Bratislava: Slovakia’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Have you ever been to Bratislava? If not, then it’s time to change that! Although there are so many beautiful places to discover here, the capital of Slovakia is often overlooked by travelers. This might be an advantage for you, though, because it means you can explore this city without having to fight your way through the crowds. But of course, there are always a few visitors around, and you’ll never get lonely in Bratislava.
Take your chance to check out as many sights as possible here. We had a really difficult time narrowing down our list to just 10 entries. Of course, you can also leave the travel guide at home and just ask the locals for their favorite places. It’s the best way to discover some of Bratislava’s hidden gems! If you want to know our favorite places, take a look at the list below. But first, we’ll briefly introduce you to Bratislava and Slovakia in general. Let’s go!
Bratislava in a Nutshell
With a population of about 5.5 million people and an area of 49,034 square kilometers, Slovakia is not particularly large, but it still has a lot to offer! Did you know that the Slovak Republic is still a very young country? It became independent in 1993 after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic gained independence at the same time. Therefore, many people call Slovakia Czechia’s little brother, although the Slovaks tend to dislike that nickname – and with good reason! Slovakia is, after all, a separate country with its own language and culture. An excellent example of the latter is the country’s delicious national dish. It’s called Bryndzove halušky and consists of potato dumplings served with sheep’s cheese and bacon. Are you getting hungry? Well, then start planning your trip to Bratislava!
The best time to pack your bags is from April to October, as you can usually expect the weather to be nice during these months. Remember that Europe’s continental climate can cause large temperature differences depending on the season, though.
One of the things that makes Bratislava so special is that it is the only capital in the world to border on two other countries – Austria and Hungary. That’s not all, though. Bratislava is only 60 kilometers away from the Austrian capital, Vienna, and the two cities support each other in so many ways that people often call them the “twin cities.” You can also hop on the “Twin City Liner” to get to Vienna in just 75 minutes. It’s the perfect opportunity to cross two destinations off your bucket list at the same time!
That being said, there is more than enough to see and do in Bratislava alone. You can easily explore the city center on foot. The public transport system, which includes streetcars and buses, also runs frequently and is very reliable. Alternatively, you could use the city’s yellow rental bikes. We especially recommend checking out the beautiful bike path along the Danube!
If you love getting lost in a crowd, don’t miss out on Bratislava’s many events, such as the Sharpe Festival in September. It consists of more than 40 concerts and provides contemporary artists from a variety of genres with a chance to show off their skills. If you’re into reggae music and Jamaican culture, we recommend attending the Uprising Festival in August. You can not only enjoy the music here but also join cool yoga classes! To immerse yourself in the city’s history, attend the Coronation Celebrations in June. You won’t forget about this unique festival any time soon – especially the many people dressed as nobles are a sight to remember!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Bratislava
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let us introduce you to our 10 favorite sights in Bratislava. Don’t miss out on any of them while you’re here!
There are well over 100 castles and palaces in Slovakia. One of the most impressive ones overlooks Bratislava. We’re talking, of course, about Bratislava Castle, which towers over the Danube on top of an 80-meter-tall rock. Although the 13th century castle has changed a lot over time, the building with its red roof tiles nevertheless remains a wonderful sight. Nearby, you can also admire the war memorial Slavín, which we’ll talk about in more detail later on.
Once you’ve made your way to the castle – you can either walk or take the bus –, you can not only admire its imposing architecture but also the historical museum inside. Here, you can immerse yourself in the time of the Hungarian royal families. You can also take a break in the castle’s restaurant or watch one of the plays that are put on here in the summer. You don’t get to see Shakespeare’s plays in a setting this spectacular every day! If you prefer other forms of art, why not check out the craft fair that is also held on the castle grounds?
We also recommend climbing the Crown Tower to get a stunning view of Bratislava. The tower is also the oldest part of the castle. Its name derives from the Hungarian monarchy’s crown jewels that were housed in the tower’s treasury.
Just outside the city center, you will find another castle, one that is very important from an archaeological point of view. Excavations on this site have unearthed many artifacts from Slovakia’s earliest settlements. We’re talking about Devín Castle.
In the past, the castle was at the center of many conflicts, which is also why it had to be rebuilt many times. It was last destroyed by the French army in the early 19th century, and today there are only ruins left for you to explore. There also used to be a church from the 9th century at this site, and you can still see the traces of its outline. With a little imagination, you can picture what it must have looked like once upon a time. You can learn more about Devín Castle at the nearby exhibition. The view of the Danube and the surrounding forest from up here is also just magnificent.
