Can’t live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Bratislava-more than just a day trip from Vienna

Even if I’ve never been a big fan of the city I’d had a big sentiment for Bratislava. That’s where I randomly ended up on my first solo trip, a month before I turned 18. It was also the very first destination where I was all on my own, and managed just fine. I was visiting a friend in the nearby capital of Austria and went for a day trip from Vienna to Bratislava before heading back home to Poland. Since then I’ve returned to the city couple of times but always these were just quick, few hours stays on the way to some other destination in Slovakia. Yet I never really connected with the place, didn’t feel this kind of intriguing sparkle that make me fall for the cities.

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Bratislava old town

This has changed last June, when I was returning from my Interrail trip to Romania and Bulgaria. It was a hot Sunday, the weather was more than perfect and as the train was approaching Bratislava central station I could see the city that looked so inviting and nothing than I remembered from my previous visits! It just seemed that the capital of Slovakia has turned into another cool and hip Central European city. On that day I only focused on exploring the amazing Bratislava cafe scene but these few hours made me want to rediscover the city. I promised myself to come back there , to spend more time in Bratislava and to give it a proper chance. And so I did, only 3 months later.

old town Bratislava

Bratislava – a perfect day trip from Vienna or more?

I wasn’t the luckiest one with the weather this time. It was the weekend in the middle of September and as soon as I arrived on Friday evening it started raining. The next day was all grey and gloomy but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the city. The majority of people visit Bratislava as the day trip from Vienna, giving it just a brief look and focusing only on the major attractions of the Old Town. And while it’s really lovely, with cobbled narrow streets and the castle towering above the city, most of the tourists are disappointed with Bratislava. True, the capital of Slovakia might be not as amazing as Vienna, Prague, Budapest or even nearby Brno (one of the 52 places to go in 2016 by New York Times) or not as cool as Kosice – second biggest city in Slovakia and 2013 European Capital of Culture – but it definitely has its moments and you only need to give Bratislava a chance and let the city surprise you!

The Old Town in Bratislava is really small but oh so charming! The maze of lanes, the beautiful architecture typical for Central Europe, the numerous cafes, restaurants and quirky sculptures. That’s also where most of the people visiting Bratislava as a day trip from Vienna start and end their encounter with the city, without venturing any further. That might be the biggest mistake one can do in Bratislava! Admiring the fine houses, palaces and churches or strolling the lanes and getting lost in them might be a big pleasure but that’s not all the city has to offer! I really liked the Old Town in Bratislava, not only it’s picture-perfect but also has some great hidden cool spots like great cafes, Stara Trznica or Galeria Nedbalka. But while I didn’t really feel any vibe there it took me just few steps further, beyond the Old Town to see the real face of Bratislava. And I enjoyed it so much more!

The center of Bratislava is a peculiar mix of architecture. Modernist town houses stand next to the Soviet blocks, modern buildings neighbor with those remembering Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Few streets seem to be forgotten but at the same time they feel the most authentic. And in the middle of that a structure like from a fairy tale – Blue Church – can be found. It’s really hard to define Bratislava, the city is a little bit of everything and that blend makes it so special. While the Old Town was dominated by the tourists, beyond it I’ve seen only locals. The life seemed to go slow there (could be the weekend or could be the fact that Bratislava is not such a big city, barely over 400.000 inhabitants), no one rushed and people just seemed to be happy there. I think that was the crucial point that made me change my perception of the city.

Even if I’ve spent the whole weekend in Bratislava I still feel like I haven’t seen and experienced all I should. I didn’t go to the other side of Danube river, to Petrzalka – one of the largest borough in Europe. I didn’t go to Slavin – a Soviet memorial. I didn’t have a chance to enjoy the local wine and explore the surroundings of Bratislava (including Devin castle). But that all means I need to return there as there’s still plenty to see and do for me. It took me some 7 visits to Bratislava to finally notice the real face of the city and now I just want to experience more and more of it. Don’t make my mistake, give Bratislava a proper chance right away and don’t visit it only as a day trip from Vienna! And if my words are not enough be sure to check Megan’s 5 reasons why Bratislava doesn’t suck.

