What is the best part of travel blogging? To take a day off in order to make some pictures of your home town and write few tips for the next post on your blog.
As a local, it was kinda difficult for me to write about Bratislava, since I have never felt here like the visitor. I have never been looking at historical sites differently than ‚that building I peed on while drunk, or restaurants in Old Town that I find unnecessary expensive. But now I’m walking through this streets, feeling the smell of small coffee shops, looking at people around me and listening to their languages and feeling curious, where are they from.
Most of tourists in Bratislava are right from Austria, especially Vienna. The length of travel between this two cities is something little bit more than one hour. This means, that people visiting Vienna usually take day trip to Bratislava. There are trains and buses for fair price, where you can buy one way ticket from 10 EUR. If you feel little bit more rich, you can take a ferry. Then second biggest group of visitors are British people. Yeah. Our beer is incomparable cheaper that theirs and since Ryanair operates 20 EUR flights between many cities in UK to Bratislava, tourism is booming. Lately, there were so many British people in Bratislava, sometimes we make jokes of them, because, they can’t handle that much cheap alcohol. And they end up swimming in the fountain on Main Square singing some crazy, rude songs. Except of this England phenomenon, Bratislava is the city where everyone find something. Weather you are 18 or 70 years old. Let’s have a look!
Before you plane your trip, it is good to know how to move around the city. The most convenient way is to use public transport and I strongly recommend you to buy 24 hours touristic ticket for 4,50 EUR available in ticket machines (coins only) or local news paper stands (cash only). Taxis are expensive. To plan your public transport trip, use this website to figure out which tram/bus/trolley bus use and do not forget to check the map as well.
We start our one day tour in Medická záhrada (Medical garden), in the heart of Old town. This place is very popular for young people and in my opinion, it is the most beautiful public park/garden in Bratislava, designed in French baroque. Few years ago, I worked as the guide in this garden, so I know every single part of it very well. Some sources say, that this garden is the most favorite in Bratislava, so be sure not to miss it. The garden is the part of Aspremont palace in Baroque Classicism. During the summer, you can borrow a book in local reading room, have a tea or water pipe in tea house or just chill on the lawn and watch swan fountain. The closest trolley bus stop is called Špitálska (Spitalska) with trolley buses number 208 and 206. If you are on tram, get of on Mariánska (Marianska) from tram number 3, 4, or 9.
We are going to continue our tour on shopping street, called Obchodná ulica (Obchdna street), which is one of the most crowded and visited place in town. Board trolley bus number 208 and take one stop to Kollárovo námestie (Kolarovo square). From there, cross the road towards to the park you will see, cross the park and you will be on shopping street. You can walk as well from Medical garden, it takes around 15 minutes. On Obchodna street, there are many shops and in the past, this street was the border of old town. Here, you can just pass by or sit in local restaurants or buy some clothes. Restaurants on Obchodna streets are not expensive, comparing to those, which are in Old Town.
From Obchodna it is just few meters right to the Old Town, the place where you spend more money, you will see the most amount of tourists and have an opportunity to see lot of beautiful architecture of Bratislava. To be honest, Old Town is the most beautiful part of the city and you should not feel any regrets if you haven’t visited any other parts of Bratislava during your stay. Old Town is small and that’s the reason, why Bratislava became one day trips destination from tourists from Austria. If I can suggest you, save money for later and read the part „Where to drink and eat“ at the bottom of this post. Old Town is overpriced, but there’s nothing wrong with that, since all old towns in the world have higher prices and standard. Do not miss Hlavné Námestie (Main Square) with fountain in the center of it. If you are here during Christmas time, definitely do not miss Christmas market where you can buy hot wine, local dishes and hand made souvenirs. While walking around the Old Town do not miss Slovak National Theater, as well.
Wandering around Old Town will lead you to the pride of my city – the castle. If not, just follow information boards. This castle was renovated in year 2009 and has rich history. If you are lucky and are in Bratislava in first Sunday of current month, the entrance is for free. In the past, the castle was fortress, nowadays it is museum. The castle is surrounded with small park with lot of benches, so you can have a rest and enjoy spectacular views of town. It may be tough to step up so many stairs up here, but the view is totally worth it.
