13 Great Things to Do in Bratislava, Slovakia

Best Things to Do in Bratislava, Slovakia

In my humble opinion, the quiet and entirely unassuming city of Bratislava is one of the most underrated in European cities.

The capital city of Slovakia and home to only half a million people, Bratislava is sandwiched between the tourist giants of Budapest and Vienna – check out this amazing bus / boat trip if you want to cruise down the river to Bratislava from the Austrian capital.

Feeling more like a provincial town, than the centre of a nation, Bratislava is wonderfully relaxed and full of open spaces – a city where the greatest noise comes from the trams rattling over the cobbled streets.

And if you’re on a bit of a Euro city tour, it provides a welcome relief from the hectic city madness and heavy snapping crowds too!

So if you’re looking for the definition of a small capital in central Europe, with a rich history, look no further than brilliant, beautiful Bratislava in Slovakia.

Here’s my list of the 13 best things to do there…

Slovakia, Bratislava, Old Town Hall with Blossom


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#1 Check out the Art Galleries

Slovakia, Bratislava, HIT Gallery

There’s a heap of galleries dotted around Bratislava and while you, unfortunately, do have to pay to enter most, there are a couple of free and excellent ones you should definitely put on your list of things to do in Bratislava.

1 of the best I found was Medium.

Small, but featuring some lovely permanent exhibitions when I was there, it offers the perfect artsy fix in this city.

The Slovak National Gallery is a more mainstream gallery space, but it’s also excellent and open every day except Monday.

They have an ongoing collections display, plus several visiting and experimental exhibitions. Entrance costs 9€.

If you feel like an adventure, you can also catch bus #90, followed by bus #91 outside the city down to the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum.

The journey takes just over an hour, but is worht it for art fans.


#2 Find all the Street Sculptures

Slovakia, Bratislava, Street Sculpture

And sticking with the art theme, you’ll soon realise that Bratislava is as famous for its quirkiness as much as anything else!

Probably why I liked this city so much!

Anyway, one of the main reasons why it gets this title is because of the many metal sculptures that dot the streets in interesting locations.

Most of them relate to some part of the city’s history and they are very popular selfie spots among tourists too!

Favourites include Paparazzi, Napoleon Soldier and Two Girls Leaning on Post Box, which are all in the main centre of the city and shouldn’t be missed.

But the piece de resistance has to be The Gazer (pictured above), who appears to be a sewer worker, popping out of a manhole under a sign that reads Man at Work.

I’m not going to give his location away, because finding this guy is half the fun, but if you only snap one selfie in Bratislava, let it be this!

Many people tried to work out the legend behind his sudden appearance in 1997, but really it was just a stunt by the tourism board to promote the Old Town to visitors… and fair play, it worked!

The sculpture was created by Slovak artist Viktor Hulík, who was born in Bratislava in 1947.


#3 Snap Bratislava Old Town & its Historic Buildings

Slovakia, Bratislava, Main Square

So while we’re speaking about snapping and sculptures in Bratislava, it’s worth saying that the beautiful old town itself, which dates to the 14th century, is also worth more than a few GB on your memory card!

As the main tourist hub of this city, the quaint streets, multiple churches, picturesque archways and charming atmosphere of this old town are truly delightful.

Exploring is absolutely one of the best things to do in Bratislava and is best enjoyed either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the many day trip groups from Vienna have all pushed off!

The centre of the action of is the Main Square – with its cafes, benches, fountains and stunning buildings, it’s a great place to photograph and people watch.

The other main attractions in Bratislava’s Old Town include the Old Medieval City Walls, St Martin’s Cathedral, St Michael’s Gate, historic Pharmacy Slavator, the National Theatre, the Trinitarian Church and the Old Market Hall.

The Old Town Hall, which is the tall yellow building in the Main Square, which now houses the Bratislava City Museum, is another popular palace to visit.

Once an armoury, a treasury and prison in the past, this historic building now hosts the oldest museum in Slovakia and has a great view from the top of the tower.

As a side note, it’s worth noting the black cannon ball embedded on the tower’s facade, which recalls the historic loss by Napoleon to conquer this city, as well as the flood mark, dated 5 Feb 1850, which shows how high the River Danube reached in this year when its banks were breached.

