Bratislava Travel Guide

Bratislava Overview

On the banks of the majestic Danube and bordering both Austria and Hungary is Slovakia’s charming and historical capital. Witness to an unsettled past, what were then considered bad times have left a lasting impression on the city and a unique blend of cultural diversity. Traces of the past are clearly visible yet rising out of the mess of concrete communist constructions is a youthful and energetic destination. Bratislava is a curious fusion of the old, the ancient, the new and the futuristic where visitors can explore medieval streets and plazas whilst dining in artsy cafés, walk to the ancient city castle for views of the river and UFO-like bridges and, of course, party in true Eastern European fashion.

The majority of attractions sit to the north of the Danube with the highest concentration being located in the OldTown. Subject to a serious renovation campaign in the late 1990s, this historical quarter is once again thriving with life and activity and, although being relatively small in comparison to its neighbouring counterparts, the classic network of cobblestone streets is where the true charm of the city lays. For the most part off limits to vehicle traffic, by day this is the spot to check out a magnificent legacy of Hapsburg Baroque architecture lining the grand plazas and as the evening draws in the place to walk amongst groups of beautiful people in search of the nights top spot in which to sample the local cuisine and entertainment.
For all its monuments, museums and galleries Bratislava is as much a city of entertainment as it is of historical prowess. Go to the theatre for a ballet or philharmonic performance, dance the night away at one of the many clubs, watch an ice hockey or football match or cruise along the river. If all this is not enough then, during the summer months, escape the heat at Zlate Piesky, the citys largest and most loved recreational park, home to a host of sporting activities both on land and in the cool lake waters.
Since joining the EU in 2004, Slovakia, and in particular Bratislava, has seen a dramatic rise in the standard of living and influx of tourism. Budget airlines have caught on to this and regular flights are now whisking visitors in from all corners of Europe. Those making their way around Slovakia and its bordering countries could do worse than jump on the large network of trains and buses running to Bucharest, Budapest, Kiev, Krakow and Vienna.

Things to do in Bratislava

Bratislava Castle - Perched upon a hill above the Danube and overlooking the city is a box-shaped castle, often referred to as being upturned or resembling a four poster bed and once the seat of Hungarian royalty. Burnt to rubble in 1881, since 1950 attempts have been made to restore the castle to its former glory. Check with hotels to see if the museums have reopened, although if not the climb to the grounds is worthwhile for the city views.

Primatial Palace - Striking 18thC palace famed for being the place where Napoleon Bonaparte and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I authorized the Treaty of Pressburg. Today the seat of Bratislavas mayor, the palace commands a proud position in the heart of the OldTown and is worth a visit for the numerous Hapsburg portraits, English tapestries and Hall of Mirrors.
St Elizabeths Church (The Blue Church) - Of the citys many churches this one is the most appealing with its illuminating Art Nouveau blue-white façade and soaring cylindrical tower. Built from 1907-13 by Hungarian architect Odon Lechner, today the church is a hot spot for local weddings and ceremonies can often be seen during the summer months.
St Martins Cathedral - Bratislavas most important and historical church was originally built in Renaissance style in the 13thC before being replaced with a Gothic façade in the 14thC. During the 16thC St Martins became the coronation cathedral of Hungarian royalty, with, depending on belief, anywhere between 4 and 19 kings and queens being crowned up until the early 19thC.
Slovak National Gallery - Overlooking the Danube in an 18thC palace is an impressive art gallery possessing work from the 13thC up to the present day. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 6pm.
Museum of Jewish Culture - Housed in the sole surviving house from the citys Jewish Quarter is a journey back in time to when a large Jewish community thrived in Bratislava. Exhibits display information about the community, building and culture before it was wiped out in WWII. Open Sunday to Friday 11am - 7pm
Bratislava City Gallery - Permanent exhibitions ranging from Central European Baroque paintings and sculptures to Gothic paintings to Celtic mint in Bratislava as well as temporary exhibitions from across Europe. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am - 6pm.
Novy Most (New Bridge) - Looming above the Danube is a futuristic and UFO-like bridge and observation deck. At the top of the 300m tower is an observation deck and restaurant and nightclub, although food and drinks are overpriced.     
Slovak National Theatre - The citys stunning national theatre dominates the Hviezdoslav Square built in 1885 during Austria-Hungary reign. The wonderful theatre is a great place to catch excellent ballet, opera and philharmonic performances.
Bratislava Nightlife
Bratislavas nightlife is on the move and dominated by the contemporary bars and cafés to be found scattered around the OldTown district.
Bratislava Bars
Café De Zwaan - Belgian beer bar in the mix of the OldTown action and home to wide selection of beer.
KGB Pub - Moody bar in the OldTown housing an intriguing Stalin statue.
Medusa - Swanky restaurant and cocktail bar drawing in a high-flyer crowd.
Slovak Pub - One of the citys liveliest spots frequented by local students and travellers.
Bratislava Clubs
Cirkus Barok - Three storey floating club with theme nights, happy hours and drinks promotions galore.
Nu Spirit Bar - Live music and DJs offering an eclectic mix of drum n bass, samba, jazz and funk.
Sub Club - House and techno club and the place to find Bratislavas underground and alternative scene.

Hotels in Bratislava

Budget Hotels Bratislava

Downtown Backpackers Hostel - Cheap beds, great location and a vibrant atmosphere. Tel (421) 2 5464 1191.
Hostel Blues - Great range of dorms, doubles, private rooms and apartments. Tel (421) 905 204 020.
Patio Hostel - Excellent value hostel and right next to the main nightlife action. Tel (421) 2 5292 5797.
Midrange Hotels Bratislava
Holiday Inn - Modern, comfortable rooms geared towards the business traveller. Tel (421) 2 4824 5111.
Ibis Hotel - Superb standard of well-priced rooms from the European hotel chain. Tel (421) 2 5929 2000.
Luxury Hotels Bratislava
Arcadia Hotel - 5-star hotel in a converted 13thC town house with charming rooms and cocktail and cigar lounge. Tel (421) 2 5949 0500.
Marrols Hotel - Elegantly furnished small boutique hotel with the air of an old jazz lounge throughout. Tel (421) 2 5778 4600.

Bratislava Weather

Bratislava Travel Resources



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