And here is a little cheat sheet when you visit Bratislava!

What to see and do in Bratislava

  • Explore the Old Town with St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Town Hall, the Slovak National Theatre and Primatial Palace
  • Hike up to the castle
  • Wander aimlessly around the cute charming streets – some of the most picturesque are Michalska, Biela, Kapitulska or Panska
  • Admire the beautiful blue church – St. Elizabeth’s
  • Relax in the park behind Grassalkovich Palace – a home to Slovakia’s President
  • Look around for quirky sculptures like Cumil
  • Enjoy the Danube riverside with the UFO bridge
  • Track down the Soviet architecture, with world’s largest post office and the gem of brutalism architecture – Slovak Radio Building
  • Chill out at one of the many great cafes
  • Just enjoy this great city

How to get to Bratislava

Bratislava airport is served by Ryanair among couple of other airlines, you can fly there from 20 destinations in 8 countries. Much bigger Vienna airport is located only 40kms away from the capital of Slovakia and is well connected with the city. There’re regular daily trains from Bratislava to Vienna (every hour), Prague (every 2 hours), Berlin (3 direct trains), Budapest (6 direct trains) and Warsaw (2 direct trains).

Where to stay in Bratislava

This time I’ve opted for something better than usual and stayed in 4* Lindner Hotel Gallery Central. And it was really good and comfortable, well worth its price (rooms start at 69€ – very decent price for this quality) and with some amazing views over the city. The hotel was located slightly away from the Old Town – for some it could be the downside, I found it a great opportunity to see some regular areas of Bratislava and observe how life goes by there. Also, there’s a big shopping center attached to Lindner Hotel so if you need to go for a shopping spree you’re in the very right place. For a quality weekend in Bratislava I can’t think of a better place to stay in! Check out the prices and details here (click!)

Have you visited Bratislava (and was it a day trip from Vienna or a longer time spent in the city)? Do you give second chances to places? Would you like to visit Slovakia?

If you think of visiting Slovakia look what else I wrote about the country:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you! Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


Bratislava pin (1)       Bratislava pin (2)

Disclaimer: My stay at Lindner Hotel Gallery Central was made possible by Slovakia.Travel, but I paid for the rest of the trip (and previous trips) to Bratislava myself. As usual, all opinions expressed above are my own.

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  • 4
3 Lut '16

There are 79 Comments.

  1. Megan
    11:00 04/02/2016

    I definitely agree that Bratislava deserves more than just a pass-thru to get to know the place. It really is a cool little place and one I have no problem going back to time after time. For some reason, I feel kind of at home there. Thanks for the shout and hope you’re enjoying Italia <3

    • kami
      16:00 15/02/2016

      Thanks :) I’m glad I’m not the only one seeing a real face of Bratislava!

  2. Podobało! Bardzo, bardziej niż Praga.

  3. A great city. Slovakia is massively under-rated as a country.

  4. Loooooooooooooooooooooove!!! I’ve only spent a day there but it was well worth it, too, and I would definitely have wanted to stay for longer!

  5. Thank you for sharing this great post about my town! Slovakia is definitely beautiful country to discover! :)

  6. Pisałam u siebie, że jest bardzo niedoceniana, a ja ją polubiłam, bo taka swojska.

  7. I did what most people do – a day trip from Vienna. I would like to spend more time there as well as the rest of Slovakia.

  8. About ten years ago for the first time. Night train from Prague.have to visit this place again :)

  9. I must admit that I’ve only visited Bratislava on a day trip from Vienna – it was either than or not visit it at all (I’m not a fan of moving every day), but would be happy to return. I really enjoyed the charms of its old town, although it was 26th December (so many things were closed) and starting so snow, so wasn’t the best weather!

