Already counting days and cannot decide what to do in Bratislava? Then you are in the right place! We have picked the 15 best things to do in Bratislava that have caught our attention.
But first, why is Bratislava a unique city?
Bratislava is unique city due to its unusual geography, quirky landmarks, and rich multicultural heritage. Bratislava is also the only capital city in the world that borders two countries – Austria and also Hungary. It is one of the smallest European capitals and also one of Europe’s youngest capital cities.
Bratislava is compact, and you can visit many of its attractions in a short amount of time.
Did you know that Bratislava and Vienna are the two closest capitals in Europe? These two capital cities are only 60 km away from each other.
15 Best things to do in Bratislava
1. Bratislava Castle
One of the first destinations most tourists head to is Bratislava Castle – and there is a reason for it. Bratislava Castle is the main castle in the city. It has a rich history and excellent panoramic views. This massive rectangular building with four corner towers is a symbol of the national identity and pride of the Slovaks. Because of that, visiting Bratislava Castle is one of the best things to do in Bratislava.
Maybe you don’t know, but this fortification dates back to the 9th century. During its long history, it served as a fortress and also a royal residence of the Kings of Royal Hungary. Bratislava Castle had numerous renovations over the centuries. Later, it went through a series of disasters (shot by cannons by Napoleon, fire) and eventually became ruins. The castle you can see today is a result of restoration works from the 1960s.
Its grand staircase dates back to the time of Queen Maria Theresa. She was one of the most famous Habsburgs.
WHAT TO SEE:
The highlights of Bratislava Castle are a courtyard, a grand staircase, the Music Hall and ornate halls. There is also the 13th-century Crown Tower, which once housed the crown jewels. This 47-metre (154 ft) tall tower is the oldest, still-standing structure of the castle and offers beautiful views. Bratislava Castle is also home to the Slovak National Museum, which houses documents, photographs and objects showcasing the development of this area from the Middle Ages. Do not miss the Treasure Room and the beautiful baroque gardens behind the castle. You can also spot the remains of the 11th-century Great-Moravian basilica when you explore the castle grounds.
Before you leave Bratislava Castle, walk around the castle grounds and enjoy beautiful views of the Old Town and the UFO Tower.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Bratislava Castle sits directly above the Danube River in the city centre. It lies only a short walk from the Old Town, and, therefore, you can easily visit it when exploring the city.
Bratislava Castle is open every day except Monday from 10 am – 6 pm (last entry at 5 pm). Entry fee to Bratislava Castle costs 12 euros for an adult. If you don’t want to see the hallways and ornate rooms of the castle, you can visit the gardens for free.
2. St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava
Next, follow the Castle Steps and make your way to St. Martin’s Cathedral, which you can find on the edge of the Old Town. St. Martin’s Cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in Bratislava because this is the largest, oldest and most important church in the city. Today, St. Martin’s Cathedral on Rudnay Square is one of the most visited historical monuments in the city.
ABOUT ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL:
The locals built this church on top of the earlier church in the 15th century. In fact, this cathedral was once part of the city’s walls, and its 85 m (279 ft) tall Gothic tower was a lookout point.
You are right to think that this house of God has played a crucial role in Bratislava’s history. Did you know that St. Martin’s Cathedral served as a coronation church for Hungarian kings and queens? In fact, this charming cathedral saw the coronations of 11 kings, including Maria Theresa. Because of that, seeing St. Martin’s Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Bratislava.
The Cathedral of St Martin’s was a coronation temple of the Hungarian Kingdom between the 16th and 19th centuries. A 300 kg replica of the gold-plated Hungarian royal crown on the top of the tower honours the cathedral’s historical role. The original crown is on display in Budapest, Hungary.
Other highlights are Gothic architecture, stained glass windows and a statue of St. Stephen. You can even visit the underground crypts of the cathedral (for a fee). St. Martin’s Cathedral is also famous for its curiosities. One of them is a prehistoric fossil imprinted on one of the limestone blocks. The other one is a small object at the top right of the main entrance.
It is hard to believe, but this 15th-century object is, in fact, a toilet. Sitting on this toilet was, however, dangerous. You could get shot with an arrow.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can visit St. Martin’s Cathedral from 9 am – 11.30 am and 1 pm – 6 pm between Monday and Friday. Tourists can see it on Saturday only between 9 am and 11.30 and on Sunday between 1.45 pm and 4.30 pm.
3. Michael’s Gate
It’s easy to see why many tourists put Michael’s Gate high on their bucket list when exploring attractions in Bratislava. Michael’s Gate, or Michalská brána in Slovak, is the only remaining city gate from the fortified wall that once surrounded Bratislava. It dates back to the 1300s and played an important role in the city’s defence.
