Bratislava, the capital and largest city of Slovakia, is one of the most important historical and touristic cities in Central Europe. Some might think that there is not much to see in Bratislava, but in fact there are plenty of tourist attractions in Bratislava, which is a perfect from neighbor cities like Vienna and Prague.
Bratislava Travel Guide: Travel Tips for Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is small if compared to its neighbors Vienna, Prague and Budapest. However, Bratislava is starting to gain popularity on the European tourist route with lots of interesting places on offer to explore, while enjoying small crowds of tourists and relatively inexpensive city.
Many people just make a quick stop or a day trip from Vienna to Bratislava, but it is worth spending at least few days to get to know the Slovak culture and discover this charm of country’s most important city.
Where is Bratislava?
The capital of Slovakia stretches along both banks of the Danube. Bratislava lies in the extreme southwestern part of the country on the border with two neighboring countries - Austria and Hungary.
Bratislava is a very beautiful European city with its own unique history. Don’t miss a chance to discover city’s most important tourist attractions.
To immerse yourself in this city atmosphere, you should immediately go to the Old Town of Bratislava. The historic center of the city is located in the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral of Saint Martin. Like in other cities, the Old Town of Bratislava is a set of streets, many of which are pedestrianized and quite rich in architectural masterpieces. Among these streets you can find many museums and historical buildings. You will also see the famous fountain of Roland or Maximilian, which was built in the Renaissance style. Next to it, there is a statue of the knight Roland - the defender of the city. In the shade of trees are hidden small and elegant restaurants and cafes, galleries and shops.
Old Town Hall
As every ancient city in Europe, Bratislava has its own Town Hall. This is the oldest building in the city, which features a combination of different architectural forms. The oldest tower in Slovakia with a clock of the XIII century rises above the square of Bratislava. Nowadays the City History Museum is housed in the Town Hall.
Bratislava Castle is possibly the most important building in the city. It was built in the 9th century on the top of the hill above the Danube and can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. The People's Council of the Slovak Republic meets here. Bratislava Castle also houses the Slovak National and Historical museums that are open to visit.
St. Martin's Cathedral
Bratislava’s Cathedral of Saint Martin is located between the old town and the castle. It stands out for its 85-meter-high tower rising above the Old Town. At St. Martin's Cathedral 18 kings and queens of Hungary were crowned on the throne during several centuries. The 150-kilogram crown on a gilded pillow is mounted on the 85-meter top of the cathedral and still reminds of the coronation of Maria Theresa.
St. Michael’s Gate
St. Michael’s Gate is one of the gates of the old medieval wall that has survived since the Middle Ages. From its tower memorable views of the city open up. This tower is 51 meters high and was built 700 years ago. Next to this gate stood the Church of St. Michael, hence their name. After the reconstruction in the 18th century, a statue of St. Michael and a dragon appeared on the top of the tower. There is a "zero kilometer" sign under this gate, so be sure to make a wish.
Slavin Memorial is located high in the city and in its immediate vicinity the graves of more than 6,000 soldiers who died in the Battle of Bratislava at the end of World War II can be found. It is a monument of Soviet art which is 39 meters high and stands on the Slavin hill that is offering incredible views of Bratislava.
Other Attractions in Bratislava
These are not by far all of the tourist sights of Bratislava that you can discover. Find detailed information about the city’s most important things to see in the list of Top Tourist Attractions in Bratislava.
If your time in the capital of Slovakia will be very limited, you can explore the city with Bratislava 1-Hour Small Group Walking Tour to visit the most historical and important sites of Bratislava's old town. During this tour you will see the House of Opera, Old Town Hall, Michael's Gate, and the unique St. Martin's Cathedral.
If you want to get the most out of your visit to Bratislava and have several tourist attractions in mind, you might consider getting the Bratislava Card. This card offers multiple discounts and among its advantages are being able to take a one-hour guided tour of the Slovak capital (in English, Slovak and German), unlimited transportation on the public transport network in zones 100 and 101 (trams, trolleybuses, bus lines 20 - 799, night bus lines N21 - N99 and train routes S) and a very complete guide.