    • kami
      16:02 15/02/2016

      true, better this than nothing! Hopefully you will have a chance to go back there to see the city properly! I also wasn’t lucky with the weather this time so I feel your pain!

  10. Yes loved it!!

  11. Drogo jest na tym UFO-moście w tej restauracji? :)

  12. widze, ze tez maja idiotow, ktorzy musza podpisac sie na scianie, street art to to nie jest…

  13. Na moje oko podobna do warszawskiej Starówki i okolic. Nie byłam.

  14. Ciągle poluję na tanie bilety Luxpxpress do Bratysławy:)

  15. Wpadłem kiedyś przejazdem, ale nie urzekła mnie Bratysława… Może trzeba dać jeszcze jedną szansę ;)

  16. Nie byłem, ale planuję nadrobić w najbliższym czasie, tym bardziej że przydało by się odiwedzić też pobliski Wiedeń jeszcze raz;)

  17. Powiem szczerze, że o ile w Wiedniu byłam wiele razy, o tyle w Bratysławie jedynie przejazdem. Jakoś się nigdy nie składało, by zatrzymać się tam na zwiedzanie. A szkoda, bo też ze zdjęć moich rodziców wiem, że warto tam zajrzeć na dłużej niż 10min.

  18. Byłam raz, na dwa dni. Drugiego skończyliśmy w kinie :p.

  19. Bratysława jest zwykle pomijana

  20. Jesper, The Biveros Effect
    17:48 05/02/2016

    We lived for one and a half year in bratislava and not even that is enough to really experience the city :)
    Jesper, The Biveros Effect latest post…Finnish Treats – Things I Could Not Live WithoutMy Profile

    • kami
      16:03 15/02/2016

      True that! How was living there? It seems like a decent city!

      • Jesper, The Biveros Effect
        20:51 21/04/2016

        It is a really nice city to live in. There are more things to do than most people would believe. It is also a perfect base for travelling around in Central Europe. :)
        Jesper, The Biveros Effect latest post…Skopje: Small Yet SpectacularMy Profile

        • kami
          21:38 29/04/2016

          oh yes, being based in Central Europe is a pure bliss!!!

  21. From Poland you may also try out Polski Bus although is not less than 10 hours trip and the price is so so comparing to the cheap flights. Honestly I can admit the same: not my favourite city but I’ve always had a great time there ;) What a coincidence! :)
    Hanging around in Asia latest post…Czerwona ziemia, granaty i butelki z benzynąMy Profile

    • kami
      16:05 15/02/2016

      I’m not using Polski Bus on such long journeys!! Did it once to Prague, 10 hours one way, and I was going back by train ;) But I’ve heard that Lux Express is about to open routes to Bratislava and this one I can definitely recommend!

  22. moje plany, tak bardzo na ten rok

  23. gorgeous pictures and now I want to go there. I have never been to that part of the world. Thanks
    Marc latest post…Irresistible San Francisco: 10 Things You Can DoMy Profile

    • kami
      16:05 15/02/2016

      then you definitely should visit, it’s really great!

  24. Hi, Kami! I found your blog through Girls vs Glove and loved it. Elena

  25. I was there once as a kid for dancing contest :)

  26. For me, only the castle is worth to visit Bratislava. I don`t know why, but I when I think about this city I feel boring :p

    • kami
      16:06 15/02/2016

      you definitely should give it a chance, there’s so much more to see and do than the castle!

