Bratislava is right next to Vienna and quite close to Budapest. During our trip to Budapest, we decided to make a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. The first question was:

What is the best option: Train or Bus?

daytrip to Bratislava

  • Train: a journey of 2h40, roughly every 2 hours (starting at 5h25 from Budapest), with a cost of 17.50 Euros.
  • Bus: a journey of 3h00, only departures 9h30/15h30, with a cost of 16 Euros.

If money is all you care, you can save 1.5 Euros on this return trip, but the train is definitely a better value for money deal. You have more options, more flexibility, if you are under 26 you can get a reduced price and most important you can go earlier and arrive in the morning to Bratislava. 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

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 was very pleasant. We were able to take our breakfast, relax and even sleep a little bit. After the 2h40 we arrived to “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.

Things to do in Bratislava

Arriving at the old town the views change completely into narrow pedestrian streets and squares, full of souvenirs shops, old classical buildings, and statues. The whole town is full of statues, it’s very cool wander around the city and finding 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 in Bratislava

Blue church

We had read the church was rather unique, with the blue color and got curious. This was a clear failure on our part, yes it’s quite 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. Go there just if you have nothing left to do.

What to visit in Bratislava

Bratislava Castle

It’s a huge and imposing “castle”, but It looks much more like a Palace than a Castle. We are used to Western Europe’s, middle age, stone castles, built for defense purposes. Anyway, it is on the top of a Hill, has complete defense walls around and four huge 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.

Points of interest in Bratislava

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.

Things to visit in Bratislava

Wander around Bratislava

this was definitely our favorite activity and mostly because of 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, the second is just looking up women’s skirt. We say: why not both :). But check also the Paparazzi, the Schone Naci, the Napoleon soldier, Hans Christian Andersen and so on…

Reasons to visit Bratislava

Food and Drink in Bratislava

Our second fail in Bratislava happened when went lunching. When traveling we like to eat street and markets 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 hear that Bratislava is really inexpensive to eat. Well.. not this restaurant. It was the most expensive meal of the trip and… it was only average. We had a schnitzel and some dumplings. But for 65 euros in Bratislava, I expect much, much more. It’s roughly what we pay in Luanda, but Luanda is the most expensive city in the world. We definitely don’t recommend it, not because it’s bad, just isn’t worth the price.

Day trips from Budapest

Bon Bon Cokoladovna –  We had some good hot chocolate before, but this was probably one of the best hot chocolate ever. It was so creamy, soft, 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 very good-looking bonbons.

By the end of the afternoon, we walked back to the train station and return 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 Europe trains. We are looking forward to our trans-Siberian train adventure.

All in all, it was a very pleasant 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.

What do you think? are we wrong? did we miss much for only being there for a day?

For more information on both on how to get to Bratislava and its attractions, check this fantastic site.

17 Responses

  1. Katarína Kubincová says:

    Don’t take tram to Račianske mýto, easiest way is to take bus 93 a get off on stop Hodžovo námestie or Zochova, or tram 1 and get off on námestie SNP. if you want best traditional food go to Bratislavský meštiansky pivovar on Dunajská 21, highly recommend Bryndzové pirohy so slaninkou, but whatever you try will be great. More hipster place with excelent food in city center is Fach on Ventúrska 274/10, amazing place 🙂 In summer try also ice cream in Koun on Paulínyho 1.

  2. Petra Keckes says:

    I recommend to visit Bratislava during the summer, it is much nicer, there are many outdoor restaurants and cafes outdoors and a lot of things going on. You can also enjoy laying on grass near the Danube river at a place called Eurovea. I used to live in Bratislava for 4 years 🙂

  3. I did the same while in Vienna, just jumped on the train to Bratislava and actually liked Bratislava much more 🙂

  4. Eileen Murphy Kelly says:

    I am placing this trip on my list of must do!

  5. Travelling Chingrita says:

    This is incredible! I haven’t even done research on the area but I think your pictures and reviews are stunning. I love the foodie section <3

  6. Tim says:

    Love the Cumil; so unique. I have never visited this part of the world but am looking forward to it. It definitely has its own charm and humour.

  7. Majesta Zea says:

    I have yet to visit Slovakia but I think the pictures you took are beautiful. The Blue Church is adorable and if I am ever in that part of the world I may have to make the pit stop.

  8. Damien @ ChasingPenelope.com says:

    I haven’t been to Slovakia yet. I have only done Prague in the region and enjoyed it a lot. What is your favourite in the area?

    • couplertw says:

      We have only done budapest and Bratislava because we didn’t want to rush Budapest. Next time we will do Prague & Vienna probably

  9. Claudia Luxembourg says:

    Interesting to read the comment below that says Bratislava is just a large industrial city. A friend of mine has recently travelled there and she could not stop describing its many wonders, she truly loved it!

  10. Hi there, I don’t like Bratislava, it is just large industrial city and there are nicer cities, towns and natural places in Slovakia that worth a visit. From Budapest I would recommend visiting Kosice! 🙂

    • Katarína Kubincová says:

      Really? Kosice is definitely not a industrial city with US Steel, one of the biggest factories in Slovakia? Bratislava used to be capital od Hungary, definitely worth visiting

      • Who wants to see capital goes to the capital, who wants to see something nicer, goes elsewhere… 🙂 That’s just my opinion. Of course there are lots of other horrible places in Košice appart from US Steel, such as Luník IX full of gypsies, or lot of waste all around in the streets… But it’s always better to visit this city than Bratislava… 🙂

  11. saunakghosh says:

    Quick question. Are there any places in the station to store your luggage? Me and my wife are traveling from Vienna to Budapest and hope to have a 6-7 hr sojourn in Bratislava. What say good people ?