Bratislava Mini Guide
I’ve Heard Lots About Bratislava, Should I go There?
If you like Prague
then you’ll love Bratislava. Whereas Prague is now a crowded tourist mecca, Bratislava’s attractive centre seems to have escaped unscathed from the tourist masses. You have the added bonus there of being able to visit another great European city with Vienna
being around thirty minutes away. Whilst Bratislava has become more modernised and commercial, a drive out into the Slovakian countryside will take you past scenes that haven’t changed for hundreds of years as well as exposing you to more of the friendly welcoming locals.
How Easy is it to Get to Bratislava?
The city’s rise in popularity has come about from the growth in budget flights to the city. Many people, faced with a long weekend, often grab a cheap Ryanair flight and head off for a break.
What Should I See and Do in Bratislava?
To begin with, take the tram up to the hill top memorial called Slavin, for a memorable view out over the city. Next, pay a visit to the city’s castle which has just completed renovations and holds a museum dedicated to the part it has played in the defence of the city. St Martin’s Cathedral is the oldest building in the city dating from the start of the 13th century and has a gilded Hungarian crown on top of its tower. Another must-do is to walk the historic centre of the city. There you’ll find tiny streets of renovated medieval housing with a charming and peaceful atmosphere. There are also a number of little bars and cafes for refreshment.
What do the Locals Eat and Drink in Bratislava?
Sheep’s cheese dumplings topped with minced meat is the national dish and there are plenty of places serving it there, just ask for bryndzove zalusky. The local garlic soup is strong and definitely an acquired taste! Elsewhere, you’ll find goulash a common item on menus with its piquant paprika taste. Accompany your meal with a glass or a bottle of the very pleasant Slovakian wine.
What Can I Buy as Souvenirs?
For many of the unique handicraft gifts it’s better to leave the city and try some of the smaller villages around. In Bratislava you’ll find shops selling the crafts but the goods will be much more expensive. Glassware is a popular purchase and many high class gift shops sell limited edition pieces.
What About Festivals and Celebrations in the City?
In a nod to culture, Bratislava has a festival in April called ‘Bratislava for All’ where all of the sights of the city are free to visit. The idea is taken a stage further the following month when the museums and sights stay open until midnight to encourage people to take advantage of the attractions. At Christmas time, Bratislava has a wonderful Christmas Market, one of the best in Eastern Europe.
Bratislava has a compact old city but it is all the more beautiful for it. Hire a car and explore the narrow streets, now home to chic bars or boutiques. The old town has many gems including the Church of St Elisabeth, also known as the Blue Church for the propensity of blue in its decoration.
The other must-see religious building can be accessed by hire car. St Martin’s Cathedral is found just below the walls of Bratislava Castle. The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the country having been built at the start of the 13th century.