  27. You know it very well that I love Bratislava ;). And about this street art – actually I didn’t have the oportunity to look for it in Kosice, but I found lot of it in Bratislava – on the way of Polski Bus to Poland there is a hidden gem ;) And of course – the bus stop under the UFO bridge

    • kami
      16:17 15/02/2016

      the bus stop under UFO bridge was pretty amazing! Still I haven’t seen any decent murals in Bratislava while Kosice is full of them! You should look around next time you’re in Kosice! :)

  28. Oh it looks great! This is the city I have (actually had) lots of doubts. Many people tried to convince me that there is nothing to see there and nothing to do. So I avoided Bratislava for a looong time. Too long to forgive myself such an ignorance. Hopefully I will be able to visit it this year – maybe summer or autumn.
    Tatiana latest post…Lombardia na weekend – BergamoMy Profile

    • kami
      16:19 15/02/2016

      Fingers crossed you will go to Bratislava this year! It took me a while to see its real face and I was also one of the people who used to think there’s nothing there but how wrong I was! I hope you will see its charm right away and won’t need as many visits as I did!

    • Martin Sloboda
      20:39 05/04/2017

      hi kami,
      i just found your blog and read all your posts about slovakia. finally, there is someone who ventured deeper into slovakia. few do so. if you are planning to visit bratislava let me know and i will give you a private tour as local and a professional guide to really get under the skin of bratislava.

      • kami
        19:53 17/04/2017

        Thank you! I will definitely get in touch! And Slovakia is amazing, it’s really a pity most people visit Bratislava only…

  29. 08:33 09/02/2016

    I’ve been to Bratislava once in my life…when I was about 3 years old :D And I don’t remember a thing! But even though you seem to really enjoy the place somehow it still doesn’t tempt me to go there. Maybe I will give it a chance someday but probably not anytime soon. Somehow I think there other more interesting places for me in Slovakia :)
    Ewa latest post…Co mnie wkurza w Kenii?My Profile

    • kami
      16:22 15/02/2016

      Well, I agree as I definitely prefer Kosice over Bratislava! But still it’s not as bad as it might seem at first! You definitely should give it a chance when you’re around, you might be so surprised :)

  30. Love all the pictures you include :]

  31. I’m dying to check this city out! It definitely looks like it warrants more than just a day trip!
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun latest post…50 Incredible Photos of Riga in WinterMy Profile

  32. Mirøslav Hristøff
    09:12 15/02/2016

    Ok… I’ve never been there but while I was watching the pictures I thought – the typical post-communistic scenes as always. This place has a huge potential to be something more and something bigger.
    Don’t get me wrong – your post is great as always. My opinion is related only to the scenes which I see from the city :)
    Mirøslav Hristøff latest post…Street photo diary – street scenes and faces from town of KarlovoMy Profile

    • kami
      16:25 15/02/2016

      Well, Petrzalka is a typical post-communistic area, true! But the center is actually surprisingly nice and it has a huge potential indeed! Hopefully more people will see it, it’s at the best way to change to another cool capital of Europe!
      And thanks ;)

  33. Always happy to read nice things about my hometown :-) I actually managed to get a pass for an inside tour of the radio building (the pyramid) – can´t wait! I´ve been inside for various occasions but I am really looking forward to hearing the stories of the place. Besides, my father worked at the construction when he was young :-)

    • kami
      22:20 18/03/2016

      I’m glad you liked it :) So cool about the radio building! i just loved it! Is it as cool inside as it is outside?

  34. I’m loving your Slovakia posts, Kami! I’ve just booked flights for a quick visit to Bratislava at the end of the month, and these posts are making me even more excited to visit. I’ve heard such varying opinions of the city, but I think it looks like such a lovely place! Thanks for the tips and recommendations – I’m going to check out your favourite cafes now :)

    • kami
      21:00 21/07/2016

      Thank you for your nice words Ashley! It took me a while to warm up to Bratislava but it is a pretty cool city after all, and so pretty! I’m sure you will enjoy it! And if, for some reason, not – there’re all the great cafes to check out!

  35. I enjoyed your post on Bratislava and visited myself in 2013. Ever since I’ve been thinking about my next visit, such a quaint and quirky place.
    Lyn – A Hole in my Shoe latest post…Winter in SydneyMy Profile

    • kami
      12:04 31/08/2016

      Thank you! I really hope you will visit soon, such a lovely place it is!

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