Last week’s travel destination was a country that up until my trip I knew nothing but a few basic info about: Slovakia. Its capital, Bratislava, is a small city of great significance, as it is bordering three different countries: Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. That makes it an ideal destination for those wishing to organize daily excursions to explore the neighboring countries.
My flight with Ryanair took off at 16.20 from Athens and landed at Bratislava’s airport at 17.30 – which was short considering the 1-hour time difference between the two countries. The city is just 25 minutes away from the airport and if you choose a bus ride on bus number 61 (like I did) you will be at the central train station “Hlavná stanica” in no time. My hotel was near the train station so that was the only means of transport I needed to get there but if you choose a hotel at the city centre, you’ll have to hop on Tram number 1 and get off at Postova Martinus – the 4th station.
Bratislava is a small, beautiful city that despite its mysterious medieval atmosphere, it easily unfolds its secrets to the visitor who can explore its paved streets without even having to use a map. I had the chance to visit the city, walk around it and explore it, so I could present my 10 favorite reasons why you should visit Bratislava too this year. Start taking notes!
1.The Coronation Route
Bratislava once was the coronation site for Hungarian kings, thus the gilded little crowns you will notice on the paved streets and alleys. Follow the trail marked by the crowns starting from St. Michaels Gate – which is also the entrance to the Old Town – and ending at St. Martin’s Cathedral where the coronation was taking place.
Now, take your eyes of the little crowns down the pavement and wander around the alleys of the Old Town having Hlavné námestie – the main square – as your final destination. There, you’ll enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at one in the many cute coffee shops, as well as, admiring the square’s trademark statues. Before reaching the Danube, make a stop to photograph one of the city’s large pedestrian ways, Kapucinska street.
2.The View from the Castle
I am absolutely sure a visit at the Castle is already in your “to do” list but wait – there’s a special suggestion I would like to make. After you’ve explored the exhibitions at the Slovak National Museum and wandered around Maria Theresia’s noble residence, do not rush off to the next sight! There’s a small alley around the Castle that if followed, it will offer you a splendid view of the city. And, weather permitting, you could put your headphones on and enjoy a good book in one of the many benches around the castle, enjoying the incredible view and the peacefulness of the surrounding area.
Oh, the Danube! The Danube by itself, is a great reason for someone to visit one of the countries it crosses – Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Well, Slovakia and its capital Bratislava, is the ideal choice out of the three, being the low cost version of Vienna and the not-so-romantic version of Budapest – meaning that you can visit Bratislava with your dearest friends or by yourself without feeling uncomfortable or lonely. An evening stroll on Navy Most bridge that connects the Old Town with Petržalka area, will make even the most cynical ones leave a piece of their heart by the Danube.
Note that during the spring and summer months, a cruise on a riverboat along the Danube, will get you to Vienna!
4.The countless Museums & Galleries
Bratislava is a city that could satisfy even the most demanding types of travellers. Alongside the endless strolls around the town’s castles and many parks, the city offers a plethora of unique museums for the visitor to explore. The Bratislava City Museum, the Museum of Arms located in St. Michael’s Tower, the Museum of Clocks and the Palffy Palace with various permanent art exhibitions – the installation Passage consisting of books and mirrors that gives the illusion of an endless library is definitely a must – are just a few of the places I managed to visit during my stay at the city.
5.The breakfast at Enjoy Cafe
While in Bratislava, there were two things that impressed me the most: firstly, the number of Greek medical students living in the city and secondly, the number of cute and cozy coffee shops spread all around the city centre – honestly, the choices were endless!
One of them though, did win my heart over the others. Enjoy Cafe located in St. Michael’s Gate street, served the most incredible breakfast, sweet pastries and great coffee! Plus, the wifi password is cleverly written all over its walls!
6.Bon Bon Chocolaterie
One of my old classmates who had studied in Bratislava, suggested I should visit chocolaterie Bon Bon. Skip getting an overpriced cup of hot chocolate in one of the most famous shops located in the main square (the one everyone will suggest you to visit) and instead, visit chocolaterie Bon Bon to enjoy the best hot chocolate you’ll ever have in its inexpensive version. Thank you Lefteris!
7.Drinks at the public restrooms
Well, that was new. I found out about this place thanks to an old classmate who discovered it while visiting Bratislava to see his sister, a medical student in the city.
If you’d like to have an out-of-the-ordinary experience, then you should definitely have a drink at the former public restrooms. Taste the local beer blends – incredible taste and great prices too. One of the best concepts I’ve seen in my trips lately.
(Should you need info on the place, message me!)
8.Out for schnitzel and goulash
Bratislava offers a wide variety of choices when it comes to food. I was suggested to visit Divny Janco for schnitzel – great quality and prices. Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar restaurant is located in the city centre, near Obchodná street and serves great goulash soup. Last but not least, a small traditional restaurant I discovered across the street while exiting chocolaterie Bon Bon: Slovenska Restauracia! It served great quality meat.
9.Just a breath away from Vienna
You can’t visit Bratislava without planning a daily trip to Vienna. Whether you choose train or bus, the city is an hour and a half hour – without even realising it you will be in another country, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in Stephansplatz right in the heart of Vienna.
10.Cheap airplane tickets
We’ve all been discouraged from visiting a city or a country, after finding out how expensive the plane tickets were. We’ve all been there. Knowing this first hand, I was excited to find out that the new Ryanair flight to the Slovakian capital was extremely cheap – starting from 49 euros with return! I instantly booked a flight there, encouraged by the low cost and the short, 2-hour flight from Athens!
So, do not hesitate. Book your trip to Bratislava and take the opportunity to visit Vienna too!
P.S. I may not have included them on the 10 reasons why you should visit Bratislava but here are 3 more reasons:
Must See: The Slavin Museum – the largest World War II Cemetery with an incredible view to the city, the UFO observatory and restaurant and finally, the Devin Castle, half an hour outside Bratislava.