As part of a two week long trip, I spent 24 hours in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is a charming city that is easy to spend a day in. If you are visiting Prague, Vienna and/or Budapest it is a quirky stop and I do recommend it. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and borders both Austria and Hungary on the River Danube and River Morava. It is a safe city to visit as a tourist and also very safe as a solo female traveller. It is a cheap city to visit with lots to offer!
Where to Stay in Bratislava
The best part of Bratislava to stay in is Old Town (Staré Mesto). You’ll spend most of your time in this part of the city as it has the most to offer as a tourist. For those looking for a mid-range budget stay, Marrol’s Boutique Hotel Bratislava in Old Town is in the heart of the city and was rated Number 1 on TripAdvisor for where to stay in Bratislava. I personally went with a cheap hostel and stayed at Patio Hostel which is great for a solo traveller because they have a nightly game night (such as share a story) and is conveniently located in the centre of the city. For great river views, stay at Hotel Devin where you can also enjoy their spa!
Suggested 24 Hour Itinerary in Bratislava
My absolutely favourite thing to do when I arrive in a new city is to take a walking tour. While you do get to know a lot of the city from a local, they also give the best recommendations for where to eat and what to see in the city. I recommend the Be Free Tours, which lasts about 3 hours and makes a number of stops including the Bratislava Castle with great views of the Danube, the Jewish Quarter, UFO Observation Deck and Synagogue Memorial. The cost of the tour is by donation/tip at the end.
Bratislava Castle is the main castle of the capital of Slovakia. The building is located on a rocky hill in Old Town above the Danube River in the middle of Bratislava and is a dominant feature of the city. The castle location is the best for panoramic views of Bratislava, Austria and sometimes Hungary. Stop here for an amazing sunrise or sunset view! If you visit on a Saturday in the summer months, you can book a guided tour of the castle, which is included in the ticket price.
Primate’s Palace (pink palace) and the Church of St. Elizabeth are the two most colourful buildings in Bratislava and perfect representations of the city’s charm. If you get a chance, I recommend the Primate’s Palace Hall of Mirrors (unfortunately tours were closed when I visited but it looks fantastic).
The Old Town of Bratislava is the historic center. Here you’ll find a preserved medieval city centre including the Bratislava Castle, Grassalkovich Palace, Michael’s Gate, churches, riverfront and other landmarks. It contains the small, but preserved medieval city center, Bratislava Castle and other important landmarks.
The Main Square (Hlavné námestie) is located in Old Town where you’ll find some small booths selling souvenirs, cafes, restaurants and the Roland Fountain.
The UFO Bridge (Most SNP) is an asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge crossing the Danube River constructed in the 1970’s. If you’re up for it, you can head to the top of the UFO shaped structure for the observation deck and a restaurant servicing traditional Slovak and international cuisine.
Grassalkovich Palace (the Presidential Palace) on Hodžovo Square
The Grassalkovich Palace houses the official seat of the country’s president with a big fountain in front in the shape of Earth (which symbolizes freedom). You can also visit the gardens. When I visited, there was a photo instalment with a bit of history on Slovakia and the “Velvet Revolution“. What’s great about visiting Bratislava in combination with Vienna, Budapest and/or Prague, is that all four cities have an incredibly intertwined history. This was no exception: reading about the Velvet Revolution and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia at Grassalkovich and then reading about the same thing in Prague!
Where to Eat in Bratislava
1. Slovak Pub is one of the largest and most popular restaurants in Bratislava and was the recommended stop by my walking tour guide. A casual stop for lunch, dinner or evening drinks, I recommend the dumplings with sheep’s cheese (Slovakian National Dish).
Arthur Ice Cream has loads of colourful, flavourful ice creams and usually has a line in the warmer months.
Buchtáreň is the one stop you NEED to make in the city to try the steamed dumplings. You can fill your steamed dumplings with various savoury or sweet fillings and toppings. I recommend apricot or vanilla topped with melted butter, cocoa and bread crumbs.
Steinplatz for evening drinks, if you choose not to stay at Slovak Pub. Note: smoking indoors is legal in Bratislava so be prepared for a smoky atmosphere.