Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia. It has history, castles, charm, and interesting food. Looking back on our last trip to Europe, I wish we would have spent more time in Slovakia. Not only do I have a sister there, but the small part of the country we saw was amazing.Bratislava sits on the border of Slovakia and Austria, about an hour and a half from Vienna. It’s so close to Vienna that you could easily visit the city as a day trip. And that’s exactly what we did. (Although I would encourage you to spend at least one night in Bratislava.) We left Vienna early with plans to visit Bratislava for the day and then head to our next destination.
When we arrived in Bratislava, we started out in Old Town and walked around exploring. We found all of the iconic statues that are sprinkled around the area, and had fun taking silly tourist photos, which I think everyone should do from time to time. You will literally just stumble upon these whimsical statues as you stroll through the town. It was a fun treasure hunt of sorts for us. Usually, there are crowds of people taking photos around these statues, so follow the crowds and you are bound to find them.
We walked into some of the souvenir shops and beautiful churches, including the popular St. Martin’s Cathedral. Take some time and relax in the town square and enjoy an authentic Slovakian meal. Traditional Slovakian food was different than American cuisine, to say the least, but yummy! A must try is sheep cheese. It has a very distinct flavor and is in several popular Slovakian dishes, including Bryndzové Halušky, the national dish of Slovakia, which is similar to gnocchi.
Bratislava Castle is just outside of Old Town perched up on a rocky hill. You will immediately notice the prominent castle as you drive into town. The square castle with its four corner pillars has been updated. It now houses various Slovak National Museum exhibitions. Touring the castle and museum’s exhibits will give you a good appreciation for the country’s history. Plus, you will get an exceptional view of the city!
Devin Castle, which is about a 15 minute drive from Old Town, is a wonderful step back into ancient times. Believed to date back to the 5th century B.C, the well preserved ruins sit perched on a cliff overlooking the banks of the water where the Danube and Morava rivers meet. It’s a long, uphill hike to get to the castle from the parking lot but worth every step. Surrounding the castle and running along the river, is a paved walkway that is great for a stroll on a nice day.
The castle costs approximately €4 a person to get in, but beware, they only take cash. We actually found several places through Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland that did not accept credit cards. It is definitely beneficial to take out cash in all three countries, which unfortunately all use different currency, too. We did find many of the places in Czech Republic and Poland would also accept euros, which is what they use in Slovakia and most of Europe, but not all of them.
From Bratislava, we drove into Czech Republic and spent the night in the town of Brno.
If I had this trip to do over again, we would have spent at least one night in Bratislava to give us more time to explore. I would also venture further into the country to get a real feel for what life is like in Slovakia. This is one of those countries I am confident I will return to someday. Although I did get to see my Slovakian sister who met us in Prague, I would have loved to visit her hometown of Bojnice. That is definitely something on my bucket list for the future.
Need more info on things to do in Slovakia? Check out Girl Astray, an excellent resource written by a Bratislava native.
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