A beginner’s guide to Bratislava, Slovakia

posted in: EUROPE | 8

Are you visiting Bratislava for the first time? You have no idea what to see or where to go? We have a great solution for you.

Just keep reading the article! ­čÖé

Guide to Bratislava
Bratislava Historical Center

Bratislava is one of the smaller European capital cities but it has a lot to offer to all its visitors. We have taken a tour around the city with Elephant Free Walking Tour.┬áWe discovered that we knew so little about the city we are living in! The tour was funny, refreshing and we found out a lot of new things. It lasted around 3 hours and based on it we bring you a beginner’s guide to Bratislava.

As most tours even this one starts in the centre. After a quick introduction you will get immediately down to business. The tourist guide will give you a brief history of the city and the tour can start.

We’re gonna give you everything you need to know about this tour.But first, we want a little help from you: click here and like our Facebook page!

Where to stay

Elephant Hostel Bratislava
Elephant Hostel Bratislava

Bratislava has a wide selection of hostels and hotels. However, we must admit that the prices are not so low as you may think.

Check our Travel Resources page to find your accommodation in Bratislava.

The best hostel is probably Elephant. In the very heart of the Old Town, it has good prices and friendly staff. Sleep there and wake up with their Free Walking Tour!

Bratislava, Pressburg or Poszony?

One of the biggest advantages of Bratislava is its position. It is situated near the borders of four different countries: Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. You can imagine that this caused mixing of a lot of different cultures.

In the Middle Ages a big group of German and Hungarian settlers came to Bratislava and there was also a significant Jewish, Italian and Balkan community. This is a reason why Bratislava is known under many different names: Poszony, Posonium or Prešporok.

A guide to Bratislava: the Historical city center

The tour starts in the Main Square, called Hlavne Namestie. You will immediately get a lot of info on the things that are not so easy to spot. The streets of the the historical center are full of bizarre statues: Napoleon leaning against the bench, ─îumil (the guy who stares) or Schone Naci (a famous Slovak gentleman). These are just a few examples of what you will come across.

Man at work
Cumil, the “Man at work”

After the Main Square you will explore another beautiful square. The Hviezdoslavovo Square starts with the historical opera building and ends with the monument dedicated to the victims of the plague from 1712. In the summer there is always something going on here: markets, music and dance performances or photo expositions.

Opera in Hviezdoslavovo Namestie
Opera in Hviezdoslavovo Namestie

Behind the city walls

A very important part of the beginner’s guide to Bratislava is a visit to the Old Town walls. You will get a picture of how big the city was in the past. One of the advantages of the tour is that once in a while your guide will ask you questions on the things around you. Just by using your intuition you can answer them and understand even more about the city.

Once you leave the historical atmosphere of the Old Town you will see the Jewish part of the city and then walk towards the castle. Right under the castle you will find a few favorite gathering places of local young people. The pubs there offer great beers and there is an underground bar called Subclub. Many legendary stories from Bratislava end in this very club :).

To the castle and back

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava Castle

The next stop on your tour is the dominant of the city: the majestic castle of Bratislava. The inside of the castle is not that interesting but the court is a great panoramic point. You can observe the other part of the Danube. The tourists usually avoiding crossing the river since the endless blocks of flats look a little threatening. That area is called Petrzalka and there are not so many things to see.

At this point your guide will also reveal the sad socialist past of the city (and the country). You will find out more about what was going on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain and you probably won’t like it. After that you will visit the Cat Cafe or a local brewery, and return to the Old Town.

Other interesting spots

On the way to the Castle
On the way to the Castle

A guide to Bratislava cannot exclude its churches. There are so many of them, but we’ve chosen to list the two most beautiful ones:

  • St. Martin’s Cathedral: Situated in the old town on the way to the Castle, it is the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, it has been the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary. It’s almost always open so just go there and check it by yourself.
  • The Blue Church:┬áThe official name is Church of St. Elizabeth, but everyone calls it “the blue church”. Why? because it’s actually blue! The walls and the interiors are beautifully decorated with various shades of blue. It’s our favorite church in the city, so make sure not to miss it. You will find it in Bezru─Źova Street, 10′ walk from the main square.

There are plenty of other points of interest in Bratislava. They are less famous and touristic, but equally worth┬áthe trip. We are not going to reveal them right now, they’ll be published in the next post about the city.

Let us know in the comments what you think about this guide to Bratislava. If you liked the post, share it with your friends!

8 Responses

  1. Marlies
    | Reply

    I had never heard of Bratislava until last month! I know it’s weird.
    But it looks so beautiful and already has stolen my heart. I hope to visit it one day.
    I like walking tours with a local because they will always show and tell you more about the place then when you read about it.

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Hey Marlies,

      thanks for your comment!

      Bratislava is not a very famous city even if it’s the capital of Slovakia. But this city is a hidden gem! And the surroundings are truly beautiful.
      You’re right about the walking tours. We always try to do one every time we visit a new city.

    | Reply

    I vote Bratislava for my next trip, maybe on March because I ll be going to Zurich on January. I know its a hot deal right now! Low prices for such a lovely city!!

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Great choice!
      March is a lovely month, even if still a bit cold. You will enjoy the city with less tourists, and you can explore the surroundings.

  3. Nigel
    | Reply

    I have been to Bratislava 11 times so far, I like it there.
    Two features you haven’t mentioned that are very visible from the castle (and elsewhere) are the ‘UFO’ on top of most SNP, and the Slavin monument. Another notable building is the Slovak Radio building, the upside-down pyramid.
    There are actually two cat cafes in Bratislava; I have visited Mackafe several times, and tried to visit Macinezy Kaviaren (near the station) 3 times, but it has always been closed.. Bratislava also has good links for visiting Vienna and Budapest. Petrzalka station is usually quieter than the main station (connected by the 93 bus).

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment Nigel, useful information ­čÖé We actually didn’t know about the second “Mackafe”!

  4. Sarah
    | Reply

    Bratislava is an amazing travel destination.

    You have provided the best travel guide for this place and the photos are mind-blowing.

    • Enri & Zuz
      | Reply

      Hello Sarah, thank you so much for your kind comment! We’re really happy that you liked our guide. We have written a few more articles on Bratislava: one is dedicated to some off the beaten spots and another to haunted places in the city centre. Hopefully you’ll like them too :).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.