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Things to do in Bratislava

Things to do in  Bratislava

Welcome to Bratislava

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a riverside gem that combines medieval monuments with Communist history and world-class wineries. The cobbled streets of Bratislava Old Town (Stary Mesto)—home to the Slovak National Theatre and the Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral—lend themselves well to walking tours, while the recently renovated Bratislava Castle and the futuristic UFO Observation Deck are also must-see sights. History buffs can take a boat trip to the Devin Castle ruins, a Roman fortress that clings to the side of a limestone cliff, whereas outdoors enthusiasts will get their thrills on a hiking or biking day trip to the Tatra or Small Carpathian Mountains. If exploring through your taste buds is on the menu, focus on Bratislava’s culinary culture during a cooking workshop or candy-shop walking tour; or—if you fancy yourself more of a oenophile—sample the products of the Carpathian wine region on tasting tours of Modra’s and Pezinok’s vineyards and wine cellars. For visitors with time to explore Slovakia and beyond, day trips to UNESCO World Heritage Site Banska Stiavnica, the forest-shrouded Red Stone Castle, and the Hungarian capital of Budapest or Austrian capital of Vienna are popular choices, and typically only involve a few hours on a train.

Top 14 attractions in Bratislava

Bratislava Old Town (Stare Mesto)

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

Bratislava Castle (Bratislavsky Hrad)

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

Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské Národné Divadlo)

The architectural focus of the eastern flank of Hviezdoslavovo namestie (one of the two Baroque main squares gracing Bratislava’s Old Town), the Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské Národné Divadlo or SND for short) is a splendid Neo-Renaissance building. Created by Viennese theater designers Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner, the SND was completed in 1886 in a time when the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire was thriving and its elaborate pillared, colonnaded façade is encrusted with busts of playwrights such as Shakespeare and Goethe.Seating for just over 600 in the plush, red velvet and gilded auditorium is in banks of boxes, and the season runs from September to July. The repertoire features a full program of opera, ballet and drama, including such old favorites such as Mozart’s Magic Flute, as well as contemporary performances by the Dragon Kungfu Dance Company.An innovative new adjunct to the Slovak National Theatre opened in 2007 on the banks of the Danube; the seven-story SND New Building is of gleaming glass and marble, seating 1,677 in its three auditoriums.More

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

Like many Bratislava churches, St. Martin’s Cathedral (Dóm Sv. Martina) was built over the remains of an earlier Romanesque basilica on the edge of the Starý Mesto (Old Town). Today’s three-naved Gothic cathedral (Dóm Svätého Martina in full) was consecrated in 1452, and between 1563 and 1830, 11 Hungarian monarchs—including the much-loved Empress Marie Therese—and their spouses were crowned here, a fact celebrated by the placement of a replica coronation crown on the top of the 279-foot (85-meter) Gothic spire.The church’s interior is awash with Gothic detailing, from the soaring wooden altarpiece found in St Anne’s Chapel, which depicts the Crucifixion, to the vaulted ceilings in the presbytery, while other ornamentation in the cathedral is variously Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque in style. Along with the vivid colors of the 19th-century Viennese stained-glass windows, highlights include the vibrant equine statue dedicated to St. Martin, plus the extravagantly Baroque side chapel of St John the Almsgiver. Below, the cathedral, crypts and burial grounds are being excavated; currently only one is open to explore.More

UFO Observation Deck

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

Primate's Palace (Primaciálny Palác)

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

Devin Castle (Devinsky Hrad)

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

Grassalkovich Palace (Grasalkovicov Palac)

The low-slung, white-washed Baroque Grassalkovich Palace (Grasalkovicov Palac) sits on Hodžovo námestie on the northern edge of Bratislava’s Starý Mesto (Old Town) and was built in 1760 as the private residence of a wealthy adviser to Empress Marie Therese. Anton Grassalkovich surrounded himself by beauty and music in his elegant residence; composer Joseph Haydn and elite members of the Hungarian nobility were frequent visitors to his salon.The palace has played a considerable part in Slovakian history, as it was here that Habsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand met his wife; in 1914 they were assassinated in Sarajevo and their deaths led to the outbreak of World War I. After World War II, the palace became home to Josef Tiso, first President of the new Slovak Republic, but during Soviet times the building was used as a day center for children. It was renovated following the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when it once more became residence of the Slovakian president.The colorful Changing of the Guard takes place outside at 1 p.m. daily, and although the palace itself is not open to the public, the surrounding formal French gardens are, and they make a perfect picnic spot on summer days among a cluster of madcap modern fountains.More

