I was pretty excited to visit Bratislava. Partially because I wanted to see how much it was like the movie EuroTrip and partially because my family immigrated to the US from Slovakia. When we arrived in Bratislava I was both impressed with how western everything seemed and a little disappointed at the high prices of things.
Slovak Lines Bus from Vienna
While there were trains that ran from Vienna to Bratislava, they were quite a bit more expensive than taking the bus. Since the bus was a quick 1.5 hour ride, we opted to take the Slovak Lines bus from Vienna. We ended up booking our tickets through FlixBus, the same company that we used to travel from Florence to Rome and from Ljubljana to Vienna. The tickets were relatively cheap at 7.50E or $8.50 each. In hindsight, we could have saved a few bucks by purchasing our tickets directly through Slovak Lines but didn’t realize that the route was run by a company other than FlixBus.
We departed from the main train station in town, not the bus station that we arrived at. This was easy to navigate since there was a metro stop which let us out exactly where we needed to be.
When the bus arrived we were impressed that it was a brand new and not too crowded which allowed us to have some unoccupied seats around us. Our seats had TV screens, but after flipping through the stations, appeared that there were no English channels available. Even if there was anything to watch, we wouldn’t have been able to watch too much as the bus ride was short. Since both Austria and Slovakia are part of the European Union, there was no stop at the border crossing which made for a speedy ride.
If you’re flying into or out of the Vienna airport, the Slovak Lines bus appeared to be an inexpensive alternative to the city run airport bus or train. From the bus terminal, there was a stop at the Vienna airport before crossing the border. This means that from the Vienna airport you can catch a bus to the center of Vienna or to Bratislava. With our tickets being as inexpensive as they were, I imagine that the cost to ride from the airport to downtown would be a minimal cost, especially compared to the city run buses, which I am sure are many times more expensive.
Things We Did & Saw in Bratislava
Our first stop in Bratislava was to the Blue Church. While we have seen much more ornate, interesting churches in our travels, the unique style of the church stood out to us. The color reminded me Cinderella’s dress which gave it a sort of fairytale whimsy to it.
We were fortunate that there were not too many people around when we were at the church which made taking pictures pretty easy. Unfortunately the church was locked so we were only able to take pictures of the outside. From the photos that I have seen online, I don’t think that we missed out on too much with it being locked.
One of the main attractions in Bratislava is the Bratislava Castle. While it isn’t overly ornate or beautiful, we knew that we wanted to go up to the top of the hill to check it out.
Much to our astonishment, we discovered that we were able to go to the top of the hill to see the exterior of the castle as well as panoramic views of the city without having to pay for an admission ticket. There is an opportunity to go inside of the castle to visit the museum, but we opted out of this, spending our time taking pictures of the outside as well as the sweeping views instead.
The biggest surprise for us was the fact that the souvenir shop at the castle was actually the most reasonably priced souvenir shop that we saw in town. We were shocked but pleased to be able to purchase our postcards and Christmas ornament easily while we were up there.
Old Town/St. Michael’s Gate
The Old Town area of Bratislava dates back to the medieval time. We were interested in walking around the area to see the many well preserved buildings. It was very easy to spend time walking around, checking out the entirety of the area since it was a relatively small area to explore.
As we wandered around the old town, we both loved the charm of the area. I was surprised just how well everything was preserved, especially considering the proximity of the city to the heart of WWII.
Visited a Slovak Pub
One of the things on my list of things to do in Bratislava was to eat some good Slovak food and drink some local drinks. We saw the Slovak Pub nicknamed “Bartislava” and knew that we had to check it out.
We were impressed by the reasonably priced, large portions of food as well as the extremely inexpensive wines. For only .90E or $1 we were able to get a .1 liter pour of house wine. We always upgraded to the 1.8E or $2 for a full glass of wine. While I wasn’t expecting too much when I ordered it, I was pleasantly surprised to just how good the wine was.
Slovak Pub is the largest bar in Bratislava and both times we were there, it seemed to be busy. Sure, it seemed a little touristy, but it was a great atmosphere and had reasonably priced food and drinks.
One of the strangest, most out of place things in Bratislava is the UFO bridge. The name comes from the fact that the observation deck at the top of the bridge looks like a UFO.
The bridge is a tourist attraction which boasts about their amazing views of the city. There is also a restaurant and bar at the top of the bridge. We decided against visiting it since we figured that not only would they charge tourist prices, but the food was unlikely to be very good. Plus, with a 6.5E or $7.25 entry fee to essentially see the same view that we had seen from the Bratislava Castle, we knew that we could find something more fun to spend our money on.
Overall we’re glad that we made the stop in Bratislava and thought that the 2 days that we were there was the perfect amount of time. There weren’t a ton of sights to see, but the close proximity to Vienna made for an easy trip.
Compared to Vienna, Bratislava was just as clean, quite a bit smaller, easy to get around by foot and similar to most of Europe, just about everyone spoke English. When we were headed to the train station at the end of our time, I was excited as we were headed to Kosice, Slovakia, the city my great grandparents immigrated from after WWI.