We visited Bratislava as a day trip from Budapest, during my interrailing trip. Though I was happy with my decision to visit the city, I can reassure you that you don’t need to spend longer than a day in this city. The old town with its narrow streets and contrasting buildings is beautiful. We took a train to Bratislava and wanted to make use of the entire day, so decided to take an early train there. As we went clubbing the night before and didn’t get back until the early hours of the morning, it was a real struggle getting to the station – but we made it for our 6am train.
Bratislava, self-described as a “little big city” is easily walkable and discoverable on foot. With only 460,000 people, it is much quieter and calmer than other capital cities to walk – which makes it a far more enjoyable experience.
Hannah and I decided to take a free walking tour around Bratislava to cover the main sites and learn about its history. It is safe to say, that you can easily finish the city in those 2-3 hours. Here are the things to see and do in this city if you only have a day:
Stroll Around the Old Town
The beauty of this city is jus to walk around the narrow streets of Old Town. Not only will this help you find your bearings with the city being so compact, but you can truly discover some hidden gems. The charm of Bratislava is that around every corner you discover a magnificence that will leave you in awe of this wonderful city.
St Elizabeth’s / Blue Church
This church is one of the most striking churches I have seen. It looks almost plastic with it being painted in a vivid sky blue pallet. You will be sure to remember this church as it stands out within the communist-grey architecture of the surrounding streets.
Hviezdoslavovo Namestie (Main Square)
This square is where the hive of activity is. You will find rows of cafes and restaurants in which you can just st back and soak in the history what has passed through the square. It has some remaining medieval houses from ancient Hungarian noble families as well as the notable Notre Dame cloister and Slovak National Theatre. The German and American embassies as well as the famed Carlton Hotel (previously hosted King Franz Joseph and Albert Einstein) is situated here. Hannah and I had our lunch here whilst playing cards – we loved just sitting and people-watching in this square.
Cumil (The Watcher)
Cumil is Bratislava’s notorious sewer worker statue. Debate still rages as to what this lad is actually doing – is he resting? Is he heading down to clean the sewer? Or is he peeping up women’s skirts? This odd statue was installed in 1997 to make the city look more interesting after its communist architecture and decoration, but has come to be a beloved institution in the city.
St Michael’s Gate (Michalska Brana)
This impressive gateway is the only remaining entrance to the old medieval fortifications of the city and one of the oldest structures in Bratislava. If you look closely enough, it has some beautiful features on it. I enjoyed the city’s charm more than I expected.
Whilst I certainly cant say that visiting Bratislava has inspired me to travel more within Slovakia, I did think that it made for a great day out, if you have a spare day in your itinerary.
Hannah and I only saw this castle from afar because by this point of our inter railing trip, we were getting board of castles. Besides, no offence to Slovakians – but compared to its neighbours, this was a very unimpressive-looking castle.
The currency of Slovakia is Euro – which is strange considering that it is as “Eastern European” as Czech Republic. I personally don’t like using the Euro as its makes it all a bit homogenised. You lose that exciting feeling of using a new currency. Bratislava is still quite cheap for Europe but not as cheap as other Eastern European countries. I only bought some infamous Slovakian honey for my mother and some earrings. Cute.