Two Day Itinerary Of Stunning Places To Visit In Bratislava

Once I’d booked my flights and started researching places to visit in Bratislava, I quickly became discouraged. There seemed little of note to see, and much less chatter on social media and travel blogs about the wonders of this hidden European gem. I solicited recommendations on a few occasions and was met with sullen silence. This did not bode well for my trip, and admittedly I was not expecting a great deal from the city, but prepare to be impressed.

street scenes of Bratislava
street scenes of Bratislava

A weekend itinerary highlighting places to visit in Bratislava

This baroque beauty has more than enough hidden treasures to keep you entertained for 48 hours. Indeed, you could spend much longer in the city, visit the nearby cities of Vienna and Budapest, and other attractions around the city. With budget flights available from Manchester and London, now is the time to book a weekend getaway to Bratislava. Go before the word gets out and don’t forget to take this guide.

Vienna opera house
Vienna opera house

Day one in Bratislava

Early Saturday morning – Old Town

Head to the Old Town (Stare Mesto) and wander the cobbled streets, lined with pastel coloured baroque palaces, restaurants and souvenir shops. Onion domes dot the city, outdoor cafes line the squares and tourists throng the alleyways gorging on ice cream and beer. It’s a fabulous place to people watch, and there are some truly sublime sights.

If you don’t fancy walking, you can jump on the city train (pick it up in the main square by the church) and take a one-hour tour of the Old Town for €10. Headphones are provided and commentary is available in 11 languages.

Bratislava Main square
Bratislava Main square
Bratislava street cafes
Bratislava street cafes

Late Saturday morning – Bratislava castle

History fiends may also wish to take the castle tour from Nam Suchona. For €10, the tour takes in the sights around the old town and drops you at the castle. It waits just twenty minutes, but I hopped on the first one which came along when I returned to the drop off point. It then heads back to town, saving your legs the arduous walk up the steep hill from the centre.

Bratislava castle tour
Bratislava castle tour

It’s more a regal palace than a traditional castle but I LOVED it. I wandered aimlessly around the walls, inner courtyard and beautiful formal garden for well over an hour, entirely free of charge. From the castle walls, you have fabulous views of the city and Danube, not to mention the UFO observation tower.

If you wish to visit the museum of Slovak history inside, this costs €7.

Bratislava castle and flowerbeds
Bratislava castle
Bratislava Castle restaurant
Bratislava Castle restaurant

Early Saturday afternoon – UFO Tower

This UFO shaped flying object, floating high above Most SNP bridge is 95 metres high, and is a popular destination for those wishing to get a bird’s eye view of the city. It’s a short walk to the bridge and you will need to follow the underpass to the UFO base on the other side.

Bratislava UFO Bridge
Bratislava UFO Bridge Most SNP

Ticket costs

For €7.90, adults can ride to the observation deck, although I recommend paying €9.90 for the day and night pass. This allows you to visit twice in the same day – once during the day and again at night. It pays to do both, as the view is totally different by night and the bar is a great place to enjoy a beer or cocktail. Unlike many such Sky bars, prices are reasonable and there were no queues when we arrived at 9pm.

From the observation deck, you can soak up spectacular views of the old town and surrounding wilderness. On a clear day, you can see up to 62 miles!!!! Closer to home, I was astonished by how much greenery there is in the city, with parks and forests skirting the Danube.

Bratislava old town by night
Bratislava old town by night
Danube river from the UFO in Bratislava
Danube river from the UFO in Bratislava

Admittedly, Bratislava has its fair share of soviet-era concrete blocks, built for purpose rather than aesthetics, but slowly a new, glamorous and sophisticated side to Bratislava is emerging.

Saturday Mid afternoon – Riverwalk

If your feet can take it, wander the riverbank between the UFO bridge and Most Apollo bridge. Be warned, the distance is deceptive, and although the two bridges look close, it’s around 1.5 miles. If you are feeling particularly energetic, you can even continue over the bridge and follow the cycle path back along the other side. The full circuit is around 3.5 miles.

Whilst you catch occasional glimpses of the city from the opposite bank, it feels more like you are in a country park. Cycle and running paths connect the four bridges of the city, a perfect escape if you cannot bear the hustle and bustle of the old town any longer.

Bratislava riverside walk
Bratislava riverside walk

You will also spot amazing sculptures during your walk, such as this one!

Eurovea shopping centre and sculpture of a man looking in the mirror
A typical sculpture at the Eurovea shopping centre

Saturday evening – UFO and old town

Split your time between your return visit to the UFO and the idyllic old town. Key landmarks glisten under spotlights whilst the Danube glitters below. The Old Town bustles with revellers enjoying dinner and drinks at one of the many street cafes. There’s plenty of places to choose from and prices are very reasonable at a few Euros for a large beer and main courses for less than €10.

