Things to do in Bratislava

Things to do in  Bratislava

Where to start with Slovakia

Bratislava may not be the only European capital sitting along the Danube River, but the Slovakian capital certainly makes the most of its riverside setting. Bratislava Castle watches over the river with its gleaming white exterior, while the downright unusual Most SNP bridge, better known as the UFO Bridge, joins the city’s two banks. But it’s the city’s compact and walkable Old Town and surrounding streets where travelers will run into the bulk of the best things to do in Bratislava, from palace museums to playful statues and blue churches.

Top 14 attractions in Bratislava

Bratislava Castle (Bratislavsky Hrad)

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Perched atop a forested hill on the north bank of the Danube River, overlooking the Old Town (Stary Mesto), Bratislava Castle(Bratislavsky Hrad) is the city’s most distinctive landmark. Visible from all over the city, the grand Renaissance palace dates back to the 16th century and now houses the Museum of History, part of the Slovak National Museum.More

Bratislava Old Town (Stare Mesto)

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The Old Town (Stare Mesto) of Bratislava is the historic heart of the Slovakian capital. The neighborhood consists of a medieval castle, restored buildings, cobblestoned alleyways, and beautiful palaces. This small district is also packed with history, nightlife, eateries, and shopping for visitors to explore and discover.More

Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské Národné Divadlo)

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An important institution of Slovakian culture and a symbolic landmark in Bratislava, the Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské Národné Divadlo or SND for short) is a splendid Neo-Renaissance building in the city’s Old Town. Since 1886 it has hosted performances of opera, ballet, and drama within its plush, red velvet, and gilded auditorium.More

St. Martin's Cathedral (Dóm Sv. Martina)

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With its 279-foot (85-meter) spire, St. Martin’s Cathedral is Bratislava’s largest church and a defining fixture of the Old Town’s skyline. The current Gothic cathedral was built over an earlier basilica and consecrated in 1452. A crown atop its spire symbolizes the 11 Hungarian monarchs crowned inside the cathedral between 1563 and 1830.More

Primate's Palace (Primaciálny Palác)

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Right in the heart of Bratislava is the neoclassical Primate's Palace (Primaciálny Palác), with its pink facade. What was once the archbishop’s residence now serves as the seat of Bratislava’s mayor and hosts the city council. This architectural jewel is where Napoleon signed the Peace of Pressburg in 1805 after the Battle of Austerlitz.More

Grassalkovich Palace (Grasalkovicov Palac)

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Once home to aristocrats and now home to the Slovakian president, Grassalkovich Palace on the northern edge of Bratislava’s Old Town has been a vital landmark of the city since its construction in 1760. Its white-washed Baroque exterior and monumental modern fountain make a bold statement, as do the surrounding formal French gardens.More

Devin Castle (Devinsky Hrad)

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Just outside Bratislava, Devin Castle (Devinsky Hrad) shows Slovakia’s oldest traces of Slavic settlement, from the ninth century. The castle changed hands many times and was renovated until it was blown up during the 19th-century Napoleonic wars. The castle remains are now a Slovak national symbol and feature stunning panoramic views from the towers.More

UFO Observation Deck

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Bratislava’s UFO Observation Deck isn’t quite as it seems: rather than a place to spot visitors from outer space, it’s a restaurant and observation deck on top of the New Bridge (Nový Most spanning the Danube River. Its circular design, though, does in fact resemble a UFO.More

Michael's Gate (Michalska Brana)

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Built in the 14th century, Michael's Gate (Michalska Brana) is the only remaining medieval gate in Bratislava that has been preserved. The tower was reconstructed in the 18th century, at which point it was crowned with a statue of the archangel Saint Michael famously slaying a dragon. These days, the gate's tower houses the Museum of Arms, part of the Bratislava City Museum.More

Hlavne Namestie

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Hlavne Namestie is the main square in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is located in the center of the city in the Old Town. Throughout the year, vendors sell crafts and other souvenirs in the square, and during the Christmas season, this is the place to come for the city's Christmas markets. Other festivals, concerts, and outdoor events are also held in the main square. One of the most significant buildings on the square is the Old Town Hall. Though refurbished, it has been in use since 1434, and you can still see the preserved underpass that was built in 1442 to allow people to enter the building from the square.Visitors can also see a line on the Town Hall building marking the water level of the Danube River during terrible flooding in February 1850. The Bratislava City Museum has an exhibition of the history of the city inside the Old Town Hall building. The main square charms visitors with its Renaissance-style fountain and many outdoor cafes.More

Bratislava Old Town Hall (Stara Radnica)

