It was almost 12 am when we landed in the Slovakian capital. Although a little tired and hazy, we couldn’t wait to start exploring the city. But first things first, we were wondering what to do in Bratislava? Well, this is what this story is about. How we knew nothing of Bratislava before our arrival, how we fell in love with this place, admired old squares from above, ate the best pancakes for dinner and tried all sort of bitter shots.
So let me tell you about our Bratislava sightseeing experience…
Our story starts with a taxi ride from the Letisko airport to the Ibis hotel in the city centre. The driver was a fun, bubbly man, who very much tried to upsell his services. He told us he would happily take us around town, show us around or take us back to the airport. He even offered us a ride all the way to Vienna. We didn’t get to see much of Bratislava at night. The streets were sleepy and dark, with barely any traffic on them.
Once we arrived at the Ibis, we were given our magical room cards to the top floor. We couldn’t wait to put our luggage down and sleep. The next morning, we started the day with breakfast and smiles. I can’t express how excited we were to finally discover what to do in Bratislava.
We heard so many amazing things about the city before but decided to spend our time discovering all the exciting photogenic corners for ourselves. And let me tell you, we weren’t disappointed!
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Prepare for your trip to Bratislava
Before we begin with all the cool things to do in Bratislava, we need to talk about the practicalities of visiting this capital city.
Most people who visit Bratislava, arrive here by train or plane. You can take the bus number 61 directly from the terminal and into the city centre. If you are arriving quite late, like we did, we recommend booking a taxi in advance. Make sure you agree on a price so you avoid extra charges.
If you arrive by train, then you can still take bus number 61, this time from the station towards the city centre. In fact, the beauty of this bus is that it runs between the train station and the airport for your ease, so it’s a great connection.
To avoid any ticket complications, we recommend getting the Bratislava Card. The card offers you free and unlimited travel on public transport. You can actually pick yours up from the Letisko Airport from the Tourist Information Centre.
Bratislava Card cost: 15 EUR (for one day), 17 EUR (2 days) or 19 EUR (3 days). You will get free admission to various attractions, healthy discounts at restaurants and shops too.
If you decide to get your Bratislava Card from the tourist information centre located in the centre, remember that you need to purchase tickets for your bus journey. You can do this at the ticket counters located at the airport or just outside of the train station. People tend to speak English so you can always ask for help if in doubt. Remember that in Bratislava you need to purchase a ticket based on time validity. Don’t forget to mark your ticket as soon as you get on the bus.
What to do in Bratislava
I would say, walk, photograph and eat good food. Here is our guide to all the things to do in Bratislava. Whether you are into adventure, history, culture or music, the Slovakian capital will definitely not disappoint. But since I love photography, I will always recommend ditching the map and venturing to the most obscure corners, to uncover the true nature of the city.
Guided Walking Tour
For history lovers, this is a really good way to learn a little about Bratislava during the one hour guided walking tour. We recommend it because it’s interesting, insightful and also completely free with the Bratislava Card. Remember to reserve your spot when you pick up the Bratislava card. The tour is available in Slovak, English and German. We met some really nice people during the guided walking tour and got to photograph interesting things. It’s a nice way to meet likeminded people and learn something new about the city you are visiting.
When: Daily at 14:00 (last one hour)
Where: Tourist Information Centre, Klobucnicka 2
Admission Fee: 14 EUR of Free with the Bratislava Card
City History Museum
The museum presents the history of the city and its inhabitants. It’s well structured and towards the end, you can watch a documentary called “People and the City”. There is a great stairway to the top of the museum, where you will enjoy incredible views of the city and its rooftops. The air was crisp, the skies a little cloudy, perfect for a mini photography session. Let’s face it, who doesn’t adore seeing the city from above?
In the basement, we got to see another interesting exhibition about the darker side of Europe. The room was filled with heavy smells and had all sort of torture instruments on display. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It’s fair to say that I spent over an hour in marvel at the sort of atrocities which humans came up with to torture others. It was the first time I actually appreciated the importance of Human Rights we enjoy here in the European Union. My goodness, my legs became heavier and heavier, and my heart was pounding. It was a little horrific. Some of the instruments on display were so terrible, with such vivid description, I was convinced I will have nightmares for a while…
Address: Radničná 577/1, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia
Opening Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
Admission Fee: 5 EUR or Free with Bratislava Card
Museum of Pharmacy
I guess, some self-preservation instinct kicked in upon exit from the terror exhibition, because I wanted to go right to the Museum of Pharmacy. I was ready to see how we used our intelligence to come up with new cures and medicines to help one another, as opposed to finding ways to torture. The Museum of Pharmacy was a tiny place which had various vessels dating back to the 18th century. The ceiling was beautifully painted too, and the place itself had a cosy vibe to it. By the end, I started feeling much better already. Yay.
