1 day in Bratislava

Bratislava Slovakia itinerary blue church girl

Before COVID-19 panic reached all Europe, I took a 5-day trip to Budapest and one of those days I came to Bratislava to visit the city. At the time, we were in doubt of going to Bratislava or Vienna but we think that the first option was easier to include in a one-day itinerary (Vienna deserves a longer visit).

BRATISLAVA, capital of Slovakia 🇸🇰, is located along the Danube River and borders Austria and Hungary. It’s one of the smallest capitals in Europe and the city has a multicultural character influenced by various ethnic groups, including Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians, and Jews. Wandering around the city, we found several human size sculptures, multiple churches and, on the top of the hill, the castle of Bratislava.

How I got there

Like I said before, I went to Bratislava by train from Budapest. I bought the tickets online 🎟️ (here) for 26 € both ways. To pick up the tickets I needed to go to a train station (Budapest-Nyugati) and, in a machine, replace the codes I received online for the physical tickets. The train journey takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes and the inspector passed twice to validate the tickets. On the way there we took the 7:40h train at the Budapest-Nyugati station to Bratislava hl. station. On the way back, same stations but different direction at 17:57h. The train 🚆 has several 6-seater cabins and we made the trip to Bratislava with a couple going to Berlin (multiple hours inside the train!). On the return trip we had a small problem… it was freezing cold inside the cabin 🥶 and we couldn’t control the air conditioning temperature.

What I visited

When we arrived in Bratislava, we already had the whole itinerary planned for the day (including the restaurant for lunch). We had just over 7 hours in the city so we wanted to enjoy the most of them! We did everything by foot. When we left the train station we started walking towards the river area. 

During this journey we passed through the Pistori Palace, a historic building that now is used for special events and we entered in the Presidential Garden 🌳, a small garden with a fountain (without water but ok) near by the Grassalkovich Palace. This second palace, also known as the Presidential Palace, is the official residence of the President of Slovakia. In front of the palace there is a large square (Hodžovo námestie) with a fountain that has a giant globe 🌎called Planet of Peace Fountain

Then we continued to the SNP Square, a small square with some big statues in the middle and to the Old Market Hall, an old market that now hosts cultural fairs and events. Right next to the market there is a McDonald’s and we took a break there, in the middle of the morning, for a hot coffee ☕.

The next stop has a unique beauty and it was probably my favourite place in Bratislava: the Blue Church 💙 or Church of St. Elizabeth (really pretty!). It’s a catholic church built in 1913 in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style with mosaics, majolicas and blue-glazed roof. Unfortunately it was very difficult to get photos of all the church because it is located on a corner of a street where lots of cars were parked (but we tried!). It’s not allowed to enter the church but you can see the interior decoration through the glass on the main door.

After that, we walked to the Primate’s Square to see the Primate’s Palace, a neoclassical palace built in 1781 that is open to the public as a tourist attraction (we didn’t enter). In this square there is a passage that leads to the Main Square, where we can find the Old Town Hall that is the oldest city hall in the country and one of the oldest stone buildings still standing in Bratislava (the tower was built in 1370).

Before lunch, we made two more stops: Michael Tower and Gate and the Baštová street. The Michael Tower and Gate is the only city gate from the medieval time and it’s considering one of the oldest town buildings. Nowadays, the tower houses the Exhibition of Weapons of Bratislava City Museum. The Baštová is a very tight street that has great views of the Michael Tower. Then, for lunch, we went to eat tradicional food at Slovak Pub. (I tell you about the experience down below).

With a full belly, we continued our itinerary. We went to Kapitulská, a medieval street and one of the oldest and most authentic streets in the Old Town of Bratislava. This street is near the St. Martin’s Cathedral, the largest catholic church in the country and with high importance for the city due to being the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. It’s possible to visit the interior for free.

The next stops are two important eye-catching sculptures in human size: Man at Work and Schone Naci. The Man at Work statue attracts lots of tourists and is the most photographed. There are two explanations for this statue. The first rumor says that he is a typical communist-era worker who works little and watches a lot. According to the second rumor, he’s just looking under the women’s skirts. The Schone Naci statue is the only statue of a real existing person in Bratislava. His original name was Ignac Lamar, a man who always wore a hat and who was in love with a woman, who sadly did not love him back. This disappointment, made him a mad man and people could often see him in the streets offering flowers to random women.

Near these statues is located the Hviezdoslav Square where is the neo-renaissance building of the Slovak National Theater. This theater was founded in 1920 and has 3 ensembles (opera, ballet and drama). In the Hviezdoslav Square we find several interesting attractions like the Ganymede’s Fountain , the Carlton Fountain, the Mr. Hviezdoslav statue, the Hans Christian Andersen statue and the Holy Trinity Column. The Mr. Hviezdoslav was the most important poet in the Slovak history and gave this square its name.

Then we went to the Most SNP, a bridge over the Danube river which is consider the world’s longest bridge to have one electricity pylon and one cable-stayed plane.

The last stop planned for the day, was Bratislava Castle 🏰. To get there, we had to follow the signs and go up a lot but it’s worth for the city views. To visit the inside of the castle, that houses the Slovak National Museum, we paid 10€ per person (4€ for students, my case! I still had a valid student card but it wasn’t requested). The outside of the castle was well preserved and we noticed that were happening remodeling works in some areas. Inside there were also huge restructuring works and had exhibitions in a few rooms. We think the price we paid to see the castle, compared to what we actually saw due to the remodeling works, did not compensate. But going up to the castle to see the views, it’s worth it!

After visiting the castle, we went back to the station to catch the train to Budapest.

Bratislava Slovak itinerary guide 1-day script castle view

Slovak Pub

For lunch we went to Slovak Pub, a restaurant with tradicional food very close to the city center (we had already seen on the internet that was one of the best). To get to the restaurant’s main room you have to climb some stairs. The outside view, doesn’t show the size of the restaurant… 11 rooms with multiple tables! There, we tasted the garlic soup in a bread bowl (I didn’t like it because for me, it looks like soup with that garlic paste that you put to season the food) and a combo called Slovak platter for 2 persons with three typical Slovak dishes: dumplings with bryndza’ sheep cheese, pirogi with bryndza sheep cheese and dumplings with cabbage. The food was pretty good!

Believe it or not, we visited all of this attractions in just 7 hours! In my opinion, a few hours are enough to get to know Bratislava’s historic center and taste traditional food ❤️.

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