Exotic Traveler Tips: 5 Things To Do in Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia, and a hot new destination for travelers world over. As the crowds of tourists swell in other historic European cities, making it difficult to get into museums or restaurants and gain a decent vantage point on sites, Bratislava remains relatively quiet. Bratislava has a rich medieval and more recent communist history, has the gorgeous Danube river running through it, and is remarkably green. There are huge parks throughout the small city (population of about 450,000), and it is surrounded by the Little Carpathian mountains, vineyards, and hiking trails. Let’s not forget the vibrant nightlife, restaurants and bars that line the cobbled streets of the old town!
Here are our Top 5 favourite things to do in Bratislava:
Walk on the Danube Promenade
The promenade running alongside the Danube offers you magical views of the entire city and Bratislava Castle. This is a superb way to orientate yourself and stretch your legs. There are numerous small lanes and quirky hovels shooting off the promenade serving refreshments and food. Here you may see little red Pressburg sightseeing cars zoom by. Jump on one if the fancy takes you and follow its route through the main sights of the city. Its super touristy, but fun, especially for kids.
Explore the Old Town and Michael’s Gate
Bratislava’s old town is charming! It is also pretty tiny; a brisk 10-minute walk gets you from one side to the other, but why rush when there is so much to see? The cobblestoned streets offer shopping, bars, cafes and restaurants, all of which look enticing and friendly. We recommend spending some time in the main town square, observing the Slovakian flow of life. From there you can climb the Old Town Hall tower to get a superb view of the city, visit the Civic Museum, and visit Michael’s Gate, the only surviving medieval gate in Bratislava, built in 1300. Top tip: look out for the fascinating and quirky statues dotted all over the old town - we love Cumil (aka “Man at Work”)!
Discover Bratislava Forest Park
The urban forests in and around Bratislava stretch over 3000 hectares, with numerous walking and cycling tracks to follow. It is a perfect way to re-energise after the hustle and bustle of the old town. The Bratislava Forest Park has an Iron Fountain located in the Partisan Meadow, around which are various kids play areas, sport facilities and even boating and fishing opportunities. Do as the locals do - purchase a fishing license in the park office, hire a small boat from near the Iron Fountain, and float along the river for a super relaxing afternoon!
There are a number of excellent museums to visit. Notably, the relatively new Danubiana Muelensteen Art Museum located on a small peninsula on the Danube, reachable by public bus. Peruse some fascinating Soviet artworks on display, as well as sculpture and paintings from around the world. You can also visit two castles: The Bratislava Castle, a restored hilltop Baroque castle with inside access and audio guide. And Devin Castle is a series of castle ruins situated on a cliff overlooking the Danube. Built 1000 years ago, this was blown up by Napoleon’s army and is quite an unforgettable and dramatic visit! In town, if you would like to learn about the history of Bratislava, look no further than the Civic Museum in the Old Town Hall, right in the centre of the old town.
The Bratislava Card is a tourist card that buys you admission into 14 museums, unlimited use of public transport, a one-hour guided walking tour of the old-town, and discounts on a range of other attractions. It’s totally worth it! Prices start at €15 for 24 hours.
Thrill-seekers: Take a Speedboat Ride on the Danube!
See Bratislava from the Danube, and race through the outskirts of the city to add a thrilling end to your trip. There are an array of boat options available for hire. This is a refreshing and fun way to get a taste of river-city life.
Plan your next European trip to Bratislava! We recommend you combine your trip with a weekend of luxury in Budapest, another fascinating city on the banks of the Danube in neighbouring Hungary. Join Exotic Yoga Retreats at the Ritz-Carlton for a Budapest Yoga Weekend this November.