Coming to Slovakia is like going back in time, atmosphere and vibe you get here are very different from major capital cities in Europe. Since Slovakia has just declared its independence in 1993 it has yet to be a popular tourist destination.
Today we’re going to explore the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava which is located along the Danube river by the boarder Hungary and Austria. Travelling to Bratislava can easily be done by taking direct train from Budapest (2 hours and a half) or Vienna (about 1 hour) (about €10-€20 for return). Another great thing I love about Slovakia is the cheap cost of living here as an average meal costs costs around €4 – €15.
Despite the official language being Slovak, most people speak English here so you don’t have to worry about any difficulties getting around. Since there are so many things to do and to see here in Bratislava itself, I recommend to spend at least 2 days here.
1. DEVIN CASTLE
Devin castle is one of the most well-known castle in Slovakia. It is 30 minutes by bus from Bratislava town centre. From here you can see the Danube River and the tri-boarder of Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. Note that from Devin castle bus stop you’ll have to walk for another 10-15 minutes up the small hill to reach the castle.
I recommend you to spend your morning here so you can have the rest of your afternoon exploring Bratislava town centre.
Walking towards Devin castle
The view from my small hike up Devin castle
2. BRATISLAVA FREE WALKING TOUR
Twice a day, morning and afternoon, there is the free walking tour. As the name suggested, it is totally free as the tours are done by volunteers but people will usually give from €2-€20 depending on how satisfy you are after the tour. Time varies from season to season, ask your hostels/hotels to confirm the time of the tour and plan accordingly. The tour lasts for about an hour (all by walking and stopping at each places, you’ll go around the town in circle and essentially will be back to the beginning point or nearby at the end of the tour.
They normally meet at Hviezdoslavovo námestie which is one of the most famous town square in Bratislava. The meeting point is usually by the statue in the middle of the square.
Hviezdoslav statue in the square
3. SLOVAK NATIONAL THEATRE
Just behind the meeting point is the old Slovak National Theatre.
4. STATUE OF IGNÁC LAMÁR (Schöner Náci)
One of the most famous sculptures in Slovakia, it is built as a memorial for a the grandson of the famous clown during the 1900’s. He has brought so much happiness and joy to the streets and the people of Bratislava by greetings them with his top hat and giving them flowers.
5.Čumil A.K.A. ‘MAN AT WORK’
Just around the corner is another famous sculpture in Bratislava, Čumil or ‘Man at Work’ is built as a remembrance for a small guy who always putting his head out of the manhole to look after the people of Bratislava.
‘Man at Work’ sculpture in Bratislava
6. BRATISLAVA OLD TOWN HALL
One of the oldest buildings remains in Bratislava right in the town centre. Be sure not to miss it. If you look carefully there are few cannonballs still stuck in the walls from the World War II in some part of the building.
7.Capuchin Church and Monastery
Just outside the town hall to the northern part of the city is the Capuchin Church along the tramline and the Bratislava castle behind over the hill.
8. St. Elizabeth’s CHURCH (THE Blue Church)
St Elizabeth’s Church or the Blue Church is arguably the most popular church in Bratislava, many people queue for months to get marry here. The whole church is painted blue including the chairs and the interiors, too bad I there was a service going at the time and I couldn’t get in.
9. BRATISLAVA CASTLE
The main castle in Bratislava castle, now is a museum and is open to public. The museum exhibits collectibles, artefacts and paintings from past Slovakia culture especially from the World War and other major history events. The museum is quite big so you’d expect to spend at least 1-2 hours here. The castle is located on top of the steep hill so I recommend you to take a direct bus here from the town centre.
Me inside of the Bratislava Castle
10. SLOVAK HAUSE RESTAURANT
I recommend you to at least try traditional Slovak Cuisine once you’re here. I recommend ‘Slovak Hause’ which is located right in the town centre in front of the Old Slovak Theatre just around the corner from the famous Cumil Man At Work sculpture.
11. LEMON TREE & SKY (ROOFTOP RESTAURANT – THAI CUISINE)
A fancy rooftop restaurant right in the city centre of Bratislava. This is one of the top rated restaurants in Bratislava. Even though the price is relatively high compared to other restaurants in Slovakia (€15 – €20 per dish), the foods and the view makes it worth it.
Moreover, if you have half a day or one full day to spare and love a bit of trekking, I would recommend you to visit Hainburg an der Donau in Austria which is only 37 minutes direct bus from Bratislava. It is famous for its mountain-top castle and its surrounding sceneries.
Finally, I hope that you’d enjoy Bratislava and Slovak culture as much as I did. This country is still pretty much underrated and deserve much more attention. I’m happy to be able to share Slovakia and its culture with you all.
Happy adventure everyone!
Kasidit Vongvatanapuntu (Kay)