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Stara Radnica is the Old Town Hall in the center of Bratislava, Slovakia. It is in the city's Old Town, and aside from serving as the town hall from the 15th through the 19th centuries, it was also used as a prison, a mint, an arsenal depository, a municipal archive, and it was a place of trade and celebrations. It is the country's oldest town hall building and one of the oldest stone buildings still standing in Bratislava. The building has gone through several renovations giving it characteristics of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Renaissance styles. Today it serves as the Bratislava City Museum.Visitors can see displays in the museum that tell of the city's history starting with the Middle Ages and the feudal justice system. Items include torture instruments, dungeons, antique weapons, armor, paintings, and much more. You can also climb the tower to reach the viewing platform at the top where you'll be rewarded with great views of the main square and city.More
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Franciscan Square (Frantiskanske Namestie)

Franciscan Square (Frantiskanske Namestie)

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In the heart of Bratislava's compact Old Town, Franciscan Square (Frantiskanske Namestie) is home to the historic Franciscan Church, whose baroque façade belies the fact that it was constructed in the late 13th century. The square is lined with old baroque rowhouses, and there's a small café with indoor and outdoor seating on one side.More

Open-Air Mining Museum (Slovenské Banské Múzeum)

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Set in the Stiavnicke Vrchy Mountains near the town of Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia’s Open-Air Mining Museum (Slovenské Banské Múzeum) is one of a kind and not for the faint of heart. Mining in the area dates back to the 3rd century B.C. and the area boasted one of the richest silver deposits in the Middle Ages. Gunpowder was used here for the first time ever in 1627 and over the two centuries that followed, the region was home to most of the major developments in mining and metallurgy, as well as forestry and chemistry.Visitors have the opportunity to descend into an underground mining pit that stretches for 1300 meters underground, with the deepest section laying 45 meters below the surface. During the 90 minute tour, visitors learn about the history of mining in the Stiavnicke Vrchy Mountains and see exhibits showing both current and obsolete mining techniques and technologies, including drilling technology and methods for transporting ore. Above ground, exhibits include original mining buildings and an exposition about the geological development of the country.More
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Orava Castle (Oravský Hrad)

Orava Castle (Oravský Hrad)

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Set on a hill above the Orava River in northern Slovakia, the Orava Castle (Oravský Hrad) is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. Built in the 13th century while the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, the castle stands on the site of an old wooden fortification that was built to protect from Mongol invasions. While it was originally designed in the Romanesque and Gothic styles, it was later rebuilt as Renaissance and neo-Gothic.Today, the castle is home to the Orava Museum, one of the oldest in Slovakia. The museum features multiple exhibitions, including an ethnographic exhibition focused on Orava regional folk culture that is located in the Dubovsky Palace within the castle. The natural history exhibition displays photographs of the natural history of the region, rock and mineral specimens and paleontological findings. An archaeological exhibition features findings from excavations at the castle itself and the historical exhibition documents the castle’s transformation over time. Also worth seeing are the castle’s chapel, the Knights’ Room, the Painting Gallery and the Weapon Room.More
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All about Bratislava

When to visit

Bratislava experiences the same summer surge of tourists as its neighboring capitals, in part because so many people visit on day trips from Budapest and Vienna. Combine the crowds with hot, humid weather and relatively few festivals or events, and you’d be advised to skip a midyear visit. Wait until early autumn, and you get more comfortable weather, fewer tourists, and the city’s signature festival, the Bratislava Music Festival in September/October.

Getting around

Travelers to Bratislava have the best of both worlds. It’s a small city that is comfortably walkable but also one with affordable and easy-to-use public transport. Trams circle around the city’s historic center and run out to the main train station, while buses allow you to reach the main bus station, as well as hilltop attractions such as Bratislava Castle and the Slavín memorial without too much uphill walking.

Traveler tips

Vienna doesn’t have exclusive ownership of “coffee and cake” in central Europe; head to the Franz Xaver Messerschmidt coffeehouse north of the Old Town to experience Bratislava’s take on the practice. Similarly, the Old Town isn’t the only place in Bratislava with attractions—take the Blue Church of St. Elizabeth, several blocks east of the Old Town, or Devín Castle up river from the city, as examples.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code
+421
Language(s)
Slovak
Attractions
14
Tours
186
Reviews
1,897
EN
0b1572ee-7535-4193-a5bf-0df4be8583a0
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People Also Ask

What is Bratislava known for?

Bratislava is known for being the capital city of Slovakia. It’s also famous for being located among hills on the Danube river and for having a lively nightlife scene.

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How many days are enough for Bratislava?

Two days in Bratislava is enough to comfortably explore the city as it is not terribly large by international standards, even though it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovakia.

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Can I use euro in Bratislava?

Yes, the euro can be used in Bratislava as it is the official currency of Slovakia and has been since 2009.

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Do they speak English in Bratislava?

Increasingly, English is spoken in Bratislava as a second language, especially among young people and those working within the tourism industry.

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Is Bratislava good for shopping?

Yes, Bratislava is a common shopping destination for residents of Vienna. They are lured across the border by the affordable prices of its shopping malls.

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Is Bratislava worth visiting?

Yes, it’s worth visiting Bratislava to see its atmospheric old town, admire its Danube riverfront, and gain some insight into Slovakia’s culture.

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