Back in March I had the pleasure of visiting the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, one of Europe’s hidden gems and a beautiful city brimming with old town charm, cobbled streets and fairy-tale buildings. I’m fully aware that when people think of European city breaks, they tend to think of Paris, Barcelona and Madrid as some of the top go-to destinations. I actually didn’t mean to visit Bratislava at all, but ended up there after finding it was a really cheap way to travel to Vienna, given that flights to Austria are pretty expensive. Surprisingly, Bratislava turned out to be one of the most beautiful European cities I have ever visited, and I even preferred it to Vienna, the place I had planned to head to initially! There’s so much history, culture and charm in Bratislava, and here are a few reasons why I think it should go right to the top of your bucket lists!
It’s In A Fantastic Location
Bordered by Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Bratislava enjoys a brilliant position from which to access some of Europe’s most popular cities. Vienna, Budapest and Prague are all just a train ride away, with one hour, three hour and four hour journeys respectively, and all those cities (except Prague) are on the River Danube giving easy access by boat too. As Bratislava is fairly small, you could stay and do everything there for a few days before heading on to one of the neighbouring European capitals, or could use it as a base for exploring other parts of Slovakia.
It Boasts Two Stunning Castles
Probably my favourite thing about Bratislava, it’s beautiful castles! Hrad Castle is perched high on top of a hill and it’s a bit of a trek to get to, but it’s worth it for the views of the entire city below and is a very special place to visit. I was lucky enough to watch the sunset over the castle during my time there, and it looked even better when it sparkled in the golden sunlight. Head over to the nearby Devin Castle if you have time – the ruins, fortress walls and those turrets are serious Instagram goals!
There’s So Much To See And Do
If you like history and culture, Bratislava is the place for you. Take a walking tour to find out more about the city, and climb one of the many towers for incredible panoramic views stretching as far as Austria. Wander around St Martin’s Cathedral, walk across the UFO/SNP bridge or people watch in the main square. Explore one of the royal palaces, climb the original fortification entrance (Michael’s Gate) or eat in the lively Hviezdoslavovo Square. Almost all of Bratislava’s main sights can be seen in a day or two, so give yourself enough time to enjoy it and embrace the true Slovak culture when exploring its fantastic capital.
It’s Easy To Get Around On Foot
As I mentioned, the historical centre at the heart of the city is super small and can easily be seen in just a day or two. Getting around on foot is, in my opinion, the best way of seeing all the sights and finding new places that are slightly off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps. Start from the main square and do those surrounding landmarks first before venturing a little further afield and heading towards the UFO/SNP bridge before making your way to Hrad Castle and hiking all the way up to the top.
It’s Super Cheap
Like many European cities, Bratislava is particularly cheap and offers great value for money for those visiting from abroad. We booked flights to the UK from as little as £45 return and found accommodation for just 15euros per night based on 2 people sharing a private hostel room. Hotels are a little more expensive, but meals and drinks in restaurants, bars and cafes were really good value and on the same level as the costings in places like Prague and Budapest. Make the most of the excellent value for money and treat yourself to some top quality food and experiences when you’re over there – it’s great to indulge once in a while and Bratislava will let you do that without breaking the bank!
So there we have it, my thoughts on Bratislava in a nut shell, and just a few reasons why I think this city is one of the most underrated capitals in Europe. With so much to see and do you’ll have the best time embracing your inner exploring and getting to know a new country and city. Have you ever been to Bratislava before? If not, head over there pronto, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
By Travel Ambassador Jessica from Journeys With Jessica .net