava is a must. Drink mulled wine, punch, hot chocolate or eat something. As there are many vendors, selling a lot of different things, you can buy some Christmas gifts there.
READ MORE – Festive December in Ljubljana
What & where to eat?
Slovak food was a big surprise for me. I didn’t expect that I would enjoy Slovak food this much! And the alcohol is extremely cheap. You can get large beer for less than 2€. I recommend going to one of the local restaurants and try local Slovak food. I know that we have different taste in food, but we all loved everything we got. One of the cheapest dishes you can eat is called bryndzove halušky and it is made of potato, sheep cheese and bacon. Must try is also traditional Slovak soup – one of them is garlic soup (served in a bread or served with croutons in it) and another one is called kapustnica soup and it is made of cabbage, pork meat and they add a spoon of sour cream.
You should also try traditional goulash, fried cheese with tatar souce, bryndzove pirohy and pork with bread dumplings and cabbage. There is a lot of pork in a Slovak cousine, so don’t hesitate and pork out!
If you’ll visit the Christmas Market, you can try ciganska pecienka, which is called “Slovak Burger”, langos, waffles,…
My favourite choice for food was Bratislavský Meštiansky Pivovar – it has amazing food and it is moderately priced. You’ll find this restaurant very close to the city centre.
Fore something sweet, visit Konditorei Kormuth – patisserie shop, right in the city centre and they serve delicious cakes. This place is just so incredibly beautiful.
IS BRATISLAVA WORTH VISITING?
I wasn’t really lucky with weather, but I can’t tell how much I loved this little, charming city. If you ask me it is really worth it. I loved the combination of old streets and buildings, the old city’s vibe and great restaurant and bars.