24 hours in Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia (no not Slovenia or Czechoslovakia: a misconception that is common local grouse ). The city is set along the Danube River and is surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains. It is home to 430,000 people, while 1 million tourists visit it every year.
Bratislava is quite a compact city and if you have only 24 hours with you, you can pretty much see everything there is to see.
So how do you spend 24 hours in Bratislava? Here’s the plan.
Uber and Bolt work well and are cheap in Bratislava. Download the apps and pay by card or cash. Alternatively, you can buy the Bratislava Card which covers public transport and also a few museums.
24 hours in Bratislava: The itinerary
8 a.m. DIY street stroll and breakfast
Get an early start on the tourists and do your own early morning walk. Start from (1) Grassalkovich Palace, also known as the Presidential Palace at Hodžovo námestie. Walkthrough to (2) Obchodna Street, a commercial street booking since the communist era of Bratislava. Walk a few minutes more to reach (3) Stare Mesto (Bratislava’s old town), starting first with (4) St. Michael’s Tower, a medieval fortification and among the city’s oldest buildings. From there head to the central square of (5) Hlavné námestie. In the square, you will find the (6) Old Town Hall and the (7) City Museum. A few minutes away is the pink-hued, neoclassical (8) Primate’s Palace. Pick up a coffee from the stand in front of it. Walk a few more steps to the quirky (9) ČUMIL statue (Man at Work). Take a break to eat at Laboratoire. After eating to your fill, stroll to the (10) Old Slovak National Theatre, followed by (11) Hviezdoslav Square and (12) St. Martin’s Cathedral (opens at 9 a.m. so you can also see inside). This trail takes about 2 hours and you’d have ticked off most of the important sites of the city.
From St. Martin’s Cathedral you can take an Uber/ Bolt or walk 15 minutes to go to (13) Hrad or the Bratislava Castle. Located on a hill, the massive rectangular building complex offers great views over the city and the Danube River. Timings: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays closed.
11 a.m. Take a walking tour with Be Free tours.
The tour commences at Hviezdoslav Square and ends at the Blue Church. A few of the sights from your DIY tour may be repeated, but with a good measure of history and personal anecdotes added. Alternately, consider their City and Castle tour (mornings at 10 a.m.) or their communism tour (afternoons).
Cost in tips: €10-15 per person
2 p.m. Go to the Museum of Arms
Visit the museum of arms not so much to see the weapons itself (which is worth a quick dekko, albeit not that impressive) but to do three other fun activities, all covered by the ticket:
(1) see the city view from the top of the museum of arms
(2) Take a fun costume photo
(3) visit the old pharmacy museum nearby.
All three activities can be done in around an hour or less.
Hours of operation: Tue-Fri: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat-Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays closed
3 p.m. Stop at one of Bratislava’s many bookshop + cafes
Bratislava is full of the most unique bookshop cafes. I visited Eleven Hours café for some soul coffee, a hearty conversation with the Serbian part-owner and to browse through their unique collection of books. An hour well spent in the heart of old town doing what I love.
Cost for coffee and a cake: €4
5 p.m. Visit Galeria Nedbalka
Soak in Slovakia’s finest artists in this permanent collection at Galeria Nedbalka. The paintings are fantastic, well spread out and well explained. I was the only one in the four-floor gallery when I visited and I took my time in the peace, soaking in every piece with great joy.
Washrooms are aplenty too (It is quite essential after a long day of walkabout, believe me).
The entire visit was value for money because the cost of the ticket included a free coffee!
Hours of operation: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays closed.
7 p.m. Eat Slovakian delicacies at a local restaurant
Slovakian delicacies are many but if you have to prioritize try the halušky and the Kapustnica.
Halušky is the Slovak national dish, are boiled dumplings made of grated raw potato dough. It is often bryndza cheese, a sheep’s-milk cheese when it is known as bryndzové halušky. Kapustnica is traditional Slovakian cabbage soup.
Try the dishes at the inexpensive Flag Ship restaurant at Námestie SNP 8. While service can be tardy, the food is quite good. Add in a glass of Tatra Tea to top it up. (More next)
Cost for Bryndzové halušky at Flag Ship: €6.9
9 p.m. Wine tasting
Try Tatra Tea first. Because Tatra tea is a unique kind of liquor and produced in Slovakia only.
Tatra Tea is a natural tea-based liquor containing highland herbs and mountain water. Salivating already? The liquor content on the bottles ranges from 14% to 72%, therefore, they are deadly! But not only does the liquor taste great the bottles make for good gifts too. A bottle costs around €10-15 in stores.
Slovakia is actually a large wine-producing nation but almost all of it is consumed domestically. You can try the wines in stores or in restaurants. While Tokajské Vino is the most popular, I was also advised to try the blackcurrant (Ríbezlák) and honey-flavored (Včelovina).
Cost for a glass of Tatratea or wine: €4-6
Other fun things to do
- Take the elevator to the UFO Tower and watch the sunset
- Visit Petržalka
- Day trip to Nitra
- Day trip to Devin Castle