When we arrived in Bratislava it was an incredibly foggy morning, but that didn’t stop us appreciating this picturesque city. With it’s winding cobbled streets, colourful 18th century buildings, grand palaces and retro trams it’s a truly charming place!You’d be forgiven for thinking Bratislava is a quintessential Eastern European city, but don’t get your geography twisted, it’s actually in Central Europe. Since my geographical knowledge is not that great, I’ll take the Slovaks’ word for it haha!Although this is a cliche, the best way to enjoy the city is by wandering around. Bratislava is much quieter than other capital cities and with everything in easy walking distance it really is great to explore on foot (even in the cold).
We headed straight up to Bratislava Castle which dominates the skyline standing 85 meters above the city. Today the castle is mainly a reconstruction, as the original building was destroyed by a fire in the 1800s.If you are not interested in checking out the castle, you must take the walk up for the incredible views over Bratislava, the Danube River and the neighbouring country of Austria.
The Blue Church
St Elizabeth’s church, also known as The Blue Church (for obvious reasons) is one of the most interesting buildings in the city. It is painted a bold blue colour and really stands out against its grey and rather dull surroundings.
Old Town Hall
The old town hall is a complex of some of the oldest buildings in the city and home to the Bratislava City Museum, which holds a lot of interesting artefacts from the city’s history.A weird, but true fact, is that the tower still has a cannon ball from Napoleon in one of it’s walls!Of course, the view over the town from the top of the tower is reason enough to visit.
Located at the centre of the Old Town, with a pastel pink exterior Primate’s Palace is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings.The neoclassical Palace has equally impressive decor, although there is not a great deal to see and be warned – if you do try and take a picture inside, you face the wrath of the little old lady mafia who run this place haha.
Post Socialist city tour
We met Brano who invited us on a Post Socialist City Tour with Authentic Slovakia.
He met us in a really cool retro car – 70s Czechoslovak Skoda, unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it because it was an insanely cold and windy day and we wanted to be inside the car most of the time. But here is a picture from their website, incase (like me) you’re not a car person and have no idea what a 70’s Skoda would look like.The tour focuses on the recent history of the city when there were a lot of political and social changes. It’s a really interesting insight and certainly learn more about Bratislava than staying in the centre of the city.We visited the first socialist apartment block which was built in 1955 and also learned about the history of the UFO bridge which actually destroyed the Jewish district of the city when it was built.Visiting the Slavin memorial was really interesting. It is a huge Soviet monument dedicated to the thousands of Russian soldiers who liberated the city from the Germans in 1945. It also offers incredible views over the city and is a very peaceful place to visit.
Where to Eat?
Whilst wandering around, we discovered this little cafe which boasts a wonderful atmosphere, great food and incredibly affordable prices. It’s the perfect spot for breakfast with so many delicious dishes to choose from.It’s also the perfect place to stop for a coffee and dessert. If you’re a chocolate love, this place is the dream. I can definitely recommend the chocolate cappuccino!
We headed up the UFO Observatory for dinner and it was incredible. We had a panoramic view over the city and mountains during sunset! The restaurant is perfectly designed to ensure you have great views whilst you’re eating.The food and cocktails were great, obviously you pay a premium compared with other restaurants in the city, but it’s totally worth it for the experience!
Where to Stay?
Of course, in my opinion when visiting Bratislava you must stay in the Old Town, as you will be perfectly located to explore the city.
We stayed in Hotel Art William which is located at the historic centre of the city. The rooms were very spacious and the highlight is definitely the zebra tiled bathroom!This sign right outside of the building is a symbol showing it used to be a location of a gate to the city.
Have you ever visited Bratislava? What do you think of the city?
Disclaimer: The Slovak Tourist Board arranged our stay at Art Hotel William. However, all opinions and photography are my own.