Bratislava. Capital of Slovakia and one of the lesser-known European holiday destinations. With its trendy neighbours of Vienna and Budapest getting hordes of tourists each year, Bratislava falls far behind, despite it being situated just over an hour away from Vienna and two hours from the Hungarian capital.
Many people who do visit Slovakia only spend one day in Bratislava, and while I will always advocate for slow travel, I understand that it is not always possible, and so if you only have enough time for one day in Bratislava, this post will tell you all you need to know!
Psst – this is an outline of how to spend one day in Bratislava and is by no means an exhaustive list of everything that the Slovakian capital has to offer. For a deeper insight, go ahead and check out my list of 13 things to do in Bratislava!
Spending One Day in Bratislava? Here’s All You Need to Know
Bratislava at a Glance
Many people who visit Bratislava are looking for an alternative to Prague and flock to Slovakia looking for wild parties, strip clubs and cheap booze, only to be disappointed when they realise that while you certainly can find those things, Bratislava isn’t the best place for a lad’s holiday.
However, I strongly believe that Bratislava is one of the most underrated European capitals and that spending one day in Bratislava is a fantastic day trip from Vienna! With a dinky, pedestrianised old town, an abundance of coffee shops and beer houses, awe-inspiring medieval architecture and hearty comfort food, Bratislava is definitely not to be missed.
Getting to Bratislava
If you are flying to Bratislava, you will probably be travelling to Bratislava Airport (BTS) or Vienna-Schwechat (VIE) airport. Bratislava airport is just 15-20 minutes away from the centre, and Vienna is 40km away with regular buses.
If you are taking the train to Bratislava, you can arrive from Prague, Budapest or Vienna. All three cities have regular connections to Bratislava, and the Main Station in Bratislava is just a 15 minute walk away from the Old Town.
Buses to Bratislava arrive from a wide range of European cities and they arrive and depart from Mlynské Nivy bus station.
Vienna to Bratislava
Chances are, if you’re spending one day in Bratislava, you’ll be coming from Vienna! Getting from Vienna to Bratislava is super simple and only takes 1-2 hours, depending on how you travel.
Vienna to Bratislava by car: The 80km drive from Vienna to Bratislava takes an hour (or 52 minutes to be exact!), and you can either hire a car or use a rideshare app such as BlaBlaCar.
Vienna to Bratislava by train: There are 39 direct trains from Vienna to Bratislava every single day, and they can get you there in as little as 44 minutes, with the average taking just over an hour. Tickets cost between 13-17 EUR.
Vienna to Bratislava by bus: Travelling from Vienna to Bratislava by bus takes slightly longer, at around 1 hour and 20 minutes, but is the cheapest way of travel, with tickets coming in at 6 EUR. There are 6 direct buses from Vienna to Bratislava each day.
Know Before You Go
Slovakia has been a member of the EU since May 1, 2004, and the currency in Slovakia is the EURO.
The official language in Slovakia is Slovak, but you will not struggle speaking English in Bratislava.
Bratislava is a very safe city and crime rates are very low, with violent crime being almost non-existent. The biggest threat that you may face in Bratislava is pickpocketing, and even then, the rates for pickpocketing in Bratislava are much lower than in Europe as a whole.
Bratislava is the seventh cheapest country in the European Union. A meal in a traditional pub will cost between 5-10 EUR, beer is between 1-2 EUR and dorm beds in hostels start at around 12 EUR.
Shops are usually closed on Sundays, so if your one day in Bratislava falls on a Sunday then make sure you’ve stocked up on anything you may need beforehand!
Despite traditional Slovakian food being very meaty, there are tonnes of vegetarian and vegan options in Bratislava, so you don’t need to worry about going hungry if you are a vegan in Bratislava!
Bratislava’s Old Town is totally pedestrianised, as well as being very compact. This means that if you only have one day in Bratislava, you can still squeeze in all of the main Bratislava attractions in an afternoon!
Bratislava 1 Day Itinerary
Although Bratislava is a small city, it may surprise you to find that there are actually a tonne of things to do in Bratislava in one day!
For this Bratislava 1 day itinerary, I will be assuming that you have travelled to Bratislava in the morning and are arriving just in time for brunch! If your plan is slightly different, then you can of course tweak this itinerary to suit your needs.
Lunch at the Slovak Pub
You can start your one day in Bratislava off with some hearty local grub at Slovak Pub, a favourite amongst both locals and tourists alike for great food at low prices.
Slovak Pub is actually the largest bar in Bratislava, and has its own bio farm and keg-room, where fresh beer is produced onsite!
When my friend and I visited the Slovak pub, we opted for creamy garlic soup served in bowls of homemade bread (4.50 EUR), followed by the ‘Slovak platter for 2 persons’ (13.50 EUR) and pints of cold beer.
