I happen to be in Bratislava recently and I must admit, its a nice city. A small city, but nice. When I started looking into how many days I should give myself to explore, I kept googling ‘how many days in bratislava?’. Funny enough, almost all posts or articles say you only need 1 day. Just one!
Having plotted all interesting places, I decided I can’t do everything in one day so I gave myself a couple of days (that’s 2) plus an additional so I pace myself and take the time to see the city. See and experience the city, not see the city as a tourist! (Yes, there is a difference!)
Along the way, I’ve met people whom either have visited the city or are visiting the city. Ironically everyone said you just need a day! I am surprised how one could cram to see everything in just one day, but I guess a ‘tourist’ can always do it in 4 hours as the people from tour boats sailing around Danube does it.
Generally I start my first days by joining a free walking tour. I think they are excellent value for money as they operate on a tips basis which you tip at the end of the tour based on your estimated value of their time and info provided. They show you the most important places and/or monuments of the city and range from around 2-3 hours. Once done with the tour, I always go back to see the places that I am more interested in and take some nice photos as souvenirs.
Fort the sake of keeping to the point of this article, places I had mapped were:
- Bratislava castle
- Status of Pavol Hviezdoslav
- Old town hall
- Blue church
- Michael’s gate
- Presidential palace and gardens *
- Slavin war memorial *
- St Martins cathedral
- Primatial palace
- Devin castle *
By walking around the city, I get to take in a lot more than just taking a tour bus. You see different aspects of the city which are normally hidden or tucked away such as the coronation path – a path marked with crowns along the way from the castle to the coronation church.
Taking the walking tour, I managed to cover all above except that are marked in asterisks. Bratislava castle in general can be visited for free as you can get to the main court yard which includes the well and the baroque gardens which are lovely! Almost all of the castle is new and not the old castle anymore and you can only get to a few rooms through the museums, and its not like visiting the state rooms of castles around Europe. I was a bit disappointed, but I got to see up close.
Old town hall building is located in a nicer square and the Primatial palace is also next to it. If you have the time, go up the tower of old town hall (costs only 2.5 euro) and the Prima palace to see their private chapel and the mirror hall (costs only 3 euro!). You can be sneaky enough here and get very close to the furnishings but I advice be considerate.
Blue church is a must see if you are in town. Do not miss it! (It is free)
As I love old things, visiting Devin castle was a highlight for me. If you are coming from Vienna you see this place. It is a mere 20 min bus ride from the city and a wold away from the city life. Located next to Danube, Austria is across the water and also involves tragic history of communism (hint: Iron curtain). Views from the top of the castle is amazing and on a clear day photos are worth a million bucks. Entrance is only 8 euro. If you are feeling adventurous (or romantic) and have the time, why not take the boat back to city (costs 8 euro one way).
Notes: Boat from the city to Devin castle takes 1.5 hours up stream while back to city is only 30 mins downstream. Closed on Mondays.
Considering you do cover most of the sights within the city in the morning (meaning you see them, but not go in the castle, old town hall, primatial palace) and also try and visit Devin castle in the afternoon, it is possible to see all of the above in one day. However, this only involves as I mentioned earlier ‘looking’, and does not involve experiencing what each has to offer in full. For example, you can spend 2 hours at the castle, walking around the precinct and enjoying the expansive views down to the city as well as their new baroque gardens. You can also spend 1-1.5 hours at Devin castle admiring the views and learning about its history, But if you only have 1 day you can visit these places in 15 mins looking at them from outside and clicking away.
Also, do not miss the opportunity to have some local food which are awesome! My favourite was the Bryndzove pirohy…
As of now I have all the time in the world so I decided to spend 3 days here taking it very slow and see all the places and take in all what this small city has to offer. Be a traveller, not a tourist. Choice is yours.