Scenes from Bratislava


sunset in bratislava

I had high hopes for Bratislava. Due to time constraints, I hadn’t been able to visit in 2011 and so it was one of the first places I worked into my Interrail itinerary.

I can’t even pinpoint why I wanted to visit. I arrived knowing very little about the city other than the fact that it’s extremely small and the beer is cheap. With visions in my head of a smaller version of my beloved Ljubljana, I was sorely disappointed when I arrived at Bratislava train station – one of the ugliest I’ve ever stepped foot in. It was dark, creepy and covered in cobwebs. The surrounding scenery consisted of grey, concrete blocks of flats.

This was not a good first impression.

We were met at the train station by Eduard, the owner of the gorgeous apartment we were going to be staying in for the next few days. We were staying a half hour walk outside the old town, which severely limited the amount of sightseeing we were able to do as unfortunately, the rain from our time in Prague followed us over to Bratislava.

The old town itself is tiny. You can walk from one end to the other in 15 minutes and so Dave and I spent just a single day exploring and the rest of our time relaxing in the apartment – this was still plenty of time to see everything.

Here’s how we spent our day.

Our first stop was the beautiful light-blue St Elizabeth Church, which we stumbled upon by complete accident. Located outside the old town in a quiet residential area, our arguments over who had got us lost were silenced when we turned the corner and were greeted with this.

blue church in bratislava

Bratislava’s old town reminded me of a grittier Ljubljana – dirtier, less colourful, less attractive and with a lot more graffiti – but it still had a certain charm to it. The cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways were lined with restaurants, bars and cafes and, to my surprise, a constant stream of tour groups.

cafes bars bratislava

bratislava old town

Onto Hviezdoslav Square and one of the best array of statues and posing opportunities I’ve ever come across, this was obviously going to be one of the highlights of my time in Bratislava.

statues in bratislava

Like most places in Eastern Europe, Bratislava is dominated by a huge castle on a hill overlooking the city. On the climb up, we passed through a tunnel filled with some crazy looking street art.

street art in bratislava

After ten minutes of panting, sweating and narrowly avoiding cardiac arrest, I finally reached the top of the castle. It’s one of the highest points of the city and despite the rain, I still managed to spend 10 minutes or so enjoying the view of the surrounding countryside.

bratislava fortress

One of the most famous landmarks in Bratislava is Nový Most. One of only two asymmetrical suspension bridges in the world it is known for its bizarre UFO-shaped restaurant and observation deck.

With the terracotta roofs and gothic spires of old Bratislava on one side and hundreds of identical rows of Communist apartment blocks on the other, the bridge now acts as a divide between old and new in the city.

view over bratislava

And to finish off my day exploring Bratislava I returned to our apartment, looked out the window and saw that the sky was on fire. It was an amazing sunset to end a, well, kind of dull day.

sunset in bratislava

I left Bratislava feeling underwhelmed – I had expected so much more and I ended up disappointed.

As with my time in Prague, the weather didn’t help. I love small cities in Europe and one of my favourite things to do is check out the local cafes and bars and spend several hours people watching with a cold beer. It’s not particularly fun do this in the rain!

I feel like I could like Bratislava. If the sun had been shining then it would have been a beautiful city to spend a couple days in. I can’t help but feel that any longer than that and I’d be bored.

There just isn’t all that much to do. 

 

My trip through Central and Eastern Europe was made possible by the lovely people at Interrailnet.com, and our accommodation in Bratislava was provided by Wimdu. 

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19 Comments

  1. Dannie
    October 7, 2012
    Reply

    You’ve been away from England too long! If you’ve been here for the past six months, a bit of rain never bothers you, seeing as that is all it appears to have done for months!

    Shame about the weather and that the place was not so spectacular. At least you got some time to chill out.

    Absolutely love the sunset picture. Hope the weather doesn’t follow you to the next location:-)

  2. Steve Whitty
    October 7, 2012
    Reply

    I enjoyed Bratislava when I was there three weeks ago. The sun was shining. True you can see everything in one day. However, I was recommended to go see Devin Castle. It is a 35 minutes bus ride away from the city. Spectacular views of the countryside.

  3. October 7, 2012
    Reply

    I’ve been couple of times in Bratislava and never really liked it, no matter what weather. It’s just the ugly sister of other amazing Eastern European cities. it’s less charming, much smaller and with only few interesting spots to see

  4. October 8, 2012
    Reply

    Interesting write up, especially since I’ll be visiting Bratislava next year. It better be sunny!

    Also, loving how you became a living, breathing vagina for that giant pair of legs.

  5. October 8, 2012
    Reply

    The sunset pic just blows my mind away! Look at the beams!

  6. Risa
    October 9, 2012
    Reply

    Wow! That last picture is insane! Possibly the the coolest sunset picture I’ve ever seen

  7. Nomadic Translator
    October 9, 2012
    Reply

    whacky Bratislava I see. Odd sculptures…

    On a different note, how awesome would it be to host a Halloween street party there!?

