Bratislava – a trip to Slovakia’s beautiful capital

Please note: all our trip reports are independently written and based on our own experiences. All links and recommendations are not sponsored, unless explicitly labelled as such.

This trip took place in October 2018


Bratislava has not only been on our list for some time, but can be found on many travel lists for Europe. Even if it has been recommended in many travel magazines before, the city is not really famous yet and due to that it is not overcrowded. Only minus is, that there are not many flights to Bratislava airport, actually only one really expensive connection from where we live, so we decided to fly in and out of Vienna, as both cities are only about 80 km away from each other. There are trains and busses running between those cities very frequently at low prices (5-15 EUR per way and person) so it is no problem to do it that way. We on our part flew into Vienna on Austrian Airlines, scheduled some free time in Vienna as buffer for delays and took a Flixbus to Bratislava than. Luckily we had no delays, so we used the spare time to have lunch at a local restaurant.

In Bratislava we stayed at the Ibis Bratislava Centrum (Tripadvisor) which didn’t only match the expectation we had from a hotel of this chain, but also did a great job on personalizing our stay with offering us to visit a local basketball pre-season game upon arrival. The manager of this hotel is a former basketball pro and Inter Bratislava fan, so if you are staying here, don’t hesitate to ask for some information at the reception about games taking place during your stay.

We used the first day in the city to explore the old town. Getting around is easy in Bratislava: trams and busses bring you everywhere, if your hotel is near the old town you can discover the whole city center by foot. To be a little more flexible, we used the app Taxify, that gives you the possibility to order rides all over the city at a fair price.

The old town of Bratislava isn’t huge, but has a lot to offer. Many well restored old buildings are lining the streets that are a pedestrian zone in many places, the Main Square and the Hviezdoslav Square are magnificent with their atmosphere, especially during good weather and there are lots of good bars and restaurants everywhere.

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Main Square

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Hviezdoslav Square

For sure after some time we tried one of the restaurants here and checked out some of the nightlife and bars. You’ll find recommendations for that further below as always.

On day two we experienced that, away from the city center, Bratislava is a city where you can walk up and down hills a lot. We started with walking up to the castle, a sight you should and cannot miss when in town, as it thrones on a hilltop next to the old town and the Danube River. It is not only beautiful from the outside, the museum on the inside, presenting a lot of local historic art and some things about the history of the castle is really interesting, too. The entry fee is definitely worth it.

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Besides that, you also have a great panoramic view onto the city from the top of the tower you can climb up to.

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And not to forget the garden behind the castle, that invites to relax.

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Back down the hill, we explored the sights in the surrounding of the old town. The Grassalkovich Palace, a not extremely pompous but imposing building and the residence of the president of Slovakia, is located north of it.

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In a distance of a short walk, you’ll also find the famous building of the Slovak Radio. It is an inverted pyramid, from where the local radio is broadcasting since 1985. It is not a very beautiful building, but definitely a unique one.

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As I already said, this was the day of climbing the hills around the city, the next place we visited was the Slavín memorial. The walk from the Slovak Radio building takes some time and is including some stairs and steeper streets, but it’s worth it. The memorial complex is in good order and offers a great view onto the city. The monument serves as a memorial for the liberation of the city by the Soviet Army, after occupation by Germany and the Tiso government troops in World War II. There also is a military cemetery situated here, where 6845 soldiers are buried.

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In the late afternoon we took a ride to the main station, as we were heading for a pre-season game of one of the local basketball teams Inter Bratislava. Usually they’re playing in the Hant Arena, but this game was played in a smaller hall in Pezinok. We took a train there, which was only a little more than 1 EUR per way and had a good time watching the game there.  It was won by Inter Bratislava with 94:58.

The next day was our day of departure from Bratislava. We took a last walk through the old town and did some shopping at the Eurovea mall, which can perfectly be visited in connection with a walk along the Danube River shore, before we headed for the bus station from where we took a bus back to Vienna.

We had a great time in Bratislava and have to say, that it is a beautiful city, with a lot of interesting sights, friendly people and culinary highlights all over the city. There’s something to see and do for everyone and the proximity to Vienna and Budapest is great, as you can easily combine it with a visit in those cities.

As promised, here are our restaurant and bar recommendations for Bratislava:

  • Dolnozemska Krcma: tasty and high quality local food (Tripadvisor)
  • Wolker: local food and beer (Tripadvisor)
  • Jasmin: high quality Asian cuisine (Tripadvisor)
  • Papaya: authentic and inexpensive Vietnamese food (Tripadvisor)
  • Mini Bar: small bar with a great choice of spirits, especially Gin (Tripadvisor)
  • Mondieu Laurinska: perfect café if you’re craving for some hot chocolate and pastries (Tripadvisor)

 

How to get to Bratislava?

Getting to Bratislava by train, coach or car is easy from all over Europe. Unfortunately Bratislava’s airport is not well frequented. Ryanair and Wizzair are the only airlines connecting it with a few direct flights to several European cities. The only all year round intercontinental flights are going to Eilat (Ryanair), Hurghada (Air Cairo) and Dubai (FlyDubai).

Luckily the airport of Vienna is well connected with Bratislava, as there are a lot of busses and trains going between both cities every day. Here are some airlines with which you can fly to Vienna: Austrian Airlines, Air Canada (via Toronto), Air China (via Beijing), Air France (via Paris), Air India (via Delhi), ANA (via Tokyo), British Airways (via London), Brussels Airlines (via Brussels), China Airlines (via Taipei), Egypt Air (via Cairo), Emirates (via Dubai), EVA Air (via Taipei), Finnair (via Helsinki), Hainan Airliens (via Shenzhen), Iberia (via Madrid), KLM (via Amsterdam), Korean Air (via Seoul), LOT (via Warsaw), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt and Munich), Pegasus (via Istanbul or Ankara), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Royal Air Maroc (via Casablanca), Royal Jordanian (via Amman), Saudia (via Jeddah and Riyadh), Swiss (via Zurich), TAP (via Lisbon), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul) and Ukraine International Airlines (via Kiev). You can buy tickets for busses and trains to Bratislava either in advance or upon arrival. In advance only is cheaper for the international coaches and Inter/Euro City express trains, if you’re taking a local train, there is no price difference from buying it upon arrival at the train station, to buying it in advance.

Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting tips and inspiration for your own trip to Bratislava.

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