In the past, four city gates protected the entrance to the city. Michael’s Gate was one of them. It got its name from the nearby church of St. Michael, which once stood before the fortification.
Michael’s Gate, with its onion-shaped roof, is 51 metres (167 ft) tall. Its design is a result of the baroque reconstruction from the 18th century. That’s when the locals added the statue of St. Michael and the Dragon on its top. They even added a time box to the head of the statue. It contains the relics of saints and documents from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today, visiting Michael’s Gate is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this iconic building is one of the oldest town buildings. What’s more, Michael’s Gate houses the Bratislava City Museum, where you can find weaponry from the Middle Ages. Also, you can see documents and models showcasing the history of the city walls.
Also, don’t forget to climb the tower and visit the balcony, which offers some of the best views of the Old Town, a castle and the surrounding area.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Entry fee to the museum and the balcony of Michael’s Gate cost 6 euros (as of October 2023). The big, heavy door to the tower is to the right of the archway. You can buy tickets at the Pharmacy at the Red Crab at 28 Michalska Street, which is only 20 metres away. Michael’s Gate is open every day except Tuesday from 10 am until 6 pm.
Don’t miss the narrowest house in Bratislava and also in Europe. You can find this 1.3 metres wide house on the right side, next to Michael’s Gate. Also, a zero-kilometre metal map beneath the gate shows the distances of other famous cities from Bratislava.
4. Main Square in Bratislava
Main Square or Hlavne Namestie, as the locals call it.
If you find yourself in the Old Town, head to the Main Square. You can find it only a short walk from Michael’s Gate. This charming square with beautiful old buildings was once a marketplace.
Today, the Main Square is the beating heart of the Old Town and a hub of cultural events. It is one of the top attractions in Bratislava because the Main Square has beautiful architecture. Also, it has a mix of historic buildings that represent various architectural styles, such as Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. The highlights of this square are the Old Town Hall, the Primate’s Palace and the 16th-century Roland Fountain.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Christmas Markets have a long tradition in Bratislava. The Main Square usually transformed into a fairy-tale Christmas Market at the end of November.
5. Old Town Hall in Bratislava
The yellow Old Town Hall – one of the oldest stone buildings still standing in the city.
Many tourists leave once they explore the Main Square, but it is worth visiting the Old Town Hall. The Old Town Hall dates back to the 15th century and consists of three townhouses joined together. Together, they create a remarkable complex. It shows a unique architectural development from the 14th to the 20th century.
Visiting the Old Town Hall is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this unusual building is the oldest city hall in Slovakia. The Old Town Hall houses the oldest museum in the city (the Bratislava City Museum), where you can learn more about Pressburg’s history. Also, don’t forget to climb the yellow tower, which offers gorgeous views of the Old Town and the square below.
Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte bombarded Bratislava in the 19th century? Fortunately, his siege was unsuccessful, and a cannonball stuck in the tower wall remains only as a reminder. You can see it when you stand outside of the Old Town Hall on the Main Square.
Visit the Old Town Hall and learn about Bratislava’s past. Not only this complex was a town hall, but also a mint, prison and a place of trade and celebrations. Afterwards, enjoy breathtaking views from the top of the tower.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The Old Town Hall is open every day except Monday from 10 am until 6 pm. The entry fee to Old Town Hall and Apponyi Palace is 8 euros.
6. The Blue Church in Bratislava
We also recommend you check out St. Elizabeth’s Church on Bezručova Street. You can find this pretty Catholic church from the 20th century just east of the Old Town. Everyone refers to it as the Blue Church. The reason is more than obvious – the Blue Church has a striking blue colour outside and inside.
Seeing the Blue Church is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this unusual church is a perfect example of Art Nouveau architecture. Also, the Blue Church, which looks like blue and white icing sugar, is one of the most famous attractions in Bratislava.
Originally, the church served as a school chapel for the nearby grammar school. Hungarian architect Edmund Lechner designed both structures in the 20th century.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The opening times of the Blue Church are very short, but it holds services every day. You can go inside Mon-Sat between 6.30 and – 7.30 am. Alternatively, see it on Sunday between 7.30 am and 12pm. Alternatively, visit before the service (Mon–Sat at 6 pm, or Sun 8 am, 9.30 am, 11 am and 6 pm).
7. Devin Castle
Did you know that Bratislava has not one but two castles? That is right, Bratislava has also castle ruins. You can find Devin Castle on the outskirts of Bratislava, around 10 km away from the city centre. This ruined fortress stands on a high cliff near a place where the Danube and Morava Rivers meet.
