Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is a charming city located in Eastern Europe. It’s a quintessential European town, where you can expect to find a city steeped in history, old buildings painted in faded pastel colors, and cobblestone streets leading you through winding alleyways. In Bratislava, you’ll notice fewer people speaking English than in Western Europe, (which I quite frankly find as a relief). However, the best part about Bratislava is its location. Sandwiched between two incredible cities – Budapest and Vienna – you have no excuse not to visit if you’re in the area. Here’s how to have the best day trip to Bratislava if you’re visiting from Budapest or Vienna.
A Day Trip to Bratislava from Budapest and/or Vienna
If you visit Bratislava, you truly only need one day to see and do everything. Ideally, you’ll be visiting from Budapest or Vienna, both incredible cities that are nearby. Or if you have the time, I recommend seeing all three cities – a trifecta! Stop in Bratislava as you pass from Budapest to Vienna (or vice versa). Again, unless you plan to see other areas of Slovakia, it’s best to do Bratislava in one day.
From Budapest to Bratislava
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is located about 125-miles southeast of Bratislava. To get to Bratislava from Budapest you can take a bus or a train, each taking under three hours. I prefer to use Omio when searching for transportation.
While I recommend taking a train or bus (because it’s cheap and easy), if you prefer to drive, I recommend using Discover Cars to compare prices across multiple different rental companies.
Are you planning on visiting Bratislava from Budapest? Make sure to read my Budapest posts!
From Vienna to Bratislava
Vienna is the capital of Austria and is located only 50-miles northwest of Bratislava. (Fun fact: Bratislava and Vienna are the closest capitals in ALL of Europe!). From Vienna, you can take either a bus or a train to Bratislava, with the ride being about an hour long. Again, I prefer to use Omio when searching for transportation.
For private transportation from Bratislava back to Vienna, you can book here for $36.
Are you planning on visiting Bratislava from Vienna? Make sure to read my Vienna posts!
What to See in Bratislava in One Day
Upon arrival in Slovakia’s capital, immediately head to the city center. This is where you’ll find the most charm in the preserved historic center, and the best things to see in Bratislava. Cross over the bridge that contains the lovelocks. This bridge is unique in that there is no water under the bridge. The point of the “lovelock bridge” is to lock your love up, and toss the key into the water where it will be forever lost. This links your love together for all of eternity. Here, the keys are just thrown onto the ground because there is no water under the bridge.
After crossing the small bridge make sure to walk under the iconic Michael’s Gate. Before crossing under you’ll notice the narrowest building in Europe on the right. Michael’s Gate is special in that it’s the only city gate in Bratislava to still stand, making it one of the oldest buildings in town. After crossing through Michael’s Gate head to Kapitulska Street, the oldest street in town.
Once you’ve checked some of the oldest structures in Bratislava off your list, head to Bratislava Castle. Here you have free views of the city, old and new, plus you can see Austria in the distance.
After spending some time in the castle make your way to the Catholic Church of St. Elisabeth, also known as the “blue church”. A bit out of old town and more under the radar than the rest of the buildings located in the old town.
Before your day journey ends make sure to refuel at the delicious restaurant, Bistro St. Germain. A quaint café with a warm and cozy atmosphere, serving unique food and drinks. And if time permits, make sure to stop at Michalska Cocktail Room. Michalska is a Narnia like speakeasy, which you have to enter through a closet to get in.
While Bratislava is smaller than both Budapest and Vienna, it’s definitely worth the journey to see this historic city. And while you can certainly spend as much time as you want, seeing Bratislava in one day is certainly feasible.
I’m curious, have you ever taken a day trip to Bratislava? Let me know in the comments below!
For more on my Bratislava trip, make sure to check out my Instagram/highlight reel and search for the highlight “Bratislava”.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.