Address: Michalská 1484/26, 811 03 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 18:00
Admission Fee: 4.30 EUR or Free with Bratislava Card
Walk around the squares
Bratislava is a colourful city, which I can totally imagine looking gorgeous during the winter season once snow settles in. The squares were beautifully preserved and the shop and boutiques all had a story to tell. So what did we see? Pubs and restaurants, cake shops and cosy looking cafes. We visited small stalls selling souvenirs. There was an artist in one of the squares, really talented chap selling gorgeous moon paintings. We love seeing hand made arts and crafts.
We must have spent another good hour walking around photographing doors and houses. I really love this about Europe: colourful architecture really makes me smile.
Lunch at Prašná bašta
Alas, we wanted to sit down and have some lunch before joining our walking guide at 2 pm. We found Prašná bašta, a restaurant with great reviews, recommended by many others. Naturally, curiosity got the best of us, so we decided to give it a try. No regrets, honestly! The food and the service were both excellent. We first ordered a shot of Spišiacka, a Slovak spirit. Great way to start our lunch. We then ordered pumpkin soup, some grilled camembert with cranberries for me and risotto with forest mushrooms for G.
To finish off, we ordered another round of Slovak spirits, because hey, they are meant to be an awesome digestif.
Address: Zámočnícka 399/11, 811 03 Bratislava, Slovakia
St. Martin’s Cathedral
St. Martin’s Cathedral is a beautiful gothic church with a tower reaching 85m. On top of the tower, there is a replica of the coronation crown.
Address: Rudnayovo námestie 1, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia
If you love history, then you must visit the Primate’s Palace. It features six English tapestries from the 17th century. This classical palace was built in the 18th century. This is where the Peace of Pressburg was signed upon Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz.
Address: Primaciálne námestie, Primaciálne nám. 494/2, 811 01 Bratislava-Staré Mesto, Slovakia
Opening Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
Admission Fee: 3 EUR or 20% off with Bratislava Card
Michael’s Gate is the only preserved gate of the city fortification, dating back to the 14th century. You can now enter the tower and visit the Museum of Arms.
Address: Michalská 806/24, 811 03 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
Opening Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
Admission Fee: 4.50 EUR or Free with Bratislava Card
For something a little different in Bratislava, visit this gorgeous Art Nouveau style blue church, built at the beginning of the 20th century. If you love it, you can even use it for weddings and baptisms. It is quite popular though, so make sure you book it well in advance.
Address: Bezručova 2534/2, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
This guy is the most photographed statue in the city. It is said that you can get lucky if you touch his hat.
Quick snack at the Mondieu
We wanted a quick pick me up snack, but ended up sitting down for pancakes. The Mondieu cafe looked really nice so we gave it a try. No regrets, honestly. We ordered fruity pancakes and chocolate, cream-filled crepes. They also serve savoury sandwiches, so you have a good array of menu items to pick from.
Address: Laurinská 7, 811 01 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
We left the best for last: the UFO. The UFO is a restaurant overlooking the Danube river. Its name comes from the fact that it resembles a flying saucer and it is now one of the most famous and prominent landmarks. It features a viewing platform where you can get 360 degrees views of the city. The lift to the top costs 6.50 EUR but if you decide to eat in the restaurant, this fee is deducted from the bill.
Address: Most SNP 1, 851 01 Bratislava, Slovakia
Opening Hours: 01:00 - 23:00
Admission Fee: 7,20 EUR for the platform only. 20% your meal with Bratislava Card plus the fee is deducated from the bill.
Dinner at the Zelený Rodrigéz restaurant
Time to get serious about traditional Slovak food. Well, it was a bit of mix, really. We visited the Zelený Rodrigéz restaurant but once we arrived there, the place was empty. Now, we don’t like a busy restaurant, but being the only people in there is a completely different story. After about 20 minutes of back and forth, we decided to go in, and give it a go. Well, we learned there are lots of advantages of being the only people in a restaurant. You get really good customer service, well-cooked food and tailored attention. We could get used to this. For dinner, we ordered the Holubky (cabbage roll, a traditional Eastern European dish) for me and Bryndzové halušky (kinda gnocchi with sheep cheese) for G. Since I had a throat ache, we thought we should try to cure it the Eastern European style: with strong shots! We first tried the Becherovka, a Czechish bitter which was really good. Then, I ordered Unicum, a Hungarian bitter. I loved the initial taste, although the aftertaste was a little too bitter. But really, out of all the shots out there, I would have Unicum again. So I guess, lingering taste or not, it’s still the winner. The restaurant is just 2 minutes away from the Ibis hotel, so if you decide to sample more shots, at least you know your bed is virtually next door.
Address: Zámocká 36, 811 01 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
This post was created in partnership with the Bratislava Tourism Board. Thank you for your awesome suggestions, we enjoyed your incredible city and we are very much excited about a longer visit next time. Bratislava exceeded our expectations and loved the food, people and the culture.
Did you decide what to do in Bratislava during your visit? What is the top thing you want to check out first? Let us know in the comments section below!