We were now onto Day-5 of our 10 country 10 night road trip from North Germany to Italy. It had been 30 years since we were last here in Bratislava and all we could say was “Wow.” Bratislava old town had been transformed from the grey and drab to a city vibrant with colour and beauty. We were here for a two-night stay giving us 36 hours to reacquaint ourselves and explore with new eyes. This is our Bratislava Old Town – 9 Highlights to Visit in One Day.
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Bratislava Capital of Slovakia
With the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Bratislava became the capital of Slovakia. It’s unique position borders Austria (only 1 hour by train to Vienna) and Budapest, Hungary. Lying on the banks of the River Danube it provides a stopping off point for many cruises. And it is also the city to stop when travelling from Prague to Budapest.
Bratislava Old Town – 9 Highlights to Visit in One Day
If you love the early morning, then you will have photo opportunities before its time for breakfast. This morning it would be coffee and a small local delicacy – breaded roll of walnut and of poppy seed – size of a small croissant shape. On Terry’s return, Maura had breakfast waiting.
1. Michael’s Gate and Street
This gate is one of the entries into the old town and is all that is left of a medieval fortification dating back to the 14th century. The 51 metre tower can be accessed for views of the city via the Museum of Weapons. When entering the old town through the famous Michael’s Gate you will find the cobblestoned street leading you to quaint shops, cafes and restaurants. In the evening, the area is alive with tourists enjoying the food and local beers.
2. Bratislava Castle
The castle area on the hill of the Little Carpathians dates to 350BC was a strategic stronghold along the Danube River. The castle you see today was built throughout the 9th to 18th centuries under-going renovations between 1956-1964. This beautiful castle is the Slovak National Museum.
The views of the Danube River, Austria and on a clear day Hungary, make it an enjoyable place to stop and take in the wondrous views. From here you can view the famous UFO Bridge, St Martin’s Cathedral and views of the old town.
3. Grassalkovich Palace
Once again, a beautiful Baroque building built in 1760 as a summer residence of Count Anton Grassalkovic. Today it is sometimes referred to as Slovakia’s White House as it is official residence for the President of Slovakia. While the Palace is not open to the public, the large French Garden behind the palace is now a public park.
The beautiful fountain in front of the palace is in the shape of the earth symbolising freedom. During the week at 12noon, near the Palace gates, there is the changing of the guards.
4. Slavin Memorial Monument and Cemetery
This memorial is a climb up from the old town although a bus is available. The cemetery has over 6,000 soldiers and civilians killed liberating Bratislava in 1945. The monument stands at 39m tall with an 11m statue of Alexander Trizuljak, a victorious Soviet Soldier.
The views from here out over the old town are spectacular.
5. Old Town Squares
If you enjoy viewing medieval buildings, then the old town is a must see. With two main squares and many adjoining squares, you may find yourself disorientated as you walk along the cobblestoned streets.
The main square (Hlavne Namestie) with its famous Town Hall and renaissance style fountain will have you stopping in a café to people watch.
Another square to visit is Primate’s Square (Primacialne Namstie) to visit the Primate’s Palace. This beautiful palace was built between 1778 to 1781 and shows off a pale pink and white exterior.
6. Most SNP (Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising)
This was one iconic sight we remembered from our first trip to Bratislava. It was finished in 1972 so in 1986 it was a relatively new bridge. Although it is the 7th longest suspension bridge in the world, most people know it as the UFO Bridge.
Today the observation deck is a restaurant with panoramic views of the castle and old town. To reach the observation deck, take a walk along the walkway underneath the bridge.
7. Bronze Statues
Something unique to the city are the bronze statues waiting to be discovered by you. Our first photo op was early morning to see Cumil (The Worker) popping up from the manhole for a look see. Later in the morning, Terry met up with a Napoleon solider (The Frenchman) for a chat.
8. St Martin’s Cathedral
The view of the cathedral is best seen from the hills of Bratislava Castle. It was here the Kings, Queens and Consorts of Hungary were crowned between 1563-1830. The original church built in 1221 was replaced with this gothic cathedral as the town grew into a city.
9. Try the Food
When visiting a new country or city, local food is always a must try. Tonight, our host had recommended a very old restaurant and brewery, away from the touristy area of Michael’s Gate. So we ate this evening at Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar 1752. The food was delicious.
So, what did we try?
Funnily enough in the late afternoon while visiting a few sights near our hotel apartment, a local helped us with directions. It turned out her boss was from Wellington, New Zealand – our home town. As they say, “it’s a small world.”
So, tonight with her suggestion, we chose a traditional dish – Bryndzove Halusky. Its small potato dumplings with sheep cheese and topped with crunchy bits of bacon – so delicious. The other dish was slow cooked pork with a very soft bread that soaked up the tasty juices of the meat .
Quick Wrap-Up of Bratislava
We can only suggest you make some time to visit Bratislava when planning your European Escapade. As it’s only an hour train trip from Vienna, it is easy to explore Bratislava in a day.
With so much to see within easy walking distance and plenty of cafes to stop and recharge, a full day exploring will leave you happy with your decision. We suggest you check out the local tourism website for more information for your stay.
If walking is not your thing, then check out the local version of the hop on hop off bus. So cute and so unobtrusive.
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