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A Bit About Bratislava
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is situated on the banks of the Danube River, close to the Austrian-Slovakian border. It is home to a population of around 450,000 people. It has a rich history, and has previously been known as both Pressburg (a German name) and Pozsony (a Hungarian name).
This very unusual and quirky city is not a frequent stop on many european travel expeditions, which means that there is plenty of things to do without the hassles of hoards of other tourists. You can see many examples of its complex past, with baroque style buildings, medieval castles and renaissance influenced architecture scattered all throughout the city.
Being so closely located to other major cities such as Vienna and Budapest, it’s well worth stopping off in Bratislava to explore a less well-known European city. We’d recommend spending 2 nights here, to fully explore the city and everything it has to offer.
Quick Tips On Bratislava
- Hire a bike – it’s a great way to see the city, and you can explore further outside of the city. A bike ride up and down the Danube is a great way to spend a few hours.
- Do a Free Walking Tour when you first arrive. The free tour in Bratislava takes you to most of the main sights, and you can head back to the ones that take your interest.
- You can download an offline map of Bratislava on google maps before you go. Zoom to Bratislava, search ‘okmaps’, and then download the area you have selected.
- Slovakia uses the Euro as its currency.
- Bratislava is easy to navigate by foot.
Where To Stay In Bratislava
The great thing about Bratislava is that the city itself is quite compact, with much of it accessible by either walking or bike riding. We think that the best area of town to stay is the Stare Mesto, which is the city centre or Old Town.
The are also many great hotels and hostels to choose from in this area, which are all really close by to lots of bars and attractions.
- Tip: When searching for accommodation on websites, change your search criteria to a “map view.” That way you can identify small clusters of closely located hostels in a city. This will mean this area is popular for young people and you will be close to the action. Good bars and main sights are usually within these areas.
By staying in the Old Town, you are also in walking distances to nearby hot spots such as the Presidential Palace and the Danube River. This allows you to maximise your time enjoying your surroundings by minimising the need for other means of transport.
Even if you can’t manage to find what you are looking for in terms of accommodation in the Old Town, there are plenty of other lodgings available around the city. No matter where you stay, you are usually no more than a 15-20 minute walk from the action.
- Tip: If on a budget, look for hostels or apartments that include “free” meals. A lot of hostels in Europe will often provide breakfast and sometimes dinner. Most will even have a kitchen for you to cook yourself. That’s more money in your pocket which can be spent on other things.
Getting Around Bratislava
The cultural centre of the city is quite small and compact. Which means that walking is the most efficient and affordable means of getting around. If you are staying in the Old Town, then you are in walking distance of almost all of the main sights. Other nearby must see sights from the Old Town include the Danube River which is 10 minutes away, and Bratislava Castle only 20-30 minutes away. If walking from the the city centre to the main train station, expect a journey of about 1 hour.
- Tip: You can download an offline map of Bratislava on google maps. Simply zoom to the area you want to download, and type ‘okmaps’ into the search bar. You’ll then be prompted to choose the area of the map to download. Do this before you arrive if you can – it makes getting around a lot easier
Hiring a bike is also a great way to get around Bratislava and is often very cheap. This means you can maximise your experience and explore much more on the outskirts of town. Bikes can be hired from various locations around the city and sometimes from hostels. Many people suggest hiring a bike and spending a few hours cycling along the Danube River and exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The bus is rarely needed as a tourist as everything to do and see is accessible by foot. However, sometimes it can be useful to catch the bus when coming from the train station and getting to the city centre, or even when heading to the outskirts of town. The Bratislava City Card will get you on for free in the city centre, but for journeys outside this area you will need to buy a ticket. Check out the Bratislava Public Transport website if you need further information.
Bratislava City Card:
Bratislava offers a tourist city card, that allows you to use public transport within the city centre for free. The card itself costs €16 for 3 days of use, and can be bought at multiple tourist offices around the city and from some hotel reception desks. Having the card also entitles you to one free walking tour of the city and also a range of discounts at various tourist locations. Plan what sights you are going to see before buying the card. For some people this might be a good option, but for others it won’t be great value for money.
- Tip: Always think “can I walk there?” Be smart and plan ahead. By staying closer to the places you want to see, you can cut down your travel costs. A little effort in planning where to stay goes a long way.
We hope you enjoyed our travel guide to Bratislava.
Have you booked your own trip yet?