I’m not sure what it was about Bratislava – its harsh sounding name or the presumption that it would bear all the hallmarks of the Eastern bloc – which led me to believe I wouldn’t be terribly impressed. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and entirely mistaken as Bratislava is quaint, beautiful, bustling and cheap.
Here are six reasons, in no particular order, to love Bratislava:
6. The Architecture
Its architecture is refreshingly different from the surrounding countries and is far less inclined towards the overbearing baroque of its closest neighbour Austria (Vienna is only 60km away and the two are the world’s closest capital cities). From the bizarre UFO which hovers over the Most SNP (a bridge crossing the Danube) to onion domed churches, there’s something to sate everyone’s architectural appetite, whether inclined to old or modern styles.
5. The Nightlife
In the height of summer it’s almost impossible to find an outdoor table at one of Bratislava’s many bars. If you can, they’re the perfect places to people watch and observe the interesting fashion choices of the locals particularly the women heading for a night out (apparently less is more in Slovakia).
4. It’s Cheap!
It also happens to be fairly cheap but fortunately remains undiscovered by stag and hen nights. Both beer and wine are very reasonably priced, with beers usually less than 3 Euros and a very large glass of wine for fewer than 4 Euros even in the more touristy areas. So it’s an ideal refuge for those who have been on road for a while!
3. The Site Of A Truly Bizarre Ghost Story
Hidden in the treasury of St. Martin’s Cathedral is a piece of cloth which bears the outline of a hand. The legend goes a ghost convinced a local bigwig to build a religious statue as a means of demonstrating their piety. Before the statue was unveiled, the ghost decided to prove its power and connection to a higher power by placing its hand on the cloth covering the statue. The ghost’s hand burnt through the cloth, as the story goes, and it’s still on display today, next to a plaque bearing a far more eloquent explanation!
2. The Views
Although the city itself is relatively flat, there are plenty of places to view the Bratislava and its surroundings from on high. And who doesn’t love a good view? The castle (Hrad) boasts numerous viewing platforms whether you want to look across the Danube to the modern city or towards the hills where the Slavin War Memorial sits.
1. The Tongue In Cheek Statues
The Old Town of Bratislava is well known for hiding a few sculptural gems which all happen to be rather cheeky. A “man at work” peeps out of a man hole; a soldier complete with Napoleon-esque hat leans against a bench; and a paparazzo peeps around the corner. Here’s also a few more, but that would give the game away – see how many you can find!