So close and yet so underestimated! It takes just one hour to reach Bratislava from Vienna – an ideal destination for a short break or a Excursion at the weekend.
We have been to Bratislava a few times now and are very impressed with how much this little town on the Danube has to offer. We have put our experiences and best tips for a city trip to Bratislava in a personal travel guide for you.
1. City break Bratislava: What to expect Bratislava is so close to the Austrian border that you can look across. But the silhouette doesn’t look very inviting: the numerous prefabricated buildings literally overwhelm you. Petržalka is the part of Bratislava that ensures that the Eastern Bloc charm dominates before you even reach the city.
The good news: things are very different in the center. A beautifully renovated old town awaits you there with numerous baroque buildings. Of course you shouldn’t expect a completely spruced up little town, but that’s exactly what makes it so somehow the flair of Bratislava.
For Bratislava being the capital of Slovakia, things are really tranquil. Bratislava doesn’t even have 75.000 Residents – that also explains why the old town is quite manageable. Bratislava’s old town is largely car-free, so you can explore it in peace.
We hardly know any city in Europe (apart from Ljubljana maybe) , which feels like it is developing as rapidly as Bratislava. New cafes have opened every time we are there. Bratislava is a university city and literally attracts young people from Slovakia.
How much time should should I plan for Bratislava? Anyone who comes from Austria usually visits Bratislava as a day trip. And quite honestly : A few hours are enough to explore the highlights of Bratislava. Most attractions are within walking distance from each other.
Nevertheless, we would recommend you to stay at least one night in town. So you can also experience Bratislava in the beautiful evening hours. Also, if you take a closer look, there are some worthwhile places.
2. Sights in Bratislava: Our tips Bratislava Castle (“Bratislavský hrad”) The landmark and most striking building of the city is the imposing Bratislava Castle. It sits enthroned on a hill high above the city. Bratislava Castle is usually the first place we visit when we are in Bratislava, and with good reason: you can from up here give you a good first impression of Bratislava.
The short climb to the castle (approx. 20 Walking distance from the old town ) is rewarded with a kitschy-beautiful view of Bratislava and the Danube. You do not have to pay an entrance fee to enter the castle grounds.
Bratislava Castle houses the Historical Museum (Entrance fee: 10 Euro). At this point we have to admit that we haven’t visited the museum yet. In rainy weather the museum might be worth a visit.
Tour through the old town of Bratislava At the foot of the castle of Bratislava lies the historic old town, Staré Mesto called. A walk through the old town is of course a must. The Old Town is the heart of Bratislava and without a doubt the most beautiful part of the city. Picturesque, cobbled streets, some beautiful squares and of course numerous historical buildings await you here.
You can start your tour, for example, at the old building of the Slovak National Theater start, which is located on the outskirts of the Old Town on Hviezdoslav Square. From there you can then make your way to the Gothic Martin’s Cathedral . You have probably already spotted its tower from Bratislava Castle, as it dominates the cityscape.
From St. Martin’s Cathedral, you continue through the narrow streets to the well-known Michaelertor. It is the only surviving gate of the medieval city fortifications. You can climb its tower – we’ll tell you more about it in a moment.
Continue to the most important square in the old town, the Hlavné námestie. It is lined with a few historical palaces. The most important building on the main square is the Old Town Hall. You can also climb the tower of the Old Town Hall and have a wonderful panoramic view from above.
Special feature: bronze figures in Bratislava As you walk around the old town, you will come across some life-size bronze figures. They were once seen as an attempt to revitalize the city center. The most famous figure is the so-called Čumil (Gaffer), who looks out of a manhole cover. You will find it on the corner of Fischertor and Panská.
Guided tour of Bratislava If you would like to learn a few additional historical details and exciting information, then we can recommend a guided tour of the city. During the tour you will get to know Bratislava in about three hours accompanied by a local guide.
You can book a tour here: Private city tour
View of Bratislava from the tower of Michael’s Gate When walking around the Old Town, there is one thing you shouldn’t do miss: Experience Bratislava from above . One of the most beautiful views of Bratislava is from the tower of Michael’s Gate. The gate comes from the 14. Century and is the only surviving gate of the city fortifications.
Today the 40 meter high tower a weapons museum. In order to be able to enjoy the nice panoramic view of Bratislava, you also have to pay the entrance fee to the museum. To be honest, we more or less ignored the museum and went straight up to the highlight.
