Bratislava is the small capital city of Slovakia which sits on the Danube River, and borders Austria and Hungary. I am always open to finding new city breaks around Europe and giving anywhere new a try, mostly Bratislava is always associated with stag dos here in the UK and Western Europe, however there is much more to this city.
I found some really cheap flights through Wizz air for only £35 each return, so decided to give it a quick google before booking the flights, Bratislava looked really nice in the photos online so we decided to give it a chance.
When we arrived in Bratislava we were pleasantly surprised as we walked through Michaels Gate into the Old Town to find our accommodation, it’s old cobbled streets and dimly lit street lamps were so pretty and not how we imagined Bratislava to be.
Bratislava has a lot more to offer than just bars and clubs to stag dos, although it does have plenty of those if that’s what your after. Bratislava is so much more than a stag do destination, and has lots of historic buildings, cute cafes and lots of restaurants. There is plenty to do here on any weekend break, however as it’s only a small capital city I would recommend that if your coming on a sightseeing break that 1 to 2 days is more than adequate to see everything.
We spent 2 nights and 2 days in the city and found this more than enough time to see all the major attractions and sites, and still take a leisurely pace wandering around the city and stopping in its many cafes and bars along the way.
Sights & Activities
Bratislava Castle is one of the top attractions in the capital, set above the city and on the Danube River on a rocky hill. The castle dates back to as early as 907 but over the years has faced many changes such as wars, borders and empire change overs and much more. There is a museum set in the castle and some well kept gardens to explore. The views at the top also provide excellent views of the city, Daube River and of course the famous UFO in Bratislava. When visiting the city the castle is a must on your itinerary.
Church of St Elizabeth (Blue Church)
The Church of St Elizabeth which is mostly known as the Blue Church for obvious reasons is that everything inside and outside of the church is painted blue. The church is situated in the eastern part of the old town and about a 10 minute walk from the city centre. The church is built at the beginning of the 20th century in true art nouveau style. When we visited unfortunately the inside was locked, so we only got to wander around the outside, and have to say I think it’s one of my favourite church’s I’ve ever visited, it definitely stands out.
Cumil (Man at Work)
Cumil which translates to ‘watcher’ in Slovakian and is actually one of the most photographed objects in Bratislava. Cumil along with a few other statues appeared in the old town in 1997 a few years after Slovakia gained its independence to help polish up the cities image. Cumil is popular with tourists and can’t be missed when visiting the old town.
Grassalkovich Palace was built back in 1760 for the chairman of the royal Hungarian chamber and was used for many years for aristocrat society events. Today it’s the official residence for the president of Slovakia. It’s a beautiful and grand building and when we visited at around midday we were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard ceremony, so if you can try and time your visit to catch the event.
Landererov Park is a small park in the city centre there isn’t a huge amount to see there’s a small fountain and a few seating areas, which on a really hot day was a perfect place to go and sit and enjoy the sun.
Michaels Gate is the symbol of Bratislava and it’s old town and was built in the 14th century. It has seven floors which visitors can actually go right up to the top of the building for views over the city. Michaels Gate is also the gate way to Bratislava’s old town and it’s beautiful quaint streets.
Bratislava’s Old Town is the historic hub of Slovakia’s capital city. The old town district is home to many of Bratislava’s historic monuments and beautiful gothic buildings and architecture. The old town was one of my favourite places in Bratislava it has so much to see and do, and has a really great atmosphere bursting at the seems with bars, restaurants and cafes.
Opera House & Hviezdoslavovo Square
The Bratislava Opera House is officially known as the Slovak National Theatre. It originally opened in 1886 as the cities national theatre, it’s located on Hviezdoslavovo Square which also has lots of choice for restaurants, cafes and galleries and has lots of outside seating under the tree lined plaza. The pedestrianised street and square also has several fountains and sculptures and street performers too, this area is a must visit when in the city, with lots of options to choose from for lunch or dinner and eating alfresco on warmer days. ￼
St Martins Cathedral
Bratislava’s gothic St Martins Cathedral is built on the site of a previous roman church which was there from 1221 until 1291 when Bratislava was given the privileges of a town, the church was then rebuilt to become part of the city walls, and its tower served as a defensive bastion The present church was made sacred in 1452. When visiting the old town make sure to visit this sacred church and have a look inside.
The UFO in Bratislava is an observation deck in the heart of the city just a few minutes walk from the old town. It also has a unique restaurant and bar at the top. We went up to the observation deck which costs only €8 per person, and you can get the most incredible views over the city and the Danube River. After going up to the observation deck we went to the bar where they have amazing cocktails and drinks available.
Food & Drink
Arthur serves up a good selection of ice creams and sorbets which are made from natural ingredients and they also have serval vegan options available too. There are a few Arthur ice cream parlours dotted around the city. I tried the salter caramel ice cream which was delicious!
Drak & Finch
Drak & Finch is a small little cafe and bar in the old town and near to Bratislava castle, we popped in to cool down with a drink after visiting the castle. Try the Hugo cocktail which is really refreshing on a hot day.
