Slovakia’s capital is a beautiful, vibrant city packed with a ton of fun activities and plenty of fascinating history to learn about. Contrary to its impoverished, run-down portrayal in the classic 2004 comedy, EuroTrip. If you have seen EuroTrip, there’s a good chance that Bratislava won’t be very high on your list of European cities to visit.
Hopefully after reading this article and seeing our photos, you’ll quickly decide that spending a weekend in Bratislava is the perfect choice for a fun city break.
Bratislava is located in the heart of Central Europe. It’s only a few hours away from Prague, Vienna and Budapest by train or bus. This makes it easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in Europe.
Bratislava is a relatively small city in terms of European capitals yet it’s still the country’s largest city. It’s set on the edge of the Danube River, surrounded by the Carpathian mountains, with an epic hill-top castle towering over the city below.
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How To Spend A Weekend In Bratislava
Last summer, we spent a few days staying in the charming medieval town centre and thoroughly enjoyed exploring everything this lovely city has to offer! It’s super affordable and has enough activities and sites to keep you busy for the whole weekend. Spending 2 days in Bratislava is an excellent option for a quick European weekend getaway.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about the best sights to see and all the fun things to do in Bratislava. You’ll be sure to have a memorable time as you wander the historic streets of the old town, take in panoramic city views from the UFO tower and have a great night out on the town.
One thing is certain: you won’t be bored!
The highlight of most people’s visit to Bratislava is of course the historic old town. While exploring its many winding streets and alleys, you’ll come across plenty of cute squares, fountains and pastel coloured facades. There are plenty of places to get great photos for those who love photography. Bratislava is full of beautiful architecture, a ton of cafes and restaurants, and offers a lively and fun pub scene.
One of the main sights to see in the old town is the 13th century town hall, which has seen many changes to its appearance over the years. It now houses the oldest museum in Bratislava, The City Museum, which dates back to 1868 and showcases the history of Bratislava and Slovakia. It also has a display of torture tools and other artefacts. You’ll catch a great view of the old town from the top of the tower. It costs 5€ to enter.
This iconic symbol of Bratislava is the only preserved gate to the old town, making it one of the oldest buildings in the town still standing! Michael’s Gate and its tower are located at the entrance to the old town and surrounded by bustling streets with busy cafes and restaurants. Even if you aren’t looking for it, you’re almost guaranteed to stumble upon it at some point during your stay!
The Museum of Arms is located inside of Michael’s Gate and tower. The museum costs 4,30€ and you’ll find a history of the town’s fortifications as well as medieval weapons, military equipment and firearms. The observation platform at the top of the tower is what draws many tourists. It offers an awesome view of the castle, old town, and streets below.
Bratislava castle dates back to the 9th century and has recently undergone a huge amount of restorative work to get it looking the way it does today.
The city’s main landmark can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Bratislava and is easily accessible by foot from the old town. Once you climb your way up the hill and arrive at the castle, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Danube River, medieval town, UFO bridge and the rest of the city.
Purchase your entry ticket to Bratislava Castle online before you go, this ticket also includes a guided tour of the castle.
Exploring the surrounding gardens is free so if you want to save money you can admire from the outside. Tickets also include entry to the Museum of History which covers the history of the castle and surrounding area in great detail and displays a collection of artefacts from ancient times.
Once you enter the castle, you’ll find a majestic hall with beautiful white walls decorated in gold detailing as well as a big red carpet – making for excellent photo opportunities.
Make sure you find your way to the Crown Tower – the oldest and tallest tower of the castle. Through a series of steep staircases and narrow passageways, you’ll be led to the top of the tower.
This spot provides the most breath-taking views of the city, river and surrounding mountains (I keep talking about epic views, but trust me when I say this one is actually the best!)
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
This unique and photo-worthy church looks like it was taken straight from a fairy-tale! The interesting design and unexpected blue colour is what attracts many tourists to this pretty church. It’s a 10 minute walk from the town centre and you might need Google maps to direct you. It’s worth the walk, especially on a sunny day!
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UFO Bridge and Tower
If you’re looking to relax and sip a drink while taking in an epic view, you’ll want to head over to the city’s iconic UFO tower. To get there, it’s a 20 minute walk from the town centre across the UFO bridge. The restaurant, UFO Restauracia, is located at the top of the tower and is accessible by an elevator.
Bear in mind that the food and drink prices here are a considerable amount higher than those of the town centre (you are paying for the view/experience). If you don’t feel like forking out, access to the observation deck costs 6.50€ per adult and €3.25 for children. We recommend heading to the tower around sunset to enjoy a spectacular view!
If you purchase the Bratislava Card (more info on that below), tickets to the viewing platform will be reduced as well as your restaurant bill discounted if you decide to eat there.
This war memorial is located on a hill near the castle and it’s a 30 min walk from the town center. Another option to get there is to take the bus (number 203 or 207) which still involves a fair amount of walking to and from the bus stop, as you can see below.
The Slavin memorial is a monument and cemetery dedicated to the fallen Soviet soldiers who liberated the city during World War II. The main monument lies in the center of the cemetery and was built in 1960 to commemorate the 15th anniversary.
