Bratislava travel guide
Bratislava is an old European city full of character, with a beautifully restored historic quarter, a setting on the Danube and a liking for a good night out.
Just an hour by train from Vienna, it’s been home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks – and like all cities of cultural confluence, it shows diversity in everything from its architecture to its cuisine.
There’s much to love here and Bratislava’s many charms have more than offset its communist legacy. Here you’ll find the greatest concentration of high-quality restaurants in Slovakia, while the narrow pedestrianised streets of the Old Town lead you past cosy cafés, late-night bars and relaxed pubs, not to mention some eye-catching outdoor sculptures.
Museums, galleries and a whole slew of festivals and events further enhance the city’s colours, but when you’ve had your fill of exploring the city itself, it’s easy to escape from the hustle and bustle. Many walk, cycle or picnic in the forested hills that surround Bratislava – or discover some of the many vineyards and castles in the surrounding region.
Five bridges connect the two halves of the city across the Danube, but the sites of interest to visitors are almost all north of the river, in the cobbled streets and attractive squares of the Old Town. It’s a city with a pleasantly relaxed feel and with fewer than half a million inhabitants, it’s never really going to feel overcrowded.
The white walls of Bratislava Castle draw the eye, although the views granted from the castle’s hilltop are just as impressive – you’ll see the medieval roofs of the Old Town below, as well as ranks of socialist-era tower blocks on the other side of the river. This is a city with more than one face, and that’s part of its appeal.