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Bratislava, Slovakia - Planning your trip

Bratislava is the capital and largest city in Slovakia. Every visitor will be surprised by the history of this medieval city, which dates back two thousand years when its territory was fortified and settled by the Celts and Romans. Because the city survived the Celts, the Romans, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Soviet domination it's easy to fall in love with its Old Town, filled with stunning historical monuments including some weird bronze figures. Have you heard about Čumil? The famous sculpture it's only one of the attractions surrounded by stylish local stores, great cafes and fun bars spread out everywhere. In addition, you will be surprised by the mix of old and new. While the city has castles and the peculiar UFO Bridge, Bratislava is also the wealthiest and economically most important region in Slovakia, several multinational companies have their headquarters over there, which attracts a diversity of professionals and students giving the city vibrancy and dynamism. From the peculiar UFO Bridge to Bratislava Castle, this incredibly city has it all.

Stores in Bratislava
Bratislava Castle

What you need to know before you go

Transport in Bratislava - After arriving in Bratislava, the most convenient ways to visit the city are:
1. Bratislava CARD, which includes free admission to museums and galleries, free walking tour, unlimited use of public transport and other discounts.
2. Hop-on Hop-off tours. The famous red bus includes different prices and tours around the city where visitors can explore the most popular sightseeings while listening to audio commentary about the passing monuments in their language. The Blue Church and Bratislava Castle are included.
3. Explore by yourself. Of course, you can buy single tickets in the bus stations to visit the city by yourself. I confess I don't find it easy to understand. Credit card is accepted in the machines. Visit Bratislava offer several options of tours with local guides which are interesting options to customize your trip.

Be aware there is zero tolerance for alcohol.

Where to stay in Bratislava - Bratislava has more than 120 hotels ranging from hotel chains to award-winning boutique hotels. Marriott, Radisson, IHG, Accor, Hilton all have a presence in the city. Consider staying around the Old Town to enjoy this magic city live at night.

Those who are not staying in the city can store their luggage at bus and train stations.

Best time to visit Bratislava are from mid-April to mid-October and just before Christmas. The city has the average daily temperature in summer (July to August) reaching 21 °C (maximum 38 °C), while the average daily temperature in winter (December, January) –1 °C (minimum – 20 °C). The months with the highest rainfall are July and September, May and October are relatively dry.

Tradicional food in Bratislava - Surrounded by Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine, many Slovak dishes were inspired and also exist in the near countries. However, Slovaks have added their own special twist to their local cuisine.
Some traditional dishes you must try are:
1. Dumplings with sheep's cheese (bryndzové halušky),2. Pierogis stuffed with bryndza (bryndzové pirohy), 3. Cabbage soup (kapustnica), 4. Pork with dumplings and cabbage (vepřo knedlo zelo), 5. Goulash soup (gulášová polievka).

If your question is: Is Bratislava worth Visiting? The answer is YES!

Bratislava is the only one European capital city, which borders with two other countries – Hungary and Austria. The smallest capitals of Europe (more than 50x smaller than New York City), is located just an hour from Vienna – 60km far away from Austria capital. The city is compact and easily accessible on foot.

Bratislava is known for its rich history that dates back more than two thousand years. With a medieval ambiance, the city has a rich historical past, delicious cuisine, and an undeniable charm. In addition, Bratislava offers a variety of free attractions and you can easily book a tour bus in the downtown area to visit the top places around the city in a 45 min to 2h tour. Taking a day trip from Vienna is a very plausible option. Visitors can leave Vienna in the morning, see most sights in the beautiful Bratislava during the day and be back before bedtime. There are several options to travel by train or bus (with fares around 5 Euros each way) and there is no immigration to cross the border. It’s a great day trip to add in your Eurotrip.

TIps for first visit

1. Explore the old town on a day trip to Bratislava – Bratislava is the only capital worldwide sharing borders with two countries, Austria and Hungary. The close proximity of the Slovak capital makes visiting Vienna and Budapest great ideas for day trips from or to Bratislava. If you have limited time to visit the city, make sure to go direct to the Old Town where most places to see and thinks to do are concentrated, from there it’s easy to find out how to book a guide or a bus to visit the top attractions around the city.

2. Take pictures with the famous ČumilBratislava is known for its weird bronze figures. Walking around the Old Town, you’ll discover all of them.

Čumil, which the Slovak word actually means “watcher” is the most famous of them. There are a couple of theories about his name. Maybe he’s trying to get a look under the ladies’ skirts or perhaps he’s a typical communist-era worker who works little and watches a lot? Or maybe he’s resting after a hard day’s work cleaning the sewer. Either way, this sympathetic man is the most photographed sculptures around the town. Paparazzi, Schöner Náci, and Napoleon’s Soldier are other ones you may take a look.

3. Visit Bratislava Castle – There are two gorgeous to visit in Bratislava. The most popular one is Bratislava Castle. Erected in the 9th century, the castle stands on a plateau 279 ft. (85 m) above the Danube. Its gigantic size and location have made it a central feature of Bratislava since Medieval times. The Devín Castle is the second one, which offers great views from Danube and Morava Rivers.

4. Enjoy the beautiful views from the cemetery – Slavín is a military cemetery containing a burial ground of 6,845 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in 1945 during Bratislava’s Liberation. The memorial sits on a hill within a rich villa district with dozens of embassies around offering great views of the city.

5. Check out the Blue Church – Remarkable for the blue colour, this church was built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century. The Church of St. Elizabeth, it is referred to as “The Little Blue Church” because of the colour of its façade, mosaics, and blue-glazed roof. It’s unique!

Old town Bratislava

Essential Information

Passport and Visa – Slovakia is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that most people may enter Slovakia for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.

Currency – Euros €. Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the euro on 1 January 2009. Exchange rate of former Slovak crown (Sk) was 1 € = 30.1260 Sk.

Language – Slovak is the official language of the Slovak Republic. The most widely spoken foreign languages are English, German, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Roma and French.

Tax Free – If you have permanent residence in a non-EU country, you are eligible for tax free shopping with minimum purchase amount of 100.00 EUR.

Tipping – There is no strict rule about tipping in Slovakia. Ten percent of the total is more than enough. When handing your waiter the money, tell him how much you’d like to pay, not how much you’d like to receive back in change. Do the same if paying by credit card, or just leave the tip in cash.

Population – The current population of Slovakia is 5.6M. Bratislava is the capital and the country’s largest city by population, although it is one of the smallest capitals in Europe. The estimated population is around 427,000.

Electrical Power – 220-volt AC, 50Hz power supply with two-pin continental plugs. Same as in majority of other European countries.

Economy – The Bratislava Region is the wealthiest and economically most important region in Slovakia. The majority of governmental institutions,  as well as many subsidiaries of multinational companies have their headquarters in Bratislava. Most population works in the service sector, mainly composed of trade, banking, IT, telecommunication industry and tourism.

Curiosity – Bratislava is known as motor city!

Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia.

Did you know than Slovakia produces more cars per capita than any other country in the world? The country’s powerful car production represents 44% of its entire industry. The country managed to attract big brands such as Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Citroen and has recently celebrated the start of construction of a new Jaguar and Land Rover factory, which won the investment against competition from Poland, Hungary, and Mexico. Alongside car manufacturers, the capital Bratislava is also known for its innovation, including optoelectronic, robotic and software sectors.

Close to 250,000 people from all over Slovakia travel to the capital for work. Given that its population is less than half a million, this means that the city grows by 50% every day of the workweek.

Useful Links

Visit Bratislava – Tourism Board

Sightseeing tours offer by Visit Bratislava

Free wi-fi in Bratislava

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