The Blue Church
Another fantastic sight in Bratislava is the Blue Church. That’s not its real name, of course. Officially, it’s called the Church of Saint Elizabeth. Have a guess where it got its nickname! That’s right – it’s completely blue. It’s such a striking sight that you don’t have to worry about missing it on your walk around the Old Town. Take a look inside – the color of the interior won’t be a surprise, either. Its unique masonry makes the Blue Church a simply unforgettable sight!
The Old Town Hall and the Roland Fountain
If you want to learn more about the history of Bratislava, check out the museum in the Old Town Hall! Because of a lack of space, you won’t find the building on the city’s main square, as is usually the case, but rather hidden away in the Old Town. The exterior of the house is absolutely beautiful, with colorful tiles decorating the roof. Can you spot the cannonball in the wall? It has been here since the attack of Napoleon’s army on the city at the beginning of the 19th century.
You’ll also find the Roland Fountain on the main square. It dates back to 1572 and is the oldest fountain in Bratislava! King Maximilian II gave the order for its construction, and you can see his statue on top of the fountain. A leisurely walk from here to the Franciscan Square is also well worth it, as this is where the city’s oldest church, the Franciscan Church, is located.
In the 14th century, Bratislava had four city gates. Today, only one of them remains. Even though Michael’s Gate might seem unimpressive at first, it’s still well worth a visit!
You can climb the 51-meter-high tower, admire an image of the Archangel Michael, and visit the Museum of Arms. You can also dress up as a nobleman and have your photo taken in the tower. It’s the perfect opportunity for a new profile picture!
Attention – we’ve spotted an alien! We’re just kidding, of course. The UFO may look like an unidentified flying object, but it’s actually a tower on the edge of the longest cable-stayed bridge with only one pylon.
So, why should you visit the UFO? Sure, the restaurant in the tower is nice. But our personal highlight is the skywalk! On a clear day, you can see as far as 100 kilometers from up here, and the tower has the best view of Bratislava Castle as well. Enjoy a cup of coffee while taking in the breathtaking panorama!
Bratislava is home to the largest war monument in Central Europe. It commemorates World War II and the nearly 7,000 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during the liberation of Bratislava in 1945. They were buried here as well, which is why the monument doubles as a cemetery and you should behave respectfully while you’re here.
The Museum of Jewish Culture
Jewish culture is also a part of Slovakia. You can learn more about Jews and their traditions in this museum. There are more than 5,000 exhibits as well as a large library. If you want to know more about Jewish history, we highly recommend spending an afternoon in this museum!
The Sculptures of Bratislava
You won’t find sculptures like these in just any city. They were put up in the 1990s to make Bratislava more interesting, and we’re sure you’ll agree that this plan was successful!
The most popular sculpture could be something of a health hazard if it wasn’t so well-known. The bronze figure Čumil also has the nickname “the peeper.” He’s a canal worker who is looking out of a manhole. He likes to peek up the skirts of passing ladies, which – as we can all agree – is not very respectful of him.
Nevertheless, you should be nice to Čumil and pet his bald head, because, according to local legend, that’s how he’ll grant you a wish! Right next to Čumil, you can see another funny bronze statue. “Paparazzi” is holding a camera and taking pictures of a nearby restaurant.
The Napoleonic soldier at the main square is the best statue for a group photo, because he’s casually leaning against a park bench. But the beautiful Náci is also a great photo motif. The old gentleman with a top hat has an interesting story – he’s based on a real person. His name was Ignác Lamár, and he was always very well-dressed. He became famous for greeting ladies very politely and bringing them flowers every now and then.
Dunajské Iuhy Protected Landscape Area
You need some peace and quiet and want to discover Slovakia’s countryside? Then head to the Dunajské Iuhy Protected Landscape Area near the capital! Here, you can walk, swim, or cycle along the Danube cycle path.
The area provides a safe habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species, many of which are extremely rare. Therefore, you should always dispose of your trash properly – just like you would anywhere else.
Are you as impressed as we are? Bratislava may not be as well-known as some other capitals, but it never ceases to amaze us. That’s why it’s ideal for a city trip, especially if you also want to spend a few days in Vienna. Traveling between the twin cities is super easy!
There are, however, more than enough sights in Bratislava alone to keep you busy. We really like the bronze statues, but the castles are also gorgeous. Spend your vacation admiring the city’s fascinating history and its amazing architecture, such as the Slavín Monument and the Old Town Hall! We can’t wait to go back to Bratislava! Have you booked your tickets yet?