Bratislava is the capital and largest city in Slovakia, a central European country situated around Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Bratislava is a city not often found on travelers’ “places to see” list and skipped over on the European travel circuit. As a result, the city is free from large tourist crowds and remains relatively unexplored. However, it is close to where I am staying so last weekend my friends and I decided to go explore!
In Vienna, we purchased tickets in the station from Wien (Vienna) to Bratislava. The ticket cost 16 Euros round trip for the day by OBB train. The ride itself took a little over an hour and was incredibly easy. Coming into the station there is a distinctive, almost more Eastern European feel. We bought tickets at a booth near the station and rode into the city by bus.
Things to Do in Bratislava:
We got into the city around 10am and left around 7pm. We had a good full day to visit, explore, and relax!
Bratislava is by no means a large city, but possesses a quirky charm and is easily be walkable in a day. The Old Town is where most of the activity is, including the main streets lined with many shops and cafes. One added bonus is that food (and beer!) is quite cheap. While Slovakia uses the Euro, prices are more reasonable than other major European cities/capitals. Some restaurants on the main street may be pricier, but there are lots of store fronts where food is less. I got a sandwich for 3 euros, a large beer for 1.7, and gelato for .7 euro a scoop.
Walking through the city you can definitely get a sense of the history of Slovakia and the Communist era influence, especially in the style of buildings. One thing that struck me was the native Slovakians incredible warmth and friendliness. We had to ask for directions a few times and people were more than happy to help. On the way to one of our stops, we ran into a native Slovakian who now lives in London and chatted for a good half an hour.
One destination I recommend is the Bratislava Castle- an enormous white castle perched upon a hill with roots going back to the 9th century. The walk up to the castle is not too difficult and the views are amazing! We stayed a good hour exploring the open parts of the castle and taking in the scenery. You can get a really good vantage point overlooking Slovakia (see pictures!)
On the way down, we even saw a Slovakian wedding with a bride getting out of the car. We found a large and wide wall where we decided to stop, lay down, and relax. Everything has been very busy since arriving last week, so it was great to take some time and unwind. Just play some music, and enjoy each other’s company and the view. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick dinner at a sandwich shop and headed back towards the station to catch the train back to Vienna.
Bratislava – Is it Worth The Trip?
I enjoyed Bratislava and think if you are in the area, it’s worth spending a day, or even an afternoon, to get some of that European charm minus the big crowds. While I don’t think it requires more than a full day to sightsee it does have quite a bit of character, from the funny statues to the Communist era red roofs. Would I surpass bigger cities like Prague or Budapest for Bratislava? No I wouldn’t. However I’m glad I visited and found the locals friendly and it a nice break from major tourist hubs!
I also went to Salzburg this weekend and will be hopefully posting about that in the coming days as well! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see more travel pictures of my adventures!