13 Things to do in Bratislava Slovakia (including the fun things to do)
The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is not as well known as other Central European capitals, overshadowed by Prague and Budapest. So what are the best things to do in Bratislava? And are there any fun things to do in Bratislava? The answer is yes and this article will help you plan your visit here.
While many visit Bratislava on a one day trip from Vienna (it’s only 1 hour on a train/bus), the city does have more to offer than just a stroll through the old town and a visit to the castle.
Yes absolutely! There are a few attractions in Bratislava you shouldn’t miss. If you enjoy exploring old towns, and museums and appreciate a different style of architecture, Bratislava will deliver. But there is something special about visiting Bratislava – it blends old and new really well.
Arrive at the train main station in Bratislava and you will feel like you stepped back into the 90s. The state of the train station is now a national joke (there is a good story behind it). You might still see some street vendors selling flowers or fruit who also will probably remind you of some old communist times, maybe even an old bus or tram can be spotted in the distance
Yet catch a bus from Budapest or Vienna and you will arrive at a brand new bus station, combining new design and architecture with a rooftop garden and attached shopping mall. You will see cool Millenials, third-wave coffee shops, and when you step up outside, see the glass Sky Park towers looming over you.
This is Bratislava, a small capital where the very old, the old and the new come together in a unique blend. You’ll find cobbled streets and baroque churches where Hungarian kings were once crowned.
You will see communist-style multi-level apartments in the distance built in the 80s to cater for families moving into the cities. And then there are new microbreweries, trendy boutique shops and charming cafes and coworking spaces.
Is one day enough for Bratislava?
Honestly, of course, you can visit Bratislava in one day and see a lot. If you were searching for “What are the top attractions to visit in Bratislava?” because you were planning a day trip from Viennaor were passing through, then this blog will help you get a list of places and top things to do in Bratislava. But I think Bratislava is a great destination to spend a weekend in, to also enjoy the fun things I have listed below.
This guide focuses on the best things to do in Bratislava Slovakia. I included the must-see attractions in Bratislava and of course some fun and cool things to do as well. And recommendations on where to have the best coffee in Bratislava and what and where to eat.
Maybe you will join the locals here who called the city BratisLOVE because there is plenty to love about this it.
13 Best Things to do in Bratislava Slovakia
1. Bratislava Castle
The main attraction in Bratislava is the Castle. Perched on the hill overlooking the old town and the Danube river below, this is where you want to start your day. On a clear day, you can see as far as Austria and Hungary.
The baroque-style castle is a white building with red-clay roof tiles and four towers. While you can enjoy the views and parts of the grounds for free, visiting the Castle for 10 Euro will include entry to the museum of history and more viewpoints (Spot the UFO bridge).
When Hungary fell to the Ottomans (today’s Turkey) the castle became the seat of the Kingdom of Hungary (ruled by the Habsburgs from Austria) and Hungarian kings were even crowned in St Martins Cathedral in Bratislava.
Walk down from the castle towards the Grasalovic Palace (the seat of the president) Nearby you’ll find Kaffehaus Gorrifee (closed on the weekend) which is a nice hipster coffee roaster if you love to have a strong specialty coffee. Or continue onto the old town.
Best Things to do in Bratislava – Visiting Bratislava? Start with the castle
2. Old Town & Michael’s Gate
The Old Town of Bratislava is the cliche cobbled street pedestrian area you’ll find in many Central European countries. The nice way to enter the old town is to enter through St Michaels’s Gate (the last remaining gate of the city).
You can climb the tower for 5 Euros for more views or check the distance from your home when you’re standing right under it. There is a decorated circle with distances from major cities around the world, so see how far you are from home.
Best Things to do in Bratislava St Michaels Gate in the distance of the Old Town
Where to eat in Old Town Bratislava?
You can certainly enjoy a lunch or coffee while here. Prices are generally higher here, for some more modern settings try Urban Bistro for late brunch or an easy lunch. Vegetarians or vegans – eat at Fach Bistro( or Balans Bistro).
Or you can have lunch atSlovak Pub in the old town to try some of the Slovak classics. Yes of course many tourists eat here, but you will also find some young Slovak students coming in for a quick lunch or drink.
If you are only going to visit one cathedral/church, then this is it. The Cathedral of St Martin is one of the few things to see in Bratislava’s Old Town. It is one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, the church here today dates to 1452.
St Martin’s Cathedral served as the coronation church for Hungarian kings between 1563 and 1830. To this day a 300-kg gilded replica of the Hungarian royal crown is perched on the top of the cathedral’s 85-metre-tall tower.
4. The Town Hall and the Main Square
The Town Hall of Bratislava is located in the Main Square in the centre of the old town. If you are visiting Bratislava before Christmas, this is also where you find the Christmas Markets, one of the best things to do in Bratislava in December.
You can drink hot wine and taste some Slovak Food. In summer, it’s usually busy with tourists and there are a few cafes as well.
It’s also included in the Guided walking tours of Bratislava. The tours here usually only take 1-2 hours and give you a great background of the city and you get to see many of the sights in Bratislava. As they are affordable, I recommend some of the following.
5. Man At Work
I should probably include this on the list of fun things to do in Bratislava. But Man at Work or “Cumil” is a statue that quickly became one of the main attractions in Bratislava. You will find him at the corner of Panska and Laurinska streets. Usually, there are few tourists taking photos here.
Cumil (this translates to “watcher” from Slovak) is the bronze statue of happy looking sewer worker peeping out of a manhole. With a grin on his face, he is one of the most photographed attractions in Bratislava. It even has its own road sign.
There are a few other statues around the old town including Paparazzi, Schöner Náci, and Napoleon’s Soldier. All of them have been added in 1997, maybe to create more things to do in Bratislava at that time?
