A First Timer’s Travel Guide to Visiting Bratislava, Slovakia

By Anjali Chawla

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Visiting Bratislava for the first time and wondering how and what to do in Bratislava? Our Bratislava Travel Guide includes everything you need to know about the capital of Slovakia to plan a perfect Bratislava vacation.

Before You Plan a Trip to Bratislava

Read Next: Epic 10-Day Central Europe Itinerary

Visiting Bratislava Travel Guide

With its glorious past, medieval old town, narrow cobbled streets, baroque palaces, renaissance castle, communist-era structures, charming cafes, quirky statues, laid-back mood, inexpensive character, and super proximity to Vienna and other neighboring capital cities of Budapest and Prague; Bratislava is a much sought-after destination.

Best Time to Visit Bratislava

If you go by the book, March to October is considered the best time to visit Bratislava. We visited in early June and it was hot and crowded like anything.

I’d suggest you plan in the months of March, April, May, September, and October when temperatures are mild and tourists are fewer.

Good to Know

Dobrý trh (Good Market) is one of the best outdoor markets in Bratislava. It takes place only a few times a year. Check their website to know if it’s happening around your travel dates so that you don’t miss the extravaganza.

How Safe is Bratislava for Tourists?

Slovakia is such an extremely safe country. The crime rate is low. Bratislava, however, reports cases of petty theft. So, beware of pickpockets, especially around touristy areas. Take care of your belongings.

Be extra wary of taxi drivers in Bratislava. They have an image of looting foreigners.

Avoid the deserted areas of the city at night especially if you are a woman traveling solo.

If you are driving on your own, make sure to carry the important documents needed to drive in Slovakia.

For dark skin travelers, there are unpleasant cases of racism and neo-Nazism in some parts of Bratislava.

Bratislava isn’t very wheel-chair friendly. The Slovak Union for the Disabled is trying hard to improve the facilities. Not all but some hotels, buildings, and means of public transport are wheelchair friendly. Read a wheelchair user’s point of view about Bratislava at TripAdvisor.

Keep these useful and emergency numbers handy when visiting Bratislava just in case.

Read More: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

Getting to Bratislava

By Air

Bratislava Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport, the largest in Slovakia has regular air flights around Europe, the UK, and Russia. Ryanair, Danube Wings, Czech Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle (ASA), and UTair are the major airlines.

There are no direct flights from India and the USA to Bratislava or Slovakia for that matter. It’s recommended to fly to Vienna, Austria, and travel by road to Bratislava.

Public buses connect the airport to the city center.

By Train

There are frequent train connections to and from Bratislava to the rest of Slovakia and the major cities in central and eastern Europe.

The central train station, Bratislava Hlavná Stanica receives most of the international trains while another primary train station, Bratislava-Petržalka receives trains from Vienna. Both stations have easy bus connections to the city center.

By Bus

Coach buses connect Bratislava to the rest of Slovakia and all the major cities of EU countries.

Buses arrive at Autobusová Stanica, the Central Coach Terminal located at Mlynské nivy.

By Car

Bratislava can be easily accessed by rental or own car using motorways from Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, and Poland.

We love Rentalcars.com when it comes to renting a car anywhere in the world.

If you decide to drive, make sure to buy a vignette (highway toll sticker) from a gas station close to the border.

Pro-Tip: Driving is fun but finding parking isn’t. Why spoil the fun of driving then? Instead, travel to Bratislava on weekends when parking is free and easy to find.

Vienna to Bratislava in a rented car

Getting to Bratislava from Vienna

Most tourists explore Bratislava on a day trip from Vienna as the distance is super short (1 hour).

Bratislava is an 80 km drive from Vienna. You can reach Bratislava by bus (Flixbus or Omio), train (rail Europe or ÖBB), or car from Vienna.

Driving your own car is the fastest (1 hour) while catching a bus is the cheapest route.

We traveled by rental car. The route was gorgeous. The countryside was filled with windmills on both sides of the road. And you know, the best part is there’s no border control between Vienna and Bratislava. We didn’t even notice that we have gone from Vienna to Bratislava. As simple!

Are you a road junkie like us? I’m sure then you’d love to travel around Europe in a car. Renting a car in Europe doesn’t come by easy if you are a first-timer. No worries. Here are the tips and tricks to rent a car in Europe for you.

Getting Around Bratislava

Most of Bratislava’s worth-visiting attractions are crammed into Old Town in a few blocks except for a few attractions that need you to wander a little away from the Old Town.

Old Town is very much walkable. In fact, the town ought to be explored on foot provided the weather is favorable.