I also loved the sense of stepping back in time that many of the cobblestone streets the Old Town of Bratislava provided, as nuns dressed in habits darted across the quaint alleys and children playing in the city’s fountains squeaked with joy.




#4 Take a City Tour

Slovakia, Bratislava, Me and Street

But if you don’t have the luxury of a couple of days to really get into the pace of Bratislava (read: unwind to the max!) then don’t fret, because this city is so small, it’s also quite easy to see in a day.

And a great way to become quickly acquainted with it is to jump onto a great walking tour.

This free city tour is a brilliantly cheap thing to do in Bratislava; otherwise, the tourism office in the capital have a free app you can easily use as your personal, offline guide to the city instead. Check it out here.

Alternatively, there’s a number of paid tours to choose from too – which generally offer smaller groups and something a bit special. Here’s my pick of the bunch…

Tours normally last a couple of hours and are a great way to get orientated in this city and learn a bit about its history and people.


#5 Hang in Parks, Squares and Fountains

Slovakia, Bratislava, Old Town Hall

One of the main things I loved about Bratislava – probably because the first time I visited was in the summer when it was about 2 million degrees! – were the number of parks, squares and public gardens you can find in this city.

And checking out at least a few of them is definitely one of the best things to do here.

My favs included the manicured Presidential Gardens, the huge City Park and the Gardens by the Slovak National Theatre, which even has a great fountain / mini pool just outside that locals and tourists alike dip their toes in to cool down in the summer months.

The nearby Hviezdoslay statue – a nationally treasured poet instrumental in keeping the Slovak language alive – and the Hviezdoslav Square are worth checking out too.

And, oh while you’re here, why not see what’s on at the theatre too!

In the summer, there are many concerts and food markets going on in these squares and often, there’s a Christmas market in December too.


#6 Wine Taste!

Bratislava, Slovak National Collection of Wines, Cellar

If you’d like something to sip on while you relax, then why not consider enjoying some wine tasting while you’re in Bratislava too?

Who knew that Slovakia had such a rich wine heritage? Not me!

But turns out, on the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, this country produces some of this region’s best wines.

Full of a distinctive minerality and pleasant aroma (I’ll trust the experts on this one!), there’s a couple of ways to enjoy a tipple here along with some local wine info.

First up, tasting sessions run across the capital and enjoying one in the Slovak National Collection of Wines is surely one of the top things to do in Bratislava.

These guys offer a few different options, but I went for the 72 Slovak wines in 100 mins option, which I thought was a bargain for 31€!

This is an unguided tour (so not the best if you want to learn about the wine production in this country), but it is great if you want to try a lot of delicious local wines – the dry rieslings were a real delight!

You can book this tour online here and I recommend going for a 3:30pm option.

As the place closes at 6pm, you’re likely to get a bit of added bonus time after your 100 minutes are up by going late in the day!

Otherwise, a short 50 minute public transport trip out of the capital will lead to the nearby town of Modra, which is famed for its viticulture and its history.

Here you can enjoy a private wine tasting session in a boutique vineyard that includes a a tour by a friendly member of the family who own this lovely farm.



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#7 Scale to the Bratislava Castle

Slovakia, Bratislava, Me at Castle

No list of the best things to do in Bratislava would be complete without mentioning the iconic castle that looms over this city in a fairytale kind of a way.

Dating back to the Romans (ok, well not this current castle, but some level of fortification has been here for thousands of years), records show that it’s been used by just about every empire that existed here since.

Said to look like an upside down table, the castle was largely burnt down in mysterious fire at night in 1811, after which it was left to fall into disrepair until restoration was finally completed in 2011.

If you don’t want to pay for an entrance ticket, it’s good to know you can take the free stroll up the hill to the castle (making use of the exercise!) and then marvel at the views over the city from the top, before enjoying a pleasant siesta in the grassy gardens in the shadow of the ancient castle – delightful!

If you do want to go inside, then the castle is open daily from 10am – 6pm (5pm in the winter) and your ticket includes entry to the Treasury Museum and the Slovak History Museum, which are located within the gates too. Tickets cost 14€.

During the summer months of July and August, free Saturday tours of the castle in English are also provided free with your entrance ticket. Learn more here.

Otherwise, you can pay for a castle tour with this top-rated company.


