Join us as we explore the Slovak City of Bratislava
This post on Bratislava, Slovakia, is a quick capture of our travels as they occur. Though we often post on social media during our adventures, many have requested that we do so on the blog. The focus will be the photography and our first impressions while experiencing the city. The photos in this post will be from our iPhones vs. our Nikon since we can process them quickly while traveling.
A bit about Bratislava
Bratislava, formally Pressburg, is the capital city of Slovakia. It lies in the southwestern part of the country, along the Danube River, where the river cuts a gorge in the Carpathian Mountains near where the frontiers of Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary meet. Vienna is a short 35 miles west.
Archaeological evidence suggests a prehistoric presence in Bratislava, which was later fortified and settled by the Celts and Romans. In the 8th century was inhabited by the Slavs. The city developed as a trade center and was granted the rights of a free royal town in 1291. The Istropolitana Academy, the first university in what was then Hungary, was founded there in 1465. Bratislava served as the Hungarian capital from 1526 until 1784, when the Turks occupied most of the middle Danube basin. The Hungarian parliament continued to meet there until 1848. Following World War I, Bratislava was made the capital of Slovakia in the first Czechoslovakian Republic, and it remained the capital when Slovakia emerged as an independent nation in 1993.
The enormous Bratislava Castle dominates the city, which stands on a plateau 300 feet above the Danube River. The castle was the residence of the Austrian royal family until it was destroyed by fire in 1811; it has since been largely restored. Today, the castle is Bratislava’s symbol and is home to the Museum of History. Its high crown tower has a beautiful view of the city and the neighboring countries.
The modern city of Bratislava of around 432,000 people, is a cultural center and the seat of Comenius University (successor to the medieval Istropolitana Academy), the Slovak Academy of Sciences (1953), several specialized schools and technical institutes, the Slovak National Theatre, and the Slovak National Gallery and Museum. It is an important road and rail junction and river port.
The top things to do in Bratislava are:
- Bratislava Castle and Museum of History
- St Martins Cathedral from the 15th century and the former coronation church.
- Old Town Hall is home to the oldest museum in Slovakia. The tower provides beautiful views of the Old Town.
- The Blue Church is St. Elizabeth’s church built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century. The blue color of its façade is very detailed with the use of mosaic.
- Slavin War Memorial is the largest in Central Europe and dominates the city skyline. It is the burial ground of 6845 soldiers of the Soviet army who died during the liberation of Bratislava in World War II.
- Primates Palace is a classicist palace from the 18th century in which the Peace of Pressburg was signed.
- Devin Castle is a castle ruin on a high rock towering above the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. It is one of the most important historical and archaeological localities in Central Europe. It offers enchanting natural scenery and breathtaking views.
- Eurovea Waterfront combines the promenade, the shopping center, the waterfront, and the theater square, exuding an urban element. It is where the new Slovak National Theater is located.
- Experience Bratislava’s beer and gastronomic culture. The city has many stylish cafes, bistros, restaurants, breweries, wine bars, and patisseries.
- Grassalkovich Palace is a summer palace from the 18th century that used to be known for its rich social life, and a famous composer Joseph Haydn also performed here. Since 1996 it has served as the seat of the President of the Slovak Republic.
Bratislava Visit Details
One night in the last days of August 2022
5th night of a 14-day trip that included Budapest, Prague, and Vienna
It is our first visit to Slovakia
Marrols Boutique Hotel
(Free with Chase Reward Points)
How we got around Bratislava
We walked 9.6 miles after our evening arrival and for about 3 hours the next day.
The weather was sunny with average temps of the low 80s. It was a bit warm at times but much more comfortable than our days in Budapest.
Our favorite moments and highlights from Bratislava
The Bratislava Castle and grounds are beautiful. The views of the Danube and the city make it even more special. It was quite an effort to walk up to the castle, but it was well worth it.
Old Town is not very large and easy to navigate. There are many churches, restaurants, bars, churches, and shopping.
St Martin Cathedral is the city’s main church and is quite impressive.
We found the Blue Church well worth the visit.
The UFO bridge is unusual, but somehow it works.
Observations and Commentary
River cruises make a stop here, so there can be quite a bit of tourist traffic for several hours when they are docked. During our visit, it seemed only locals in the Old Town area. We did not feel out of place or were given curious glances. Everyone was friendly.
Though we did not take public transportation, it looked state-of-the-art, frequent, clean, and well-used.
Bratislava is an old city with a long and fascinating history. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we were expecting a city that may be still struggling after over 40 years of communist rule. That could not be farther from the truth. The city is modern, clean, efficient, bustling, and in good economic shape overall. The community seemed well engaged. We did not see any homeless or beggars. Parks were full of families. Even the old Soviet apartment building was brightened up and aesthetically pleasing. Roads were being improved, restoration of the old building was active, and new buildings were under construction.
The food, hotels, public transit, and site entries were inexpensive. Their currency is the euro, and you will find your money goes far.
We felt safe everywhere, even late into the evening. This city has many young people, providing youthful energy and an active social scene.
Apple Pay was accepted everywhere. We rarely pulled out a credit card,
Tipping is expected in Slovakia. It is customary to be around 10% of your restaurant or bar bill. Restaurants rarely offer you to add a tip as they do in the US; there are two options: leave cash or tell them how much to add to the bill when paying. For example, on a 70 euro bill, we would say, please add seven more euros to that for a tip. They are always appreciative.
Where to stay when visiting Bratislava
Our recommendation is to stay in the heart of the city. n as it is an ideal location to stay to visit the whole city. The city is small and easy to get around.
We believe it is important to price out properties on various sites. Expedia is a US-based company, whereas Booking.com is Europe-based. Not all properties appear on both. If the establishment has a website, check the price there as well.
Thank you for joining us on our adventure through the city of Bratislava
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Check out the Official Tourism Website for Bratislava
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