The city has an easy and cheap public transport system with a good number of buses, trams, trolleys, and night buses. You can buy the tickets from the ticket machines installed at most of the stops, newsstands, and tourist information centers. You need an exact change to buy tickets from the machine.

Public transport in Bratislava Slovakia

Buy a 24-hour travel ticket as it comes cheap (3.50€ per person) and gives you the freedom to use all modes of public transport as much as you want.

If you plan to use public transport in Bratislava this website is your ultimate source of information.

We walked the entire length and breadth of the Old Town (even on a hot sunny day) and hopped on a small tourist city train Prešporáčik Oldtimer which took us around major landmarks at the speed of 5 km per hour meaning we could easily take in the sights and click photos.

What to do in Bratislava

There is umpteen number of beautiful places to visit in Bratislava. We have a dedicated post about the best things to do in Bratislava, Slovakia for you.

Strolling the Bratislava Old Town is one of the best ways to explore the history and culture of the city. From winding narrow cobbled streets, stunning palaces, and churches to unusual statues and awe-inspiring medieval architecture – Bratislava Old Town promises a helluva ride.

Bratislava Castle dominates the skyline of Bratislava. You can literally see it from anywhere in the city. You’d love to walk around its lush gardens or maybe take a sneak peak into its history at the museum or just adore the views over the city.

Take a short drive to admire one of the largest hanging bridges in the world, UFO Bridge or Most SNP. The top of the bridge houses a restaurant and observation deck to enjoy the panoramic views over the city.

Slavín war memorial and Slovak Radio Building are two of the unique places to visit in Bratislava.

If you’ve time, you can take a day trip to Devín Castle, a few km outside the city center.

Best Tours in Bratislava

Where to Stay in Bratislava

Bratislava is the only city in Europe where you can stay in a luxury hotel at the price of a budget hotel.

Hey! I’m not kidding! Try it for yourself.

Luxury Stay Options

Grand Hotel River Park, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Roset Boutique Hotel
Marrol’s Boutique Hotel
Eurovea Apartments

Good Value for Money Stay Options

Apart Hotel VIRGO
In the Heart of Bratislava
Apollo Hotel Bratislava
Art Hotel Taurus

Hostels

Wild Elephants Hostel
Hostel Folks
Patio Hostel
Hyde Park Hostel

Not your style? Take it easy. Find the one that suits you using the search box.

Booking.com

Where to Eat in Bratislava

There are a number of amazing places in Bratislava where you can sample the best of traditional Slovakian cuisine.

Bratislava Flagship Restaurant

Bratislava Flagship is not only a restaurant but a symbol of Bratislava. They are right in a say that “If you have not been in Bratislava Flagship Restaurant, you don’t know Bratislava!”

One of Europe’s largest restaurants, Flagship is the best place to try local Bratislava cuisine and traditional Slovak dishes. It is located at the Námestie SNP, aka Slovak National Uprising Square.

We tried Bryndzové halušky, Bryndzové Pirohy (sheep cheese dumplings), Kuracie Krídelká, and S Chelbom (Crispy chicken wings with bread and homemade marinade). The food (taste as well as portion) and ambiance, both were great.

We ordered individual Slovak specialties; you can order a Slovakian Delicacies Platter with three local specialties served in a huge platter that takes care of a two-person appetite.

Though the outside sitting area is a lovely place to eat, I’d suggest you take a tour inside the restaurant. It houses the Bratislava Golden Lane that takes you through a historical Bratislava.

We paid €29.70 for three dishes, a coke, coffee with milk, a bottle of water (sparkling), and a large beer.

Insider Tip: Just a few steps away from the restaurant is Hurbanovo Square, where you can look for the weird square-shaped metal object. It might look like a drain but that’s actually a music box. Let the kids jump on the squares and dance to the chimes.

Bratislava Flagship Restaurant Slovakia

Bratislavsky Meštiansky Pivovar

The oldest brewery in the town, Meštiansky Pivovar is the best place to try traditional Slovakian cuisine. Also, their draft beer is some of the best in Bratislava.

It’s one of those places where you can eat your heart out without spending a fortune.

They have two locations in the town – Drevená and Dunajská. The one at Dunajská, a bit away from the hubbub of the old town with a huge outdoor terrace garden is nicer 🙂

Sky Bar and Restaurant

If you are not thinking about the budget or want to overindulge, Sky Bar is a perfect choice. It is a great blend of the stunning view, delectable food, and amazing cocktails and mocktails.

We tried Skywalker, Irish Coffee, and Mango Cheesecake.

What to Eat and Drink in Bratislava

As always, we recommend trying local delicacies as food tells a hell lot about the culture of the country.