Exploring Devin Castle is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this is one of the three oldest castles in Slovakia. Devin was once part of the northern border of the Roman Empire in the 1st – 4th centuries AD. It is a symbol of Slovak heritage and one of the most important archaeological sites in Central Europe.
Devin Castle has a rich history and offers beautiful views of the area.
Over a thousand years old Devin Castle has witnessed various battles and changes of rulers during its long history. Today, you can explore its crumbling ramparts, watchtowers and courtyards. One of the highlights is also a museum where you can learn more about its history and legends.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The entry ticket to Devin Castle costs 8 euros for an adult and 4 euros for students and children. Devin Castle is not open on Mondays and in case of snow and ice from November until March. Opening times of Devin Castle are 10 am – 4pm in February and 10 am – 5 pm in March and October. You can visit Devin Castle from 10 am – 6 pm in April, May and September. The opening times of Devin Castle are 10 am – 7 pm during the peak season (June – August).
HOW TO GET THERE:
To get to Devin Castle, take bus number 28 or 29 at “the stop Most SNP” – it’s under the UFO bridge. You will need to get off the bus at the bus stop DEVIN (it’s the last stop of bus number 29). It will take you about 20 minutes to get there.
8. Boat tour down the Danube
If you have a spare hour (or more) while visiting Bratislava, join a boat tour on the second-longest river in Europe. There are a few tours to choose from. Also, they are an excellent way to experience Bratislava.
Joining a boat tour is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because you can see the city from a different perspective. You can spot the main attractions in Bratislava, such as Bratislava Castle, the beautiful waterfront and the bridge SNP with the UFO observation tower. The Bratislava circuit tour lasts approximately 45 minutes. The Devin cruise tour is longer, so you have enough time to explore Devin Castle.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Sightseeing boat tours in Bratislava start in spring and finish in October.
9. UFO observation deck, Bratislava
If you are looking for unusual attractions in Bratislava, add the Most SNP to your bucket list. The official name of this bridge translates to the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising. Many people refer to this bridge on the southern bank of the Danube River as the UFO Bridge.
The Most SNP is one of the best places to visit in Bratislava because this unusual bridge is one of the most recognizable city symbols. This 330 m (1082 ft) long bridge is the world’s longest single-pylon suspension bridge in the world. It’s the most famous for its flying saucer structure on the top.
Visiting the UFO observation deck is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this one-of-a-kind attraction offers the best views of Bratislava. Moreover, the Most SNP also has a restaurant and a bar at the top of the tower (reservation required). You can even book the UFO Skywalk and enjoy the view of Bratislava from a different perspective.
You can see the Most SNP with a flying saucer-shaped observation area on every postcard in the city.
Pay an extra € 3.50, and you can visit the UFO observation tower during the day and night.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The UFO Skywalk is a seasonal adrenaline attraction (April – October). You need to book your tickets well in advance. You can visit an observation deck every day from 10 am until 11 pm. The entry fee to the UFO observation deck costs €9,90 for an adult (JAN-MARCH all day, or APRIL -DEC 10 am-1 pm). Expect to pay €11.90 if you visit the UFO observation deck from 1 pm – 11 pm between April and December.
10. Slavin War Memorial
Though you may not find it on the cover of a tourism magazine, the Slavin War Memorial is also one of the popular attractions in Bratislava. It is because this structure is one of the largest war memorials in Central Europe. Slavin is a National Cultural Monument and one of the best attractions in Bratislava because of its views of the city. Slavin is also a perfect place for a walk.
As the name suggests, this monument honours the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War in the territory of western Slovakia. This over-60-years-old landmark is an example of the monumental style of Soviet war monuments. It’s 42 metre (137 ft) tall and has a 12 metre (40 ft) tall statue of a soldier on the top.
The Slavin War Memorial is a peaceful resting place for the 6,845 Soviet soldiers. It represents a gratitude to the Russian victims and other Soviet Nations who defeated the Nazis in 1945. On the walls of the foundations, you can see the names of the Slovak cities and the dates when the Red Army liberated them.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can find Slavin War Memorial in one of the middle of the most expensive residential districts in the city. It stands on a hilltop overlooking Bratislava, and its terraces offer beautiful views.
11. Hviezdoslav Square, Bratislava
The square got its name after Slovakia’s most beloved poet Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav.
If there is one more square you should visit, it is Hviezdoslav Square, or Hviezdoslavovo namestie, as the locals call it. This leafy square is one of the popular attractions in Bratislava because it is a popular meeting point. A pedestrianized Hviezdoslav Square has many bars and restaurants. It also hosts a Christmas market in December. Moreover, Hviezdoslav Square has a stage for cultural events. It also has a lovely fountain and a statue of a famous Slovakian poet.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can find the Slovak National Theatre and the Slovak Philharmonic next to the square.
