If there’s one thing we truly love, it’s the challenge of squeezing an entire city into 24 hours. Small cities, like Bratislava, make it quite easy; but half of the fun is figuring out the perfect order, discussing how we could have better done things, and then sharing that with you, our readers! We definitely feel like we accomplished a great 24 hours in Bratislava.
In reality, we were in Bratislava for two days, but one of them was spent visiting Trnava for a football match. We squeezed our Bratislava tourist activities into the 23 hours from when we arrived to our Airbnb until we left for the football. This spanned over a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, but we have built this itinerary to be for one full day, from morning to evening.
The only thing on our below itinerary that we did not actually get to is the Blue Church. I was a bit upset about this, but am happy with the things we did do. Anyway, we could have easily squeezed in the 15 minute walk to the church if a nap wasn’t in order before dinner on our first night!
Head up the UFO for early morning views
As you know, we love a good view of the city we are visiting. From the Tour Montparnasse in Paris to the TV Tower in Berlin, we make it a priority to go up to a high point and look out over the entire city, no matter where we are visiting. Bratislava’s tower is much smaller, and a very unique “UFO” shape. It’s literally called the UFO tower. The tower is located over the bridge that takes you into Bratislava and has stunning views. Admission is €7.40.
We recommend going up first thing, at 10:00 when the tower opens. It gets hot up there when the sun is shining, so this will be better temperature wise. You are also more likely to avoid the crowds – we originally tried to go in the evening the night before and there was quite a queue. We walked straight in in the morning!
Climb up to Bratislava Castle
From the UFO, a walk back across, and then under, the bridge will put you right on the path for going up to Bratislava Castle. This is another great opportunity for stunning views, though we preferred the ones from the UFO. The hike up to the castle is about a 15 minute walk uphill, but you pass some adorable little houses and winding alleys on the way. The castle was closed when we visited, so we did not go inside, but it was nice enough to look at from the outside.
This castle is actually very new, built in the 1950s-60s after a fire destroyed the original. Some of the walls are still part of the original castle, so it was cool to see a mix of old and new. The castle is also a stunning bright white up close (and far away) – they must paint it every year to keep that up!
We walked up to the courtyard first, then around the castle to the viewpoint, before trying to go up to the castle. This walk gives you the opportunity to view the castle from a couple of different angles, as well as check out the viewpoints over the city and the river. When open, the castle houses the Slovak National Museum – entry is €6.
Wander through the Old Town
About 90% of Bratislava is located in the Old Town, from the Cathedral, to tiny shops and restaurants, to bars and nightclubs galore! We had a blast walking around, even just as we were going from place to place on our itinerary. It’s the perfect little place for a wander, and truly allows you to immerse yourself. There were puppet shows going on all over the place, as well as people playing music in traditional Slovakian garb. It’s the most touristy area, but also the best area!
Enjoy local beer at lunch
Try to find a place for lunch that serves Slovakian dishes, as well as a local beer (or their own!). We ended up having lunch a Venturska both days we were there because it was so close to where we were staying! They have their own draught beer, plus a range of lunch options. I even had fried cheese (my favorite!) – the last time that was acceptable as a meal was when I was in Prague in 2013. We loved the fact that pints are under €2 in Bratislava – our whole meal was probably under €10 per person, including alcohol. We can’t remember the last time that happened!
Visit the Blue Church
Though we did not have a chance to visit the Blue Church ourselves, I definitely recommend that you try to go. I love looking at pictures of it and think it must be a really cute thing to see in person. It’s a great alternative to stopping in the Cathedral if you’re tired of seeing traditional churches over and over again.
Taste the Slovak National Collection of Wine
We prioritized visiting the Slovak National Collection of Wine, mainly because we love wine. However, after the experience, I think it’s worthwhile for anyone to do – it’s a great way to learn about the local wine and the geography of Slovakia, while also indulging in locally produced wine. Explore local and shop local, all from one spot! Allow about an hour for the experience, depending on how much wine you would like to try. Tastings start at €4.99, and bottles on sale from under €10.
Go to a microbrewery for dinner
To stick with the theme of supporting local business and trying local beer, a microbrewery is a great option for dinner. We looked into a couple, including the Castle Brewery and the Monastic Brewery, but settled on Svätojánsky pivovar. They had some delicious options for traditional dumplings, plus a variety of beer on offer. The restaurant inside had an Alpine lodge feel to it, but we sat in the lovely beer garden in the back.
Where to Stay in Bratislava
We found a lovely studio apartment on Airbnb located in Bratislava’s old town, directly across from the Cathedral. I don’t think we ever walked more than 15 minutes from the apartment to get anywhere, and Adriena was a great host – we highly recommend this Airbnb for anyone visiting Bratislava! If you’re unsure about Airbnb, check out our tips for the perfect Airbnb experience, or sign up with our code to receive money off on your first stay (and we’ll get a little something too).
- We flew into Vienna airport – flights there are much more frequent and generally cheaper. From Vienna airport, it is easy to get the train or drive into Bratislava.
- Everywhere we went accepted card, but it is much quicker and easier to pay with cash. We recommend stocking up on Euros before your visit so you don’t have to deal with the fuss of the card machine!
24 hours in Bratislava is definitely doable, and can be done on the cheap. It’s a charming little city perfect for wandering, stopping for a long meal, and popping into local shops. I hope we get the chance to return so we can see the Blue Church, try the new collection of wine, and visit more breweries! It would also be great to head out of Bratislava and visit the wineries in person – some of them are less than a half hour away!
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What is your favorite thing about Bratislava?
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