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You may or may not have heard of Bratislava. To tell you the truth, I only knew about this city a few years ago when I flew into Bratislava airport and took the bus to Vienna. It was the only option I had going to Vienna at the time. I spent a few hours at the airport, and that was it.
Then I decided to return to Europe this year and visit Vienna and Budapest. Since I arrived in Vienna and planning on taking the train to Budapest, why not visit Bratislava as well. Austria and Hungary both border Slovakia, so it was a comfortable train ride to Bratislava. And I love to visit a new city! It is the perfect opportunity to learn about a new country and a new culture!
As the capital of Slovakia, or officially as the Slovak Republic, Bratislava is located in the southwestern side of the country and has a population of 450,000 people. The country borders by the Czech Republic to the north, Poland and Ukraine to the east while Austria and Hungary to the south. The country is mountainous and has many national parks, mineral springs, waterfalls, caves and castles. Bratislava only represents a small fraction of the country. But the capital city has an abundant amount of cultural events that will keep you entertained.
I’m always open to seeing something new, and something different. Which is why I decided to see Bratislava for two days. I feel like part of being a traveller is to be open-minded and accepting and welcoming the unknown. And let me tell you, it was totally worth spending some time in the quaint little city of Bratislava.
Why Bratislava is Great for a Solo Female Traveller
Bratislava is one of the most compact capital city in Europe. A super chill city with lots of character. The city is small and easy to navigate, which makes a wonderful spot for a weekend trip or a stopover. And the perfect opportunity to learn about the Slovak culture!
Even though people speak Slovak, a lot of people speak or understand English. During the time I was there, everyone I encountered speaks English and was very helpful. I had zero issues with ordering food as menus have English translation and photographs.
Safety isn’t a concern for solo travellers. There is little violence in the city. But as always, practice your safety precautions wherever you go. Pick-pocketing can occur in crowds so be careful with your belongings. I walked around during both day and night and didn’t feel unsafe. Some parts of the city may appear a bit sketchy, i.e. run-down buildings, graffitis, etc. If you feel unsafe walking around those areas, then avoid it. Not every part of the city appears that way.
Furthermore, the city is very accessible, especially from Vienna, Austria. The quickest and cheapest way is the train, which only takes one hour and about 10 EUR. Or the more exciting alternative is to take the scenic boat ride from Vienna to Bratislava on the Danube River.
As part of the European Union, Slovakia’s official currency is the Euro (EUR). Credit cards can be used almost everywhere, but it is always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller shops.
The standard voltage is 230V. The power socket is type E. Check here to determine if you need to bring a travel adapter for all your electronics.
Data & Wifi
Because I was only there for two days, I didn’t look into the option of buying a card. And also because a lot of places have free wifi. Every restaurant I went to has free wifi so staying connected is not an issue in Bratislava. But if you are travelling in Slovakia for an extended period, SIM card is available for purchase.
How to get to Bratislava from Vienna
Taking a day trip from Vienna to Bratislava is super easy. There are many direct trains from Vienna to Bratislava daily.
Or try one of these tours below:
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What to Do in Bratislava
Even though the city is not as well known as other European cities, it is still worth visiting. The centre of town is quite impressive. And Slavic food is delicious! I spent two days in the city, but you can probably visit most of the attractions in a full day. Here’s what I did.
From where I stayed (near the train station), I walked towards the centre of the city and saw the Summer Archbishop’s Palace and Grassalkovich Palace (the Presidential Palace). I continued walking towards the Old Town where I was immediately greeted with Michael’s Gate, the Old Town Hall, and Roland’s Fountain. The Old Town is quite charming and is worth spending a bit of time meandering through the cobblestone streets. That’s how I found some of the bronze sculptures including one called Man at Work.
After strolling through the Old Town, I headed west and visited the Bratislava Castle up on the hill; a must-see attraction when you visit Bratislava.
For another view of Bratislava, I walked across the Most SNP bridge to the UFO Observation Deck where you can get a panoramic view of the city. Then I continued the path along the Danube River and returned to the other side via the Old Bridge. Slovak National Theatre and the Blue Church are both on the way back to the Old Town.
