Riding the ÖBB train from Wien Hauptbahnhof is as much about the thrilling scenery and the soothing rocking of your train car, as it is about arriving at Bratislava Hlavna Stanica. Following your 1h06 train journey, a short stroll from the station will lead you directly to the heart of the city!
Be it crowning Hungarian nobility, facing challenges during the reformed Czechoslovakia amidst WWI or surviving tensions during the communist era: the timeline of Bratislava reflects a turbulent history. Slovakia achieved independence in 1993, designating Bratislava as its capital.
Stroll through the streets of the old town and visit the Michael’s Gate & “The Peeper”
The focal point of Bratislava is the 13th-century Michael’s Gate, one of the city’s oldest building and the only remaining gate in the city. Any visit to Bratislava should start at Michael’s Gate near the pedestrianised mighty old centre, fringed with restaurants and (quirky) shops: from Flying Tiger to local honey vendors. It’s a short walk from here to the statue of “The Peeper”. It is not clear whether the sewer worker Čumil is resting from the heavy work or is peeking under your skirt. But the ultimate secret? Just rub his head to get rich quick.
Relive the tumultuous Slovak history at Bratislava castle
Panting, hike the semi-steep hill to Bratislava’s imposing castle, past dilapidated and restored facades and remnants of the old city wall. The castle gains an extra dose of elegance thanks to the lush castle garden. The stunning view of the city, the UFO bridge and the Danube river impress revellers even more. The first castle dates from the 9th century, the last is 21st century splendour. Explore the cozy strolling streets, corners and courtyards during the winding descent.
Sip a coffee on Hlavné námestie square
One of the hallmarks of Bratislava is Hlavné Námestie: the central square of the Slovak capital. Chic architecture lurks at every corner. Here you can easily get a feel for local life: marvel at the melting pot of Gothic, Renaissance & Baroque of the old town hall, admire the pastel-coloured half-timbered houses and gaze at the locals from a terrace. The perfect terrace stop? Café Mayer: a lavish grand café from 1873 which marries a sweet cuisine (Naber Kaffee & cake) with an interior full of polished coppers and waiters in fancy aprons.
Wave to the president at the gate of Grassalkovich Palace
True, no one probably knows the name of the President of Slovakia. Nevertheless, a visit to the palace where the president lives and works is worthwhile. For the changing of the guard, a stroll through the French public garden or just a look past the 18th century baroque gem with gilded decoration.
Any energy left?
Take a detour to the Church of St. Elizabeth (the Blue Church). This 20th century cathedral is richly adorned with diamonds and it has a hint of wedding cake about it, blended with a baby blue shade. After a day full of exciting cultural highlights, you can endlessly enjoy the local gastronomy in the historic city center. Or jump back on the train to Vienna. The choice is yours.