Bratislava is a city often overlooked for its famous neighbours. Wedged between Vienna and Budapest, it’s easy to assume that this is little better than a stop-over city for travellers or simply day-trip fodder.
Well this is an article to convince you otherwise. How much do you know about Slovakia? It would be safe to assume not terribly much as it’s a small country, so let’s delve into 17 reasons to make this your next city break destination.
1. Bratislava Castle
You can’t miss this regal bad boy. It sits proudly on high, above the Danube River with a view across the city. There’s exhibition space inside and a museum, and beautiful grandiose gardens that are free to walk around. Also, the perfect spot to watch the sunset!
Address: 811 06 Bratislava
2. Danubiana Art Museum
On the outskirts of the city is an island art museum on the Danube River. With modern art and a garden of sculptures, this is a uniquely placed gallery of wonders. A number 90 bus from Eurovea Shopping Centre will take you straight to the door.
Address: Vodné dielo Slovensko, 851 10 Bratislava-Čunovo
3. Primate’s Palace (1778)
Located in the middle of the old town, this neoclassical palace is pink perfection. Famed for its tapestries, paintings of Hungarian rulers, a statue of St George and the exquisite Hall of Mirrors.
Address: Primaciálne námestie 2
811 01 Bratislava
4. Blue Church
Hidden just outside of the old town, is the Church of St Elisabeth or ‘Blue Church’. Its marshmallow-esque, art nouveau appearance is striking. It is in fact a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church and inside is even prettier.
Address: Bezručova 2
5. Devin Castle/Devin village
If you follow the Danube, you’ll get to Devin village, a quaint borough of the city, with vineyards and a castle that sits on a high crag next to the river. Until 1989 the line of the Iron Curtain was drawn along this point, with settlements recorded here for centuries. It stands as a ruin, with rotating art exhibitions and a viewpoint across to Austria. A stunning view and don’t miss the hot, mulled wine in winter just before the entrance of the castle!
Address: Muránská 1050/10, 841 10 Devín
6. St Martin’s Cathedral & Michael’s Gate
The gate is the only preserved gate of the city from the 14th century fortifications. You can climb up 51 metres for a view of the old town. The cathedral is just around the corner, so super easy to go to both in quick succession. Gothic in style, this active church’s tower is a symbol of old Bratislava.
Address: Michalská ulica 22 806/24, 811 03 Bratislava
7. Slavin Memorial
This war memorial and military cemetery of almost 7000 WWII Soviet soldiers who fell liberating the city in 1945, sits on a hill behind Bratislava Castle. A short bus ride will bring you here, and the views across to the castle are the most beautiful in the city.
Address: Pažického, 811 04 Bratislava
8. Street Art
Following the street art festival in 2016 there began a city-wide reclamation of rundown and abandoned spaces by young artists. Walk around the city and find murals, statues and even art projects that involved a hotel makeover!
The best place to start is Kamenné Square, Old Town
9. Kamzík Tower and Cable Cars
A TV tower at the second highest point of Bratislava with an observation deck and a restaurant, Kamzik Tower is lovely day out. Take it further and get on the cable cars that will take you to a woodland area, great for hikes or more leisurely walks. A bus will take you close to the tower, and it’s located in the Bratislava Forest Park.
Address: Cesta na Kamzík 2796/14, 831 01 Nové Mesto
10. Danube River Cruise & bars
The Danube River runs straight through the city and where there’s water, there’s boats! Take a walk in Sad Janka Kráľa park then head on down for a drink on the river. From speedboat river cruises, to hotels and bars on the water you’ll find something for everyone. You can even take a boat to or from Vienna!
11. Bratislava Christmas Markets
If there’s one thing this part of the world does better than anyone, it’s Christmas markets. Try lots of tasty food and drink. Slovak specialities include hot honey wine (medovina), fruit punč (punch) and Trdelník (sweet pastry with sugar and cinnamon). Honey is big business here, you’ll find lots of honey products and handmade wooden crafts for very reasonable prices. There’s also a small ice rink and what’s more magical than the backdrop of an old Central – Eastern European city for your Christmas shopping?
Find markets all over the city from late November in Hviezdoslav’s square, the Old Town Hall’s court, Hlavne Namestie (Main Square) and on Miletičova Street.
Bratislava’s most peculiar stop on the sightseeing roster is the UFO, a bar/restaurant and observation deck on the SNP Bridge. Considered a swanky place to eat, it certainly has the best view on the Danube. For adrenaline junkies you can also opt to do a skywalk around the UFO.
Address: Most SNP Bridge
13. Miletičova Market
Also mentioned in our Christmas market recommendations, this is an active market for most of the year. It has over 150 permanent stalls, selling fresh produce, clothes and an avenue of florists. The wooden pubs are a must while you’re there, grab a beer for 80 cents. The Vietnamese food is also the best in the city – there’s a large expat community here so you can get an authentic bowl of Phô.
Address: Miletičova 17, 821 08 Bratislava
14. The Center of Folk Art Production
The ÚĽUV Gallery is space dedicated to showcasing Slovak tradition and runs exhibitions devoted to different aspects of traditional folk art and crafts by local artists. Learn about folk art production and the various styles of different towns and villages across Slovakia.
Address: Obchodná 64, 813 11 Bratislava
15. Hlavné Námestie (Main Square)
Easy to locate, as it’s a small city centre. The Old Town is made up of Baroque buildings with lots of cafes, bars, eateries, shops and galleries/museums and in the middle just before Primate’s Palace is the Main Square. During the run up to Christmas the markets are located here and throughout the year you’ll find a smaller permanent market. The famed Roland Fountain and the Old Town Hall, which also has a museum inside. Just off to the side of the square you’ll find The Oldest Shop in Bratislava which is worth a visit, and an amazing Vintage shop.
Address: Hlavné námestie, 811 01 Staré Mesto
This is essentially an art museum geared towards children, and it’s an inventive space for adults who want to feel like a kid again. There are rotating exhibitions and permanent features. The art is interactive, with games and lots of creative activities for everyone to enjoy. There is a no pram rule as there’s a lot of stairs and it’s not recommended for babies, but anything from a toddler to OAP will enjoy this place.
Address: Panská 41 811 02 Bratislava
17. Palffy Palace
Owned by the Palffy family, several of whom worked for the Habsburg Monarchy, this impressive house hosts several expositions with paintings by the Dutch, Flemish and Italian Masters. Most notable is the contemporary installation by Matej Krén, consisting of almost 15,000 books, which, together with mirrors, create an illusion of endless space and infinity of human knowledge.
Address: Panská 19 81101 Bratislava
You can find more information on opening times and prices for all of the above on www.visitbratislava.com
Check out our Top 5 European Cities for Street Art to see more of what Bratislava has to offer!
Also, keep an eye on our Insta for daily pics from our lives as English teachers in Bratislava. x