Here are some of the Slovak dishes you should try when in Bratislava:

  • Garlic Soup
  • Bratislavský Rožok (walnut or poppy seed-filled croissant)
  • Lokše or Zamiatone (potato pancakes)
  • Bryndzove Halusky
  • Bratislava Rolls
  • Chimney Cake (Trdelnik)
  • Local Beer
Food in Bratislava Slovakia

Should you Buy a Bratislava Card?

We almost always buy and recommend other travelers to consider buying the City Cards. They are in fact good value for money.

Bratislava Card gets you free or discounted entrance to many sights, attractions, and museums, and gives free unlimited access to public transportation. It also offers a free walking tour.

So, if you plan to use public transportation for the entire duration of your stay, are keen to visit the tourist attractions, and are a museum person, Bratislava Card is most likely a good bet for you.

On the other hand, if you are a slow and independent traveler like me who loves to walk a lot, wants to explore the city at his or her own pace, and enjoys getting lost in the unknown streets, Bratislava Card may not be a good fit for you.

Souvenirs from Bratislava

I love picking up traditional souvenirs to take back home from wherever I go so that I could go back to that place all over again whenever I want by just looking at those memorabilia. What about you?

Here are the souvenirs you can fill your bags and memories with when in Bratislava.

  • Corn Husk Dolls
  • Traditional Folk Embroidered Tops and Dresses
  • Baliarne Herbal Tea
  • Tatratea
  • Horalky Slovak Wafer Bar
  • Honey and honey-based local products from Cera Mel Medový Obchod Honey Shop
souvenirs from bratislava slovakia

Where to Shop in Bratislava

The best places to shop for local and authentic souvenirs in Bratislava are Cera Mel Medový Obchod and Uluv.

The Michalská and Ventúrska streets are lined with small stalls and shops selling traditional souvenirs at reasonable prices.

Recommended Reading

I make sure to read a book or two about a particular city or country or region I plan to visit. This habit pays off. I’d highly recommend reading any of these books before traveling to Bratislava, Slovakia.

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Don’t forget to buy reliable travel Insurance before you set out.

Heymondo is our favorite when comes to comprehensive protection while traveling.

So what are you waiting for? Get a Quote today and get a 5% discount using this link.

Need help planning a trip to Europe? Here’s a list of our favorite (tried and tested) travel resources:

iVisa: For all your visa needs
Booking.com, HotelsCombined, and Agoda – for hotel deals
Airbnb – alternative accommodation. Great for families.
Google Flights – for initial flight search
Kiwi.com and Skyscanner – for cheap and best flight deals
TrainlineEurailRailEuropeOmioFlixBus, and 12Go – for ground transportation
Wise – for money transfer
GetYourGuide, Viator, Klook, TourRadar, Intrepid Travel, and G Adventures – for booking amazing tours and tickets in advance
Rentalcars.com and Discover Cars – for all your car rental needs
TripAdvisor – for reviews
Heymondo – for travel insurance. It’s crucial. Please don’t travel without one!

Recommended Reading:

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Anjali Chawla

A story-weaver and a travel blogger based in Delhi, Anjali left her corporate job to see what having life exactly feels like and never looked back. Her 14-year-old daughter is her best travel buddy. She aspires to travel to all the seven continents with her family. Antarctica remains her dream destination. Books, mountains, colorful doors and windows, blue skies, sunsets, open roads, cobbled streets, undiscovered places, and beautiful minds inspire her. Join her as she unclothes the beauty around the world, one place at a time.

4 thoughts on “A First Timer’s Travel Guide to Visiting Bratislava, Slovakia”

  1. Bratislava is such a lovely city. It’s so nice that it’s only an hour from Vienna, perfect for a day trip from the place where I live here in Austria. Great post! 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh wow! You live in such a beautiful country. It’s always great to find lovely destinations for day trips. I love taking day trips. Hope our post will help you plan your trip. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  2. Bratislava was on my list of places to visit on my next trip to Europe, which has unfortunately been delayed. I was planning to visit Romania and then head through Hungary to Bratislava on the way to Vienna. You’ve definitely made me want to continue planning my trip, the city looks so nice. And the food sounds all carby and delicious – just what I like. Good tip about when to visit, it’s easy to follow the usual guidebook recommendations but the extreme temperatures are probably a good idea to avoid

    Reply
    • Yeah, the situation has been a bummer for us travel lovers. It is delight to read such comments when your write up helps others and make wanna plan the trip. So happy to hear that by reading our post you were able to decide on Bratislava for your next trip. Yes please enjoy the food and the lovely city. Do let us know if you need any help.

      Reply

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