We visited Bratislava for the first time a few weeks ago and couldn’t be colder… and happier.
Last updated: September 1, 2023
First Visit to Bratislava, Slovakia
Set on the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary, Bratislava is a main city of Slovakia. With a population of less than half a million, it is one of the smallest capitals in Europe. But despite being so small, according to European standards, Bratislava reaps the laurels of the biggest city in Slovakia. Add to this combination a charming, 18th-century Old Town, and you found a perfect destination for your next European adventure.
Not trying to be a spoiler or unveil all mysteries of this charming city, I’ve created a quick guide to visiting Bratislava for first-time travelers. Here that will find a few recommendations on what to do, where to eat, and everything else to make your short trip to the capital of Slovakia sweet and memorable.
A QUICK GUIDE TO BRATISLAVA FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS
Arriving in Bratislava
The best part of traveling to Bratislava is that you do not need to plan a lot and ahead of time. Adding this destination to your European itinerary will bring a variety to your journey without putting extra burden on your wallet.
All you need to start this first, short trip to Bratislava is to board a direct train or bus from Vienna, Austria. It takes from one hour to one hour and a half to get from one city to another. The best part, though, is the price.
A round-trip ticket costs as low as 8 euros per person. You can book your tickets online or buy them at the train station. As first-time visitors of Bratislava, we booked our train ride from Vienna through Omio. I came across this platform by accident and now always use it for all our travels in Europe.
First-Time Visitor’s Guide to Bratislava: Getting Around
Since almost all major attractions of Bratislava are located in one place, the best way to explore the city is on foot. On top of that, the Old Town, your main destination, is accessible only to pedestrians. So get ready for a lot of walking while exploring Bratislava for the first time.
It a need for a ride arouses, stick to public buses or trolleys as your primary types of transportation.
First-Time Visitor’s Guide to Bratislava: Getting to the Old Town
In the majority of cases, your first trip to Bratislava starts at Hlavná stanica, the main train station of the city. From here, you have a few choices to get to the famous Old Town.
- You can be money smart and take a 15-minute walk exploring modern Bratislava along the way.
- For those who save the walk for the later time, the public transportation is the next available option. Bus 93 will take you to your first, main destination in Bratislava in approximately seven minutes.
- The most impatient travelers can adhere to a 4-minute Uber or taxi ride. The cost of such a short trip is, consequently, higher.
Exploring Old Town Bratislava
The Old Town is a geographical center and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bratislava. It includes the historic center and its adjoining neighborhoods. Moreover, the Old Town is home to the majority of city’s attractions.
Start your first journey through Bratislava at Michael’s Gate, the last out of four original gates. Here, you can climb Michael’s Tower for a stunning view of the city.
Next, head straight to the St. Martin’s Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in Bratislava. Later, make sure to visit the Bratislava City Museum, stop at the Roland Fountain, explore the Old Town Hall, and see a peculiar bronze structure, Man at Work.
Exploring the Old Town of Bratislava is easy. You can say Goodbye to your Google map or even itinerary. Just follow street signs and you will get to all of these attractions in no time. If you get hungry or tired, restore your energy at trendy restaurants and bars, existing in the Old Town in abundance.
No first trip to Bratislava can be complete without venturing to the legendary Bratislava Castle. Perch atop a hill, the massive structure with red roofs overlooks the city and the Danube River, including Most SNP, the world’s longest bridge with one pylon and one cable-stayed plane.
Outside of Old Town Bratislava
The modern city is less festive and is rarely included in any guides to Bratislava for first-time visitors. The streets here are wider and less busy, with prevailing graffiti arts on the buildings. At the same time, this is a part of Bratislava where you can find such attractions as the Blue Church of St. Elizabeth, Slavín, Most SNP, and the Presidential Palace.
First-Time Visitor’s Guide to Bratislava: Places to Eat
Regardless of your preferences, eating in Bratislava does not present any problems what’s so ever. Enjoy Bistro, Slovak Restaurant, and Slovak Pub are just a few places to check out in Old Town Bratislava. These places, however, are not particularly budget friendly. An average lunch costs anywhere from 8 to 10 euros.
TIP: Get outside of the touristic area, and you can get the same meal at half price.