  8. October 10, 2012
    Reply

    Never did I think that Bratislavia is a very good place. You know what, I do love living there!

  9. October 10, 2012
    Reply

    All I can think of is Eurotrip when I hear about Bratislava… and it’s a good thing… kinda haha.
    Great pictures!

  10. October 24, 2012
    Reply

    Interesting to read your thoughts on Bratislava Lauren. I felt exactly the same! In fact, I ended up jumping on the train to Vienna for the day just for something to do.

    I’m sure it’s weather dependant as I was there during a bitterly cold January. So it might come to life on a hot summer’s day, with loads going on around the Danube.. or maybe not.

    I did miss St Elizabeth Church though, which looks gorgeous.

  11. Jess the Blogger
    October 24, 2012
    Reply

    Hmmm I am inclined to agree with your conclusion. Bratislava is a city I am glad I’ve visited but unsure I would return simply because as you so rightly put it…there just isn’t all that much to do.

  12. Andy
    August 24, 2013
    Reply

    Bratislava in general looks like communist cities in Romania or Bulgaria. Hungary mostly looks like Czech Republik and Austria. I travelled to Bratislava once but I never come back because the atmoshpere is depressing. Better… Budapest, Wien or Praha.

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      I agree. There are a lot nicer cities surrounding Bratislava!

  13. November 21, 2014
    Reply

    I feel this page needs some Bratislava love. For balance :)

    To a born Bratislavian, this city feels like a home. You know most of the town streets. The city is all yours. It’s not impersonal or stressed or hurried. You find your way even after years of being away. You know where the good places for flying a kite are, in which Chinese restaurant the owner is platonically in love with your friend so she will give you drinks for free. You know that bus no. 39 is crazy crowded with students most of the time and you should avoid no. 205 in the morning, because it is full of ornery pensioners going shopping and they will rip your head off if you do not stand up and let them sit. Bratislava is about the little things. About the stories. About life.

    I’m sorry our city was not able to sate your hunger for beautiful views and things to do. I get you, especially if you are used to behemoths like London :) You have to look somewhat harder to find beauty here, and very probably shift your gears to even be able to perceive it. Are some of you willing to try?

    …or just visit the Devín castle in summer, all right? :D

  14. Lucia
    January 14, 2016
    Reply

    Hi,

    I am from Slovakia and i competely understand your dissapointment ! I think it is not nice city..you should have come to the north – High Tatras ! Amazing scenery, beautiful mountains (exact as Alps) and a looot to do ! here you can see: https://www.facebook.com/simontrnkaphotoadventures/photos/ms.c.eJw9kNsRRDEIQjvaSXxF~_m9sE5X7ySBHBetkLHGHeuzzQ2nTpx0Y7QmJxPiOY3JDqj5~_SPs6fjbPyRMr3~;f49nhYQp5FzSPI381P7tenxWM0iu~;25U~;zcvS1Sy~;yvHlGP2tfUl~;im98~_Gl73JvPRefvmT~_UP57P7EOqI4i1wP4oH3n9fefnvvux~_k~;8gijd9xtLu19gvrPLGfrT~;WfYHsNNfsw~-~-.bps.a.907859392602370.1073741864.784540511600926/907860255935617/?type=3&theater

    May be next time :)

    • February 11, 2016
      Reply

      Would love to return! Definitely next time :-)

  15. Zuzana Sales
    December 27, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    As a Slovakian, born and raised in Bratislava I could have told you not to waste your time. The city is not very nice except for couple of old sites, the transportation is terrible, its quite pricey and overall not worth it. I don’t see any interaction with locals in your post which is a good thing cuz they are not friendly and can be very racist. Next time try the countryside: Vysoke Tatry, Besenova thermal spa or Bojnice Castle- our country is beautiful in nature not the stinky overcrowded city and people are very hospitable.

    • January 8, 2019
      Reply

      Ha! Well, I’d love to return to Slovakia in the future to see more of the country :-)

  16. February 28, 2020
    Reply

    Hello from an expat in Slovakia who lived in Bratislava for a year and ran from it… :D

    There really isn’t so much to do there, you’re definitely right about that, especially on a rainy day… but there are some nice parks in the city, by the shopping centre Eurovea, for example, where you can enjoy some nice (and expensive) lunch with an (again expensive) drink and people watch on the side of Dunaj.
    Ah, and it seems like you missed some pretty interesting sculptures there in the old town (although, did you go in 2012 or 2019? Not sure if they were already up in 2012).

    But, as other commenters have suggested, the other places in Slovakia are much nicer: the already mentioned Devin castle is close by, as is a spa town Piestany, then there are, obviously, Tatry further north, which in addition to the mountains have some very interesting caves :)

    Hopefully, if you decide to visit again sometime, Slovakia won’t disappoint you so much ^_^

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