The Slovak platter was huge and consisted of halusky potato dumplings with bryndza sheep cheese (Slovakia’s national dish!), pierogi stuffed with sheep cheese and topped with onions and cream cheese, and halusky dumplings with cabbage and bacon.
Wander the Old Town
You can easily spend an hour wandering around Bratislava’s Old Town, taking in the stunning architecture and ticking off a few of the main Bratislava attractions at once.
One of the main things to see in the Old Town is the Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral. St. Martin’s is the oldest and the largest church in Bratislava and was actually used as a coronation place for Hungarian kings from the 16th to the 19th century.
You should also check out Michael’s Gate, the last of Bratislava’s four medieval gates which dates all the way back to the start of the 14th century. You can go up inside the tower to see an exhibition about the old fortifications of the city and medieval weaponry, or head straight up to the sixth floor for a breathtaking view over the Old Town.
Another thing not to be missed in Bratislava’s Old Town is the main square, Hlavné námestie, which is home to Maximilian’s Fountain and Stara Radnica (the courtyard of the old Town Hall), and feels like it has been taken straight from the pages of a fairy tale!
Pose with Bratislava’s Statues
The city of Bratislava is home to many statues, erected to attract more tourists, and they certainly do! One day in Bratislava may not be enough time to hunt out every single statue, but you can’t miss Hans Christian Anderson (shake his hand if you want a successful writing career!), Schoner Naci, a Slovak carpet cleaner who used to love flirting with pretty women (!) and Cumil, poking his head up from a manhole.
The Church of St. Elisabeth
The Church of St. Elisabeth, more commonly known as the Blue Church, is a beautiful example of the Art Nouveau architecture of the region, and 1 day in Bratislava wouldn’t be complete without it!
Located just East of Bratislava Old Town on Bezručova Street, the Blue Church is a unique blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Oriental design, and the chief architect, Ödön Lechner, has often been referred to as the Hungarian Gaudi.
More of a boulevard than a square, Hviezdoslavovo Square is a long promenade lined with bars, coffee shops and restaurants, as well as plenty of benches, shaded by trees, where you can cool down with a gelato and watch the world go by.
Watch the Sunset at Bratislava Castle
Castle enthusiasts and locals alike are not huge fans of Bratislava Castle, and while it may not be the most ornate or majestic castle in Europe, if you only have one day in Bratislava then it is definitely worth a visit, if only to check out the views of the infamous UFO Bridge from the terrace!
In the past, Bratislava Castle played a crucial role in the history of Central Europe, and from the 16th century it has been the coronation city of the Hungarian Kingdom. Today it is still under reconstruction after the fire in 1811, but there is a museum inside that chronicles Slovakia’s history.
While Bratislava Castle is great to visit at any time of the day, the courtyard really comes to life just before sunset, where people gather to watch the stunning views over the Danube.
Dine at Bratislava Flagship Restaurant
Its website states ‘If you have not been in Bratislava Flagship Restaurant, you don’t know Bratislava!’ – a bold claim, but not unfounded, as the Bratislava Flagship Restaurant is one of the best rated restaurants in Bratislava and the perfect choice for dinner.
A traditionally decorated beer house set in a monastery building, Bratislava Flagship Restaurant serves up generous portions of stodgy Slovak grub. If you already tried the halusky dumplings at Slovak pub then why not try a homemade sausage with mustard and horseradish, baked pork knuckle or stewed beef with bread dumplings.
The more adventurous amongst you may want to try the Držková polievka (tripe soup), pickled vinegar sausage or the tatársky biftek, strips of raw sirloin with garlic toast.
Finish off with some homemade strudel and monastery beer brewed onsite, or even a shot of Slivovica plum liquor.
Your one day in Bratislava wouldn’t be complete without doing what Slovaks do best – finding a local beer house and drinking copious amounts of the good stuff!
Beer pubs and breweries are ten a penny in Bratislava, and they are all quaint and cosy with great beer at affordable prices.
If clubbing is more your scene, fear not. Bratislava is home to a tonne of nightclubs, specialising in everything from Latin music to live rock performances and hard techno. Nu Spirit has deep house and techno music on the bottom floor and live performances on the top. There is also The Club Bratislava, which is the biggest club in Bratislava, as well as a whole host of other nightclubs.
One Day in Bratislava | Final Thoughts
So, there concludes my itinerary for one day in Bratislava! Bratislava is a magical medieval city with a whole host of interesting things to see and do (check out my longer post for a more in-depth list of Bratislava attractions), and if you have the time then you should definitely spend a few days there taking in the sights and going on day trips.
However, if you do only have one day to spend, this itinerary will ensure that you check off all of the main things to see in Bratislava, and it will hopefully whet your appetite enough to persuade you to come back and explore Slovakia a little deeper!
and now i want to know what you think! is there anything that i missed, or does this bratislava 1 day itinerary hit the spot? let me know in the comments below!
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