For many people, including ourselves, Slovakia was a quick stopover on our way to other major European destinations like Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland or Hungary. When you arrive in Bratislava, however, you’ll find that this small city has a lot to offer. Bratislava is charming, walkable and full of small squares with plenty of Slovakian restaurants and boutique shops.
In one busy day, we were able to tick off most of the major attractions, and by the end of our 24 hours, we were sad to leave and ready to return. You can definitely spend an entire weekend in this bustling city and below we’ve listed off a few of the city’s highlights.
Spend the first half of your day checking out some of these historic castles, cathedrals, and palaces. End your day at the Bratislava Castle, located in the Old Town. From there, you can walk around the beautiful squares of the town and treat yourself to a nice dinner and gelato!
The furthest away from Old Town (nearly 35 minutes by public transport), the Devin Castle is where you can start your day. The castle is located in Devin, a borough of Bratislava and has an excellent view of the Danube, the famous river of Europe. This is a must-see site for any history buff visiting Bratislava. Though many parts of the castle are comprised of staircases and tunnels, this impressive gem is simply breathtaking.
St Martin’s Cathedral
This church and cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bratislava is situated at the western border of the historical city centre. It is the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava and is known especially for being the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary. Its spire dominates Old Town’s skyline and the tower virtually formed a part of the town’s fortifications, built as it was into the city’s defensive walls.
The Primate’s Palace is a neoclassical palace in the Old Town of Bratislava and was built in 1778 and today it serves as the seat of Mayor of Bratislava. The building itself is beautiful and is worth walking to!
Of course, while in town, you can’t miss Bratislava Castle! The massive rectangular building with four towers stand on an isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. It’s a beautiful walk to reach the castle and is a cool spot to visit with nice views over the Old Town.
Because of its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries. The location provides excellent views of Bratislava, Austria and in clear weather, parts of Hungary.
For lunch, head over to Modrá Hviezda for some traditional Slovak food in an unusual setting. The restaurant is located at the foot of the hill just as you begin to climb Bratislava Castle. Half of the is set in a cave for a dim a cosy feeling. The food is incredibly tasty and the hearty fishes have lots of meat on the menu.
Old Town has it all and is the perfect place to end your day. A maze of small cobbled streets, the town is full of fantastic sites, markets and shops. It is a wonderful place to spend the late afternoon or evening and watch the city come to life.
These are just some of the things you can see and do in Old Town.
At the top of the old town you’ll find the only city gate in Slovakia that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications and ranks among the oldest town buildings. The tower houses the Exhibition of Weapons of Bratislava City Museum.
During the medieval times, the town was surrounded by fortified walls, and entry and exit was only possible through one of the four heavily fortified fates. Bratislava has evolved and developed harmoniously around the gate and is now an iconic landmark in the old town.
Church of Annunciation
This historic church with an ornate interior is the oldest existing religious building in the Old Town of Bratislava. The church was consecrated in the year 1297 and used to serve large gatherings of townspeople or Hungarian nobles.
Old Town Hall
The complex of buildings from the 14th century in the Old Town is the oldest city hall in the country and is one of the oldest stone buildings still standing in Bratislava. It houses the oldest museum in Bratislava, the City Museum, featuring an exhibit of the city history
The Roland Fountain is the most famous fountain in Bratislava, Slovakia, as well as one of the city’s most important landmarks. Located in the main square of the Old Town, the fountain was built to provide a public water supply and is topped by a statue of Maximilian II.
Man at Work
When walking the streets of Old Town, you almost miss this offbeat bronze statue of a sewer worker resting at the top of a manhole. We did happen to notice him however because I almost tripped over him!
This town square has remains of bratislava Fortifications; the last remaining stretch of the medieval city walls. Located between the New Bridge and the Slovak National Theatre, the square has existed in the Kingdom of Hungary for 1000 years.
For a more traditional restaurant with a local feel, head over to this restaurant for dinner which is right around the corner from Michael’s Gate. The restaurant is located at split-basement level with low vaulted ceilings, a wooden interior and a few arched windows. The food is hearty and wonderful and sums up Slovakia in a dish.