Bratislava is right next to Vienna and quite close to Budapest. So you can do a day trip to Bratislava from Vienna or Budapest. During one of our trips to Budapest, we decided to make a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. The first question was:
From Budapest to Bratislava by train
Traveling by train or bus from Budapest to Bratislava is almost the same. The prices are similar (10-20 Euros if bought with time), the time it takes is almost the same (2:00 to 2:300), and there are several options during the day.
The fact that we were staying very close to the train station was also very nice because we were able to just walk there. To take full advantage of the day, we woke up really early to catch the first train to Bratislava.
Also, we find it much more comfortable to travel by train than by bus but that’s a personal choice.
The train was almost empty, we had a cabin just for us. The cabin had heating (remember it was winter) which made the train journey very pleasant. We could take our breakfast, relax and even sleep a little bit.
After 2h40 we arrived at “Hlavná stanica” (the local name of the station) and left the train. The station isn’t exactly in the city center, and the surroundings aren’t attractive at all.
From the train Station to the old town, you can take any bus or trolleybus directing to “Račianske mýto” and then take a tram to the city center; or you can just walk down towards the Danube, following the sign saying “Centrum” which of course was our option 🙂
We always walk around to know a city and on our way down we got to see the Presidential Palace in Hodža’s Square. Outside the palace is a memorial courtyard that is separated from the square by an impressive fence that features two gold-plated wrought-iron gates.
Arriving at the old town the views change completely into narrow pedestrian streets and squares, full of souvenir shops, old classical buildings, and statues.
The whole town is full of statues, it’s very cool to wander around the city and find pieces of art spread in it, some of them with a clear meaning and reminding us of the not so remote past.
Despite maximizing our time in the city, we only had one day, so we choose 4 major sights/activities.
Best things to do on a day trip to Bratislava
We had read the church was rather unique, with the blue color, and got curious. However, we found it a bit underwhelming, yes it’s pretty strange to have a blue church, but it’s just that.
The church is small, struggled in the middle of a busy square, and with nothing particularly appealing on it, besides the light blue color. Go there just if you have nothing left to do.
It’s a huge and imposing “castle,” but It looks much more like a Palace than a Castle. We are used to Portugal and Spain‘s middle age stone castles, built for defense purposes. Anyway, it is on the top of a Hill, has complete defense walls around and has four massive towers.
Unfortunately, it was closed, and we couldn’t visit the inside, but from the outside gardens and walls, you get fantastic views of Bratislava and the Danube.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
It’s the biggest and most important church in Bratislava (69.37 meters long, 22.85 meters wide, and 16.02 meters high), built in Gothic style. There’s a replica of St. Steven’s crown, and it was historically used as the coronation church for the Hungarian kings.
Wander around Bratislava
This was our favorite activity, primarily because of the above-referred streets, squares, and statues. The statues make the city center much more appealing as you never know what surprise you will see next.
The most famous and unique is the Cumil (The watcher), there are two explanations for the status: the first says he represents the typical communist-era worker who doesn’t work, and the second is just looking up women’s skirts. We say: why not both :). But check also the Paparazzi, the Schone Naci, the Napoleon soldier, Hans Christian Andersen and so on…
Food and Drink in Bratislava
Our second fail in Bratislava happened when we went lunching. When traveling, we like to eat street and market food, fast food, and sometimes traditional food in restaurants. This time we went to:
Roland Restaurant Café – It’s completely central, clearly a tourist spot, but we wanted something different, and we heard that Bratislava is really inexpensive to eat in. Well.. not this restaurant. It was the most expensive trip meal and… it was only average.
We had schnitzel and some dumplings. But for 65 euros in Bratislava, I expect much, much more. It’s roughly what we used to pay in Luanda, but Luanda was the most expensive city in the world. We definitely don’t recommend it, not because it’s terrible, it just isn’t worth the price.
So, yeah, we all do stupid things sometimes… just try and don’t do the same…
Bon Bon Cokoladovna – We had some excellent hot chocolate before, but this was probably one of the best hot chocolate ever. Not as good as in Panajachel, Guatemala, or in Oaxaca, Mexico, but still good. It was so creamy, soft, and sweet. Absolutely fantastic. It came with whipped cream and water on the side. Besides the hot chocolate, it has some good cakes (chocolate or not) and beautiful bonbons.
By the end of the afternoon, we walked back to the train station and returned to Budapest. The train was now much fuller, and we couldn’t find a cabin just for us.
Anyway, it was still very comfortable, we like these long haul, eastern European trains.
Looking for more info about Bratislava? Check this 24 hours in Bratislava Guide
All in all, it was an enjoyable one-day side trip from Budapest, but we feel like Bratislava is the kind of city that you only need one day to visit. It just doesn’t have enough big attractions.