This time I’m going to take you to Bratislava the capital city of Slovakia, located in Central Europe.
After 1918 the Slovaks joined the Czech and formed Czechoslovakia. In 1939 Germany occupied Czechoslovakia being then liberated by the soviets in 1945. For more than 40 years Czechoslovakia was ruled by a communist party. After 1992 Czechoslovakia was split into Czech Republic and Slovakia.
I must confess that Bratislava was a very pleasant surprise even though I had heard some negative comments from people who had visited it. A small city with less than 500 thousand people, I found it charming and with plenty of things to do. So, let me take you to some of those amazing places.
We chose this hotel because of its location. It’s very close to the train station (which for us was handy as we wanted to visit Vienna and Budapest) and about 10-15 minutes walk to the city centre. It was a modern hotel with very spacious rooms and all the amenities you require when travelling.
Grassalkovich Presidential Palace
On our walk to the old town we walked past this palace which is the official residence of the president of Slovakia. A stunning building built in a Baroque style.
I really found the historic old town charming. There are plenty of things to see and do, like Michael’s Gate a tower with 51 metres that is also an entrance to the old town, built in a baroque style offers gorgeous views of the city.
The Primate’s Palace a beautiful building from the 18th century. Today is the office of the mayor of Bratislava and it hosts concerts in one of the rooms, the Hall of Mirrors.
The famous statues.
The beautiful building of the Slovak Philharmonic and many other buildings.
It is the inviting card of this beautiful and tranquil city. Located at the top of a hill it is visible from everywhere. Apparently the first settlers were the Celts and since then the castle has suffered several transformations and has been rebuilt in different styles, Gothic, renaissance and baroque. During the 17th century it was the house of the empress Maria Theresa. In the beginning of the 19th century it was bombarded by the Napoleon’s army. After that the castle was left in ruins and stayed like that until 1950 when it was rebuilt in the same style that used to be when the empress Maria Theresa lived there. Since the independence of Slovakia, it hosts the seat of the parliament and it is also a historic museum. We didn’t pay to go to the museum, instead we preferred to enjoy our time admiring the amazing sights to the Danube river and the city, but if you are interested there are 2 tours: Tour A which includes the tour to the castle and jewelleries and Tour B only the Jewellery tour, the first one has a cost of 7€ and the second costs 2€.
You can access the UFO Tower through the UFO bridge which is very close to the city centre and impossible to be missed. There is a pedestrian lane just below the traffic above. The 430 metres walk will offer you magnificent views of Bratislava’s Castle. This bridge is the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world. The UFO tower has a height of 95 metres. There is an elevator that takes 45 seconds to reach the top. There you have an observatory deck and a restaurant with magnificent views to the Danube and the city.
As we visited Bratislava in February the weather was still cold, but it was surprisingly warm at the top. It was a sunny day and at the top we felt warmer than at the bottom! The unobstructed sights are gorgeous. In clear days your visibility can reach 100 km! It is time to put your camera into action.
You must try the restaurant even if you’re not hungry at least for a drink. That’s what we did, we took a hot drink and enjoyed the formidable panorama.
The UFO tower’s entrance fee is 7,40 €. It is open daily from 10am to 11pm. I’d recommend you visit it at the opening time as that is the best time to appreciate the views without a crowd.
It took us around 25 minutes walking from the Mercure Bratislava Hotel to Slavín, the last bit of the journey is very steep. Slavín is in a wealthy district with beautiful houses. Located on a hill with an obelisk that is 39 metres high, this war memorial celebrates the city liberation by the Red Army in 1945.
It is open daily, and the entrance is free.
Church of St. Elizabeth (also known as blue church)
Located in the eastern part of the city, about 10-15 minutes walk from the city centre, this art nouveau church stands out for its blue colour. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to visit the inside as it was closed. Hope you are luckier than us.
We took bus 29 at the Most SNP station that is located under the UFO bridge and whilst we were trying to figure out where to buy the tickets, an old man that was close by understood our situation so he approached us and even without speaking a word in English, by gestures he asked us to follow him and he took us to the place where we could buy the tickets, it was really sweet of him. There is always a nice soul everywhere you go!
The journey takes around 20 minutes and goes through the 12 km that separate the castle from the city centre.
The Castle is in Devin at the top of a cliff 212 metres tall, where the Morava and Danube rivers meet and at the border of Austria and Slovakia. In clear days you have views to Austria.
It is believed the first settlement of the castle is from the 5th century B.C.
Napoleon’s army blown up the castle in 1809 and it stayed like that until 1939 when Czechoslovakia bought it. Since 1961 is a national cultural monument.
Take your time to enjoy the beautiful views.
The entry cost is 5€. It is open from April to October, from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm; from May to September closes one hour later during week days and at 7pm over the weekends; from November to March it’s open every day from 10am to 4pm.
Another mandatory stop is this magnificent patisserie covered in beautiful paintings of Renaissance and neo-Renaissance from the walls to the roofs. It’s a quaint place with fantastic decoration full of antiques from the 15th to the 19th century.
I had the feeling that I’d been invited to a palace. The tea and coffee are served in beautiful porcelain cups and they offer such a variety (cakes, cookies, desserts), making your life harder when it comes to choose what to eat. You can really have a good time on your own or with your loved one to the sound of classical music.
Flag Ship Restaurant
We had researched about this restaurant and it didn’t disappoint as it has a great atmosphere and it offers local Bratislava cuisine and various Slovak dishes for a very affordable price.
Ice Cream Luculus
Another wonderful experience when visiting Bratislava is having an ice cream. Despite being February and the weather still being chilly everyone seems to enjoy ice cream in Bratislava, so we also decided to try it by ourselves and we weren’t disappointed, on the contrary, we really loved it. A cosy place with such a variety to pick from. Take your time to savour a delicious ice cream!
We ended our trip at the Sky Bar, which is located just beside the US embassy in the city centre. The bar has a rooftop where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset with sights to the beautiful Bratislava Castle, St. Martin’s Cathedral (which unfortunately was closed by the time we were there), UFO bridge and the Danube.
I truly recommend a visit to this beautiful city. I felt that our visit was very tranquil, no rush at all and plenty of time to feel the city.