Let’s be honest: Bratislava is not on most people’s travel bucket list. But this charming town, the capital of Slovakia, is definitely worth a stop. Here’s how to spend one day in Bratislava!
How to get to Bratislava
Bratislava is an easy trip from Prague, at just over four hours by train. You can easily train to Bratislava from Austria, Hungary, Poland and other spots in the Czech Republic. It’s pretty central and an easy stop on a train trip through central Europe. You can also fly into Bratislava, but I don’t know that it would be worth hopping on a flight to just spend one day in Bratislava.
Morning in Bratislava
Breakfast was our favourite meal during our one day in Bratislava. If you’re a fan of breakfast, I have two great recommendations for you. You can try Mondieu, where there’s a great selection of savoury and sweet breakfast options. I got eggs benedict, that I’ve been craving for months, and Colin got French toast. There are a few Mondieu locations around Bratislava and they also serve lunch and dinner.
Another great breakfast option in Bratislava is Pan Cake where they serve (you guessed it) pancakes! This is the perfect place if you have a sweet tooth but they have savoury crepes too. And the prices are incredible! Specialty pancakes, like the one we ordered with salami, egg and a side salad, are just €2.90. And their regular pancakes are only €1.90! And by “regular” I don’t mean plain or boring; I ordered a white chocolate and red current pancake that was delicious. Between us we ordered five pancakes and drinks, and only spent €14!
If you have heard anything about Bratislava, you’ve probably heard about the famous Blue Church. The Blue Church is actually the Church of St. Elizabeth, but everyone calls it the Blue Church because (you guessed it again) it’s painted blue.
To be honest, this church isn’t anything spectacular. If you’ve seen photos online, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into. The church is a very beautiful Easter-egg blue but that’s about it. When we visited, we were a little underwhelmed. The church was smaller than we expected and we weren’t able to go inside.
So you should see it while you’re in Bratislava, but don’t expect too much.
On the other hand, Devin Castle is pretty spectacular. This was by far the best part of our one day in Bratislava.
Devin Castle is on a hill overlooking the Morava and Danube Rivers along the Slovakia-Austria border. The original structure was built in the 850s, with the stone castle being built in the 13th Century. More buildings were added over the years until the castle was blown up in the 1809 Napoleonic Wars.
These days, most of the castle is in ruins but it’s been converted into a space the public can visit. There are a few museums, art installations, viewing platforms and lots of places to discover. And it’s absolutely stunning! The views of the rivers, the little town below and the other castle structures are gorgeous.
It was also relatively quiet! Granted, we visited on a weekday in October, but it was still so empty. There might have been 20 other people at the castle and the grounds are large, so we often had entire sections all to ourselves. Most people don’t make it out to Devin Castle, but it’s actually quite close to Bratislava’s centre and shouldn’t be missed. It’s only a 20 minute bus ride from the SNP Bridge (where you can see the UFO lookout and restaurant).
Since this is the highlight of your Bratislava itinerary (at least in my opinion), I would prioritize going to Devin Castle in the morning. It also closes earlier in the day than Bratislava’s other castle, so go to Devin first.
Afternoon in Bratislava
To be honest, we had ramen at a Japanese restaurant for lunch on our day in Bratislava. So not exactly typical Slovakian food. But it was tasty! If you only have one day in Bratislava and you’re not a huge fan of the local cuisine, I would actually recommend heading to whichever breakfast place you skipped. What’s wrong with having breakfast for lunch? Or, you can seek out another cuisine like we did.
And for dessert? Head to Pollito, Bratislava’s best cheesecake shop. The cheesecake really is great, but the selection was lacking when we visited. They only had one type available when we arrived, so we waited 10 minutes for a second option so we could try two. Neither flavour really did it for me, but I could appreciate the quality and intensity of the flavours.
Of course, you have to visit the Old Town during your one day in Bratislava. I love that almost every European city has an Old Town and they’re always incredibly charming. Bratislava’s is no different.
Spend some time wandering the streets after lunch, popping into shops, and admiring the cobblestone streets and old architecture. Make sure to find Cumil, or the Man at Work Statue. Pass by the Opera House, stop to listen to a busker and check out the ornate fountains.
From the Old Town, you can head up to Bratislava Castle. Confession time: We didn’t actually visit Bratislava Castle! Which is crazy, because it’s Bratislava’s biggest attraction. But we skipped it mostly because I was feeling a little sick, and we didn’t think we were missing out on much. From photos, Bratislava Castle didn’t seem too impressive so we didn’t mind heading back to our Airbnb for the afternoon to rest.
But in case you want to visit, as I’ve heard the grounds are quite nice and there are beautiful views from the top, check out this guide to Bratislava Castle.
As your day in Bratislava comes to an end, it’s time for a final meal. For dinner, head to 3 Musketeers. This Slovakian restaurant has a very cool ambiance to it with a big fireplace and it feels like you’re dining in a cave. The service is great (which you don’t always find in this part of Europe) – so great that our server chatted up everyone as they paid and even bonded with us over family he has living in Vancouver. And the food is good too!
Where to go after Bratislava?
The best part about Bratislava is that it’s so close to so many other awesome spots. It’s four hours on the train from Bratislava to Prague, two and a half hours to Budapest, and only an hour to Vienna! That makes it super easy to visit Bratislava as a day trip or weekend trip, on your way to one of these cities.
Do you need more than one day in Bratislava?
Honestly? No. And I don’t mean that as a knock on Bratislava. We really enjoyed our time there – Devin Castle was amazing and our breakfasts were awesome. But I didn’t feel like we needed more time than that. And even though we didn’t get to Bratislava Castle, we had time if we wanted to go. So I think one day in Bratislava is the perfect amount of time!
Would you visit Bratislava? Or if you have been, what did you think?
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