17 things to see and do in Bratislava (Part 1)

Hello again to everyone! Today I am going to give an introduction to the country that I am currently living in: Slovakia. I live in Bratislava, the capital, so the majority of the content I am going to give you in these first entries will be about this city. Even so, I have in mind to tell you about other places that I have been to around the country. This implies different cities around Slovakia and also tourism relating to nature (ecotourism) because Slovakia has quite a lot to offer for this.

Today the focus is on the capital: Bratislava. People normally visit Bratislava as a “pit-stop” of sorts because it is in between two great cities: Budapest and Vienna. In addition, it is also relatively close to Prague, so tourists can kill two birds with one stone and invest only one day to visiting Bratislava.


In this part of the post, I would like to tell you about tourist attractions that you can see in Bratislava and what activities you can do. To visit everything that I am going to tell you about you would need an entire day as a minimum. Normally, tourists only visit the Old Town, the historic centre known as “Stare Mesto”, but I am going to add other places to this list in case you fancy spending longer than a day in the Slovakian capital. This entry will divide into two part as the list is quite extensive, so this is only the first part.

1. Bratislava Castle

The most touristic attraction in the city. It is practically in the centre, near to the Old Town, although you have to climb a small hill to reach the entrance. Both in winter, covered with a layer of snow (as in the previous photo), and in summer, with gardens full of flowers, the castle is a fundamental attraction to see.


From the highest part, you can see all of Bratislava. You can see the Petržalka neighbourhood, where the famous “panelák” buildings stand out, which are very characteristic constructions of the Communist era in the former Czechoslovakia. These buildings are very tall blocks that provide a large number of people with affordable housing. All these buildings are practically identical because the objective was to build them quickly and cheaply. From another viewing point, you can also see the entire historic centre of Bratislava, where the famous St. Martin's Cathedral stands out.


In summer, you absolutely have to visit the gardens because they are full of different-coloured flowers that contrast with the white colour of the castle walls. You can walk and have a good time here, even eat in the restaurant, and finally go down to Stare Mesto through one of the different exits of the castle. A curiosity of the castle is that on one of its four faces, it has a very different window to all the others. This Gothic style window stands out well in front of the other more "contemporary" ones. In addition, it is embedded in the middle of one of them, which makes it even more strange. This window is restored with the purpose of showing the appearance of the castle before its reconstruction in the 18th century.

2. The UFO

Just in front of the Petržalka neighbourhood is the famous UFO, which is at the edge of the bridge, which you can climb to have a similar view to that of from the castle, which is a view of the whole of the city of Bratislava, but this time with the castle in it. Going up is a bit expensive but do go. If you eat in the restaurant that’s at the top, they will give you a discount on the cost of the ticket.

3. Saint Michael’s Gate

Built in the year 1300, it is a tower that functions as an entrance to the historic centre of the city. Before, there were four like these that surrounded the city but now this is the only one left standing. Just below is kilometre zero of Bratislava, where you can see different cities around the world and the distance you would have to travel to reach them. It is the entrance to a street full of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, one of the most popular in Bratislava: Michalska.


The highest part of the tower, which is green, stands out quite well from the white and yellow colours of the rest of the street. Normally, the establishments in this area are usually quite expensive, so I recommend you keep walking and search a little to find more affordable, and usually better, restaurants. It is a narrow street and is usually full of tourists, musicians and also locals who simply pass by because this street connects with other important streets in the centre. Here there is also a karaoke bar called Red Lion that we usually went to, either to watch an important football game or to have a fun karaoke night.

The well-known Coronation Rout passes through this street. The Coronation Route is a series of kind of golden plates with a crown drawn on them, glued to the ground through the streets of Bratislava. If you follow these plates, you will reach Saint Martin’s Cathedral.

4. Saint Martin’s Cathedral

This cathedral is quite important because it is the place where the coronations of the Kingdom of Hungary were held, the capital of which was Bratislava. An interesting fact about this cathedral is that inside it has a statue of Saint Martin on a horse. This sculpture was built outside and when they wanted to put it in the cathedral, they realised that it did not fit through the door. What was the solution? Knock down part of the cathedral wall, put it in and rebuild the wall. It is not among the most beautiful cathedrals you will see in your life, but it is in the old town, so why not stop by?


5. The walls

By following the path that took you to St. Martin's Cathedral you can visit the walls of Bratislava. They are not complete, but you can imagine how these walls surrounded the ancient city of Bratislava. From here there is a pretty cool view of the colourful buildings in front, just where the ascent to the castle begins. To get here, you just have to cross one of the bridges that connects the wall with the foot of the hill to reach the castle.

