TRAVEL DESTINATION: Bratislava, Slovakia, Europe
TRAVEL DURATION: Weekend Getaway
When I moved to live in Bratislava, Slovakia, some years ago, I quickly turned from a tourist to a local. There was a certain easiness with the whole move, and the change felt the right thing to do. Living in a new city quickly became natural. I blended in pretty fast. I learned to love the city vibe and all that Bratislava offered.
The first thing that now pops into my head when I think back of those couple of years I spent there, are the beautiful people. Women are exceptionally pretty and men are just so genuinely nice.
At that time of my life, I didn’t have many opportunities to pursue my love for travel and apart from the capital city I didn’t explore much of Slovakia. Enjoying Bratislava and near places were mostly what I could squeeze in during the weekends.
If you have a look at the map of Slovakia, you’ll realize that closeness to Austria (and Vienna), Czech Republic and Hungary is what makes Bratislava quite an attractive city. If nearby, then sure make the trip and stop here for a day or a weekend. Take time to explore the area, get the impression of the local culture, people, attractions, and the general vibe.
I hope my suggestions below can help you get the most out of the time spent in the capital of Slovakia.
Slavin is a 2nd World War Memorial monument and a military cemetery of thousands of fallen Soviet Army soldiers, built to commemorate the liberation of Bratislava. This is quite a peaceful part of the always busy city center, as you won’t find many visitors here. What you will come across are the awesome views of the city and Bratislava Castle.
I remember the first time I drove to Bratislava (and Slovakia for that matter). Right after crossing the Slovak national border, it felt like entering a fairy tale reality when I first spotted the majestic castle in a distance, sitting on a hilltop, blanketed in misty clouds. The location of this recognizable landmark must have been conveniently strategical during the country’s historical periods. The 9th century Bratislava Castle has definitely been a prominent feature and a centerpiece of the city that grew on the banks of the Danube River.
The building of Bratislavský Hrad is huge and is walled between 4 corner towers. There is the Slovak National Museum, housed inside the castle, many times hosting impressive exhibitions. If you’re not entering the castle, do take a stroll around the castle grounds for the panoramic views of the Danube river, downtown Bratislava, Petržalka and even Austria.
Man at Work (Cumil)
Man at Work and other cheeky statues and sculptures that are scattered mainly throughout the Bratislava old town are all nice little surprises you come across when exploring the city. They have become quite popular attractions that get many people to stop and take pictures. Have a camera ready for selfies and that big smile on your face.
Beer. Affordable beer. Incredibly drinkable beer. Both, Slovak and Czech beers are up there with the best ones in the world. Zlatý Bažant. Šariš. Staropramen. Kozel. Have a taste of it. That’s all I’m saying about the topic.
Grassalkovich Presidential Palace
The Grassalkovich Presidential Palace is located in the Hodžovo námestie. It used to belong to members of Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian aristocracy, but is now the residence of the president of Slovakia.
The palace is guarded 24 hours a day and you can see the periodic ceremonial change of the guard every weekday at 12:00. Well worth to stick around for that.
Presidential Palace is an impressive building but is unfortunately not open to the public. However, I recommend checking out the wonderful open park with huge and peaceful French garden located just behind the palace.
UFO bridge (Most SNP)
Most SNP over the Danube river connects the main city area with the suburb of Petržalka. It’s another prominent feature of Bratislava, one that always brought a smile to my face. There are other bridges that connect both banks of the river, but this is the one I was always anticipating to cross. I was drawn to its futuristic, sci-fi appearance. Somehow it perfectly blends into the city’s old architecture.
If you get the chance, do go and check the spectacular views of Bratislava from the observation deck or visit the restaurant that is housed at the top of the bridge. That’s something I look forward to checking out on my next visit.
Devin Castle is a little gem, located on the outskirts of Bratislava. It’s one of my favorite places in the area. A sense of history and importance is omnipresent when being here. You are able to learn about this place and the wider area on the crossroad between Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary when you take a walk among the old rocky ruins.
Devin Castle has an advantageous geographical position that offers incredible panoramic views. I highly recommend visiting this well-preserved castle ruin of the medieval fortress, settled near the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. It’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed.
So yeah, I can say I have a short history with Bratislava. I loved every minute living in the city and I love returning back as often as I can when in Europe. I left and also found a part of myself there, and that will always make Bratislava yet another home away from home for me.
TRAVEL TIP: Driving in Bratislava can truly be a c-r-a-z-y affair with trams, buses, trolleys and cars often sharing the roads. Be very careful and take good care if you do drive in the city.