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Bratislava has an incredible public transport network, however for a non-Slovak speaker, it can be challenging to decipher. Route maps seem hard to come by and it isn’t clear what stop names apply to which destination. That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide of public transport in Bratislava which is based on my own trial and error. Hopefully it will save you time, and of course if you think anyone else can benefit from it, please share.
IMHD public transport app
Download the IMHD app which will allow you to plan journeys in Bratislava. It’s a bit clunky, so I’m going to give you some pointers to save you time. I literally wasted a few hours, and missed a few stops, before I got the hang of it.
Public transport stops
The app identifies destinations by stop name. This name is posted above the timetables and on a tall red pole by each stand. However, you may not know the name of your destination stop, in which case, use the maps features to show each stop on a map.
You will have to move the map around until you find where you want to go. This can be a little fiddly, so my top tip is to find the nearest stop to where you are staying and memorise its name.
Once you know which bus route you need, you can click on the lines feature and see all the stops on that route. This allows you to track your progress and hopefully not miss your stop. It can also help you figure out which bus you want, but I did not find this especially useful as the stop names often do not reflect the part of town in which they are located.
If you want to figure out how to get from A to B in Bratislava, the journey planner will provide a route with details of the change points. Insert the name of your stop and the name of your destination stop to obtain routes and timetables. If you then click on your starting stop, it will indicate the times of the buses and trolleys. Take note, there may be more than one option for travel between the stops you need, so it pays to check the timetables at each stop. This way, you may find other buses or trolleys going to your destination.
The information at each stop is generally excellent, with up to date schedules and timetables. Each also lists all the destinations on the route, so you can double check that you are on the right bus.Take note, if your route includes a connection, you may need to cross over when you change buses/trolleys. Again, check the timetables, as it will be evident if you are on the wrong side of the road.
Using the buses
Hopefully, you have now downloaded the app and had a little play around. You should therefore be ready to take the plunge and see if you can find your way around town on public transport. Here’s a few things you need to know when you ride the public transport system in Bratislava.
Tickets can be purchased from yellow machines at each stop. Instructions are not in English, but if you plan to stay within the main city, you only need tickets for zones 100 and 101. You can buy individual tickets, a carnet of tickets or a full day pass.
When you get on the bus or trolley, you will need to validate your ticket in the yellow machines by the doors. Failure to do so means you do not have a valid ticket.
An adult single ticket is €0.70 and a full day pass is just €3.50. Each individual ticket is only valid for 15 minutes so if you are going on longer journeys or are likely to be changing frequently, save yourself the hassle and opt for the day pass, I swear this is the best €3.50 I’ve ever spent. I lost count of how many buses and trolleys I hopped on and off.
Getting on and off
Unlike buses in Britain, the bus doors do not open automatically. On the doors there is a little sign of a hand, and you will need to press this to open the doors. The floors are low, allowing easy access for wheelchairs, the elderly and those with pushchairs.
Some buses have screens showing the next stop. The next stop is highlighted in yellow, with upcoming stops featured below.
Requesting a stop
The buses do not always stop unless requested, and I managed to miss a stop in this way. If you need to request a stop, you will need to press the red buttons underneath the ticket validator. On the screen, you will be able to see once the stop request activates.
The request stops have a little red hand in the circle to the left of the stop. If it doesn’t have this hand, then the bus automatically stops at that destination. Although many of the buses announce which stops you need to request, I often could not hear the announcements, so it pays to follow the information on the screens too.
Most buses have free WiFi, but this is not consistent across all the network. To access WiFi, simply search for networks without a padlock and then sign in with your email address.
At some of the major stops, you will find big screens notifying you of upcoming services and how far away they are. On each stand, there are also lists of all the buses stopping there, and these numbers can be clearly seen below the stop name.
Public transport in Bratislava
Riding the public transport in Bratislava is great fun. It will allow you to see more of the city without exhausting yourself. In four days in Bratislava and Vienna, I walked and ran a combined distance of over 50 miles. This may be a compact city but you can soon rack up a lot of miles in the legs!
I wish I’d discovered the public transport system sooner, as I could definitely have saved my legs. One of my favourite trips was up to Zelezna Studnicka to ride the chairlift to the TV tower. This is a scenic route and gives great insight into the weekend pastimes of locals.
Any additional tips
There may be other points I’ve failed to mention, so if you have ever travelled on the public transport network in Bratislava and have other tips for my readers, please add them in the comments below.