Bratislava Old Town Hall (Stara Radnica)

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

Michael's Gate (Michalska Brana)

Now the only remaining fortified gate—of the original four—in Bratislava’s double ring of medieval fortified walls, Michael’s Gate (Michalska Brana) is a Gothic tower that has its beginnings in the 14th century and was commonly used by fishermen bringing their catch into the Starý Mesto (Old Town) from the River Danube. In the 1750s, the gate's Baroque copper cupola and a statue of St Michael slaying a dragon were added, bringing the tower’s height up to 167 feet (51 meters).It was at Michael’s Gate that newly crowned Habsburg Austro-Hungarian kings would stop to pay their respects to the Archbishop of Bratislava. Today it is a landmark on the skyline, reached via the teeming restaurants, cafés and stores of narrow Michalská, and looming high over the Old Town. A circular viewing terrace on the sixth floor gives panoramic views across the red roofs and cobbled alleyways of central Bratislava. The diminutive Museum of Arms and City Fortifications breaks the journey up the steep steps to the top of the tower.More

Hlavne Namestie

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

Open-Air Mining Museum (Slovenské Banské Múzeum)

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
Franciscan Square (Frantiskanske Namestie)

Franciscan Square (Frantiskanske Namestie)

Dotted by shady plane trees and lined with pastel-colored Baroque townhouses, Franciscan Square(Frantiskanske Namestie) is one of the main meeting paces in Bratislava’s Old Town and is dominated by the oldest church in the city. The Franciscan Church has a Baroque façade dating back to the 18th century, but it was originally 13th-century Gothic in form.Consecrated in 1297, the church has a wealth of Renaissance and Baroque detailing inside, including statuary and gilded artworks, but its chief feature is the Gothic Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist, where Hungarian aristocrats were once ennobled as knights of the realm. The Marian Column in the middle of Franciscan Square gives thanks for the victory of Hungarian King Leopold I over a Protestant rebellion in 1657. Classical concerts are held in the church in the evening.More

Orava Castle (Oravský Hrad)

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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Recent reviews from experiences in Bratislava

Great tour in short amount of time.
Lynn_M, Aug. 2022
Private Bratislava Grand City Tour
We only had a short time in Bratislava, but our tour took us to all of the best/important places to visit.
Excellent tour of an interesting city.
Paul_M, Dec. 2022
Private Bratislava Grand City Tour
After visiting Braitslava Castle we proceeded on foot into the old town and our guide provided some excellent recommendations of further activities in the City.
Learned so much from Eva on Bratislava
Ed_N, Oct. 2022
Bratislava Off the Beaten Path Tour - recommended also by Rick Steves
Eva took us to a number of places and because the revolution and fall of Communism was really not that long ago, that is inevitably going to be the main theme of the tour.
Great little tour to meet Bratislava without getting bored
Veronika_N, Apr. 2022
Bratislava Castle Tour by Presporacik
Great little tour to see Bratislava City centre and the castle and to make a few great pictures.
Best tour guide!
Suzanne_G, Jul. 2019
Nearly All of Bratislava in 6 hours
Excellent English - very knowledgeable about Bratislava and the history of the town and the country.
What a great tour. Our guide Robert...
Michael T, Dec. 2017
Bratislava Post-Communism Tour
We wanted to see the parts of Bratislava that the usual tours miss out.
Excellent value
Fares_M, Nov. 2021
Bratislava Castle Tour by Presporacik
You get down for 20 minutes to visit the main castle with wonderful views of the city below.
Great private tour in and around the city
Jo_C, Feb. 2020
Bratislava Post-Communism Tour
We saw places in and around Bratislava that we wouldn’t have ordinarily got to see on a city break.
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