Bratislava is perfect for a day trip from Vienna. Why? The two capitals are only 55 km apart and if you happen to be travelling to Austria, simply hop on the bus and after 1:20h you find yourself in the capital of another country. What to do in Bratislava, where you can eat best, where the view is most beautiful and how to get from Vienna to Slovakia comfortably, I'll tell you in this blog post.
To be honest: My first trip to Bratislava was a little while ago and I wasn't really that enthusiastic about the city at that time. Why? Maybe it was because of the long drive from where I lived back then, maybe also because of the weather, maybe also because it was a Monday and many sights then were closed. But I decided to give the city another chance and hop across the border to see if the first impression was misleading or if it was actually true?
How to get from Vienna to Bratislava
There are several ways to get from Vienna to Bratislava: Bus, train and boat connect the two cities several times an hour. It was important to me that I arrive in Bratislava in the centre or near the old town so that I do not have to hop on another bus. Slovak Lines offers such a great service of connecting Vienna and Bratislava really well.
Slovak Lines offers hourly bus connections between Vienna Central Station and the city centre of Bratislava (Most SNP). Their timetable includes only 4 stops: Vienna Central Station → Vienna Schwechat Airport → Bratislava Centre → Bratislava Airport. This makes it a great choice too, if you are flying out of Bratislava airport.
The bus journey with Slovak Lines was smooth and easy: hardly noticeably we left Austria and crossed over to Slovakia. The seats on the bus are comfortable, power sockets and WiFi are also available.
The ticket for a one-way trip costs 5.50€ (autumn 2019) and is easiest bought online.
Day Trip Bratislava: Sights and Highlights
A walk through the old town of Bratislava
Bratislava is one of those cities that are best explored on foot – nothing is really far away and the old town isn't really big. The best thing to do is just walk around and explore it.
Start your tour in the old town of Bratislava at Michael's Gate (Michalská brána). Somewhat hidden on the left side of the gate is a small door. Behind it you'll find a staircase to the tower from where the view of the old town is amazing. Also the Bratislava Castle can be seen from here very well and make for nice photos.
Website Michael's Gate | Admission 5€ | Closed Monday | Tuesday to Friday 10 am until 5 pm | Saturday and Sunday 11a m until 6 pm
Then continue on to Primate's Square (Primaciálne námestie) and the main square of Bratislava (Hlavné námestie). Don't miss Čumil the Sewer Worker that has been living there since 1997.
Up to Bratislava Castle
On the way to Bratislava Castle, I discovered one of these cat cafés, which I only know from Facebook and Instagram and of course I couldn't pass it without having taken a look inside. Mačkafe is a café that is currently home to six cats. The other guests were exclusively tourists and although I would have liked to have moved to a corner with a good book and a cat on my lab, the animals all seemed rather disinterested and slept through my visit.
I really like the idea of a cat café and would have loved to cuddle with the four-legged ones, but the café itself is rather filthy. It was ok to visit once, but I doubt I will be back to Mačkafe.
Cat café or not, make your next stop Bratislava Castle to enjoy the view over the Danube, the old town from the gardens as well as the terrace. On my last day trip to Bratislava, I went on a Monday and the castle itself was closed. So make sure to come on any other day. The castle is home to the historic museum and leads through the centuries of its existence. In some of the many halls there are also temporary exhibitions – during my visit they showed historical furniture.
Even if you are not interested in the museum – which is ok, but not outstandingly interesting – the view from the Crown Tower is incredible and worth it in the end. It's possibly one of the nicest views you can get of the Danube and the old town.
Website Bratislava Castle | 10€ Admission | Closed Monday | Tuesday to Sunday 9 am until 6 pm
Restaurant and Café Tips for a Day Trip in Bratislava
In the old town of Bratislava there are many restaurants and cafés, which makes it so hard to chose one. Because of their good location, prices are higher than elsewhere. During my day trips to Bratislava, I enjoyed these restaurants and cafés:
- Le Papillon: great food, very expensive compared to other restaurants.
- Ventúrska Klubovňa: offers some typical Slovak dishes like Bryndzové halušky (very similar to Tiroler Käsespätzle).
- Mondieu: super cosy café with good breakfasts and comfortable armchairs.
- Mačkafé: Cat café with good lemonades, but the café itself is not a unique or very nice place.
When you stay longer: Book a hotel in Bratislava
Are you looking to extend your stay in Bratislava? If you enjoy staying in an apartment, I highly recommend staying at Best Location Apartments which are located just outside the pedestrian area in the city centre. The apartments are friendly and bright, WiFi is fast and there is always someone at reception. They also have room to store your luggage in case you arrive early or stay longer.
If you fancy a nice hotel, check out the following options which are all highly recommended by travellers on TripAdvisor:
- LOFT Hotel: located in the heart of the city centre, this newly opened 4* hotel is a great choice if you are looking for a comfortable place to stay in Bratislava. Enjoy the big breakfast buffet and if you are in town by car, there is parking available as well.
- Arcadia Boutique Hotel: located also in the city centre, this boutique hotel has an imperialistic touch. Relax in their spa area after a long day out exploring Bratislava.
- Smart & Green Hotel: spacious and bright apartments, some of them with balconies in a quiet neighbourhood. The old town is only a few minutes away by foot. Parking is also available if you plan to take your car to Bratislava. Some of the apartments are bigger, so you can come and stay with your friends here. Also a great choice if you are in town for work or want to get some work done after exploring the city.
- Dream Hostel: a great option for budget travellers north of the city centre. The train station is only 500m away and the city centre only a 15 minutes walk from the hostel. They offer both private rooms and dorms and have great tips to optimize your trip in Bratislava.
Looking for more hotels in Bratislava? Search great deals on booking.com and find your new favourite place to stay!
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