#8 See the UFO Tower & UFO Bridge

Slovakia, Bratislava, UFO Bridge

And from the castle grounds, you can also view another of Bratislava’s quintessential quirky features – its famous UFO tower and bridge.

Just look across the River Danube and you’ll spot it!

If you’ve got a few spare euros, you can even climb it… or take the elevator for 12€.

From the top you can enjoy fab views, and with good visibility on a clear day, it’s a really fab view.

There’s also a bar and restaurant at the top – don’t miss the bathrooms, which have incredible floor to ceiling glass windows that offer an amazing view while you pee!

Otherwise, enjoy strolling along the bridge with the view of this crazy looking tower above!

Walking here is a delightful way to take in the scope of the city and definitely one of the best things to do in Bratislava.

Why not see if you can discover the mini-city beach nearby while you’re at it?

Great place for sunset drinks in the summer FYI!


#9 Marvel at the Views from Slavin

Slovakia, Bratislava, Main Square

Another great vantage point and one of the best things to do in Bratislava is to walk up to Slavin – the huge war memorial that stands proudly on a hill above the city.

Paying homage to 7000 troops that were killed when liberating Slovakia from Nazi occupation at the end of World War II, around the monument is a cemetery where the wounded are buried.

It’s a hike up here and rather a sad spot given the history, but the positive take-home is that the views, especially at sunset time, are amazing.


#10 Stumble Upon the Blue Church

Slovakia, Bratislava, Blue Church with Blossom

Of course, the Old Town is nice, but it’s also super touristy and getting outside of it to discover some of the “real” Bratislava is a must if you have enough time.

Even wandering the streets just outside the historic centre will bring you in touch with everyday life here, as students bustle to class and older people savour their coffee on the street.

With a lively university population, as well as a growing tech industry and tourism quota, Bratislava is upbeat, progressive and positive… I like it!

Plus the Blue Church and the Slovak Radio Tower, both located outside of the Old Town, are well worth checking out!

Insta snappers be ready!

The Blue Church opens from 5:30pm for visitors who want to go inside. It’s free to enter.

Learn more in this complete Blue Church visitor guide I wrote.

The Radio Tower is located amongst the foothills of the Carpathian mountains that start just outside of Bratislava.

Grab a bus to get here in just 15 minutes from the city centre and you can enjoy some of the many free hiking trails that locals love to walk at the weekend.




#11 Eat & Drink!

Slovakia, Bratislava, Koliba Kamzik Zelena

Hipsters, foodies and coffee lovers unite, there’s tons of fun cafes in Bratislava for you to enjoy and savouring some time in at least a couple of them is definitely one of the funnest things to do this city.

Here’s my pick of the best cafe spots…

  • Doppio
  • Fleur Bakery
  • Blue Mondays
  • Fertucha Grösslingová
  • 2 Zebras
  • Pasteleria
  • Otto

Otherwise for great food and service, I recommend dodging the Slovak Pub (which has become a mecca for tourists and offers real bad and slow service in my opinion) and heading for the Bratislava Flagship Restaurant (as it’s called on Google Maps) instead.

This large restaurant and pub is located in an ornate old theatre and serves up traditional Slovak food (with veggie options) and as well as home-brewed beer.

If sunny, grab one of the outside tables for an alfresco meal with a pretty square backdrop

Otherwise the wonderful Koliba Kamzik Michalska and Koliba Kamzik Zelena restaurants are both located in Bratislava’s pedestrianised Old Town and offer great traditional Slovak cuisine in a warm and relaxed setting.

Again I was delighted by the range of veggie options here (including cheese Pierogies – Slovak dumplings – yum!) and by the friendly service and good prices.

And if you stay at the APLEND City Hotel Perugia, the MYAPLEND loyalty system will grant you discounts at both these restaurants.


#12 Take a Day Trip

Slovakia, Bratislava, Cityscape

If you think Bratislava is cute, then wait until you see some of the gorgeous countryside surrounding this capital.

From hiking adventures to wine tastings, castle visits to Soviet history tours, it’s all for the taking!

Here’s my pick of the top Bratislava day trips to enjoy on day 2 or 3 of your itinerary.

Otherwise, the famous option is to day trip to Devin Castle.

Located on a hill, where 2 rivers (the Moravia River and the Danube River) meet, Devin Castle is only a ruin, but the views here are amazing.

