Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia. It has history, castles, charm, and interesting food. Because of its proximity to Vienna, many just visit Bratislava in a day trip. However, in retrospect I wish we would have spent more time in the city and exploring the rest of the country of Slovakia. Not only do I have a sister in Slovakia, but the small part of the country we saw was amazing.
Bratislava in a day
Bratislava sits on the border of Slovakia and Austria, about an hour and a half from Vienna. The two cities are so close that you could easily take the train from Vienna to Bratislava just for the day. On this particular vacation, we were roadtripping through Europe, so we didn’t take the train. However, it is perhaps the most popular means of travel between the two cities. We left Vienna early in the morning with plans to visit Bratislava for a day before heading to our next destination, Brno, Czech Republic, that evening. Although I would encourage you to spend at least one night in Bratislava, if your time is limited, you can easily experience much of Bratislava in a day.
Old Town Bratislava
When we arrived in Bratislava, we started out in Old Town and walked around exploring. Like many of the cities in Europe, the buildings in Old Town Bratislava are beautiful and the architecture will transport you back in time. 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. Not a meat eater? Don’t worry! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in Bratislava, as well.
Quirky Bratislava statues
There are several quirky bronze statues in Bratislava that have become somewhat of a tourist attraction themselves. Man at Work, which is a statue of a smiling sewer worker coming out of a manhole, is perhaps the most famous and photographed of the Bratislava statues. As we explored Old Town we set out to find all of the iconic statues sprinkled around the area. You will literally just stumble upon these whimsical statues as you stroll through the town. Usually, there are crowds of people taking photos around the statues in Bratislava, so follow the crowds and you are bound to find them.
If you are visiting Bratislava with kids, finding the statues can be a fun treasure hunt that will keep your kids engaged and interested as you are sightseeing. We had fun taking silly photos and being tourists, which I think everyone should do from time to time.
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 and renovated. 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 and another attraction worth visiting in Bratislava. 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.
Is Bratislava worth visiting?
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. The city is a great combination of beauty, history, and quirky character. Despite our short time there, Bratislava is definitely worth visiting, even if only for a day. While one day in Bratislava gave us a small sampling of the city, we didn’t get to see the rest of the country at all. I would love to venture further into Slovakia someday and especially check out the beautiful region of Northern Slovakia. Having family in Slovakia, it is one of those countries I am confident I will return to multiple times. Although I did get to see my sister during our trip, I would have loved to visit her hometown of Bojnice, as well. That is definitely something on my bucket list for the future.
Have you visited Bratislava, Slovakia? Was a day in Bratislava enough or did you stay longer? Let us know in the comments below!