Bratislava, Slovakia – more to it than just “Hostel”. Top things to do. 

Bratislava, Slovakia – more to it than just “Hostel”. Top things to do. 

Bratislava needs at least two days to be explored. One day isn’t enough. It’s often a stop on the travellers’ trail to bigger cites like Vienna.

You can take the bus to Vienna for €5. It comes every half an hour from Nový Most SNP bus station under UFO Bridge (not to be confused with Bratislava’s main bus station) and it’s only a 2hr trip.

If you think you’ve heard of Bratislava in Slovakia, you probably have from the two very influential films – Hostel and Eurotrip, both made back in 2005 in Prague but set in Bratislava. Thanks to these films tourism in Bratislava fell by 75%.

To clarify – neither of these films reflect Bratislava. It’s actually a cool little city with a beautiful old town and food worth trying.

Here are the top things to do on your trip to Bratislava:

1) Go on a free walking tour

I’m a big fan of these. I try and do them on my first morning in a city as it’s a good introduction. They’re also a great way of meeting people if you’re a solo traveller.

 Walking tour meeting point - Hviezdoslavovo namestie by the Statue of Hviezdoslav
Walking tour meeting point – Hviezdoslavovo namestie by the Statue of Hviezdoslav

My tour guide was a young guy called Marek. He was enthusiastic and knowledgable. The tour was based in Bratislava’s Old Town.

He took us through Michael’s Gate, the last remaining gate of the medieval fortifications.

Michael's Gate, Old Town, Bratislava
Michael’s Gate, Old Town, Bratislava
Under Michael's Gate - how far from home are you?
Under Michael’s Gate – how far from home are you?
Love locks over the moat behind Michael's Gate
Love locks over the moat behind Michael’s Gate

The tour finished at Námestie 17.Novembra.

Námestie 17.Novembra - the Velvet Revolution
Námestie 17.Novembra – the Velvet Revolution

2) Visit the Statues

Throughout Old Town are lots of quirky statues. Most don’t have any historical value and are there for fun.

It’s fun to spot them around town. The most famous is Cumil the sewage worker.

Cumil the sewage worker
Cumil the sewage worker
Me and Cumil
Me and Cumil

In the main square is the Napoleon Soldier.

Napoleon Solider
Napoleon Soldier

In Hviezdoslavovo namestie is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen. It includes the characters from his stories.

Hans Christian Andersen Statue Bratislava
Hans Christian Andersen
The characters from Hans Christian Andersen's stories
The characters from Hans Christian Andersen’s stories

I really like this one, it’s just outside Old Town on Obchodná street, it’s two women taking a break from skateboarding and resting on a post box – which is still in use.

Two women and a post box
Two women and a post box

Unfortunately the Paparazzi statue of a man with a camera peaking round the corner has gone. When the restaurant it was attached to closed the owner took it with him.

3) Blue church

Have you ever seen a Blue church? This is such a unique building. It’s actually called St Elizabeth church but everyone calls it the Blue church. You can only go inside if a service is on so I wasn’t able to go in. But it is beautiful from the outside.

St Elizabeth church, Blue church
St Elizabeth church, Blue church
Detail on the Blue church
Detail on the Blue church


4) Eat the food, drink the beer, have a shot

While the beer is better in Czech Republic, there’s still a few small breweries in Bratislava with their own beers to try. These beers are typically stronger than the Czech ones. Half a litre of beer costs as little as €1.80 in a pub. I went to Slovak Pub to try some traditional food and drink.

Slovak Pub
Slovak Pub

Due to the cheap prices, Bratislava attracts many stag parties from the UK.

If you’re not into beer there are plenty of spirits on offer. No matter what fruit, they have made a strong liquor out of it, and I mean strong!

I tried Borovička. It’s a liquor with berries in. It smelt and tasted like perfume. It burns the throat.

Shot of Borovička
Shot of Borovička
Borovička for sale
Borovička for sale

The two traditional dishes in Slovakia are:

Bryndzové halušky and Krémová cesnačka – Slovak creamy garlic soup.

Bryndzové halušky is made of dumplings in a cheese sauce with bacon sprinkled on it. It was delicious and reminded me of macaroni cheese.

Bryndzové halušky
Bryndzové halušky

Garlic soup, beware this tastes strongly of garlic and is for garlic fans only. The cool part is you can even eat the bread “bowl” afterwards.

Krémová cesnačka
Krémová cesnačka

5) Slavin

I took a walk up to the Slavin war memorial. And by walk, I mean hike as it’s steep in parts.

Hike up a 21% incline to Slavin
Hike up a 21% incline to Slavin

The Slovakian people I met weren’t so encouraging about visiting Slavin as it’s actually a memorial to Russian soldiers that were killed in WW2. They compared it to going to London and visiting an American memorial. I would disagree but I see what they’re getting at.

On route to Slavin
On route to Slavin

I took the chance and went, it was well worth it.
The memorial is huge and impressive, following the typical phallic concrete soviet design.

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All the names displayed brings it home, how many people died in WW2.

Names of the dead
Names of the dead

This is a quiet place to get some peace. It also has beautiful views of the city. However, it’s really really windy up there.

View from Slavin
View from Slavin
View from Slavin
View from Slavin

6) Bratislava Castle

A trip to Bratislava wouldn’t be complete without visiting the castle. This castle isn’t like the fortress ones built in the Slovakian countryside. It resembles an upside down table covered in white. It’s on a hill so you can see it from different parts of the city.

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava Castle

The original castle was burnt down in 1811 and reconstructed in 1953. Current reconstruction started in 2008. This is why it has such a modern look.

Bratislava Castle Entrance
Bratislava Castle Entrance
Bratislava Castle Garden
Bratislava Castle Garden
Garden Statue
Garden Statue

Inside is a museum for €7, it’s a little on the expensive side. Look out for the ticket office because you can walk past it without realising.

On the 2nd floor is an art gallery filled with oil paintings from 1770 – 1900 and on the 3rd floor are some gold artefacts. You can climb the tower and get good views – even looking as far as the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungry. It has a lot of steps and the window has glass which causes reflections in photos. Only go up if you really want to see the views, I found outside the palace was the best place for taking photos.

Inside Bratislava Castle
Inside Bratislava Castle

7) UFO bridge

I got really obsessed with the bridge. You can see it from all over town and while it’s actually called Most SNP bridge, everyone calls it UFO bridge as it looks like a spaceship hovering over it. There’s a restaurant up there, via a lift in one of its legs, which needs a reservation or you can visit the observation deck for €7.40.

UFO Bridge
UFO Bridge

You can walk over UFO bridge. Every time a truck passes above it vibrates.

Walk path under UFO Bridge Bratislava
Walkway underneath UFO Bridge
Me on UFO bridge Bratislava
Me on the bridge
UFO Tower Bratislava
UFO Tower

On the other side (from the Old Town) is a park and huge shopping mall AUpark, which sells everything you could need and has a cinema.

I hope these tips help you enjoy Bratislava as much as I did.

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