Enjoy Bistro is a cosy casual cafe just down from Michaels Gate in the old town. It serves up delicious smoothies and drinks as well as lots of healthy food options. We stopped here for a drink and the smoothies were great. The decor inside is really cute with lots of homely touches.
Fach is probably one of the coolest places we visited for drinks and snacks and has a very Scandinavian feel to it, it’s decor is ultra modern and up market. It has lots on offer from the bakery as well as a small menu cooking up fresh dishes. Fach is pretty big and has a bar and restaurant as well as the cafe at the front. We sat outside and had some drinks and ordered their freshly made bread and butter and the cheese board, although I misread the menu and the cheeseboard does come with meat so we ate around the meat.
If you want to go there for dinner then reservations are a must! This place has a really sophisticated feel to it and would be great to visit for a special occasion dinner. Fach serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and lots of cold pressed juices and tasty homemade lemonades. The raspberry and rhubarb lemonade was my favourite.
I absolutely loved Foodstock this was definitely one of the best places for vegetarian food in Bratislava. I had the best vegetarian gyozas I’ve ever had before, and we also tried the sweet corn hummus which was to die for. This spot is great for lunch or snacks if your vegetarian or not you must try Foodstock!
KGB Pub is a themed pub with lots of KGB memorabilia and located next to Slovak Pub. There’s seating outside which is great on a warm day or the pub itself is set in the basement downstairs.
Re:Fresh is a really popular restaurant, bar and nightclub in the capital. We visited serval times once in the afternoon for drinks and olives and we came back in the evening for dinner and cocktails. They have an excellent vegan menu which had a several Slovakian dishes as well as lots of western food, so we decided to order several of the Slovakian dishes to give them a try.
Slovak Pub is a must visit when in Bratislava it is one of the cities largest pubs and restaurants and is the place to try traditional Slovakian cuisines and dishes, and big selection of drinks at affordable prices.
It’s decorated in old fashioned Slovak decor. We went there late afternoon for a drink and some snacks. We decided to try the garlic soup which is served up in a bread loaf which was amazing! Also the homemade potato chips are a must try, and are cooked up fresh to order. I’m not normally a fan of red wine but decided to try the redcurrant wine which was so good.
When visiting UFO observation deck be sure to check out their bar and restaurant. We didn’t eat but decided to sample some of the cocktails, the mango passion cocktail was my favourite. We went there in the early evening for pre dinner cocktails and before it got busy.
The Urban Bistro in Bratislava’s old town just by Michaels Gate was one of my favourite places we ate at. We went to Urban Bistro for brunch and everything was amazing the food and drink was delicious, the decor is really cool and the atmosphere and staff are really friendly. My husband and I opted for the smashed avo on toast with poached eggs and I had a mimosa. I can’t recommend this place enough for a decent brunch in the heart of the city. We also came back here one afternoon and had some chai lattes.
The Vegan Kiosk is a great place to pick up some homemade vegan comfort street food. They create a range of hotdogs, burgers and wraps. It’s really cheap which is great if your on a budget and they make the food up really quick, there’s a few small tables put by the stall to perch at while you eat too.
Stay In City Apartments
While searching for accommodation in Bratislava, there seemed to be lots of apartments coming up on my searches, and many of them worked out really reasonably priced and in central locations, so we decided to book Stay In City Apartments which was just located down an alleyway next to Michaels Gate which was a perfect location to being really in the centre, and only having to walk out of the building to find plenty of bars and restaurants. We really couldn’t fault the location and the apartment itself was really well kitted out and had a lovely balcony too.
The only downsides to these apartments is that there is no luggage room! So on the last day the owner kindly let us leave our luggage in the flat until 3pm but after that we then had to wheel around our cabin bag which was a little annoying. Also if you plan on booking these apartments and are arriving after 10pm make sure to email them before to arrange check in, as we had some confusion when we arrived there was no one at the door and all the lights were out, we ended up wandering around trying to find out how to get our keys and eventually we called the owner who then said she was there waiting and had sent an email which I never received. When we got back to the apartments there was a note stuck on the door, which would have been helpful if she had stuck that on in the first place!
I would recommend these modern, comfortable and central apartments just try and make sure you speak to the owner first about check in and maybe travel light if your flight is late so your not having to carry too much around after check out.
Transport & Getting Around
Bratislava is really easy to get around and everywhere around the city is walkable. The only transport we used were taxis to and from the airport. I would recommend when booking your accommodation email them and see if they can organise your airport transfers, as our accommodation organised our transfers and they were only €15 from the airport to the old town. On the way back we assumed that all taxis were the same and jumped in one and it cost us double! So make sure to organise a transfer and price for both arriving and departing transfers so you don’t overpay!
The only bit of advice I have for Bratislava is that to visit for no more than 2 days as it’s such a small city you may run out of things to see and do, stay longer if your coming to the city to party or to venture out and explore further beyond the city.