We recently spent 24 hours in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. If you’re planning on making a stop in this Eastern European metro, see how we spent our 24 hours to get a taste of the city.
You can’t always believe what you hear.
Before we arrived in Bratislava, I read how the locals detest the UK stag parties that flood the city with their loud boorish accents, lewd behavior and harass their innocent, exotic women. We didn’t see any groups of male party-goers, but did pass some strip clubs on the streets. Walking past a club called “Boobies”, we both let out an outpouring of laughter. Granted, it’s not tourist season (the middle of winter) but Bratislava wasn’t the English dumping ground I read about.
Speaking of winter, there’s that famous Euro Trip line. Thankfully, it is the middle of winter, and we didn’t find the city depressing one bit!
And how can I speak of movies without mentioning that Hostel was based in Bratislava. I’ve never seen the movie, since I don’t like horror movies, which was probably for the best. After walking the streets of Bratislava for two days, I can happily report we felt just as safe as in any other American or European metro.
As far as downtown metros go, the old town is quite compact and very friendly to walking tourists.
Being post-war and post-Communist, some of the buildings are worse for wear. As you walk down the street, you may walk by a gorgeous historical building followed by a building covered in grafitti and topped by a collapsing roof. This may contribute to the stereotypes portrayed in movies.
You’ll find Old Town Hall town (and clock tower) & Primate’s Palace (a neoclassical pink building that offers tours) at the city’s center.
St. Martin’s Church (featured in image at top of post) is one of the most famous sites in Bratislava. Coronations for the kings and queens of the castle were held at this Catholic church. Note the crown at the top of the steeple rather than a cross. We walked past both Saturday and Sunday and even caught a glimpse of a bridal party leaving the church on Saturday!
A short walk up the hill leads to Bratislava Castle. At the top, you’ll get a great view of the city, the Nový most (UFO Bridge), St. Martin’s Church, and the Communist community. We took as many winding, side streets as we could on the way to and from the castle, to take in more of the city.
Before heading back to downtown and across the river, we passed another beautiful building, the snow-white exterior of the president’s home (Grassalkovich Palace).
The Church of St. Elizabeth (AKA The Blue Church) is located outside of the city center area, and it was well worth the extra 15 minute walk. As we arrived on Sunday, church was letting out and the parishioners poured into the streets. The interior of the Art Nouveau style church is as beautiful inside as it was on the exterior. Must see.
Our first food stop was at the Trhovisko Miletičova farmer’s market (a short drive or bus trip from the downtown area). The fermented sauer kraut (out of the huge wood vats) and liver stuffed lokše were top contenders. A young couple (a pair of Bratislava locals) that we chatted with at the market told us we made a good choice coming to the market first. If there’s food to be eaten, we’ll sniff it out!
Later that day, hungry and touring Old Town, we stumbled upon Pulitzer, a restaurant I’d read about online. My husband tried their #1 selling tripe soup. Seated at the window, we had a good view of the main strip. I felt our meal was priced higher due to its prime location for tourists.
That night, we dined at a Asian fusion cafe called Bistro Soho. Our meals (served in a giant bowl with chopsticks) were delicious and unlike anything else we’d had in Slovakia, and I slurped up their mint lime-ade. It was within walking distance of our hotel, and we felt comfortable walking back at 10pm at night.
Additionally, we tried a few various street food snacks, and snacks from Biopark (an organic express grocery store at both malls).
If you’re looking for something more unique to Bratislava, check out Slowatch, Slavica and Kompot at Laurinska 19. These three boutique shops feature local designers and artists. Continuing down Laurinska, we wound up on the back side of St. Martin’s Cathedral.
Our 24 hours in Bratislava included an overnight stay, which we spent at LOFT Hotel. It’s located in the Staré Mesto neighborhood, a short 10-15 minute walk to the Old Town historic sites.
There was free parking on the road Saturday night outside of the hotel. They also have a pay ramp.
After checking in, and marking up the map they provided us with all the spots we intended to visit, we enjoyed a glass of wine in their coffee wine bar cafe.
Hours later (after more walking and dining at Bistro Soho) our night ended where it began, in the hotel. We both tried a beer from their brewery (Fabrika).
The next morning, we ate a large European breakfast to prepare us for the day. It came complete with meats, cheeses, pastries, eggs and fruit (and a lot of it).
A variety of tongues were spoken by guests, but most of the guests spoke English to the hotel staff. If you speak English or Slovak, you can easily get by both at the hotel and in Bratislava.
With more time, taking in a traditional Slovak folk dance or music performance would have been on my wish list, as is trying the best halušky the city has to offer.
We didn’t try any of the clubs in the city, but I have no doubt it’s an experience to not be missed. We didn’t think we could stay up til Midnight, much less 5am.
And there’s the famous Devin Castle ruins, situated between Austria and Slovakia on the Danube River.
Now tell me, what would you do in your 24 hours in Bratislava?
*All photos by Brooke with the exception of the Loft Hotel image