Unfortunately, I have visited Bratislava only for a day and I have not stayed there. Our plan was to go Budapest from Prague and we thought it was a good option to visit Bratislava. However, after my two Vienna experience I think it is better to go Bratislava as a day trip from Vienna. I can’t easily say I like visiting Bratislava but visiting another country as a day trip is still a good idea to explore more. I have also heard from many people that most people who visit Bratislava and do not stay there face with similar disappointments and I have been advised by many Slovakian people that the real life begins after evening and Slovakia is probably the best place among Central Europe countries to have an enjoyable nightlife. I am not sure whether they are talking about an experience like in Hostel movie or not, so I am not sure about that too.
How to reach
Although Bratislava has its own airport, I haven’t used it and I have heard no one around me who flied directly to Bratislava. Most people prefer to go Bratislava as a day trip from Vienna or they stop at Bratislava for a day when they go from Prague to Budapest. I have used the night train from Prague to Bratislava and our train arrived Bratislava at 05:00 AM in the morning. Until 11:00 there were really no one on the streets. There is a luggage storage in Bratislava train station, but I can easily say that it is not secure. You just leave your luggage to a guy and they handle it for a fixed price. I hope they have changed it.
If you are coming from Vienna, you should buy your tickets at ÖBB website but if you are coming from Prague you do not have to buy a ticket to Bratislava. You can buy a ticket to Budapest – if it is on your list of course – and that ticket can be used two times: First from Prague to Bratislava and then from Bratislava to Budapest for a specific number of days. Both ticket options are cheaper when you are buying a group ticket. Train journey from Vienna to Bratislava is just only one hour. Last train from Bratislava to Vienna was around 23:15. My recommendation for you is to have a half-day trip at afternoon from Vienna. If you are coming from Prague, it will take around 4 hours during day and around 6 hours for a night train.
Where to stay
I am not in the position for recommending an area to stay. This is mainly because I haven’t stayed there. If I find a second chance to visit Bratislava, I would again go Vienna and extend my stay for a day to go Bratislava again. This mostly depends on your flexibility, but as a person who have full-time job, I can not easily spend a whole week to visit a city, so if you are flexible enough of course you should check places to stay in Bratislava to have the best experience.
I have used metro, tram and bus in many cities in Europe but Bratislava is probably one of the smallest cities I have been. I haven’t used a single ride and I think you will not need it either. It takes maximum 2.2 kilometers from main train station (Bratislava Hlavna Stanica) to city center but you will also find many tram options which will take you to city center easily.
What to do
There are really few things to do in Bratislava. First thing on your list should be visiting Church of St Elizabeth. Probably there are many churches with same name all around the world, so most people know this one as Blue Church. Both the exterior and interior sides of church are blue. That church reminds me the days I watched “Smurf”. It is just around 700-800 meters far to city center and locals think it is far away.
Next thing you should do is exploring Old Town. Small colorful buildings like LEGO sets, clock tower and statues are all located inside the Old Town area. Eventually, the most expensive cafes and restaurants are also located here. The most popular statues are Cumil the Sewer Maker or Man at Work and Schone Naci. Other places which may be worth visiting for you around old town are SND and Ganymede’s Fountain in front of it, St. Martin Cathedral.
In Bratislava, there is a bridge called Ufo Bridge. There is an observation tower where you can watch Bratislava with panoramic view. Like in all observation towers, there is also a restaurant inside eventually. Another option to have better views is visiting Bratislava Castle. You can easily see both Austria and Hungary from the castle area if the weather is nice.
When we are returning back to train station, we looked for a park to rest a little bit. Just before we find a park, we found a palace called Grassalkovich. It is a smaller white house and serves as a residence for the president of Slovakia. Just behind the palace, you will find a public park which was once a park only for the president.
Airport & Transportation
- Airport – https://www.bts.aero/en/
- Airport Transfer – https://www.bts.aero/en/parking-and-transport/transport/to-the-airport/
- Train Tickets (from Vienna) – https://www.oebb.at/en/
- Train Tickets (from Prague) – https://www.cd.cz/en/
- Train Tickets (from Budapest) – https://www.mavcsoport.hu/en
- Public Transportation – https://imhd.sk/ba/public-transport