After arriving crazily early in the morning thanks to an overnight train from Krakow we had just over 24 hours in Bratislava.
But despite the short amount of time, we managed to pack in a hell of a lot. Bratislava is such a lovely city. It’s probably one of the smallest cities I’ve been to but that meant exploring was so easy. And oh my gosh the food we ate was incredible…
After a pretty awful overnight train, we arrived in the city at 6am! Yeah, that’s right 6 in the morning…
After dropping our bags off at the hostel, we went in search of caffeine to wake me up. As expected nothing was open, so a cup of tea in McDonald’s it was.
Luckily had the receptionist at our hostel had been super helpful and given us a list of breakfast spots, details of a walking tour and other things to do until we could check in.
Since we were feeling a bit more awake and had still some time before any cafes opened we decided to go for a wander.
There’s something incredibly special about exploring a city before it wakes up. Imagine stunning architecture bathed in soft morning sun and feeling like you’re in your own little kingdom.
We were pretty much the only people around and it was so nice to be able to see everything without the crowds that came later. It’s not something I would do regularly, I like my sleep too much! But without a doubt try to see a city before the other tourists descend, nothing else quite compares.
After a bit of a let’s just say ‘heated debate’, we decided to head to two different cafes for breakfast. One for me and one for Mark. Compromise at it’s finest!
First up was the Mondieu Bistro for the best french toast, topped with bacon and eggs I’ve ever had. The French style cafe has a cozy feel with the most incredible breakfast menu. It offers everything from croissants and pancakes to omelettes and of course avocado and poached egg on toast. Breakfasts were all priced at around €6.
Then it was on to Mark’s choice. The Urban Bistro is right next to St Micheals gate and is a very good spot for people watching while you eat. He opted for an English Breakfast that had a slight twist on the classic dish including homemade spicy baked beans and poached eggs. Neitherless he assures me it was very good, even stating the beans were some of the best he’s had! The prices were a little more expensive being in such a tourist hotspot, with Mark’s dish costing €7.90.
Full up, it was time to explore some more. We decided to join a walking tour, operated by Be Free Tours so that we could see all the must see sites in the short space of time we had.
The tour covered pretty much all of the Old Town including; Hviezdoslavovo námestie, the Slovak National Theatre, the statues of Cumil & Schone Naci, Old Town Hall, Franciscan Church, St Michael’s Gate, Trinitarian Church, Grassalkovich Palace, SNP square, Blue Church and the site of the 1968 Soviet occupation.
While you could definitely see all of those things by yourself, it’s all the history, facts and stories you learn as well that makes me love walking tours. It makes me feel a bit ashamed that there’s so much Europen History I didn’t even know existed! We learnt about the Communist era, the Prague Spring, the Velvet Revolution and a pretty amusing story of how a group of drunk Italian soldiers burnt down the castle!
We’d now be awake for about 8 hours and it was only half 1, so it was back to the hostel for a much needed nap.
After a good nap, like usual, we woke up pretty hungry. After missing out in Poland, I was desperate for pierogi! If you’ve ever had pierogi you’ll understand why.
Our tour guide and the hostel had recommended a few places to get some traditional Slovak food, so after googling some menus we decided to head to one. We picked the Bratislava Flagship Restaurant and oh my gosh I was so glad we did.
The restaurant is in SNP square, just on the edge of the old town. It’s a former theatre that’s kept pretty much all the original features including the stage making the building itself a pretty cool place to eat. The only thing that let it down was a complete lack of atmosphere. We did eat at 5 pm so I was expecting it to be buzzing, but I felt a little awkward being there. If you decide to visit I’d suggest going later on when the locals eat.
But the food, the food made up for everything. The pierogi was filled with sheep cheese and topped with bacon, sour cream, and dill. It was to die for. Mark opted for a slightly more familiar pepper steak, which he insists was also very good. Prices were very reasonable, the dumpling based dishes were around €7 each.
It was now about 6 pm so there was still plenty of time for exploring. We headed towards Grassalkovich Palace, Bratislava’s very own White House! We were lucky enough to be there while there was an installation in the courtyard displaying some of the iconic photos from the Prague Spring. It was a really interesting insight into one of the most important moments in the countries history.
I also couldn’t leave Bratislava without taking the time to get some photos in front of the iconic Blue Church. You really feel like you’ve entered a fairytale when you see it! I’d also recommend having a peek inside if there isn’t a service going on.
Our evening plans included heading out of a beer tour organised by our hostel. But there was just time to grab some ice-cream before heading off to get ready.
The beer tour itself was a lot of fun – highly recommend doing one if it’s something your hostel offers.
Although we were getting a train later on in the day, we decided to make the most of our final morning and do some exploring.
I’d heard about the incredible views from Slavin and was dying to visit. There was also Bratislava Castle that we hadn’t got to see yet either.
We’d met another couple on the beer tour the night before, so together with we decided to head for the Castle first.
On the way there we actually wandered past St Martin’s Cathedral and the Holocaust Memorial completely by accident. We actually didn’t realise what either was at the time! It stills amazes what you come across when you just take yourself for a wander through different cities.
The Castle itself has some incredible views over the river, including the famous UFO. Like most castles, you can pay to go inside and visit some of the exhibitions. There is also meant to be some incredibly beautiful castle gardens that you can visit for free. I say meant to be because I think we circled the castle about three times trying to find them, before giving up on that one!
After the Castle, we decided that some more uphill walking would be a good idea, and headed towards the Slavin Memorial. The memorial commemorates the liberation of Bratislava by the Soviets at the end of World War II. It also serves as a cemetery for the Soviet Soldiers who lost their lives in the battles for the city.
The main attraction, however, is the incredible views from the hill. It has the most amazing views over the city including Bratislava Castle. And is also a wonderful place just to sit and relax for a while.
We said goodbye to our new friends and then headed off to the train station. Stopping at a Tesco on the way because this girl needs to eat.
I had no real expectations when I came to Bratislava. Well, apart from the Blue Church, I was very excited about that one! But it’s such a charming little city. It’s not had the easiest past but nowadays it’s full of charm, very friendly and the perfect place for those looking to explore somewhere new.
Have you been to Bratislava, are you planning to go? And you best be answering yes to one of those…
All my love,