Discover Bratislava – The Slovak metropolis on the Danube
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and located directly on the Danube. With 420,000 inhabitants and an area of 365 square kilometers, Bratislava is the vibrant and economic heart of Slovakia. This post describes the sights in detail and provides more information about them. You can read an overview of Bratislava with the most important sights for a day in the post “Bratislava in 24 hours – 1 day in Bratislava“.
Arrival to Bratislava – Getting there
The journey to Bratislava can be made by car, train, bus, plane or even ship. Often, a visit to Bratislava is part of a river cruise, for example on the way to the Black Sea. Other Bratislava visitors come with the Twin Liner from Vienna to the day visit. However, if you want to experience Bratislava relaxed and cheap, should arrive by public transport: There are numerous connections and frequent actions (ÖBB) or reductions with certain advantage cards (for example, the Vienna Pass). Apart from the Bratislava airport (cheap bus to the center), the stations, berths and train stations are right in the center of the Slovak capital.
The most important and famous sights of Bratislava is of course the old town with its beautiful buildings. Apart from the city center, of course, Bratislava Castle with its spectacular views of the old town and the surrounding region. On good days you can see the wind turbines of Austria as well as the Hungarian plain. In addition, one of Bratislava’s top attractions is the UFO tower and the famous Cumil (sewer worker).
An important piece of advice: Do not just lower your head to the ground in Bratislava so as not to fall over the Cumil (a sewer worker), but also lift it up and admire the beautiful facades of the old houses.
The ascent to the historic ruling seat of Castle Bratislava takes place either from St. Martin’s Cathedral via a steep path and stairs or by public transport (bus). Already during the ascent on foot the view over the Danube to the UFO lookout tower, the Danube and the city can be enjoyed. The 85 vertical meters of the foothills of the Little Carpathians pass away in the unique view in no time. Incidentally, the castle was built in the 9th century, but the mountain was inhabited since the Stone Age.
View from the castle
At the top of the plateau there are numerous benches and a garden to relax and enjoy the view over the old town. Also in the direction of Danube and UFO lookout tower there are numerous different platforms, so if one is crowded simply another can be considered. Many visitors used this for a spectacular selfie about Bratislava. There is also a coffee with a spacious terrace and a wonderful view over the old town. The prices are however in the elevated category.
National History Museum
The National History Museum of Bratislava offers numerous items on Slovak history. On the ground floor there are excavations and precious stones to discover. A much bigger highlight, however, is the staircase, which is lined with a red carpet. Where else is there a chance to step over a red carpet and feel like a king / queen? Taking a picture here on your own seems to be impossible. However, the exclusive red carpet extends to the second floor, so it is often a bit higher on the floor.
On the first floor there are numerous old paintings and on the second floor a variety of culturally important objects (especially jewelry, tools, dishes). On the third floor of the National History Museum there are seals, chests, vases and old books. There is also on the third floor still a small nicely decorated coffee (not overpriced) with a view over the city center. However, only three tables offer the perfect view – and these are often occupied.
Observation Tower of the Castle Bratislava – A wonderful view
A special highlight of Bratislava Castle, however, is the visitable observation tower overlooking the Danube. This can be climbed from the first or second floor via a steep staircase. If you descend to the ground floor in the tower, there is a copy of the Hungarian crown there. Most visitors, however, choose the opposite direction high up. There is still no lift but only relatively steep stairs, with a passing between ascending and descending is almost impossible. Despite the hardships, the view from the top is worthwhile. You will take in Bratislava to the Austrian, Hungarian and Czech borders. However, there is no outdoor area but only windows in the different directions. Unfortunately, some windows are not cleaned, so a good photo from the top is usually not possible.
The National History Museum can be visited free of charge on the first Sunday of each month. The tickets are on the right side before the castle is entered. If you do not pay attention (even if the admission is free), the ticket inspector will send you back to the ticket counter.
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Gardens around the castle
Behind the castle Bratislava is a beautiful and newly designed garden with numerous angel sculptures. This is in the spring and summer, a real blaze of color with a variety of flowers. The paths are wide and also the pattern is worth a photo motive from the stairs. However, there are no benches in the castle garden, so it can only be visited. A relax or enjoy with a magnificent view under a tree is therefore not necessary – a pity.