Information on climbing the tower Admission: 5 Euro Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 06 until 17 Watch , Saturday and Sunday from 11 until 18 Watch
War Memorial Slavín One of those sights that lies outside the Old Town is the Slavín war memorial. It was erected in honor of those Soviet soldiers who died in the course of World War II capturing the city of Bratislava. It is with 52 meters high, the largest war memorial in Central Europe.
The memorial is located on a hill north of the old town . From the top you have a pretty distant view of Bratislava Castle. The walk from the old town takes about half an hour. You can also easily reach it by car – there are plenty of parking spaces near the monument.
UFO Observation Deck Without a doubt, the most striking Danube bridge in Bratislava is the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, officially called Most SNP. At the top of its bridge pier floats something like 51 meters high the so-called UFO. This peculiar construction houses an observation deck (UFO Observation Deck) and a restaurant.
We can recommend a visit to the observation deck especially at sunset. When the weather is nice, it is fantastic from up here.
Good to know: The entrance to the UFO Observation Deck is on the side of the bridge that opposite the old town lies. A lift takes you up in a few seconds, but the last few stairs to the viewing platform have to be covered on foot.
Information about the viewing platform Admission: 7,40 Euro
Opening hours: daily of 10 until 23 Watch
3. Restaurants and cafes in Bratislava: Our tips Urban House The Urban House is a small institution in the old town of Bratislava. The café is no longer an insider tip, but definitely worth a stop. The ambiance is very hip and cozy.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served and lots of cakes and tarts. At this point a recommendation for the fresh mint tea, we have missed it badly since Morocco.
Address: Laurinská /14, 2017 Bratislava
Soho Bistro and Coffee Very good We had lunch at the Soho Bistro and Coffee. A small but fine selection of Asian dishes is served there – primarily wok dishes and soups. Overall we have 15,40 Paid euros for two main courses and two drinks. A little hint: Apparently there is also a branch downtown. We were in the one at the address Dunajská 23.
Address: Dunajská 20, 2017 Bratislava
Schöndorf Bio Café For a quick coffee in between we can highly recommend the Schöndorf Bio Café. The café is just outside the old town in a hidden courtyard. There is delicious coffee and homemade cakes and tarts – some of which are vegan.
Address: Obchodná 85/25, 811 10 Bratislava
Mondieu Mondieu is a well-known local chain in Slovakia with several locations in Bratislava. A very frequented branch is located in the pedestrian zone of Bratislava (Laurinská ).
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. We went here in the afternoon for coffee and cake. Both the espresso macchiato and the caramel cheesecake were excellent.
Address : Laurinská 7, 2020 Bratislava
4. Hotel tip for Bratislava: Grand Hotel River Park We stayed in Bratislava at the Grand Hotel River Park, that we highly recommend to you. Everything fits here: from the rooms to breakfast to the spa area with a view of the Danube.
The rooms are very comfortable and the beds are extremely comfortable. The breakfast is a dream and the dinner in the hotel was excellent. A highlight of this hotel is the spa area (Zion Spa Luxury). From the 11. On the 1st floor you have a wonderful view of the Danube. (Take care when booking, because entry to the spa is not included in the price of every room.)
If you treat yourself to a luxurious break. want: This hotel is “the place to be”. The only downside: the hotel is a bit out of the center. However, you can reach the old town after a leisurely walk in about 11 Minutes.
Here can you book the hotel: Grand Hotel River Park
5. Getting to Bratislava From Vienna there are several ways to travel to Bratislava. We will briefly present the two most popular ones in this chapter and also share our respective tips.
By car From Vienna, the quickest way to get to Bratislava is by car. The journey takes just an hour. Here is a tip: In Slovakia there is a toll. However, there is a possibility to avoid the Slovak toll. The best thing to do is to exit the autobahn near Kittsee and re-enter the route on your sat nav – but this time with the option of avoiding fees. Your GPS will then guide you through the Berg border crossing.
If you don’t have a parking space with you at your hotel, then we recommend that you park your car in a parking garage. For 24 hours you pay around in car parks near the center Euro.
By ship Arriving from Vienna by ship is something special. This is how you get to know the route from the water – a very nice, decelerating experience!
The most popular and well-known is the trip on the catamaran called Twin City Liners. It starts in the center of Vienna (Schwedenplatz) and takes about 75 Minutes later in Bratislava. Depending on the season, the trip takes place up to 4 times a day and costs around 25 Euro (One Way).
You can buy your ticket here: Ride the Twin City Liner
Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links During one of our stays in Bratislava, we were invited by the Grand Hotel River Park for one night.
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Do you have any other tips for a city trip to Bratislava? Which sights and restaurants/cafes in Bratislava can you recommend? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!