Also, if you have time, check out some of the museums. I spent some time in the Nedbalka Gallery, which is in a delightful small building and the permanent exhibit is displaying modern art in Slovakia. There is also Bratislava City Museum, Slovak Design Centre and Slovak National Museum.
Doing everything in one full day is possible! So put on your comfortable shoes and stroll through this walkable city!
Staying longer in Bratislava
Bratislava is a quaint little town where you can spend more than a day. Plus you can take plenty of day trips from Bratislava and explore the neighbouring area in Slovakia.
What to Eat in Bratislava
Eating is a big part of any culture. And it is no except with Slovak cuisine. I had no idea what type of food they have until now. They have a lot of meat dishes, various types of cheese (especially sheep cheese) and beer, of course! Eating in Bratislava is relatively inexpensive. Depending on the restaurant, a dish can cost between $2-6 EUR.
Traditional Slovak Dishes
I researched a whole lot (as you can see) about Slovak cuisine. Below is a list of the traditional Slovak dishes in which I tried about three-quarters of the list. I can say without a doubt, that a lot of them are delicious! Especially if you like meat and cheese!
Bryndzové Halušky – potato dumplings with sheep cheese and roasted bacon; this is Slovakia’s national dish
Bryndzové Pirohy – pierogis stuffed with sheep cheese
Vepřo Knedlo Zelo – pork with dumplings and cabbage
Parené buchty – steamed dumplings filled with jam, sweetened poppy seeds, cheese or chocolate
Zemiakové Placky – potato pancakes with flour and garlic fried in oil
Vyprážaný Syr – Fried cheese with French fries and tartar sauce
Vyprážaný Rezeň – schnitzel
Gulášová Polievka – goulash soup
Klobása – spicy smoked sausage
Trdelník – vertical funnel cake with filling
Šišky – fried dumplings with marmalade and sugar
Kofola – a popular drink in Slovakia, a soft drink that kind of tastes like Coca-Cola with lemon and coffee
Kláštorný Ležiak – local beer
Tokaj wine – Slovakian white wine from Košice
Where to Eat in Bratislava
With the limited time I spent in Bratislava, I went to these places to try traditional Slovak dishes. They are all delicious!
Slovak Pub – 62 613, Obchodná; my Airbnb host recommend this restaurant, and she was right, this place is pretty amazing! I ordered the Slovak Platter which has two types of dumplings and pierogis filled with cabbage. Can’t go wrong with a platter!
Bratislava Flagship Restaurant – 8, Námestie SNP; try the homemade sausage, cheese platter with herbal salt and wash it down with Kláštorný ležiak (see photo above)
Street Food Park Festival – in front of Old Market Hall; this is a mini food event during warmer months where vendors sell local food including chimney cake. And wine and beer, of course! And this is an excellent spot for any solo travellers to grab a snack and a drink.
Urban House Cafe – Laurinská 213/14; a coffee shop with a retro and modern interior that serves great lemonade, excellent coffee and delicious coconut cheesecake!
Where to Stay in Bratislava
Since I arrived in Bratislava via the train and only planned on being there for two days, it was the easiest to stay near the train station. The walk to the Old Town is about ten minutes only, and there are public buses that will take you directly into the Old Town.
I always check between Agoda and Airbnb websites to see which ones have better accommodation options. From my research on Agoda, hotels in the Old Town is about $40USD and up. And a dorm bed in a hostel is about $15 – $20USD a night.
However, there were quite a few standouts regarding Airbnb selection. The bright apartment was the winner! The apartment is about an eight-minute walk from the train station and a ten-minute walk to Old Town. Most of all, the apartment is clean, has a washing machine and everything you need for a short-term stay. If you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
I’m so glad to have visited Bratislava! It is definitely worth visiting if you haven’t yet. Did I miss any must-see’s? Also, if you like this post, share it and pin it!
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last update: May 21, 2019