Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava, is situated between two cities that are famously more popular with tourists – Vienna and Budapest.
In fact the majority of visitors to Bratislava are day-trippers from Vienna, with the train taking just over an hour from Austria’s capital city.
Bratislava is so much more than a day-trip destination, but if you are planning on spending less than 24 hours in this enchanting city then this is the itinerary for you.
Dating back to circa 1300, Michael’s Gate is the remarkable entrance to Bratislava’s Old Town.
The tower is topped by a statue of St Michael and the Dragon and is one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava. It provides a stunning backdrop to the main street that runs through the Old Town, as it elegantly watches over the quaint cafes and traditional restaurants.
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Try a Pressburg Bajgel
Bratislava was known as Pressburg until 1919 when it adopted its contemporary name. However, the name lives on with Pressburg Bajgels. These boomerang-shaped sweet treats are traditionally filled with poppy seeds and are a quintessentially Bratislavan delicacy. A cafe in the Old Town, aptly named Pressburg Bajgels, is a great place for travellers to try a freshly baked and handmade bajgel for a few Euros.
Roughly translated to English as “watcher”, Čumil is one of the most iconic statues in Bratislava. Peeping out of a manhole on the streets of Bratislava’s Old Town is a bronze sculpture by Slovakian artist Viktor Hulík. Watching the wanderers of Bratislava pass by, there’s some debate on who Čumil really is – might he be a sewage worker on a break? Or perhaps he’s lurking for a slightly more unsavoury reason? Nonetheless, Čumil is a beloved fixture of Bratislava and it is tradition for travellers to rub his helmet for luck.
The Blue Church – Church of St Elizabeth
The Church of St Elizabeth, or as it’s commonly known “The Blue Church”, is one of the prettiest buildings in all of Bratislava. The pastel blue church is designed in Hungarian Art Nouveau style and was completed in 1913. This unique church is stunning to look at and is full of mesmerising intricacies. A pale blue triumph of decoration on the outside, the inside of the church is equally as beautiful. Entrance to the church is free, but opening hours for visitors are sparse: Monday – Saturday: 6:30-7:30 and 17:30-19:00, Sunday: 7:30-12:00 and 17:30-19:00.
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Dominating Bratislava’s skyline, Bratislava Castle sits perched on a rocky hill in the Little Carpathians mountains watching over the city. The hike up to the castle from the city is pretty strenuous so factor this in before making the ascent – it’s definitely manageable but bring a bottle of water.
The white, rectangular, castle features a tower on each of its four corners and houses museums and artefacts of Slovakia’s history inside. Entrance to the castle is €10, however travellers are able to admire the breathtaking view over Bratislava from the castle grounds for free. The view is so great that you’ll be able to see three countries from atop the hill – Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary.
UFO Observation Deck
Connecting one side of Bratislava to the other over the Danube, the Most SNP is also known as the UFO bridge. In the middle of the bridge is UFO – a restaurant, observation deck and thrillseeker’s dream. Shaped like – you guessed it – a UFO, the observation deck offers views over the Old Town from the opposite side to Bratislava Castle, meaning the castle is in view.
The UFO is a symbol of Bratislava and stands 95 metres tall and it takes 45 seconds to reach the top via an elevator. Entrance to the observation deck is €11,90 (£10.29). Brave travellers are able to take on the Skywalk between April and October, circumnavigating the UFO’s windowsill and admiring panoramic views of Bratislava.
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