My love for Europe is never-ending, so today I’m sharing a city in Eastern Europe that needs to be on your radar: Bratislava, Slovakia. While this capital city rarely tops the charts of European getaways when compared to cities like London or Paris, this historic city has a special charm that you must experience.
Bratislava lies along the Danube River and connects Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. It’s only a short drive from both locations, so it’s easy to visit. We spent a couple nights in Bratislava on our way from Budapest to Lake Bled, and driving through Slovakia was one of our favorites. The journey was filled with charming, quaint towns and the countryside was absolutely beautiful!
Once you arrive in Bratislava, you can valet your car and pick it up when you leave. Though it’s the capital of Slovakia, it’s a small city that’s easy to navigate and very walkable. From castles and cathedrals to fine restaurants and theatres, Bratislava is a beautiful city that has something for everyone! Keep reading for our recommendations about what to do, where to stay, where to eat + more!
What To Do:
- Old Town – Stroll through the charming streets lined with shops and bistros
- Grassalkovich Palace – Visit the official residence of the President of Slovakia and walk through the serene French gardens, which are now open to the public
- Blue Church – Officially known as the Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary, this beautiful blue church is absolutely beautiful and a must-see
- St. Martin’s Cathedral – This is the largest cathedral in Bratislava and is located in Old Town
- Bratislava Castle (Hrad) – This is the main castle of Bratislava and is the home of many of the Slovak National Museum collections. If you only visit one castle in Slovakia, visit this one. Plus is has amazing views of the city and UFO.
- Head to Aupark for a bit of retail therapy – This entertainment hub is packed with 250 shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and more.
- Devin Castle – Though this castle was actually blown up by Napoleon’s army, it remains a Slovakian monument with rich medieval history
Where To Stay:
- Tulip House – This was where we stayed and loved it. It’s in a great location, and the suites are HUGE. Click here to read more about our stay!
- Hotel Albrecht – This is another one of our favorite hotels in Bratislava, and we will definitely consider staying here next time to switch it up. If you love a luxury hotel, this is the place for you!
- Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel – If boutique hotels aren’t your cup of tea, check out the Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel. It’s next to Hviezdoslav Square in the Slovakian capital’s historical quarter.
Where To Eat & Drink:
The food in Bratislava is definitely meat-heavy, so be prepared to try a lot of new dishes.
- UFO – If you only go to one restaurant in Bratislava, go to UFO. This spaceship-shaped restaurant, bar, and observation deck is located high above the “new” bridge (separating old and new Bratislava) over the Danube. Great drinks and best views of the city. If you aren’t too terrified of heights, climb up to the outdoor deck for panoramic views of Bratislava.
- Albrecht – This is a great spot for date night – It’s on the formal side, but has a great menu and ambience!
- Houdini – Located in the Marrol’s Hotel, Houdini offers a mix of Central European and Slovak cuisine. We visited for lunch, but it’s also great for dinner!
- D Steakhouse – If you’re craving a heavy steak and wine night, this is your spot. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it.
- Fou Zoo – No matter where I am, I’m always craving sushi. Fou Zoo has a great mix of sushi and Pan Asian cuisine that really hits the spot!
- Sky Bar Bratislava – After a long day of touring the city, we loved stopping by Sky Bar for happy hour at sunset. The terrace overlooks Old Town, so it’s a great spot for winding down before dinner.
- Grand Cru Wine Bar – Looking to ease into the night? Stop by Grand Cru Wine Bar for the best Slovak wines before heading off to dinner
- Slovakia is well-known for it’s spa-towns, ice caverns, and some of the largest caves in Europe – so be sure so plan day trips to explore!
- The Danube River runs through Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna, so you’ll see lots of river boats stopping through the city.
- Be on the lookout for hidden bronze statues throughout the Old Town. One of our favorites was the Man at Work, which was a construction worker popping out of a manhole.
- Did you know Bratislava is known by three different names by three different ethnic groups? It’s known as “Bratislava” by Slovaks, “Pressburg” by Germans, and “Pozsony” by Hungarians.
- Slivovica is a strong plum brandy shot often served during dinners. Once your shot is empty, it will be refilled – so if you’re looking to call it quits, leave your shot half-full.
- Bratislava is the only capital city that borders two countries: Austria and Hungary
- Be sure to try the Bratislavsky rozok – it’s a crescent-shaped pastry that is a Bratislavan favorite.
Have you been to Bratislava? What were some of your favorites?
For more information about Bratislava from the locals, click here.