Bratislava, before being the city internationally known for being the set of the first movie of Hostel – a porn/horror movie which is quite popular for some unknown reasons; is the capital of Slovakia.
And if you are still puzzled about what Slovakia is, no, it is not related to “something Czech” anymore (I’m talking to you, average Italians, who still mention and believe in the existence of Czechoslovakia).
Slovakia, as far as I could understand, is a country great for its mountains, goat’s milk and beautiful girls. That is.
I believe this country has a lot more to offer than what it is usually promoted, but I’m not here to talk about it today: this is an average post about what to do and try not to get bored in Bratislava. Nothing more.
(Hinting at the Slovak Tourist Board to notice me and open a collaboration)
Hike to Bratislava Castle
To be honest, this is the activity which is going to take the longest time.
For ‘longest’, I mean that it would take no more than 1 hour and a half to reach it on foot, have a look at the area, take photos and walk down the hill to reach the Old Town. And if you are the kind of person who prefers to walk fast and who doesn’t like to take a shit ton of photos, it would take even less time.
I might dissuade visiting the castle due to its cost and objective lack of artistic value, but I feel obliged to highly recommend a visit to its surroundings because they are definitely worth the while!
The view of the city from the top of the hill is great, and I genuinely believe it is the best place to have a first impression of Bratislava – other than being the perfect spot for those who like posing in front of the camera.
Moreover, the walk up and down the hill is a great chance to have a broader vision of the city’s landscape and surroundings, which is a chance you should not miss if you intend to enjoy Bratislava at the fullest.
The UFO bridge
I must be honest: I had no clue the UFO Bridge even existed before spotting it from the car window when I was making my way into the city.
And I must be honest: the first impact wasn’t the best, but the more time I was spending in Bratislava, the more this building was growing in me.
I might blame in on tourist marketing, because the souvenir depicting this building are dope, but once you give it a fourth or fifth glance at it you realize the UFO Bridge doesn’t look that bad after all.
The UFO part actually hosts a very fancy and expensive restaurants – which I didn’t have the pleasure to be a client of due to my restrictive finances; but it also hosts a viewing desk which provides the visitor with a great view for less than 10 euros.
Frankly, I wasn’t interested in spending any money for the view, and I genuinely believe the panorama you can freely enjoy from Bratislava Castle is good enough.
Stroll around the Old Town and spot the Michalska Brana (Micheal’s Gate)
Michalska Brana, for some unknown reasons, is the symbol of Bratislava.
You find it everywhere and on every souvernir, and far be it from me to sound insulting, but I truly cannot understand why this gate gained this much of popularity. I even looked for the history behind this building, but it was so unremarkable that I forgot it in the same exact moment I finished reading it.
However, despite my doubts concerning the popularity of this gate, you cannot leave Bratislava without taking a photo of this building.
You simply can’t, because this is exactly one of those special cases where, if you don’t have a shot of the building, nobody will trust you when you say you have been to Bratislava.
Michael’s Gate is a must, so make sure to take a photo of it or with it, and while you are at it, stroll around the Old Town and enjoy the historical buildings.
The Blue Church
I must be honest with you: Bratislava needs to be visited even just for this only church. Photos might not make it justice, but believe me: it is that beautiful, it truly is a marvel you can’t miss out.
The Blue Church (or Saint Elizabeth’s Church, for those good at names) amazes the visitor thanks to its bright colours and extremely detailed facade: you could spend entire minutes spotting the extravagant decorations, and more time you spend there, the more you fall in love with it.
And might I remind you that is an Italian writing this post, who was born and raised in a country where there basically are more churches than schools and hospitals? So trust me when I say that this one is beautiful, because I have seen plenty of achingly beautiful churches in my whole life, and the Blue Church is one of the best.
But just for the exterior though, because the interior is nothing special. Quite empty averagely anonymous, actually.
Eat Slovak typical food
(read it as goat’s milk)
May I say that Slovakia is not the best in terms of food offer? This doesn’t mean I didn’t like the two dishes I had the pleasure to try during my time in Bratislava, but my point is that those two dishes are basically the only option if you want to go local.
In the case of unwillingness to force your tastebuds to deal with bryndza, you may just spend your money on dishes that actually belong to the Polish, Czech, Hungarian or even German tradition: those options are actually very common in Slovak cuisine, and you would still be eating local (in the sense you would be eating what locals usually have for their meals), but it’s not 100% traditionally Slovak.
But then again, let me call upon the Slovak Tourist Board once more: please, prove me wrong by showing me the Slovak gastronomic culture I couldn’t make experience of. I am willing to collaborate with you, just invite me to your country: I don’t fear goat’s milk at all. AT ALL.
Say hi to Cumil
I won’t pursue the cliché, so in this blog post I won’t write: “mind your steps when walking in Bratislava’s streets, you might trip over Čumil hihihihi“, because it simply is not true (and not funny at all, let’s admit it).
Unless you are drunk, or walking blindfolded, or taking a stroll in the pitchest dark of the night, none are the chances for your to stumble upon Čumil, because the statue is literally surrounded by tourists during the day time.
It indeed is one of the most popular attractions in Bratislava, and once again, I can’t really explain why it is like that. But I myself was impatient to take a photo the smiling Peeping Tom, and I must admit it was one of the highlights of the trip. And still, there is no special reason, it just works this way with Čumil.
Obviously, you can’t miss out the tens of other statues you can spot around Old Town: the statue hunting and shooting is the best activity to keep you engaged during your time in Bratislava, and it’s a great way to enjoy the city center!
Spot other sculptures at the Grassalkovich Garden
Oh no, I’m not kidding when I say that Bratislava has a real obsession for sculptures: there really are anywhere in the city center, and there even is a park where many of them are gathered, for the pleasure of sculptures’ connoisseurs.
The park is situated right behind the Presidential Palace (after whom the place was named), and it’s just a park, with grass, trees and sculptures.
If you fancy taking a break from architecture’s sightseeing and take a stroll in a green area, this is the perfect place for you. If you fancy taking photos with even more sculptures, then again, this is the place for you.
If you actually don’t care about none of these things, just don’t go there.
(In my case, I just happened to be there since my friends and I parked the car just in front of it. If it wasn’t for that, this photo would have never been taken and I would have never talked about this park).
Engage yourself in street-art hopping
Being the city of sculptures, Bratislava couldn’t also be the city known for its street-art; however, despite the colourful walls not being too easy to come across, those few works I had the pleasure to spot were actually nice.
This way, my final suggestion is to literally get lost in the city and let your sharp eye to guide you in the quest of street art: that is also the best way to discover hidden corners of Bratislava, isn’t it?
And this is all I had to say about Bratislava, in hope that this blog post could be useful for those who are going to visit the Slovak capital in the future and don’t want to risk to get bored during their time there.
But this is the real truth if you want to escape boredom when in Bratislava: don’t spend more than 24 hours in the city, it’s not worth it.
Said that, I cannot talk about Slovakia in the whole because my travel plan didn’t include an extensive visit of the country’s surroundings, which I’m not planning to visit any time soon.
Unless the Slovak Tourist Board was nice enough to invite me.
I swear I’ll behave well, take a slew of photos and eat bryndza in every form.
Plus I’m nice.