The entrance to the park is located on the southern side of the castle hill. The easiest way to reach it is when the lock is circled to the right (counterclockwise) when viewed from the front. Unfortunately there is no entrance on the opposite side. The Burggarten can be visited for free during the opening hours. In the garden around the Bratislava Castle, many can be photographed with the beautiful angels and the castle courtyards behind. Again, it takes some patience in the summer to get no crowds on the photo.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
The St. Cathedral looks very imposing from the outside. From the inside, however, it is as empty as the rest of the cathedrals in Europe. Simple and simple, this house of worship is furnished. In the front area there is a glass plate under which skeletons of corpses lie. Otherwise, there are still beautiful high and colorful windows. However, the beautiful window design, the blaze of color when the sun shines through the church and the flair of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, this church does not approach.
From the outside, St. Martin’s Cathedral is well photographed with an old building. The special feature of the building is that it has painted surfaces with motifs and people instead of windows. Once the church is circled, you can also see some beautiful statues, coats of arms and ornaments.
The ascent to the Bratislava Castle begins as soon as the main road is crossed (it is not possible to cross in this area!) From St. Martin’s Cathedral. If you follow the sidewalk, you cross the bridge over the Danube and arrive at the architecturally unique UFO tower.
Blue Church – St. Elizabeth’s Church
The blue church is not only light blue on the outside. Inside, the interior of St. Elizabeth’s Church is decorated in blue. This church should be visited. However, the church is a bit off the center towards the bus station. However, there are only very few churches in Europe, so the uniqueness is simply part of Bratislava.
Cumil – Workman – Sewer Worker
A very special sight in Bratislava is the Cumil, a man who looks out of the canal. But who does not pay attention, has already flown over him. It is located on the way from the main square to the south (Danube) on a street corner of a crossroads. The statue just seems to be pausing from the strenuous work in the canal and resting while at the back there is still an open manhole cover. You should also photograph the warning sign (road sign) to the right of the sewer worker with the inscription “Man at Work”.
Main Square – A “Must” when you discover Bratislava
On the main square of the Old Town Bratislava are beautiful building facades. But also sculptures and street artists can be found there and in the nourishing environment. Near the town hall there is a metal guard in a hut, which still symbolizes the old time. There are also some souvenir shops on the main square. There you can buy magnets, postcards and typical Slovak products. In the middle of the square is also a beautiful fountain. Here you can also look at the manhole covers, which have the castle Bratislava as well as the lettering Bratislava.
The statue with the smiling man with saluting hat is one of the most sought-after photo opportunities in Bratislava. The statue is located at the south-western point of the main square on the way towards Cumil / Danube / UFO lookout tower. Another statue for a perfect photo subject can be found north. The tourists sit on the bench while a statue hugs them from behind.
In a northerly direction the “pub” alley branches off, in which one pub after another ranks. In addition, there is an old-established coffee house (historic pastry shop) in this street. Even if you do not feel like having coffee, you should at least take a look through the glass windows: numerous paintings, dolls with old clothes and a mechanical puppetry. Just a few meters further on is a Mexican on the roof of a pub. It seems like he’s going to nap there.
Michael’s Passage / Michael’s Gate
After the pub alley, it goes into the alley, which leads to the Michael’s Gate. This alley is a very busy shopping street with many souvenir shops. Here you will also find regional and artistic souvenirs at cheaper prices than at the main square. Directly below the Michaelstor (a passageway of a former church) on the ground is a sunken compass. This time the main cities and their distance (for example, Vienna is only 57 kilometers away, Tokyo 9,142 kilometers and Lima brings it to 11,303 kilometers). After the Michaelstor there is also the opportunity to photograph the castle from below and to visit the dried out moat.
On the way from Michaelstor back to the main square, you will pass the oldest shop in Bratislava. This is furnished with its cabinets just as much as formerly Aunt Emma stores. You recognize the shop by the sign “Oldest Store of Bratislava”. In addition, the Oldest Store offers a free small museum with old antique pieces from the time as well as old registration and payment cash registers. Here you can also buy the typical Slovak “Pressburger Kipferl” with walnut or poppy filling for less than one Euro. The delicious Kipferl should not be missed on any Bratislava trip and definitely be tried. With the delicious nut filling it tastes very close to a nut crown. Of course, there are also other Slovak delicacies here.
The old City Hall
The old town hall stands out with its church tower and offers a passage from the main square to the square in front of the Primate’s Palace. From the main square you can see the facade, the colorful window decorations and the colorful roof. In the courtyard of the old town hall is also the Münzmuseum.
