Located between Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria, Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, is a charming city, the largest in the country and a gem waiting to be discovered.
When I first looked up ideas for our second wedding anniversary, Bratislava and Prague (Czech Rep.) competed for “first place”. I was at that point when I had found accommodation and transport option to both cities and enlisted the help of fellow travelers to decide.
Bratislava, with its charming medieval inner city, a castle overlooking the Danube, a ruined castle located at the confluence of Morava and the Danube, a charming hidden treasure (The Blue Church) and very friendly locals has rapidly made us love her. On top of all the lovely things, the city is very affordable, it’s easy to get here and if you find accommodation close to the Old Town you won’t need to use the public transportation at all…you can just walk.
How to get to
We arrived in Bratislava by train. We decided on spend a night in Budapest – coming from Romania – and then took a train the next morning, arriving in Bratislava by early afternoon. The same train goes to Prague and then all the way to Berlin. Gotta love Europe and the short distances between capitals!
If you want a special way to get here, you can fly into Vienna and then hop on the Twin City Liner. It only runs from mid- April to early- November and it takes 75 minutes to connect the two capitals. It makes it very easy to just stay in Vienna and then hop to Bratislava for a day trip or the other way around.
The city is also served by an airport. Most flights are operated by Ryanair but Norwegian Air Shuttle also has some flights. The two major airports located near-by are the ones in Vienna and Budapest.
Where to stay
Look for accommodation as close to the Old Town as possible. You’d be within walking distance of all the main sights and even close to the Main Train Station.
We stayed at a hostel located on the pedestrian street Obchodna, within short distance of the entrance to the Old Town and with lovely views of Bratislava Castle. In May 2014 we paid 40 euros / double with bathroom ensuite (plus free wi-fi, electric cattle and satellite TV with English channels).
What do do
While the city is very accessible when it comes to entrance fees and food, who doesn’t love to also do free things in Bratislava ?
Start with exploring the Old Town. Get a map (from the tourist info center at the train station , for example) , put on those good walking shoes, get your camera and start exploring. St Martin’s Cathedral is imposing and interesting (and you can visit it for free when the choir practices), The New Bridge can offer a good walk and some lovely views of Bratislava Castle, and the statues will make you laugh every time you see one.
The Slavin Monument is said to have the best views of the city – we haven’t made it here this time – and if you walk to Bratislava Castle, enjoy every minute of it and the interesting view.
Then you can visit museums. I loved the Museum of Arms located within Michael’s Gate, the 51m tower and is the only gate to the Old City left standing (there were four). Enjoy the views from the viewing platform.
The Museum of History located within Bratislava Castle was a disappointment. We expected too much of it and we were given almost nothing. However, from the 2nd floor you can climb to the Tower and although it’s been restored and it doesn’t feel or look original at all, the views are interesting.
I highly recommend a visit to Devin Castle and to get there , a cruise on Danube. It’s only 8 euros return (for adult) and aside from the views along the way , you’ll be delighted with an incredible ruin of what used to be Devin Castle. The place has been settled from the Neolithic and fortified since the Bronze Age. Its location – at the confluence of Danube and Morava – gave it an important strategic advantage. The castle has been first mentioned in 864 and in the 13th century a stone castle was built to protected the border of the Hungarian Kingdom. The Castle has never been taken.
Don’t forget to sample the local food and their beers and wines. Vegetarians won’t find many local dishes to enjoy but I have found vegetarian dishes in all restaurants and cafes we’ve tried.
All photos by Traveling Cricket and may not be used without permission.