In my opinion, Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia is an underrated city. This charming city with its colorful old town and hill top castle is conveniently located close to the borders of 3 central European countries, Given its close proximity to these countries, especially to Austria and Hungary, Bratislava makes a super easy and much quieter side trip from either of these places. I visited Bratislava from Vienna which was just an hour’s bus ride away and stayed overnight to really see and enjoy all the wonderful things Bratislava has to offer. This post covers how to spend one full day in Bratislava.
Before I cover how to spend one day in Bratislava, I will first talk about how to get there.
How to Get to Bratislava
There are lots of ways to get to Bratislava depending on where you are arriving from.
- By plane – M.R. Stefanik Bratislava International Airport is the main airport servicing Bratislava and is a half an hour away from the city center
- By train – Bratislava has 2 train stations, the main station and Petržalka. Trains connect from Prague, Budapest, Vienna and other places in Slovakia
- By bus – this is perhaps the most popular way to get to Bratislava from a neighboring country and also the easiest as buses stop super close and walking distance to the Old Town. I used Flixbus from Vienna which stopped at the station Most SNP, which was a 5 minutes walk to where my hotel was at the heart of the Old Town
- By boat – there is a boat service from Vienna to Bratislava on the Danube river
What to See in Bratislava
A.K.A the Main Square with its clock tower and old town hall building which is known to be one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava.
This beautiful pink building is the home of the Mayor of Bratislava.
You cannot go inside the Grassalkovich Palace (except for one day of the year where they have an “open door” day) but the beautiful French style gardens are free to wander.
Perched high a top a hill and overlooking the surrounding areas, this castle has great views of the city and river. I read that the inside is not worth a visit so I skipped it but the up hill climb was well worth it for the views!
Medieval gate built in the 1300s and perhaps one of the most iconic structures in the city. Unfortunately, it was being renovated when I visited.
Hviezdoslavovo Namestie and Slovak National Theatre
Beautiful square ending with the Slovak National Theatre.
St. Martin’s Church
Famous church in Bratislava built in the Gothic style and a must see in the city.
This memorial is dedicated to the 7000 Soviet troops who were killed while liberating Bratislava from the Germans in WWII.
Wander the Streets
One of my favorite things to do in an old town of a European city is to just wandering the streets. Michalska, Farska, Kapitulska, Venturska, Panska, and Laurinska are all amazing streets to just walk around and enjoy the charm.
A short walk from Old Town, this unique church is aptly named as it is blue in color both on the outside and inside.
A 1000 year old castle (one of Slovakia’s oldest) sitting atop a cliff that overlooks the Danube river. The castle was destroyed by Napoleon’s army but the ruins are still worth a visit. I recommend going during sunset for some stunning views!
This is the only attraction on this post that is not walkable from Old Town. However, you can easily get here by taking bus 29 from MOST SNP or by taxi. If taking a ride sharing taxi, depending on the time of day, it may be hard to get one goin back to Bratislava. My advice is to make pre-arrangements for the ride back.
Located along the Danube river, the UFO building is another famous landmark in Bratislava. You can climb the city for some stunning views on the city. There is also a restaurant up at the top.
Bratislava is known for its statues scattered along it’s streets and squares! Perhaps the most famous of these is “Cumil” or ‘man at work’.
Slovak Radio Building
A unique building shaped like an inverted pyramid and a must see if you like architecture.
How to Get Around Bratislava
Bratislava is a very walkable city. Most of the places listed above are all within close proximity of each other and walkable other than Devin Castle. The city also has a good bus and tram system if walking is not an option. Uber and Bolt also work great!
Pro Tip: If you are going to walk the city is it best to organize your itinerary in order so that you use your time and legs wisely! Google map your sites to see proximity and adjacencies.
Where I Stayed
With only one day in Bratislava, you want to stay in a central place that is close to all the main attractions. I stayed at Aplend City Hotel which was literally 10 steps away from the Old Town square. Talk about Location! Location! Location! My room was perfect and the staff were amazing. I cannot recommend this place more!
What to Eat
Traditional Slovakian food such as the ones listed below are must tries in Bratislava
- Bryndzové Halušky – Dumplings with sheep’s cheese (probably one of the best things I have EVER eaten!)
- Soups (cabbage – Kapustnica, goulash, garlic)
- Lokša – Potato pancakes
- Karamelovy Veternik – Cream filled and caramel topped puff (so good!)
Where to Eat
- Bratislava Flagship Restaurant – Old theatre now turned restaurant. Great atmosphere and menu, especially for traditional Slovak food
- Slovak Pub – Another famous restaurant known for traditional Slovak food
- Koliba Kamzík – The restaurant at the hotel I stayed and incidentally ranked #7 in Bratislava by TripAdvisor. Also good Slovak food!
- Zeppelin Cafe – Cute and highly rated cafe at the Old Town Square. They have amazing desserts and an extensive beverage menu
- Konditorei Kormuth – Ornate cafe also near the Old Town Square
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Love charming little towns in Europe? Check out my post on my favorite little town in Germany HERE or below.