Although it’s one of Europe’s smaller cities, the capital of Slovakia is not to be underestimated.
From wandering around the streets of Old Town to exploring the Christmas Markets during the festive period, there is plenty to see and do here.
Location: Bratislava, Slovakia
Population of city: 421,801
Nearest airport: Bratislava M. R. Štefánik Airport
Main train/bus station(s): Bratislava Hlavna Stanica
Best time to visit? All year round, but very cold in Winter.
Budget level? ££
Best for: History/museums, Old Town, Landmarks, Nightlife, Budget friendly
You only need a night or two to explore this small but perfectly formed capital. A good way to do it is to get the night train either in or out and then spend one night in a hostel. This means you’ll have at least one full day to explore even if you only stay one night.
Bratislava is easy to reach from the rest of Central/Eastern Europe, with regular trains to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and further afield. There are also lots of flights to the UK if you’re leaving from here.
Perhaps the most famous monument in Slovakia, this traditional castle overlooks the city from an isolated rocky hill. Perfect for a photo backdrop! The Bratislavan tourist board operates tours of the castle every Saturday in July and August. The tour lasts one hour and takes you around the Castle and the History Exposition.
This ruined medieval Castle has been declared a national cultural monument of Slovakia. Situated just outside of the old town, the Castle is easy to visit and the panoramic views across the Danube and Morava river are some of the best in the city. Follow the footpath around the castle to the watch tower and discover the legend that earned the tower the nickname, Maiden’s Tower.
No visit to Bratislava is complete without a visit to the Bratislava Tower, otherwise known as the UFO sightseeing tower. Stop for lunch at the restaurant and cafe 85 m in the air or step out onto the sight-seeing deck for 360 degree views of Bratislava.
Winter is one of the best times of year to visit Bratislava with the Christmas markets running between late November and late December. The city’s main square is the star of the show, filled with traditional stalls selling truffle chocolates and Slovak crafts. There’s also plenty of Christmas spirit in Hviezdoslav’s Square where there’s even an ice-rink for some extra winter wonderland magic!
Bratislava is a tiny capital, which makes it super easy to walk around. That said, you’ll find plenty of trams and buses if you want to get to the station easily, or go further afield.
Bratislava’s Old Town is one of the city’s main attractions. Head to the main square for a selection of lively bars and restaurants with a view of the Old Town Hall. For a more relaxing atmosphere, check out Franciscan Square. Here you’ll find Mirbach’s Palace, home to the City Gallery.
If you’re looking for a slightly less touristy way to spend your day, explore Bratislava’s new town. Home to many of the cities budget shops and restaurants, it’s also known for the Kamzik TV Tower and Bratislava Forest Park.
With more than 3.8million collection items across 18 specialised museums, the Slovak National Museum is a chain of museums detailing Slovak culture, art and history.
You’ll find Bratislava’s National History Museum perched on the banks of the River Danube. With 4 permanent exhibitions and 2-3 temporary exhibitions, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
Established in 1868, this is the oldest museum in continuous operation in Slovakia.