Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and a perfect place for a weekend trip. There’re plenty of things to do there, it has a convenient location (near Vienna or Budapest) and the historic city is compact for travelers to see the main attractions without being totally beaten. Two days are just enough for sightseeing, cycling along the Danube River, and shopping.
It’s a Rococo/Baroque building that is the official residence of Slovakia’s president since 1996. The building dates back to the 1700s and was originally used for aristocratic society events and musical performances. The garden park, where we spent most of the time has a playground for kids, but the eye-catching attraction is the famous Fountain of Youth, three naked figures playing in the water.
A postcard view of Bratislava is its castle, and of course, it’s a spot you cannot miss. This 9th-century landmark is especially magical when the sun goes down. The four-tower structure is hard to miss. One of the towers, the 47-meter-tall Crown Tower, dates back to the 13th century and once housed the crown jewels. Climbing many stairs pays off as you get to see a great view of Bratislava, and also on a clear day, you can see all the way to Austria.
It’s the last one standing city’s gate. One out of four built in the 1300s secured the city from intruders. The gate went through several reconstructions through the years, including a Baroque-inspired one in 1758 that included a Dragon statue on top of the gate.
The UFO Bridge
The SNP bridge aka the UFO Bridge is one of Bratislava’s most extraordinary structures. At the top of this 95-meter tower, in the shape of a flying saucer, there’s an observation platform as well as a fancy restaurant. The bridge itself has two levels: one for traffic and one for bikes and pedestrians. Under the bridge, you can find a bust stop, where you can ride all the way to Bratislava ZOO for example.
The only way to access the tower is via an elevator, the admission price is almost 9 Eur or 12 Eur for a day&night ticket, which means you can enter twice on the same day. More info about the tower here.
Statues in the Old Town
Bratislava is dotted with eccentric and peculiar statues. Among the most photographed ones is the “man at work”, a worker coming out of a manhole, observing the busy streets of Bratislava. On the way from Hviezdoslav square to the UFO bridge, you can spot a few more: Hans Christian Andersen or a lady with a deer. You can also try to find them all! Challenge accepted?
Residents of Bratislava colloquially call the Art Nouveau Church of St. Elizabeth the blue church, not surprisingly because of its color. It was built in 1909 as a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church, and it was meant to be a school chapel. It wasn’t blue originally, but thanks to that it became a popular tourist sight.
The second-largest river in Europe runs through Bratislava. I suggest you take a walk there or rent a bike and ride as far as you can. Along the river, you may find several parks, among them the most popular: Janek Kral park with a closeby playground in Tyrsovo Nabrezie. On the other side of the river, Slovak National Gallery and Slovak National Theatre have their seats. Eurovea is also an interesting place– it’s a modern shopping mall with restaurants, but also a cultural area, where concerts and gigs take place. Far from the city center, 20 kilometers south along the river you can find an unusual Art Museum called Danubiana. When visiting you can expect modern art and an outside sculpture park in a remarkable location on the borders of Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria.
Bratislava is a foodie’s paradise offering modern cuisine in fab and rare places.
Urban House is one of them. They serve a breakfast menu until 1 pm during the weekend in a boho-style restaurant. This place is recommended by the locals. Wait till you see the bathroom!
The market (Trznice) is a place, where you can try traditional food, buy some local products and support local farmers. If you show up early enough you can definitely feel up your stomach as well.
Steinplatz kaviareň a bar is a place loved by locals, it’s called Coffee and bar, but I feel it’s more of the second one. It offers a wide variety of wines and beers, but naturally, they do have coffee and non-alcoholic drinks as well.
Visiting cities with kids may turn out into a nightmare unless you put some effort into planning it. What worked on our kids in Bratislava was a quest for painted stones – popular all over the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In search of colorful pebbles, the walk was much more entertaining for kids. Secondly, kids love playgrounds – so try to find one, if possible, near the attraction you want to see. It’s a win-win situation. Thirdly, when visiting the Old Town of Bratislava give your kid a map, the one given at the Info center is just right, and ask your kid to find a way to a particular place.
Among the top attractions for kids in Bratislava are:
Bratislava ZOO – it’s a half-day trip. From the city center you may get here by public transport, and it’s a preferable choice considering the parking place is completely packed.
Playground at the Bratislava Castle – you wouldn’t expect this one there. It’s impossible to miss, but just to give you a hint about where to find it, it’s in front of the souvenir shop.
Bon manufacture – a place, where kids can make their own candy or buy original souvenirs from Bratislava.
The Natural Science Museum – may be a good option when it’s raining. The museum focuses on the presentation of the natural environment, mainly in Slovakia.
Bibiana – it’s an International House of Art for kids offering exhibitions, theatre shows, and workshops
Plenty of boutique, stylish, budget, or mid-range hotels, are available in Bratislava. We stayed at Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel overlooking Hviezdoslav Square, which was an ideal location for a walking tour around the city. You can also find other options here.