At sunset in particular, the light can be incredible.

The rivers here actually mark the Austrian border – did you know it’s only 55km to Vienna from Bratislava meaning these are the closest capitals in Europe and 2nd closest capitals in the world!

A weak spot in the iron curtain of the Soviet era, due to the lack of electric fencing, Devin Castle was a common escape route “to the west” in communist time.

With a survival rate of only 25% however, there is a poignant memorial here dedicated to those who sadly didn’t make it.


#13 Get Carried Away on Kapitulska Street

Slovakia, Bratislava, Nedbalova Street
And last but not least, we come to my favourite thing to do in Bratislava, because this cute street really is snap happy heaven!

From its quaint and crumbling buildings down to the large cobbles and authentic charm, this was my favourite place in the city and the one that definitely best encapsulated what I enjoyed so much about my visits here.

Don’t miss it!


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Mini Travel Guide to Bratislava

Slovakia, Bratislava, Napoleon Statue

When to Visit Bratislava?

Go in the summer months of June, July and August for the best weather.

Otherwise, the spring months of April and May are a lovely time visit without the crowds.

I’ve enjoyed both!


How to Get to Bratislava?

Getting to Bratislava from many parts of central or eastern Europe (such as Budapest or Vienna) is easy via bus or train.

The first time I visited, I actually travelled there overnight from Budapest via Flixbus and found the journey easy and safe.

As always, I book all my train and coach travel across Europe using Omio. I love the way they compare multiple journeys and use split-fare technology to get you the best prices.

The main train station in this city is Bratislava hl.st, which is just a short distance north of the Slovak capital. I paid 4€ using Bolt to get there from the city centre.

Alternatively, you can also fly into Bratislava if you’re coming from further away.

M. R. Štefánik Airport is located to the east of Bratislava, but you can easily use Bus #61 or Bolt to get to the centre from outside the arrival terminal.

As always, I recommend checking Skyscanner for the best flight prices.


How Long to Spend in Bratislava?

Despite being the largest city in Slovakia, Bratislava is still pretty small and I think 2-3 days is a great amount of time to spend there.

On day 1, I recommend exploring the Old Town area and then, on your second day, I suggest you head out of the city to enjoy some of the area’s other best attractions.

On day 3, either take another day trip or explore the city centre and surrounds more.


Where to Stay in Bratislava?

No question in my mind that the best hostel in Bratislava is Safestay Bratislva.

For mid-range travellers the fantastic the APLEND City Hotel Perugia is located a stone’s throw from the Main Square in the Old Town (literally) and has well-priced, comfortable rooms with a fantastic local restaurant attached – the perfect place for a traditional Slovak dinner.

Otherwise, if you want something with self-catering facilities and a little more space, then this city centre apartment offers great facilities and gets top reviews.


Best Tours that Include Bratislava

If you’d rather visit this city as part of organised tour, check out these options, many of which combine Bratislava with other destinations in central Europe such as Vienna and Budapest.


4 Packing Essentials for Bratislava

#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Bratislava and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous destination justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a fair amount of walking in Bratislava, so make sure your feet are comfortable with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish city strolling, I love mine!

#4 Good Water Bottle – All the city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Bratislava tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Backpack – And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk the city streets. In my opinion, you can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.


Travel Insurance for Slovakia

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.


Travel Money for Slovakia

When it comes to paying for things in Slovakia, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me wherever I travel.

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Get your Wise card here.




And there they are, my 13 best things to do in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Have you visited this cute, characterful city?

Did you love it too?

What was your favourite thing to do there?

Tell me all in the comments box below…


My stay in Bratislava was kindly sponsored by APLEND Apartments & Resorts but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.


3 thoughts on “13 Great Things to Do in Bratislava, Slovakia

  1. Eric says:

    I loved my time in Bratislava. Went in with no expectations and no real prior knowledge of the city and came away loving the city. The street statues are adorable. My 3 days there were as perfect as you can hope to expect. Can’t wait to go back.

    • Steph says:

      Totally agree Eric – I knew very little of it too before I went, but was delightfully blown away by this gorgeous little city too. I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time to spend there as well – enough time to find all those cute statues indeed! Great to hear you’re keen to go back – did you do everything on my list?!

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