Slovakia is one of those countries that I haven’t heard much about. However, as the capital city, Bratislava is relatively close to Budapest, I decided to add it on to the end of my Eastern European adventure in June. It was also another country that I could tick off my travel wishlist. I travelled there from Budapest on a coach which only took a couple of hours. The coach station is just outside of the city centre, a quick bus ride away. I only spent 24 hours in the city this time around, but would love to go back for a second time to explore properly.
More about Bratislava, Slovakia
Set alongside the Danube river, Bratislava is right next to the borders of Austria and Hungary. If you’re visiting the neighbouring capital cities of Vienna or Hungary, then Bratislava is easy to get to for a day trip. Vienna is only 60km away and around an hour away on the train, while Budapest is 300km away. The capital city has a population of around 450,000 people making it one of Europe’s smallest capital cities. Despite this, it is still the largest city in Slovakia. Bratislava airport is just outside of the city centre (it cost me around 11€ to get there from my hostel) and operates mainly Ryanair flights to the rest of Europe. My flight from Bratislava to London Stansted only cost £15. Accommodation in Bratislava is really reasonable. Although I don’t recommend the hostel that I stayed in while I was there, there are plenty of options on Booking.com
Of course, there’s a cat cafe in Bratislava. Would you really expect me to visit a city that doesn’t have one? I went along to MacKafe first thing in the morning, just as it opened. I made a booking before I arrived however I am sure that it wasn’t completely necessary. The cat cafe did get busy while I was there but it was never completely full. There was no entrance fee and no time limit. The drinks were also reasonably priced. If you’re a cat fan and in Bratislava, then it is definitely worth a visit.
Perhaps the most famous building in Bratislava, this reconstructed baroque castle overlooks the Danube. The castle is built on top of a hill overlooking the city and it was one of the first things I saw when I entered the city by coach. It’s definitely worth the walk up there just for the views alone. If you look in the right direction, you can also see Austria in the distance. Bratislava Castle has such an important history and dates back to the 9th Century. In May 1811, a fire destroyed the castle. The reconstruction was not completed until 1968. Parts of the castle are now open to the public. I didn’t go inside the castle when I was there, however it is on my to-do list for the next time I visit. It’s open Tuesday – Sunday, 8am – 6pm.
One of the best things about Bratislava, was the the fact that the medieval old town is a pedestrian only zone. This means that you are free to walk around without having to worry about any cars – you must make sure that you keep an eye out for cyclists though. This was the most peaceful capital city that I have visited so far. The Old Town is so quiet that you can’t help but forget that you are in a capital city. Everyone seemed to be a lot more relaxed and I do believe that this was due to the lack of cars. Of course, there are roads outside of the Old Town but you won’t find any vehicles on the cobbled streets. The lack of cars also means that you have no choice but to walk around. I definitely got my steps in whilst I was in Bratislava!
Much like Krakow, Bratislava Old Town is full of beautiful architecture. Everywhere you turn, there is another beautiful building. Slovakia is a predominantly Christian country and there are a lot of religious buildings. I could have spent hours wandering around, taking photos of all of the churches and I wish I had had the time to go inside them. Looking over the city from the castle and being able to see the mixture of old buildings in the Old Town and then the newer, modern buildings in the distance was a great experience. I just love the Eastern European architecture, it always looks so pretty. The pastel buildings always make for great photographs.
Another famous building in Bratislava is the blue church. The Church of St. Elizabeth is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church located in the eastern part of the Old Town. It was only a ten minute walk from the centre of the Old Town. I used Google Maps to get there. As you can see, the entire church is blue, from the doors to the roof. It really is worth a visit if you are into your architecture or just want to see something unusual.I was expecting The Church of St. Elizabeth to be really busy, however when I visited at around 3pm there was only one other person there taking photographs. As it’s not exactly in the city centre, I think it can be easily missed, so I’m glad I did my research beforehand and found out about it (probably from Pinterest).
Next time I go to Bratislava, I want to go inside the castle and visit some of the city’s museums. Have you ever been to Bratislava? Would you like to go?