12. Grassalkovich Palace
The Grassalkovich Palace, with a fountain in the shape of the Earth, symbolizes freedom.
You cannot take a trip to Bratislava without seeing the Grassalkovich Palace. This beautiful rococo summer palace with a French garden dates back to the 18th century. The locals built it for Hungarian aristocrat Grassalkovich. He was a close friend of Empress Maria Theresa.
Seeing the Grassalkovich Palace is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because this beautiful palace is the official residence of Slovakia’s president. Even though you cannot visit it inside, you can explore the gardens behind it. Don’t miss a statue of the Empress Maria Theresa, who ordered the construction of this beautiful building.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can find the Grassalkovich Palace on Hodzovo namestie (square), just north of the Old Town. The gardens of the Grassalkovich Palace are not open until the end of 2023 for revitalization.
The gardens of Grassalkovich Palace are usually open to the public every day from 10 am – 7 pm (Jan – March and Oct–Dec). You can visit it in April and May until 8 pm or June – Sept until 10 pm.
13. Primate’s Palace, Bratislava
One of the beautiful places to visit in Bratislava is the Primate’s Palace or Primaciálny palác in Slovak language. This beautiful pale pink neoclassical palace in the Old Town is the seat of Bratislava’s mayor. Unlike Grassalkovich, the 18th-century Primate’s Palace remains open to the public for tours.
Exploring the luxurious Primate’s Palace is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because it is one of the most beautiful classicist buildings in Slovakia. Moreover, Napoleon and the Holy Roman Emperor signed a peace treaty ‘The Peace of Pressburg’, in 1805.
The highlights are the beautiful salons and the Hall of Mirrors decorated in red and gold. Also, don’t miss a rare collection of English tapestries from the 17th century and portraits of Hungarian rulers in the picture gallery. There is also a beautiful fountain with a statue of St George.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The Primate’s Palace is open every day except Mondays from 10 am until 5 pm. The entry fee to the Primate’s Palace is 3 euros for an adult.
14. Find Bratislava statues
Did you know Bratislava is famous for numerous quirky statues, which present perfect photo opportunities? Just open your eyes, and you will spot them as you walk in the Old Town.
One of the most famous Bratislava statues is certainly Cumil (“Man at Work”). This cheeky-looking sewer worker coming off a manhole is an unmotivated communist-era worker taking a break. The locals installed the statue of the sewer worker as a joke. Today, Cumil is one of the popular attractions in Bratislava and one of the most photographed statues in the city. You can find a statue of Cumil at the junction of Laurinska and Panska Street (near the Main Square).
Napoleon’s Army Soldier
One of the popular attractions in Bratislava is a statue of Napoleon’s Army soldier. This is also a popular photo spot located on the Main Square. This famous statue commemorates two occasions – the arrival of Napoleon’s army and a love story. According to a legend, one of Napoleon’s men fell in love with a local girl and decided to stay in the city. After that, he began making his own sparkling wine and named it after himself, Hubert. Today, Hubert is the oldest and the most famous producer of sparkling wine in Slovakia.
Also, don’t miss a statue of Schone Naci located on the corner of the Main square. This statue depicts a beloved character in Bratislava. The son of a shoemaker had an infectious sense of joy. He would greet people and make everyone smile wherever he went.
Hans Christian Andersen
Many people are surprised to find a statue of the famous Danish author in Bratislava. Christian Andersen fell in love with Bratislava when he visited the city. That is why the locals decided to commemorate his life and work with his statue for his 200th birth anniversary. You can find the statue of Hans Christian Andersen in the Hviezdoslavovo Square.
15. Kamzik TV Tower, Bratislava
If you like hiking and have any energy left, find Kamzik TV Tower. A 196-metre (643 ft) tall Kamzik Tower sits on the Kamzik Hill in the Koliba area of Bratislava. You can find it in the Bratislava Forest Park, overlooking the city.
Visiting Kamzik TV Tower is one of the best things to do in Bratislava because it offers a network of hiking and cycling trails. Also, Kamzik TV Tower has a restaurant and an observation deck which offers beautiful views of Bratislava and its neighbouring countries.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Arrive by car or catch the 201 trolleybus from the centre, which heads up to the Koliba terminus. After that, follow a sign and walk through the forest. You can also take a chair lift from Zelezna Studnicka (another forest park) to Kamzik. The entry fee to the Kamzik TV Tower’s observation deck costs 5 euros for an adult.
Now you know what the best things to do in Bratislava are!
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