6. See the statues of Bratislava

All of them are in Stare Mesto so you will see them one by one if you visit the Old Town on foot. The most famous statue is "Man at Work" and it is a man coming out of a sewer, with its respective sign that warns us that it is there.


A few metres from here is another very famous statue called Schöne Naci, which represents a person that became very famous in Bratislava for their clothing and for taking of their hat in front of women. They say it is him that filled the streets of the Slovakian capital with happiness. Now, tourists take photos underneath his top hat.


A third statue, of a soldier that belonged to Napoleon’s troops can be found in the square that precedes Schöne Naci, leaning quietly on a bench. The Napoleonic troops have arrived in Bratislava. Supposedly, this statue represents a French soldier who fell in love with a Slovak woman and finally renounced his status as a soldier and stayed to live in this city for the rest of his life. It might be a coincidence, but right in front of this soldier is the French embassy.


Finally, there is the statue of Hans Christian Andersen, author of very famous fairy tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. It was this author that, after visiting Bratislava, described the city as a story in itself. It may not be a statue as original as the others, and therefore goes relatively unnoticed, but has a beautiful story behind it. If you do not want to wait in a long line to take pictures of these statues, I advise you to visit the city first thing in the morning.

7. Walk through the historic centre

There are countless buildings to see, such as the Old Town Hall, Primate's Palace, the famous Hlavne Namestie or the street where the National Theatre is located. If you are lucky, on the street of the National Theatre you will be able to see some markets because at certain times of the year it is customary to have a thematic market set up (e. g. Christmas market). Walking, you will realise that the historic centre is quite uniform in terms of its buildings, as they all follow a fairly similar architectural pattern.


These streets are bursting full of cafés, ice-cream shops and restaurants. There is such a wide variety that it will certainly be difficult for you to choose where to fill your stomach or where to have a coffee. From here, I recommend the espresso from Vespa Caffeteria, because it is cheap and the coffee is very good. You can cover the centre in approximately two or three hours, depending on what you want to visit and how much time you spend at each place, but more or less two to three hours is enough.


8. Enjoy Hlavne Namestie

One of the best squares in Bratislava, one of the prettiest. The statue of Napoleon’s soldier, buildings of enviable architecture and a big atmosphere. Here is where Stara Radnica is which is the Old Town Hall. We climbed the tower for €2. 50 and it is one of the best things you can do here. After climbing a few stairs, you can see the whole square, which is much more incredible from above. You can see the atmosphere of the square in its entirety: musicians, painters, tourists, locals. Furthermore, you have a different view of the entire city of Bratislava. From here you can see the most important monuments: the castle, the cathedral, Slavín Memorial, Michael’s Gate


We went during summer, when we had already spent six months in Bratislava, and I don’t know how we hadn’t gone before, honestly, because it is really worth visiting. Also, in the tower is the office of Ovidius Faust, the archivist (file clerk) of Bratislava. He was the one who developed a more sophisticated file system and founded the Bratislava scientific library. He collected books, which he finally decided to donate to the Bratislava museum. Even today, in the documents written by Ovidius Faust you can see the love he felt for this city, to which he dedicated his entire life in between of interwar periods. As you can see, the Old Town Hall is a place full of history. In spite of all the renovations and reconstructions that this building has undergone, it still needs some more now for certain exterior parts.

9. Stará Tržnica

One of the places that deserves a mandatory visit is Stara Tržnica, the old market. It is a place that is usually full of life, especially in summer. The young people order beers or wine glasses in the bars that are around and take them to this square. They sit on the floor or on some chairs that are sometimes available. Therefore, there is always a youthful atmosphere with good vibes. Normally if you get peckish, you can also ask for something to take away from places like Foodstock, which serves vegetarian food. If not, sometimes this square is filled with stalls with take-away food such as hamburgers, crêpes, pasta etc. It is super good and not overly expensive.


One day we happened to go to a vegan market that lasted all day and we tried a vegan burger, which was excellent. In summer, it is so hot that they put up a kind of archway that releases water vapour for you to walk through underneath the archway and refresh yourself. They are spread out across various points throughout the historic centre and Stara Tržnica is one of them.

And here I will end this post, with just nine points about Bratislava. As you can see, the entry is quite long, so you can read the rest in the next post. I hope that you have liked this post and that you will come back soon. Thank you very much for reading.

17 things to see and do in Bratislava (Part 2)

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