With sweeping views over the city below and the peaceful atmosphere of the memorial grounds, this makes for a quiet spot to relax and escape the bustle of the old town.
Man At Work
The quirky man at work statue, aka Cumil, pokes his head out of a sewer pipe on the street with a cheeky grin on his face. It is debated whether he is trying to catch a peek up women’s skirts or if he’s just taking a rest during a hard days work of cleaning the sewers.
At some point during your weekend in Bratislava, you must head over to meet Cumil and grab a photo of the city’s most famous statue. He is pretty easy to find while you’re exploring the streets, just take a look at the map below!
Cumil isn’t the only bronze statue hanging out in Bratislava’s old town. It won’t take you long to stumble upon his many friends that were originally created in an effort to liven things up around the city post Communist era. They quickly became popular with tourists which led to the addition of many more of these fun statues popping up around the town!
This beautiful 18th century pale pink palace is hard to miss as it’s centrally located, only a few steps away from the main square. If you choose to enter the Primate’s Palace, you will enjoy beautiful red carpets, white walls with gold features and gorgeous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Don’t miss out on the Hall of Mirrors, the most famous room of the Palace, as this is where the Peace Treaty between Austria and France was signed in 1805.
Get a feel for Bratislava’s rich and fascinating past as you wander through the remaining sections of the town’s fortifications. The best place to see the medieval walls is on the outer edge of the old town, right next to the highway.
As you walk along the walls, you will find information displayed about the Turkish invasions in the area as well as other interesting historical facts.
Portion of the old city walls / Wandering the beautiful streets of Bratislava
Experience Bratislava Nightlife
Bratislava Pub Crawl – A full day of sightseeing is best rounded off by a lively night out on the town. What better way to do that than a good old pub crawl?! Enjoy a night of pub hopping, drinking games and making new friends.
This 3 hour tour will take you to some of the fascinating pubs around Bratislava, each one has a different theme. You’ll get the chance to try out beers, wines and even shots (if you wish!). You will also learn a lot about the Slovakian culture and traditions from your local guide.
Bratislava Craft Beer Tour – Explore several different breweries around the city on a 1.5 hour tour led by an expert guide. Learn all about the traditional beer brewing process while tasting a large variety of local brews. The tour also includes a selection of Slovakian appetizers paired with the beers.
Bratislava Traditional Food Tour
A great way to experience a new culture is to sample the local cuisine while learning the history behind it all. It’s easy to sit down at any restaurant while your on holiday, and just order what looks familiar; burgers & chips, pizza, pasta etc.
If you book a traditional food tour during your weekend in Bratislava, you will be guaranteed to get a taste of delicious Slovakian cuisine. Build up your appetite while wandering through the city to the various restaurants. You’ll get to hear all the interesting stories behind each dish and learn plenty of Slovakian history from a local guide.
Free Walking Tour Bratislava
What’s better than a free walking tour to familiarize yourself with a new city? There is a walking tour that operates twice daily, at 11 am & 3 pm. It covers most of the highlights I’ve listed in this article and much more! There’s no need to reserve a spot, you just have to turn up. Best of all, its FREE!
The Bratislava card offers many benefits and you should definitely consider purchasing one. You get free access to museums, attractions and tours in the area. Unlimited free travel on public transport for 24-72 hours from first activation. You also get a free walking tour of the historical city centre and a Danube River cruise. Save yourself a bunch of money during your weekend trip by grabbing a Bratislava card before you go!
How to get to Bratislava
Bratislava is conveniently located in the heart of central Europe making it extremely easy to access from a number of locations. We travelled from Prague to Bratislava via train which took about 4 hours. When we left Bratislava we continued our travels on to Budapest which was a 3 hour bus ride away. Bratislava is also a quick 1.5 hour bus ride away from Vienna.
Bratislava airport is a busy airline hub for Central Europe making it easy to find cheap flights from pretty much anywhere in Europe! Once you arrive at the airport, the city centre is located 15-20 minutes away by taxi.
Bratislava Airport Bus – If you are on a budget, take the bus #61 to the main train station. It’s a 20 minute walk from the train station to the town centre.
Bratislava Airport Transfer – If you’re looking for a more convenient way to get from the airport to the city centre, book an airport transfer. For the same price as a taxi, you’ll have peace of mind that someone will be waiting for you at the airport and bring you straight to your hotel doorstep.
Where to Stay in Bratislava
We recommend booking a room near the old town so that you’re conveniently located close to the main attractions, restaurants and bars.
We loved our stay at the City Castle Apartments which are very clean, comfortable, modern and have all the amenities you could ask for. It’s also perfectly located less than 1km from Bratislava Castle with free parking and excellent ratings on Booking.com.
Best Time to Visit Bratislava
There are a full four seasons here. Depending on what time of year you choose to visit, Bratislava can seem like a completely different location. If you travel to Slovakia during off-season, you’ll find a winter wonderland with plenty of snow, mulled wine and winter sports.
We visited in June and had sunny, warm weather; perfect for exploring the city and relaxing on patios with a drink in hand. In terms of spending a weekend in Bratislava, we think spring/summer is the best time to go!
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