Best Things to do in Bratislava – Take a photo with Cumil (The Watcher) statue Credit: Wikipedia
6. Blue Church of St Elizabeth
The first time someone asked me about the blue church of Bratislava, I was confused. I thought they must mean St Martin Cathedral as it is a church of great importance. But the thing is, someone took a photo in front of the blue church of St Elizabeth a posted it on Instagram, and now it’s officially one of the most popular things to do in Bratislava. Seriously.
The church is about a 10-minute walk from the old town, and I must admit, it is unique. It’s not only blue from the outside, but the interior is also blue.
Best time to capture it is early morning or at sunset when the colours really pop. To visit the inside come early (07:00 am till 07:30 am) or between 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm.
Best Things to do in Bratislava – The Blue Church is beautiful at sunset
7. Visit Bratislava’s best museums
If you love a good museum or a gallery, you are in luck. There are a few museums among the best things to do in Bratislava and a great option for rainy or cold days.
There are two main galleries and both are must-do things in Bratislava for any art lover.
Nedbalka Gallery (in Old Town)
If you have been to the Guggenheim Museum, then you will have de-javu stepping inside. There 4 levels of art from the late 19th century to today, this is Slovak Modern Art Gallery focuses on Modernism in Slovakia. They used to have free coffee for visitors too. Reserve your ticket here.
Best Things to do in Bratislava – Nedbalka Gallery is a must. Credit: Visit Bratislava
Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum
If you ask any art lover in Bratislava, they will send you here. Yes, it is about 20km from Bratislava, but the setting of the museum is fabulous and you can get there on a bus. Built on an artificial peninsula, surrounded by an art park with statues, it houses modern and contemporary works from local and international artists. Perfect for a nice afternoon visit and you can enjoy It’s easy to get here by car, bus number 90 or Uber. The entry price is 10 Euros.
If you love quirky museums, I recommend the following two:
Museums of Pharmacy – a small museum of an old pharmacy from the 16th century. €5 or free with Bratislava Card.
Museums of Clocks – a gorgeous rococo build that houses clocks from the 17-19th centuries. €2.50 or free with Bratislava Card.
Fun and Interesting Things to do in Bratislava Slovakia
For something different and fun.
8. Bratislava Post-Communism Tour
For something fun and really unique, book this tour. You will be guided by locals who will focus on the story of Bratislava with a focus on the post-communist revival. Visit Slavín monument, Petržalka housing estate, and the SNP Bridge, and gain insight into post-communist life. And all of this in one of the old communist-style Skodas. Love it!
9. Slovak Radio Building
Locals will tell you that this is the ugliest building in Bratislava and maybe they might think you are crazy to think this is one of the fun things to do in Bratislava. But you will be the judge of it. The inverted pyramid design of the radio station stands out among the other buildings.
It was built in the 1980s to house the Radio and Television of Slovakia, a public broadcasting station. Some believe the design was modelled after the Great Pyramid of Giza. If you wish to enter, you would need an entry ticket for a concert.
Fun Things to do in Bratislava – don’t miss the Slova Radio Station built in a shape of a pyramid
10. UFO Bridge (Most SNP)
The official name of this bridge is Most SNP or Slovenskeho Narodneho Povstania, which translates to Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising.
The bridge was built in 1972 and it is a key element of Bratislava’s landscape. The UFO Bridge can be seen from the Castle and it is the bridge you will drive across if you heading to Hungary or Austria.
The UFO-shaped restaurant on the top can be visited – drink, lunch, or dinner with a view. Or you can come up here to the Observation Deck (Entry fee 7.40Euro). If you eat at the restaurant they will deduct the 7.40 from your bill.
Not a fan of cobbled streets, churches, and new malls? Well if you want to see something really different, why not visit Petržalka, Bratislava’s famous district known as the “Bronx of Bratislava”.
Petržalka is the answer to creating houses for working-class, young families in the 70s. Without thorough planning, it quickly became one of the most densely populated areas in Central Europe.
These concrete multi-level buildings were built with the help of panels hence they are called panelaky. Not as famous as the Instagramable Monster Building in Hong Kong, but if you will like to get a taste of the hood, come here.
12. Open Air Cinema
Visiting Bratislava in the summer? Well, then one of the best things to do in Bratislava at night is to spend the evening at the open-air cinema. The movies are aired in the native language (so choose an English movie) with Slovak subtitles.
There are a few open-air cinemas in Bratislava, but the best for visitors could be Magio Beach where the movies are actually free and it is very central. It’s more like a summer pop-up cinema sponsored by a local beer Zlaty Bazant.
If you are planning to visit many places in the city, the best option is to buy BRATISLAVA CARD. It allows unlimited use of all public transport for 24, 48, or 72 hours in the Bratislava Region.
The Bratislava Card also gives free access to 14 museums and galleries in Bratislava, plus more than 100 discounts of up to 50% on attractions, restaurants, shops, and leisure activities, the UFO being one of them!
And to finish up – a few interesting facts about Bratislava
Until 1919 Bratislava was known as Pressburg in German, Prešpurk in Czech, and Prešporok in Slovak. And up to that point, it had been part of Hungary in some form for more than 1000 years, and the Habsburg Empire.
Bratislava’s tag line is “Little Big City”. Slovaks call it Blava and you might also see reference to BratisLOVE.
Bratislava is the only capital worldwide sharing borders with two countries. Bratislava’s city limits share a border with both Austria and Hungary.
Europe’s closest two capitals are Bratislava and Vienna. Yes, so many Slovaks like myself often fly from Vienna and not Bratislava as it is only 1 hour to reach Vienna Airport from Bratislava. Search Skyscannerfor the cheapest flights.
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A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".