Bratislava Card can be purchased at the city's tourist information offices, the train station and some hotels, among other places. If you want to buy it, you can do it online on this page. The price of Bratislava City Card ranges from 12 Euro (1 day) to 16 Euro (3 days).
Frankly speaking, getting the city card is worth it in large cities with many monuments (e.g. Rome, Prague, or London), but for the city like Bratislava you might hardly see the point of it as the number of tourist attractions is very limited and you can easily visit the majority of them on foot.
How to get to Bratislava
You can get to Bratislava by various modes of transport - plane, train, bus or boat.
Flights to Bratislava
Bratislava has an international airport called M. R. Štefánik Airport or simply Bratislava Airport (BTS), where direct flights arrive from many counties. You can book your flights here and take an unforgettable trip to Bratislava.
The most popular international flights to Bratislava:
Once at Bratislava Airport, you can take bus 61 (or N61 at night) that reaches the city center in about 35 minutes.
If you want more comfort, you can choose to take a taxi from the airport to Bratislava or book a private transfer in advance to get the best service for an affordable price.
Train to Bratislava
There are several international trains to Bratislava that run daily from Vienna and Budapest. You will arrive at Bratislava Main Railway Station that is only a few minutes on foot or by public transport from the center of Bratislava. Check for train ticket prices and train schedule on the ÖBB page.
Bus to Bratislava
Numerous buses daily cover the route between Bratislava and neighboring cities of Vienna, Prague and Budapest. The main companies operating on the route to Slovak capital are Flixbus and RegioJet. Buses are cheaper but slower than trains.
Check for the bus schedule and ticket prices here:
Boat to Bratislava
One of the most interesting ways to travel to Bratislava is taking a boat to cross the Danube. The boat trip to travel between European capitals of Bratislava and Vienna takes about 75 minutes and offers great views. There are several departures a day and tickets for such a trip can cost around 20-35 Euro. Check for the boat schedule and tickets here: Boat between Bratislava and Vienna.
From Vienna to Bratislava
Many people take advantage of the trip to Vienna and make a getaway to Bratislava. In general, there are various ways to get to Bratislava from Vienna such as taking a bus, train and even boat. You can also consider a day trip to Bratislava from Vienna with a guide which is most convenient way to visit Bratislava. For more information about all the ways suitable for traveling between the cities check how to get from Vienna to Bratislava.
From Prague to Bratislava
Traveling between Prague and Bratislava is a popular route. After all, these are the two cities of the formerly united country - Czechoslovakia. The capitals of Czech Republic and Slovakia are close and can be visited in one trip. For doing so, you just need to choose the most suitable way to travel from Prague to Bratislava or vice versa.
How to get around Bratislava
Bratislava public transport
If you will be staying in the city center, you will hardly need to use public transport to get around central Bratislava. On the other hand, if you want to get out of the Old Town to explore the new part of the city or travel from the train station to the historic center, you can choose to go by buses, trolleybuses and trams that can take you almost everywhere in Bratislava. The vehicles used for public transportation are all new and comfortable with screens and stop buttons, for you not to miss the stop. You can make transfers to any mode of transport within the time period specified on the ticket. The public transport service in Bratislava is provided from 5:00 to 22:00.
The city and suburban area are divided into zones, on which the ticket price depends. Zones 100 and 101 that cover the entire city and suburbs, including the center, railway stations and the airport, are the most important for tourists.
The price of Bratislava public transport tickets depends on the duration and the area of the city it covers. A single ticket valid for 15-30 minutes costs 0.70-0.90 Euro, a 1-day ticket costs 3.50 Euro, and 3-day ticket costs 8 Euro.
Taxi in Bratislava
The taxi in Bratislava is quite cheap too. Otherwise, you can install the HopinTaxi app on your smartphone, as it's the local equivalent of Uber, offering very attractive prices.
Where to stay in Bratislava
Even if Bratislava is well served by public transport, it’s still best to have accommodation in the city center. Unlike some cities, the pedestrian area of Bratislava is fairly quiet despite the presence of many bars and restaurants. Above all that, you will have everything the city has to offer within a walking distance, as all the main tourist spots are in the historic center.
There are many hotels in Bratislava so you can find a room for any taste and budget. Bratislava hotels are not very expensive as you can easily find even 4-star or 5-star hotels for 60-100 Euro per night. If you are travelling in a group or family, you can also rent an apartment in Bratislava.