On the square in front of the Primate’s Palace is a fountain and the Municipal Council of Bratislava. In addition, the tourist information is housed in this square, in which there is next to brochures and maps and a small souvenir shop.
The view of the Primatialpalais should first be laid up to see the beautiful roof decorations. On the right side – still in the entrance of the Primatialpalais – is a plaque for the loss of further parts of the Austrian Empire (Pressburger Frieden 26.12.1805). The Austrian Emperor Franz lost the lands of Veneto, Istria, Dalmatia and Tyrol. In the palace is a fountain with a knight who is fighting with a multi-headed dragon. In the backyard there are still five angels in front of a beautiful ivy wall and a fountain with the water running out of a man’s face.
UFO tower – Discover Bratislava from above
The UFO lookout tower has an observation deck, as well as a bar / cafe and a restaurant. The drinks are normal price level while the food and the menus are unfortunately very overpriced. However, if you decide to have a meal, you can visit the viewing platform for free (only with a meal – not with a drink or cocktail).
The tower is reached directly via the “New Danube Bridge” comfortably and in a few minutes from the old town. If you come across the bridge, all you have to do is get off a stick. On this side of the river there is also a large park to relax in the summer under shady trees and a large shopping center for the shopkeepers.
Due to the inclined position of the 90 meter high tower, the lift also drives up a slightly sloping tower pillar. However, this can be guessed only by the noise and the acceleration of the lift. Unfortunately, the lift does not offer glass windows to enjoy the view. The last piece to the observation deck must be covered on stairs.
The view from the top is spectacular and the panorama ranges from Bratislava to Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. In addition, there is an elevation in the direction of the old town especially for children and small people on the viewing platform.
Information about the view and the lookout tower
- On the viewing platform Bratislava can be experienced day and night, but this place is very windy. Therefore, a jacket or a sweater should be taken. The observation deck is not covered.
- Due to the toilets, which are located directly underneath, there are regular scent clouds. The architects could have solved this a little better.
- At the platform the telescope is rusty, squeaks and is limited in the field of view – so it’s free. The castle can be admired by the telescope thus even more accurate. Surely you can discover other interesting buildings in Bratislava?
- Visitors should also visit the toilets, which offer a view of Bratislava (but not on the city center side). Do not worry, from the inside they are very well maintained and odorless.
The old market hall
The old market hall is currently being converted into an event location. It offers parquet / carpeting and a gallery / balcony. Otherwise, this is a normal old high-rise market hall made of steel.
In front of the old market hall is a fountain and a man in gold with a radio instead of a head (Radio Head Award). On the square in front of it also meet the tram lines and there is a McDonalds (for example, for a coffee) and the supermarket chain Lidl (possibility to buy fresh cheap sweets / baked goods).
Culinary Bratislava offers a very rich program. Above all, local cuisine is still very important in Bratislava. The price ranges from cheap to expensive – although in part the location justifies the surcharge. Nice places are the cafe in the castle Bratislava on the third floor with a view (but only three windows with perfect view), the restaurant on the castle plateau (beautiful view but only small and eingeschärnkte food selection) and the restaurant on the UFO tower (menus are unfortunately very expensive). Otherwise, in the city center can be chosen from numerous restaurants, snack bars and fast food restaurants, which are usually recognized with a knight in front of the front door.
Pub Street has a variety of pubs and a well-established coffee house. But across the city, the bars are scattered, which attract with very reasonable prices. Especially the Pressburger Kipferl, which you can buy in some souvenir stores or restaurants, should be tried. There are no obvious takeaway shops in Bratislava at the moment. But maybe in the future you will discover some in Bratislava.
In the city center there are countless souvenir shops, which have adapted to tourists and set. However, a price comparison is worthwhile here, as the prices often differ. In addition, there are also artist shops and regional shops which offer Slovak delicacies. Many shops and shopping centers are also open on Sundays (for tourists). The prices are about 15% cheaper than in Austria, with certain products (for example, fuel) is also quite noticeably more expensive.
Toilets in Bratislava
There are WC facilities in the museums (for example in the National History Museum Bratislava Castle), on the UFO tower and in most restaurants. Otherwise, there are toilets in McDonald’s shops, which charge € 0.50 per visit – for a cheap coffee or snack, however, are free. There are also toilets in the (larger) shopping centers.
Pictures / Gallery to discover Bratislava
Here you can enjoy some insights from Bratislava.