Roofs of Old Town look pretty cozy and I have always enjoy looking at them. At this place, where you stand now, there are many young couples having dates, especially in the evening while lights of the town are taking their breaths. Opening hours are restricted, so manage your trip during the day, evening, but not late night. Very close to the castle you will see big building with Slovakian and European flag – that’s the House of Parliament. In addition to the castle and House of Parliament, also the UFO bridge may catch your attention. This is another symbol of Bratislava, bridge, officially called Nový most (New bridge, Novy bridge). Up there, in the UFO is fancy restaurant that slowly turns around. So while you eat, you can enjoy the panorama of the city.
From the castle, take the trolley bus nr. 203 to stop called Búdková (Budkova) to see Bratislava’s most favorite cemetery – Slavin. It is the memorial of soviet soldiers fallen in World War II and it is the only one military cemetery in this town. The monument is almost 40 meters tall, and at it’s top, there is the statue of soviet soldier rising the flag. Around the monument are boards with names of cities on Slovakia, liberated by the Red Army. Even from here, thre is an amazing city view, and if you have missed night lights from the castle, you can come here. The entrance is unlimited and free of charge. Do not step on the grass, since there are graves of Russian soldiers and do not talk aloud. Remember, you are still on the cemetery, even if it doesn’t look like that.
If you are finished with taking pictures and enjoying the view, walk back to Budkova and take trolley bus number 203 or 207 to Hodžovo námestie (Hodzovo square) where you will find the palace of president.
After election on March 2014, Slovakia got new president – Andrej Kiska. If you are lucky, you will see changing guards in front of the palace. From the other side of building, there is beautiful garden – Grasslakovičova záhrada (Grassalkovich garden) available for public, opened every day. The palace is in Rococo style, build in 176O by Antonin Grassalkovich. At this place, we can finish our tour, and now is time for fun :)
Where to eat and drink?
As I mentioned before, Bratislava is the place where you can eat or drink cheaper than in other cities in Europe, but there are some rules of course that does apply :) for me, as local and student I usually do not visit pubs in the heart of old town, or rarely on special occasions. Lately, I found some places I love going, with good location and fair prices. When you go out for a dinner, prepare around 15 – 30 EUR per person for and another 30 EUR for a drinks in pubs. One night in Old Town will cost you around 60 EUR, but it’s up to you how much you can handle.
One of my favourite places is Rustique at Obchodna street (Shopping street), number 7. Live music every Friday, A la carte menu and specialties. Great wine is must! Friendly staff is always ready to meet your requirements and you will feel special in brand new furnished interior. Find Rustique on Facebook if you want to make an reservation, or just stop by for drink, snack, cafe or lunch. Either on Obchodna street find Slovak pub right by Mc Donald’s. Here you can have local food like Bryndzové halušky (Sheep cheese dumplings) and local drink – Kofola. My friend, Gloria W. from Austria have tasted both while here, and she relly liked it. If you want to enjoy promenade by shopping centre, Eurovea, definitely stop by on Pribinova street for fresh Mojito or ice cream.
This place became very favorite for locals and tourists, as well. This is the place where you can spend whole day, if you are too lazy to walk around the town and hang out with friends. Here you can go to the cinema, go shopping or just sit and relax while having drinks or lunch. Ask friendly staff for local night clubs and parties.
Bratislava is nice destination, and staying one or two days is enough. According to your requirements, you may not spend much money here. I recommend you to visit this city during summer months, since on winter it can be little bit boring for tourists. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask me, I can suggest you nice hotels or hostels and If you want, write me in advance and I can be your guide, I live here since I was born ;) Enjoy your stay!
Hello – Ahoj
Thank you – Dakujem
How much? – Kolko?
Yes/No – Ano/Nie
Milan Bardun 2014 – because it is better to travel, than to arrive