Some of the best rated hotels in Bratislava:
Our pick of Slovakian capital's best places to stay can be found here: Best Hotels in Bratislava.
Food in Bratislava
Restaurants in Bratislava attract with a variety of food, prices and portion sizes. As in every country, we would recommend you to try local interesting dishes while visiting Slovakia. The Slovak cuisine is quite heavy and some people surely find it a little fat, but still acceptable!
The national dish of Slovakia is the Bryndzové halušky (Slovakian potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon). Another typical specialty of Slovakia is zemiaková placka, a potato pancake, which in tourist restaurants is often also stuffed with meat and paprika.
By the way, in general eating in Bratislava is very economical (and ever more if you move away from the old town, where prices are adjusted for tourists). However, in cafes and restaurants it is customary to tip 10% for the service.
Where to eat in Bratislava
If you need ideas of where to eat in the capital of Slovakia, here are some of the restaurants in Bratislava that we would recommend giving a try.
Slovak pub is one of the biggest restaurants in Bratislava. This is a perfect place to get acquainted with Slovak cuisine.
Lemon Tree SKY Bar
In addition to the best views of Bratislava, you have to come to the Lemon Tree for the menu that successfully combines dishes from Mediterranean and Asian gastronomy (especially Thai food).
UFO Restaurant is located on the pillars of the Bratislava New bridge (Nový most). This restaurant offers a pretty unconventional experience as you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of Bratislava and its surroundings from above.
Shopping in Bratislava
A large number of small shops and stalls to buy souvenirs are concentrated on the Main Square (Hlavné námestie) and St. Michael’s Gate in the Old Town of Bratislava.
If you want to get the typical souvenir items such as magnets, key chains, T-shirts for a low price, it is better to buy them in the wooden huts of the long Hviezdoslav Square just opposite the Slovak National Theater. In memory of the capital of Slovakia, you can also buy ceramics (majolica), Slovak lace and wine.
Just after leaving the Old Town, you come to the shopping street Obchodna, where shops of famous brands Zara, S'Oliver, Yves Rocher, Deichmann can be found.
In Bratislava, there are several shopping centers that are convenient to shop. The largest and closest to the Old Town shopping mall is called Eurovea with the main entrance on Pribinova Street, very close to the Danube. Large stores are usually open daily from 9:00 to 18:00, except Sundays.
Best time to visit Bratislava
Slovakia has a climate similar to other countries in central Europe. Between May and September, Bratislava should be sunny, but beware of the heavy rains which fall periodically in spring and at the end of summer in the form of thunderstorms or showers sometimes causing a lot of damage. The months of December to February are suitable for practicing winter sports since snowfall is common and temperatures are low.
The best time to visit Bratislava is possibly during the summer months, when all the attractions open their doors. However, expect to find crowds of tourists in its historic center in summer and during Easter.
Where next after Bratislava?
If you are done exploring Bratislava, there are things to see and do not far from the capital of Slovakia.
The Devin Castle
First of all, if you have the possibility, do not miss the Devin Castle, which is very close to Bratislava. Perched on a cliff that rises over 200 meters high, it gives an extraordinary view of the Danube and the surroundings. To get there you can take the bus 28 from the bus station towards Devin or organized excursion from Bratislava with Devin Castle 3-Hour Private Guided Tour.
Bratislava Travel Tips
Bratislava is a compact but very beautiful Slovakian capital with many attractions and interesting places. The city boasts a large number of hotels that will impress you with comfort and inexpensive rooms. If you need a hotel and don’t want to waste time searching for it, check these 12 best hotels in Bratislava.
When arriving to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, from one of neighboring countries by train, you might need to exchange your money to local currency (Euro) right at the railway station. Luckily, you can do your currency exchange at Bratislava Main Train Station (Bratislava Hlavná Stanica) and get decent enough rates for several currencies.
When arriving to Bratislava by train, you will find yourself at Bratislava Main Train Station locally known as Bratislava Hlavná Stanica. If you will be visiting the capital of Slovakia just for a day, you can leave your bag at Left Luggage Office of Bratislava Main Train Station and travel lightly.