Only have a mere 24 hours in Bratislava? No worries, we’ve got you covered with the best things to see and do and best places to eat and drink during a quick visit to this fantastic Slovakian city.
Bratislava typically hosts a lot of sporting events — especially running events. If you’re a runner, too, we’d recommend an early morning jog to get a quick feel for the city. Start under the SNP Bridge and head along the riverside. You’ll be able to see the new Riverpark building complex, and when you reach the last bridge you’ll be in a little town called Lafranconni. Depending on your ability and agility, you can run on one side of the river, and then switch sides every time you come to a bridge — it is a 10-kilometre run, though, so don’t forget to bring water and maybe a protein bar!
We’d recommend spending the late morning visiting all the city sights in the Old Town. There is just so much to see: the main square, Hviezdoslavovo Square, the Old Opera House, Michalská Street, St. Martin’s Cathedral — they’re all in a pretty small area so you’ll find your way around easily. It’s better to finish up with the Old Town early because the main streets and sites can get crowded during the day. (Not as crowded as in Prague or Vienna, but crowded for Bratislava!)
For lunch, which in Bratislava is generally from 11am to 1pm, you can pretty much sit in any restaurant and guarantee that you’ll be offered a lunch menu. Prices range from EUR 3,99 to 7,50 for a complete lunch with soup and a main course, and sometimes even a dessert and drink is included.
Be warned that most of the lunch menus will only be written in Slovakian — but worry not, your server will be happy to assist you in picking something delicious! Just bear in mind that lunch time is usually busy in most restaurants, and if you’re hoping to beat the crowds, you’ll have to go after 2pm — but by that point, you won’t be offered the well-priced lunch menu.
Or, if you want to stay outside, a picnic in one of the city parks is an option! We recommend Medická Záhrada (Medic Garden) or Námestie Slobody (Freedom Square), which are both in the city centre.
Walk off lunch by climbing up Castle Hill, which can be approached from several directions. To truly feel like a local, take public transport — the trolleybus is so eco-friendly, and is probably packed full of locals. Get off at the last stop and walk through the villa square towards the Slavin Memorial, which is the cemetery of Russian soldiers from WWII. It’s good to note that climbing up Castle Hill is best done if you pass under the SNP bridge or along the city fortification walls in the direction of the castle.
If climbing doesn’t appeal, you could take a walk over SNP Bridge. Check out the view and then head to the Sad Janka Krala, which is one of the oldest town parks in central Europe. Stretch, relax, and treat yourself to a coffee in the old-style Petrzalka restaurant, Leberfinge. You could also choose to drink your coffee on Magio Beach, a beach with real sand and sun chairs, and amazing views of the city.
A third afternoon option would be to catch a boat from the city port to Devin, which is a small village with a rich history and connection to the city. From the monumental ruins of the castle, there is a magnificent view of the of the Danube and Morava rivers. Over the course of the centuries, the Celts, Germans, Romans, and Slavs all took turns settling here. After enjoying the views in the area, take a bus back to town and stop at Eurovea Mall if you feel like doing a bit of shopping, or if you are looking for a restaurant or café to grab a bite to eat.
Nighttime in the Old Town is the place to be — the area fills up with locals, especially if it’s warm outside. All the restaurants and bars will be packed with cheerful people, and the atmosphere is just so lively and warm. If you’re looking for dinner, we’d recommend visiting Bratislavský Meštiansky Pivovar on Drevená Street or the second one on Dunajská Street. For an upscale restaurant experience, head to the top of SNP Bridge, which houses the UFO Restaurant. They serve good wines and the view is spectacular!
If you feel like going out afterwards, there is a decent bar called Nu Spirit Bar, on Medená Street, but the city is filled with nice bars pretty much everywhere, really. If you’re looking for a club to check out, definitely hit up Subclub, a very special nightclub that is housed in a former bomb shelter.
For travellers on a short visit, we’d definitely recommend having a layover that will allow you to spend two hours in the city centre, and another hour for travelling to and from the airport.
The best way to get from the airport to the sites is by taking the #61 bus. The Bratislava city bus links the airport (labelled only as Letisko) to the train station and runs till midnight. This bus runs every 15 minutes.
If you want to see Bratislava in two hours in the morning or afternoon, you can do it just by visiting the Old Town. You will probably cover all the key tourist spots without any problems, but you’ll have a hard time getting a feel of the local life in such a short period of time.
If you’re in Bratislava for an evening or nighttime layover, definitely enjoy the vibrant night life in the historical Old Town. Hit up a beer garden, bars, restaurant, or head up to the top of the SNP bridge, which houses the aforementioned UFO restaurant. If you have time, check out Subclub!
Just because Bratislava is one of the youngest European capitals doesn’t mean it lacks the historical chops of its neighbours. Despite its youthful designation, Bratislava has a long and inconsistent history, resulting in it being known as a city of contrasts