Bratislava is a small historical city, but largest in Slovakia and a youngest european metropolis. Enjoy the shopping, dining and natural wonders Bratislava has to offer as a reemerging sparkler of history, culture, business and recreation.
Inexpensive by comparison to western Europe, small enough to manage on a short visit, with charm enough for a longer one, Slovakia’s capital offers a variety of activities to travelers with any goal. In beautiful Old Town or elsewhere, the Bratislava area today offers a wide variety of very good lodgings.
Come and experience it for yourself. A few days in Bratislava, building in a tour or two, is the perfect beginning to your Slovakia vacation.
Historic old town
If you have a half day in Bratislava, concentrate on the historic old town. It’s easy to find, downhill from the hill-top dominating medieval castle, and past the tall spire of St. Martin’s Cathedral. The maze of cobblestone streets are mostly limited to pedestrians. Shade trees and fountains decorate small parks, and you have an abundant choice of cafes and restaurants, with outdoor seating in appropriate seasons and places.
The oldest surviving remnant, a basilica on the lawn facing Bratislava’s Old Town, dates from the 9th century. The aristocratic Palffy family completed extensions that make for today’s “upside-down table” appearance of four peaked corner towers. In 1811 a fire in what was then a barracks left the castle an abandoned hulk, and restoration was to start only in the 1950s. Serving briefly as seat of government for independent Slovakia in 1993, the castle today serves as museum and special events venue, notably as the site of the Bush-Putin summit in February 2005.
The castle dominates the centre of Bratislava, towering over the second-highest point of St Martin’s cathedral spire.
Shopping & relax
The historic old town combines the most expensive international boutiques with tourist-oriented souvenir shops, and numerous cafes and restaurants. Many large shopping malls have opened in the last several years; these combine high-ticket stores with mid-market bargains.
Obchodna ulica (view Obchodna ulica on map), as well as a number of shopping centres and stores more on the edges of town, is where many Slovaks do most of their shopping.
In Bratislava, there are many opportunities for relax and outdoor activities to enjoy this vibrant and young European city with your family, friends or by yourself.
Day trips to/from Vienna
Bratislava is also an easy day trip from Vienna, by car, bus, train or river.
Bratislava was for centuries a small town nearby the imperial capital of Vienna, and thrived best in the peak period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It therefore presents an interesting supplement to the Austrian capital. In fact, Bratislava’s old town is so much more quaint that it is sometimes used as a backdrop for movies set in Vienna.
For those who want to spend time in Vienna on a tight budget, Bratislava is an ideal base. You can sleep in a summer dormitory room for under 10 euros per night, eat some decent meals for under 5 euros, and commute in little over an hour to most destinations in Vienna.