You may spot the occasional stag or hen party but thankfully, the cheap beers and lively atmosphere seem to be a well kept secret.

Bratislava castle by night
Bratislava castle by night
Bratislava street scene by night
Bratislava street scene by night

Day two in Bratislava

Sunday morning – Bratislava Forest Park

After breakfast, head to the Bratislava Forest Park. It towers above the city as you stare up at the castle from the Danube waterfront. It is instantly recognisable by the big steel tower perched on top, and is a great place to witness Slovakians making the most of balmy summer days. The scent of barbecue smoke wafts around makeshift campsites sprouting fire pits and temporary banqueting shelters.

Zelezna Studnicka parkland
Zelezna Studnicka parkland

Getting to Zelezna Studnicka and the TV tower

It is a pain to get to the forest on public transport, but surely the journey is part of the fun? I took bus 29 from Mata Selma (by the Eurovea shopping centre) to Lafranconi. I then changed to bus 37 (note, the bus stop is over the road) to Patronka. From Patronka, bus 43 winds through the forest, giving you lovely views of woodlands, fishing lakes, hiking and biking trails.

You can also take bus 144 to Kamzík but apparently there is a long walk to the tower from the bus stop. I didn’t take this route so cannot say which route is preferable.

Assuming you do as I did and travel from Patronka, jump off at the stop named Lanovka. From here, follow the trail just below the bus stop. You will pass a playground on your left and a flat expanse of grassland on your right. Take the bridge over the stream and climb the stairs to the chairlift.

Lanovka Chairlift

This is an antique chairlift, which would not have looked out of place on a ski piste in the 1960s. I’m not entirely sure it would pass health and safety in the UK, but it’s an adventure right? The seat lifts and drops into place, and a rickety, rusted bar swings round to serve as both a safety barrier and a footrest. It grumbles and groans up the hillside for around 15 minutes, giving you panoramic views of the forest and the occasional glimpse of the Kamzík Tv tower.

Bratislava Lanovka chairlift
Bratislava Lanovka chairlift

Kamzík TV Tower

From the chairlift, it’s a short walk through the forest to the tower. Note it is not signposted, so when you exit the chairlift, take the road to the parking lot on the left. Take a right turn by the yellow and brown restaurant to reach a junction. Turn left and walk a few hundred yards to another junction. Turn right and take the path through the trees to the base (or walk up the road if the weather is bad).

Constructed in 1967, the tower is 194 metres high. It is supposed to resemble a wine bottle, but unless you have drunk a bottle of the stuff, I suspect you will fail to see the resemblance. The supposed shape nevertheless pays homage to the vineyards spread on the slopes below Kamzík at an altitude of 433.5 metres. Whilst I could not spot these from the tower itself, I could see them easily from the Slavic monument. Pretty amazing considering the proximity to the city, and as you know I like a wine!

View of Bratislava from the Slavin memorial
Vineyards on the slope behind the cross and views of Bratislava from the Slavin memorial

Read more:

Which Is The Most Unique And Charming Cape Town Wine Tour?

Altitude restaurant

Head to the restaurant and bar in the tower which is 633 metres high. You will have fabulous views to the little Carpathian mountains (they remind me hugely of the Blue Mountains in Carolina). If you look to the left as you enter the bar, pristine wilderness stretches as far as the eye can see. Out to the right you can see the plains of the valley, and the old and new towns merging into one.

Little Carpathian mountains
Little Carpathian mountains

a close-up of a sign

Other activities at Zelezna Studnicka

Mountain bike trails

Mountain bike enthusiasts can take the cable car to the top, and descend a selection of routes based on difficulty.

Hiking trails

There are also numerous hiking trails of different lengths, but I content myself with a cold beer and the view. A half litre of beer is just €3.50 and small glasses of wine start at €2.80. This is astonishing considering there is no entry charge for the tower observation decks of the restaurant and bar.

Early Sunday afternoon – Slavic monument

Jump on bus 43 from Zelezna Studnicka to Patronka and then 207 to Budkova. Walk back up the hill from the bus stop with the pizza restaurant and gelateria on your left and follow the road named Stara Vinarska to the left. It’s a ten-minute walk to the monument, but get to admire the mansions of wealthy locals and ambassadors from China and the United States.

Another option is to take the 147 from Budkova or Hodzovo Namestie. This is the only bus that takes you directly to the monument but it has limited service, with just one bus an hour.

