Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. Population wise, it’s one of the smaller capital cities in Europe with 400,000 people in it. The river Danube runs through the centre of Bratislava, with multiple bridges linking the left and right banks.
Taking into account that Bratislava is a small city, I planned a one night/2 day midweek visit in September. Before my departure, I assembled my 2 days in Bratislava itinerary. I did this to ensure that I kept myself busy while in Bratislava, and to have the most minimal amount of downtime.
Some traditional tourist attractions were added to this itinerary, such as a visit to the Old Town and castle. However, I wanted to add at least one less popular item to the list, and that item was the Iron Curtain bike tour.
My first day in Bratislava was jam-packed with activities. From when I first arrived at my accommodation, it was go go go! I enjoyed my time walking around the Old Town as I found it peaceful and full of pretty cobbled streets and old buildings. The highlight for me was my visit to Bratislava Castle; the panoramic views of the city from here are breathtaking.
Before I arrived in Bratislava, I read about a pretty blue church, so I wanted to see it once I got here. Luckily, it was very close to where I was staying, so I walked to the church within 10 minutes on my way to the Old Town. The Church of St. Elizabeth is its proper title, and there were some other tourists around. I took some photos and moved on.
It took me about another 10-minute walk to get into the heart of Old Town Bratislava. My initial thoughts were that I liked the Old Town. I liked the narrow cobbled streets with the old buildings; the atmosphere was relaxed and wasn't too busy with tourists.
At this point, it was about 3 PM local time, and I was hungry. Conveniently, I found an Irish bar called the Dubliner, so I stopped here for lunch. Afterwards, I explored all of the Old Town, including St. Martin's Cathedral, St. Michael's Gate and the main square.
Old Town Bratislava is brimming with character, and is a must do in Bratislava for any tourist.
Next up, it was onto the castle. From St. Martin's Cathedral, I walked under the UFO Bridge (which I talk about later). It took me about 15 minutes to walk up to Bratislava Castle. The castle is perched on top of a hill with a moderate incline walk up to it. It's a large rectangular building that can be seen for miles around. The entrance fee was about 10 euros to tour the grounds.
I was impressed with the grounds surrounding the castle as they were pristine, and the castle itself was striking. The panoramic views from the castle down on Old Town Bratislava and nearby areas were also spectacular. Definitely a must see in Bratislava Slovakia if you come here!
I stayed for about an hour and was happy with this amount of time. I didn't go inside the castle, and there might have been another fee to enter, but I didn't have a lot of time as it was around 5 PM and I wanted to walk to the UFO restaurant to watch the sunset.
After the Bratislava Castle, I walked across the UFO Bridge, also known locally as the Most SNP (Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising). The bridge has two levels, the top-level being for motor vehicle traffic, and the bottom level being for pedestrians and cyclists. The length of the bridge is over 400 metres.
On the other side of the bridge, there is a flying saucer-shaped restaurant and observation deck at the top of the bridge's 80-metre pylon. Entrance is less than 10 euros, and I took the lift to the top.
I got here before 6 PM, and the sun was due to set in about 30 mins. While waiting, I had a coffee from the restaurant and looked out on the panoramic views of Bratislava. One of the most famous statues in Bratislava is also located right here in the restaurant! It's called the Paparazzi Statue.
Note, the restaurant here is expensive! Just something to keep in mind if you plan to visit this attraction. It is worth coming here though to watch the sunset. I walked out onto the observation deck to watch the sunset beyond the faraway mountains, and it didn't disappoint.
The highlight of the second day of this Bratislava 2 day itinerary was the cycling tour along the Danube River. The cycling tour turned out to be a private tour with just me and the tour guide. Everything was great, and the 2 hours flew by.
I finished up the day by going to a relatively new development called Eurovea. It's bustling with activity and is a nice area to visit as the development is along the Danube. I didn't get as much time here as I wanted, but I was impressed with what I saw.
I set up my Iron Curtain bike tour to begin at 10 AM on Day 2. I had to meet the guide at the office 10 minutes before departure. I showed up early the next morning and was somewhat apprehensive. I met the tour guide, and he got a bike ready for me.
Initial thoughts before I left on the tour were that the tour guide seemed nice and his English was good. The iron curtain divided Europe between Soviet influence and Western influence. The Iron Curtain tour included the following highlights:
The tour started with my tour guide Brano taking me around buildings where significant historical moments played out. He also told me he studied history in university, which upped his street cred, ha! I thought it was an excellent way to start the tour, and gave some background to it.
I must say the tour was quite interactive with Brano checking my knowledge and giving me quizzes as we went along. Maybe he only did this as it was basically a private tour. We cycled through the city centre and westwards along the bank of the Danube.
The weather was fantastic, hot for mid-September, 28 degrees Celsius actually! We stopped on a couple of occasions along the bank of the Danube as he gave me some more past and current information on the city.
We started to cycle further away from the city limits and more into the countryside. It was great to switch it up a bit to get into nature, surrounded by trees and fields. We kept cycling until we reached a little area where we could lock the bikes up by the river and sit down. This was where Brano gave me a famous Eastern European snack, Kofola (similar to coca-cola) and a candy bar!
After our brief refreshment, we cycled to the abandoned WWII bunker. This was one of the many highlights of the tour. It’s camouflaged among the trees, and you would not find it without a local tour guide for sure. We were the only people here, and we went inside.
He gave me a lot of information about how the bunker was utilized during the war, which was interesting. I got another spot quiz here, think I passed anyway! I’ll tell you; the conversations were flowing throughout the 2 hours between myself and Brano; time was breezing by.
Eventually, we got back on the bikes and headed back towards Bratislava. We cycled back on the opposite side of the Danube, through some pretty parks and past the UFO Bridge. We stopped in a park near the UFO for some pictures. Then, we went for an ice-cold beer near the park.
That beer went down too well, ha! It was a nice time wrapping up the tour with Brano over the beer. We cycled back to the office after to drop off the bikes. I said my goodbyes. It was a great way to spend 2 hours!
As I had a bit of time to kill before I left the city for my next destination - Vienna - I went back to Centrum Salvator to check-out after my bike tour. Once I finished checking out, I walked along the Danube until I arrived at Eurovea.
Eurovea is a relatively new and vibrant business, retail and residential complex. You can find lots of restaurants, a shopping mall and apartments here. I recommend visiting it as it’s a lot different from the Old Town. It’s nice in the sense that a lot of the development is along the Danube River. I was satisfied with what I saw in my limited time here. Time was tight as I had a boat to catch.
In one word, yes, Bratislava is well worth a visit. From Old Town to the UFO Bridge, there is more than enough to see and do in Bratislava. The two options I recommend are either a day tour of the city, which is possible from somewhere like Vienna, or a one night stay. This will give you two days to explore Bratislava.
In the time I spent in Bratislava, I got to see and do everything that I wanted. The weather was perfect; it wasn’t too busy with tourists, it’s clean, easily walkable and not overly expensive. Some great reasons right there to give Bratislava serious consideration for your next trip!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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