As we started planning our train trip through Europe, we searched for places that not many people visit. That’s when we came upon Bratislava. Although it’s the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is a cute and small town, set along the Danube River.
Surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, sprinkled with forested hiking and cycling trails, Bratislava has something for everyone. This 18th-century town is also known for its lively bars and cafes, so you know we had to go and explore it!
When to go
As always, it depends what you’re really into, but generally, the weather in Bratislava is the one of the warmest and driest in Slovakia. If you want comfy (read, non-sweaty) temperatures and to explore without many tourists around, head to Bratislava at the end of March, through April & May, or in September and October. You may even get lucky and be able to enjoy the outdoor cafe terraces!
If you’re searching for heat, then the summer months of June, July and August are the time for you to go although temps can rise between 30-40°C. So it may not be great if you’re planning to explore tons and go hiking.
Finally, if you’re searching for cute Christmas markets, fun lights and tons of mulled wine to drink, Bratislava is perfect for you! Head there at the end of November through December. The markets in Slovakia’s capital are smaller and more quaint than those in other European cities, but that’s what adds to their charm. Just be warned that temperatures drop pretty low, so be sure to bundle up when you go.
What to do
Bratislava is not that big of a city, but that’s what adds to its charm! If you have two full days here, you’ll be golden. It will give you enough time to explore the Old Town and check out some cool bars and cafes.
If you know Derek, you know he loves castles. As soon as there is one in a city, we have to visit it! Perched on the top of the rocky hill, the Bratislava Castle is a massive rectangular building with four corner towers. Its size and location make it hard to miss. It looks like a fairytale castle so it is quite impressive.
Although you can walk the grounds and gardens for free, you will need to pay to get into the many museums it houses. You can also head there for sunset to get a beautiful view of the city as the sky turns all shades of sunset.
This is probably the coolest yet weirdest thing in Bratislava. The UFO Bridge (or Most SNP) is the world’s longest bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane… and a UFO sitting atop it!
It makes the view of the city a little cooler, and if you really want to get awesome views of the castle, head up to the observation deck or the bar for a drink. Again, sunset is a magical time to check it out.
This is one of the most iconic spots in Bratislava, the Church of St. Elizabeth, although most lovingly call it “The Little Blue Church”. We’ve seen quite a few churches but this one was probably the most unique and cutest. Its intricate design make it beautiful not only from the outside, but from inside as well.
Although the street art scene started later in Bratislava than in other European countries, they have still managed to create some awesome pieces and parts of the town sprinkled with cool graffiti.
Every year, over three days in June, they have the Bratislava Street Art festival where artists tag the town with their art. You can check them out all over the city, but mainly around Kamenné námestie. There, you will find the fox mural. Walking around the streets there, many other pieces will just pop up at you.
St Martin’s church
Set on the shores of the Danube, St Martin’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bratislava, and it’s a beauty! It’s also the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava. You can’t miss its 85 m spire that dominates Old Town’s skyline.
As most churches, it is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. This church was especially calm and peaceful.
This is probably the number one spot on everyone’s ‘things to do in Bratislava’ list… and we can’t blame them. But since we do things our way, we didn’t put it first. Derek’s love of castles always wins!
Walking around the Old Town is probably the cutest thing to do here. A maze of historic buildings, stunning architecture, quirky lanes, and depending on when you go, Christmas markets! The streets here are lined with bars and restaurants, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Forget Google Maps, just wander around!
Slightly out of the way, on Hodžovo námestie, near the Summer Archbishop’s Palace, The Grassalkovich Palace is a beautiful place to visit. It’s also where the president of Slovakia calls home – Lucky guy.
We thought the architecture of the palace was stunning, especially the cool gates. A little less cool were the hoards of pigeons hanging around… you guys know how much Carine is scared of birds!
Michael’s Gate is the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications in the city, Built in around 1300, it ranks among the oldest town buildings. Standing tall and proud, it’s one of the iconic Bratislava icons. It’s also where Carine fell on her butt trying to take a picture of the full thing! Luckily, there weren’t too many people around!
Man at work
This is probably Bratislava’s biggest celebrity. Cumil, or Peeper, is a bronze statue of a sewer worker resting at the top of a manhole. They say that there are 2 possible reasons for his name.
The first rumour is that he’s a typical communist era worker, and just can’t be bothered to do his work, spending his time people-watching instead. The other rumour is that he’s actually peeping under the women’s skirts, like a total creepster. You can find him at the corner of Laurinská and Panská Streets in the Old Town. Make sure to rub his head and make a wish.
If you like these types of statutes, you can head out and search for them all over the city. Here’s a handy guide to help you spot them.
If you know us, you know how much we love eating. So we had to stop by the Old Market or Stará tržnica. Inside this 15th-century bastion, you will find tons of local vendors selling their goods.
From fresh produce to jams, pickles and everything in between, you’ll find it here. Some vendors also set ready-made meals that are delicious. The only unfortunate thing is that they don’t have that much vegetarian meals to offer.
Where to eat
There are a ton of delicious places to choose from when you’re in Bratislava. Here are some of our favourites
Urban bistro: This bistro is right near Michael’s gate. We went there for breakfast and loved it! The English breakfast, as well as the vegetarian option were so good. We also loved their Jasmine Matcha latte!
Urban house: Sister-company to Urban Bistro, this cool resto/bar had us intrigued as soon as we walked by its doors. Cool decor, tons of plants and plenty of vegetarian options to choose from – we were hooked. We loved their goat cheese burger. It was messy to eat but oh-so-delicious!
MonDieu: Although this is a chain, how can you not walk in when you see faucets pouring insane amounts of chocolate out?! Yeah, we loved it! Their chocolate cups with dark chocolate are so delicious!
Five Points: We met our friends Jen and Henry from Hoopla Adventures here for a quick bite and drinks. The great conversation, cool vibes and chill music had us stay here… or was it the delicious mulled wine? Hard to say!
Where to stay
While in Bratislava, we stayed at the Patio Hostel. Although our time here was short and sweet, the conveniently located hostel had everything for a great stay. The rooms were super spacious with comfy beds and place to hang our clothes – little things that you miss when you’re constantly on the road.
We loved working in their common room and meeting other travellers. We also loved the fact that they offer laundry machines (including a dryer) all for free! If you spend as much time as we do on the road, this is seriously a lifesaver!
The hostel also has tons of activities going on, from walking tours to pub crawls. Depending on what you’re looking to do in town, the Patio Hostel will have you covered! It’s a great option for budget travelers.
Depending on what you plan on doing in Bratislava, you may want to get the Bratislava Card. It offers discounts on more than 100 attractions, free tours, free entry to 14 museums and galleries, as well as unlimited public transport. We walk everywhere we go, so it wasn’t our cup of tea, but to each their own!
You can either get yours online or at one of the Tourist Information Centres in the city.
Our time in Bratislava was short and sweet. We had only two days here, but it gave us enough time to get a taste of this cute city. There were a few more things we wanted to check out, like the Devin castle (yes Derek, we’ll see another castle!) so we know we will be back here. There’s also so much more of Slovakia we want to explore (and eat!).
We hope this guide will help you have a great time in Bratislava too. Let us know if this beautiful capital is on your list!
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