Bratislava is charming in its own Eastern European way. You have the old buildings painted into pastel colors that have faded over time. You notice much less people speaking English on the streets, which I think is a relief. And you have the cobblestone streets and the road signs that you can’t seem to place.
And while it’s charming, it’s also grungy in the Eastern European sense. The streets are littered with trash and the cemented sidewalks are cracked. There’s graffiti on the buildings and the marbled tiles in shopping stores wobble when stepped on. I would have to say that visiting Bratislava was not my favorite. And while I think everyone should experience everywhere at least once to form his or her own opinions. I have to say; Slovakia’s capital is one I won’t be going back to.
After what I know now I still recommend everyone to try out Bratislava for themselves. Don’t let what I have to say sway you. Decide for yourself. There have been places that people have told me, “don’t go”; I went anyways and they turned out to be some of my favorite cities. There are places I thought I would love that ended up being “mehh”. With this being the case, I recommend Bratislava as a quick and easy day trip. It’s a cheap city, and only a one-hour bus ride from the scenic capital of Vienna. A day trip is more than sufficient for everything to see and do in Bratislava.
Upon arrival to Slovakia’s capital, immediately head to city centre. This is where you’ll find the most charm in the preserved historic center. 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. It makes me wonder if there’s a lot of heartbreak in Bratislava?
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. (Be aware that there isn’t much to see or do in the castle, it just offers good views of the city.) 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 old town.
Before your day journey ends make sure to refuel at Bistro St. Germain. A quaint café with a warm and cozy atmosphere, that serves delicious food and drinks. If time permits, make sure to stop by Michalska Cocktail Room. Michalska is a Narnia like speakeasy, which you have to enter through a closet to get in.
Note: I won’t tell you exactly where this is because that would ruin all the fun! I walked around for 20 minutes before I figured it out…
One day is definitely sufficient to see what Bratislava has to offer. I’m curious if you’ve ever been and what you thought?
*For more on Bratislava, check out my Instagram story highlights*