The first leg of this summer’s trip was Bratislava. Aside from not having done much research about the places we’re about to go to, we didn’t know what to expect from Slovakia’s capital beforehand. I always had a feeling that, given its history and location, it has an inferiority towards the capitals of the neighbouring countries. I must say, though, it might not be as big as say, Prague or Vienna, but it is charming in its own right, and it’s easily one of my favourite cities so far. As I go further into this post, I will discuss more about why it’s a must-go for everybody.
Here’s how our trip went by:
July 26, 2016
The Airbnb we have booked offers Airport pick-ups if you stay three nights minimum. Surely, we have availed of this service. We arrived in our apartment at around 17:30. By then, we were dead-tired because we have had to stay up all night to fix our old apartment to make it turnover-ready. So, not surprisingly, we hadn’t done much that night but, thankfully, we were right in the historical centre and there was enough to see within a 300 metre radius. Our host has recommended a nice restaurant we must try – something I would have frowned upon and considered a tourist trap if I wasn’t too tired to look for another place – so we went and we were glad we did. It was right around the corner, and it’s called Bratislavská Reštaurácía, a flagship restaurant with a very nice traditional ambience and excellent authentic Slovakian food. With fair prices, too.
We then just checked out the grocery stores for our breakfast we would prepare the next morning and just called it a day because we were, in fact, just really tired.
July 27, 2016
After breakfast, we walked to the old town to see what it has in store and there was, in fact, plenty to see. It wasn’t as crowded as many other tourist destinations which helps if you like to take some decent photos. One very much photographed site here is the Man at Work statue.
Another site one can’t miss seeing as you go towards the water is the UFO Tower. It’s basically an odd looking tower, resembling some kind of UFO. It’s an interesting site, too, as it is on the bridge. And since we didn’t know where to go next, we decided to give this one a go for a view of Bratislava from the top.
Entrance fee to UFO Tower observation deck: 7,40 € per person
From there, we got the idea to go to Bratislava Castle. It’s a quick hike from the bottom of the hill which is also easily reachable by local transportation or by foot from old town. We didn’t enter the building. Instead, we just enjoyed the sights, sat on the lawn, and just indulged in a serving of gelato from the restaurant. After a whole day of walking around town, you will surely have noticed all the signs that say “lemonade available here”. We have tried a few jars from various places and we have found different flavours from each restaurant.
July 28, 2016
Another one of the things one will have noticed by now is Bratislava’s reading culture. We have spotted a few bookstores, bookstore cafés, bistros or restaurants with used books you can grab, or just booths with used books in them. The number of these places really surprised me for a small city like this one. And so we had breakfast in one of these places before going around some more. Today, we had seen the Church of St. Elizabeth, or otherwise known as the “Blue Church”.
Today’s plan also included a trip to Devín Castle, which is located in Devin, a borough of Bratislava, about 10km away from the city centre. There is a bus that takes you right to the bottom of the hill and from there it’s a few minutes’ hike to the castle itself. You get the most amazing view of the Danube river from there, and also of the Morava river and Austria.
Entrance fee to Devin Castle: 4€ per person
I am still amazed by this magical little city. It’s just so nice to be able to explore almost everything by foot and just get lost. I’ve also never been to a city that is more enthusiastic for reading than this one. I even bought a few books from some of the bookstores we’ve passed by, many of which have a big selection of english books.
- Coins. Make sure you always have some! Cashiers always ask for change, it’s like the city doesn’t have enough of it. Our theory is that it gets collected in the local transportation ticket machines because they only accept change.
- Walk. A 3-day local transportation ticket is pretty cheap, sure (10€ for 3 days), but most of the sights are best reached by foot.
- Uber. It’s our first time trying it, and if you’re a big fan of the app and its services, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to get a ride here (because it’s just lacking in neighbouring countries).
Next stop → Vienna!