It’s worth a trip to the monument for more amazing views of the city. Ironically, the site commemorates the deaths of 6,845 soviet soldiers who died liberating Bratislava at the end of the Second World War. Maybe that’s why they felt entitled to absorb the country into the Soviet Union!

Slavin memorial, Bratislava, Slovakia
Slavin memorial

There’s not a huge amount to see, although the Slavic tower of 52 metres is the highlight. It dominates the main square, keeping a watchful eye on the statues scattered beneath. Cross the square, keeping the monument on your left and descend the stairs to take in the cross and plaques commemorating the soldiers. Regardless of the history, to read the names of so many young men who perished, many not much older than 20, is truly saddening.

Unless you really love war memorials, you won’t need more than an hour to pay your respects, so head back to the bus stop and back to Hodzovo Namestie. This is your last stop of the weekend so make the most of it.

Late Sunday afternoon – Grassalkovich Palace

The palace dominates the square. It resembles a French palace with white shutters, flower boxes and ornate gates. The white stone shimmers in the sun, but the highlight for me was the fountain in the square in front. A huge steel globe hovers above azure waters, whilst fountains amuse children trying to cool off in the summer heat.

Once you’ve admired the palace and its gardens (free to enter), head back to the Old Town for a last glimpse of enchanting alleyways and lively squares.

Bratislava - Presidential residence
Bratislava – Presidential residence

A weekend in Bratislava

I promise you will not be disappointed by this city. It may not have the allure or reputation of Prague and Budapest, but it has enough sights for a long weekend. Maybe the fact that it is overshadowed by its neighbours explains why it is less busy and less expensive. Both pretty good reasons to visit in my opinion.

If you would like to download an offline version of this itinerary, and others like it, get your GPS My City app here.

Book your trip

Have you visited Bratislava?

Maybe you have visited Bratislava, in which case I’d love to know what you thought. Please share what you loved or loathed in the comments below.

Bratislava streets
Bratislava streets
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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. Good Piece of writing.

  2. This guide was AMAZING! So much to do there and I loved how you broke it down by morning, afternoon, and night. That Altitude Restaurant, Forrest Park, and of course, the Castle are all the reason I need to visit.

  3. It is interesting to know that there are hiking trails in Bratislava. Since my family is more of the outdoor type, I believe my boys would love a trip to the Forest Park and a hiking trip too.

  4. I am not really familiar with this place. In fact, this is the first time I heard about it but it is surely an interesting place to visit. A castle tour would be a great experience.

  5. I’ve never heard of Bratislava, but it sounds like a great place to visit. With its fascinating spots and impressive buildings, it is indeed a hidden gem of Europe. There are so many places to visit and so much to do. This is definitely a bucket list destination. Your pictures are amazing and perfectly justify the vibrance of Bratislava. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Ditto. When I visited Bratislava, I could not find much about the city but that is why I loved it so much. Riverside is beautiful and so is old town. However, what I remember most from my trip is the modern art installations across the city.

  7. Wow what a find. Never thought about visiting Bratislava ever but your post has just opened a new destination. So much to do from tram rides to grand city centre. Photos are wonderful and a very helpful post. Thanks.

  8. The old Town is darling. What a fun area to explore. I would rather visit spots like Forest park and the monuments than overcrowded tourist traps.

  9. In some ways, even better that you didn’t find much about Bratislava in advance as it made all your discoveries of the gems even more personal and surprising. It looks like a perfect place for a shorter city break of 2 or 3 nights, and enough to see and enjoy for sure. I love the baroque architecture in particular.

  10. You’ve definitely sold Bratislava to me! It looks like a less busy and cheaper option than Ljubljana! I love your photos of the view of the city. It looks like the kind of city that you can really get lost in, and still find your way around. The Old Town looks so pretty, especially with the baroque architecture too.

  11. Visitors with more than a weekend to spend may be interested to know that persons over 70 or, I believe, -students of 26 and under, can travel anywhere within Slovakia by rail for next to nothing – 90 cents plus a whole Euro if you wish to reserve a seat for each train. Trencin, one and a half hours away in the Var valley, is a worthwhile visit and has an impressive castle. Impressive at least from the town below as, on a warm day, I jibbed at the extensive steps in favour of indulging my liking for baklava,

    • Good point dad. Always on the lookout for a bargain lol! Not that I can say anything after all the name of the blog is Traveltheglobe4less!

  12. Hi Anne – Thanks for a very good and informative post about Bratislava. This is a great resource full of useful and detailed information (and not just fluff, which I really appreciate!). Hopefully I’ll get to use this on a visit to Bratislava sometime soon!

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