Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: April 2019
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. It is considered one of the smaller capitals in Europe, so it is therefore quite easy to explore the historic old town by foot. And in a single day. With its close approximation to Vienna (it’s only a 45 minute bus ride away), it makes for a perfect day trip. And the perfect way to start our two-week adventure in Europe.
We left Toronto the night before and took a direct flight into Vienna, landing around 8a.m. Thanks to some self-medication (I took some Melatonin and a Gravel), I was able to sleep for most of the flight. From the airport, we followed the signs to the bus area and thankfully the bus we needed to take into Bratislava was already there. From the bus station it was about a 15 minute walk to our hotel. We weren’t able to check in, but we we were able to at least ditch our bags for the day.
We then headed out to the historic centre of Bratislava. The Old Town is quite compact and easy to walk around in less than half an hour. We entered through Michael’s Gate, which is one of the oldest buildings in town and the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications. We then meandered through the cobbled streets passing by other historic buildings, such as the Old Town Hall.
There are also a variety of statues in the historic centre, the most famous of which is the Man of Work (or Čumil, which translates into “the watcher”). There are two main theories about his name. The first is that he is a typical communist-era worker who works little and instead watches a lot. The second is that he’s looking under womens’ skirts.
From there we continued strolling east, passing by the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, which is more commonly referred to as the Most SNP or the UFO Bridge. The bridge spans across the Danube and is the world’s longest bridge to have one pylon and a single set of cables. There is even an observation deck and restaurant inside the flying saucer part of the bridge.
Located nearby the Most SNP bridge is the Bratislava Castle. It was built on a rocky hill directly above the Danube river in the 9th century. There are four entrances into the grounds and garden, which are open to the public to roam.
Afterwards we headed over to St Elizabeth Church, which is more commonly referred to as the Blue Church as its exterior and much of the interior is covered in blue.
Since we still had about another hour until we could properly check into our hotel, we wandered north to the Slavin War Memorial, which wasn’t far from our accommodations. The memorial features a monument and the grounds also consist of the burial grounds for 6,845 Soviet soldiers who died while liberating Bratislava near the end of World War II in 1945. Around the base of the memorial are inscriptions of the dates of liberation of various places in Slovakia during 1944 and 1945.
We then ventured over to our hotel to check it and take a short nap before heading back out for dinner. We found a nice place in the heart of the historic centre called the Farmhouse Restaurant, and ate outside on the patio since the weather was still quite lovely. Bratislava is actually in the middle of several of the finest wine producing districts of Europe. So it would only be fair to sample some wine with our dinner to get the true Bratislava experience.
After dinner we wandered around the Old Town for a bit more before heading back to our accommodations for the night.
We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our two-week adventure in Europe.