Have you ever found yourself on a train to Slovakia with little to no idea of what to expect? **crickets** Hmmm, maybe that was just me? Going in, I had fuzzy ideas of mountains and communism, but was unsure of how to fill an entire day in Bratislava. If you find yourself in a similar situation or if you’re actually planning ahead (major props to you!), then read along for tips about what you can do in Bratislava and my top five fun photos ops for the city. Even better, you can book a round trip catamaran tour from Vienna ahead of time and have all the details handled for you! For more about what to do in Vienna, check out my ultimate Vienna Bucket List!
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and located along the Danube River near the borders with Hungary and Austria. The old town is pedestrian-only, and outside of the city, you’ll find vineyards, hiking trails, and forests. Bratislava is known for its unique history, lively café scene, and local cuisine. Plus, the city offers unique photo spots, so I’d recommend taking the day to explore the city and working in these top five photo ops around Bratislava.
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Historic Old Town Bratislava
My favorite part of Old Town Bratislava is that it was car-free. That’s right—pedestrians rule the road. After a couple hectic days dodging hurtling taxis and crazy Vespa drivers in Vienna, this was right up my alley. Take some time to stroll around, pop your head into a couple shops, nibble on some authentic Slovak cuisine, and of course, snap some pics for your Insta!
Bratislava Castle (Hrad)
Within walking distance of Old Town is the Bratislava Castle. Seated on a hill with views of the Danube River, the castle in a main tourist attraction in Bratislava. The castle is supremely old (built in the 9th century), and to my eyes looked surprisingly good for hitting its 1,200th birthday. I later learned that there were a series of restorations, and not gonna lie, I felt kind of cheated/ less impressed.
Skyline view of Bratislava
After viewing the castle, reward yourself with some beautiful views of the Bratislava skyline. Trust me on this—one walk up the hill is enough, so you’ll want to take advantage while you’re already up there instead of realizing that later. Bratislava also offers official Grand City Tours that will show you the most famous sites.
Busses are available to take you up the hill, but I’m moderately (read: majorly, but trying not to sound crazy) addicted to my Fitbit, so I obviously walked. Gotta get those 10,000 steps every day!
Sooo…I got a wee bit lost climbing back down and ended up strolling through some gorgeous neighborhoods around Old Town. The buildings are all so colorful. In case this happens to you, take some time and smell the roses (or whatever flowers you happen to stumble upon.) If you’re interested, there’s a Soviet Era and Post Communist Tour that will take you even further off the beaten track!
If you want to follow in my footsteps, take some time to wander through the cobblestone streets. Along the way, enjoy an iced coffee. (I believe that is what I ordered, but we had no common languages, so who knows?) It’s exciting to put your maps away and just immerse yourself in the city.
Church of St. Elisabeth
This was possibly my favorite part of Bratislava. I’m a die-hard UNC Tar Heel, so I am obsessed with any and all things Carolina blue. Imagine my excitement when I found an entire church that was painted in that wonderful shade. You’re probably not going to imagine how excited I was, so let me tell you—like a kid on Christmas that gets to meet the real Santa Claus. I’m aware this may seem over the top for some random blue church on in Bratislava, but whatever. I like what I like.
It’s definitely eye-catching, so if you’re in the mood to take a stroll outside Bratislava’s city center, this little church is an excellent candidate for some colorful Snaps or exclusive Insta pics!
If you’re considering hitting up Bratislava for a day, do it! Please share in the comments below any other awesome photo ops or must-see attractions the city has to offer.