Bratislava has never been on my list of places to visit. Seriously, who puts Bratislava on their travel list? I knew it was the capital of Slovakia, and that was where my knowledge about it ended. And so did my interest in it.
But I found the article published here this summer and it didn’t look bad at all. And when the need of a relaxing weekend appeared and we started looking for options, the plane tickets to Bratislava had very attractive prices. How bad could it be?, we asked ourselves. It was just for 4 days and 3 nights, and two of them were on the road anyway. We looked rapidly on airbnb.com for accommodation. There too, the situation wasn’t bad at all. So, at the end of September 2017, we bought tickets to Bratislava. Yes, I am nostalgically writing about a short vacation from November 2017, when wizzair was still operating Cluj-Bratislava flights. (Hellooo, wizzair, I want to go again! Won’t you introduce this route again? Pretty please!)
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. I’ve heard that the city is small, it’s not as cosmopolite as a European capital should be, that there’s not much to do there, that locals don’t speak English and so on. And it was also the first time we booked accommodation on airbnb. Quite some things that made me anxious.
The flight to Bratislava was pleasant. About an hour and a half on a full plane – it was the last flight from Cluj to Bratislava.
The airport where we landed is small, but neat. By the exit there is a touristic info point. We chose to buy 3-day Bratislava Cards (for 9 euro per person). The advantage of holding the card is that you have free public transport in the city and around it, and many discounts. There is a free one hour long guided tour of the city, free or discounted museum entrances, and other discounts. It is worth buying if you want to visit museums or if you live far from the city center. We booked accommodation near the center, so we rarely used the public transport. And we didn’t really visit that many museums.
The airport has good connections to the city. If you choose not to get a Bratislava Card, there is a ticket machine for public transport in the parking lot. Their buses are no different than ours.
The first impression about Bratislava wasn’t too special. It’s not too clean and there are communist residential buildings. It looked like a city from our country. That was, until we got to the city center. The central area is huge, mostly pedestrian, full of churches with crafty sculpted towers, statues that seemed to be alive and just frozen in time, all kinds of stone lace on the walls. It was like a dream!
Contrary to expectations, we had a perfect November weekend: with warm weather, sun, rusty leaves on the ground and trees still wearing some colorful leaves. If wizzair will help us in the future, it’s a really beautiful autumn destination.
When it comes to places to eat in Bratislava, we were impressed by Slovak Pub. The service was ok, they have traditional Slovak food (who puts cinnamon in cabbage? Who? And why?), homemade beer (I recommend the unfiltered draft beer and the cider made by them, it’s divine), organic produce from a farm. It would be worth visiting even just for the decor: you feel like you are in another century. Did I mention that it’s also friendly to the wallet? We had a very nice and quite big meal (a soup in bread, two main courses and dessert) and drinks (a draft beer and a cider) and it was about 20 Euros. Pretty decent.
We also liked the terraces and venues with very interesting decorations by the Bratislava Castle and the old center. They must look superb during summer.
What else can you do in Bratislava? Walk around the streets. Discover the city. You will not get bored. It’s full of exciting locations, living statues. Here the time has stopped in place: only people dress differently.
You can save the places you want to visit on TripAdvisor or Google Maps. This way it would be much easier to make a route and get everywhere you planned without getting lost. But wandering aimlessly on the streets is not that bad either.
I’m not going to list here the places that the wonderful people of AZ Travel Tips have already mentioned in their article. Not even museums. We decided we had too little time to go through the museums, so besides the Natural History Museum, we did not see any of them. And we only went to this one because I wanted to see the real size mammoth they have there. Plus the animals. And it’s small. The visit takes about 3 hours.
But, some things that I will list here as not to be missed would be:
- A walk along the Danube;
- Bratislava Castle: built on a hill, it offers a wonderful view of the entire city. It also has a huge and well-groomed garden;
- Devin Castle: near Bratislava (the bus station is somewhere close to Bratislava Castle). It takes about half a day to visit and it’s a ruin, but it also has a wonderful view and park. If you are lucky to be there on a clear day, it is a must-see;
- A visit to Vienna: the return trip on a modern bus costs 10 euro per person and does not last more than 1 hour. It leaves you very close to the subway. In addition, they come hourly and the station is close to the one for Devin Castle (tip: tickets to Vienna are bought from the counter or online, not from the driver).
I liked Bratislava. It’s ideal for a beautiful and cheap escapade. And yes, I would definitely come back. But in the summer. So we could stay late on the terraces, enjoying the beer made locally.