Is Bratislava Worth Visiting? 15 Reasons to Say “Yes”!

Are you wondering if Bratislava is worth visiting?

I loved Slovakia’s capital. This city of contrasts is affordable, laid-back, has a gorgeous old town and is ever so slightly quirky.

Ready to find out more? Here are my top reasons for visiting Bratislava.

panoramic view of bratislava with cathedral clock tower in foreground

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Why Bratislava is Worth Visiting

medieval buildings in a pretty square in bratislava slovakia

Bratislava’s resplendent old town (Staré Mesto) is its main calling card. Reflecting the city’s illustrious history, a medieval and Gothic town hall cosies up to baroque palaces built by Hungarian nobles, many of which date from the 40-year reign of Empress Maria Theresa (1740 – 80).

You’ll find much of Bratislava’s architectural showpieces around Hlavné Námestie, its historical beating heart.

I loved the humorous statues dotted around Bratislava Old Town. Public sculpture is a Central and Eastern European tradition but few places do it with such imagination.

It’s hard to pick a favourite but Čumil, a workman peering out of a manhole cover, is the most photographed

bronze sculpture of a workman coming out of a manhole cover

I also liked the statue of a slightly bashful Hans Christian Andersen who visited Bratislava in 1841.

bronze sculpture of hans christian anderson
whitewashed exterior of bratislava castle

Rebuilt in Renaissance finery, Bratislava Castle has kept watch over the city since the 10th Century. This storybook castle is home to a history museum and there are birds-eye views of the Old Town from its 13th Century Crown Tower where the crown jewels were once deposited.

You can stroll through the manicured gardens behind the castle for free.

art nouveau exterior of blue church in bratislava

The Blue Church is one of the most unusual that I have seen in Europe. Featuring undulating arches, mosaics and powder-blue ceramic roof tiles, this Art Nouveau gem was dedicated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary in 1913.

exterior of bratislava with cathedral bell tower

Nineteen coronations took place at St. Martin’s Cathedral between 1563 and 1830. This is symbolised by the replica crown on the church’s spire.

This three-nave Gothic church dates from the 15th Century and features a statue of St. Martin on horseback. It’s free to visit the cathedral but there is a charge for the audio guide and to enter the crypt.

bronze sculpture of st martin on a horse

Slovakia became known as the coronation city after the Turkish occupation of Hungary and the local coronation city of Stuhlweißenburg (Székesfehérvár). As Bratislava was largely spared from a similar invasion, Hungarian royalty moved to Bratislava for safety.

You can follow in the footsteps of royalty along Bratislava’s Coronation Route, a historical trail that highlights Bratislava’s role as the coronation city of the Kingdom of Hungary.

ufo bridge in bratislava

Looking for all the world like a flying saucer, this iconic building is as much a part of the city’s skyline as its castle and cathedral. It was built as part of the SNP Bridge (Bridge of Slovak National Uprising) and houses a restaurant with panoramic views over Bratislava.

And here’s the thing. Bratislava is a spectacular mish-mash of architectural styles, from Gothic through to Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau and – ahem – futuristic.

There’s something for every architectural taste.

s-shaped sweet bagel on a white plate with a cup of coffee

If ever there was a reason for me to return to Bratislava, this would be near the top of the list. 

This traditional Slovak sweet bagel is filled with poppy seeds or walnuts. I tried the delicious poppy seed pastry, which was light and not too sweet, at Pressburg Bajgel.

exterior of pressburg bajgel cafe in bratislava
pint of beer

My favourite meal of this visit was at Bratislava’s Flagship Restaurant. Housed in the former 18th-century monastery of the Merciful Brothers, this vast eatery serves traditional cuisine washed down with home-brewed beer.

interior of vast flagship restaurant in bratislava with two dining levels

European cities are not exactly known for being wallet-friendly. Therefore, it’s refreshing to visit somewhere that is packed with charm and costs less than comparable destinations.  

Although it’s not a bargain basement city, food and drink are relatively affordable in Bratislava, particularly if you eat outside the more touristy Old Town and fill up on cheap and tasty local food. Accommodation and transportation are less expensive than in many comparable cities.

a large slovakian potato dumpling garnished with onions and red berries
Refuel with tasty local dumplings

For me, it has many of the merits of Prague minus the crowds. No swerving through tour groups and dodging selfie sticks here.

I’m not saying that it hasn’t escaped the march of tourism. Far from it. But accommodation prices haven’t reached silly levels and you don’t need to book a restaurant table weeks in advance.

pretty street lined with pastel coloured buildings in bratislava slovakia

I included Bratislava on an Interrail trip through Eastern and Central Europe, not least because it is so well connected by train.

It is superbly placed midway between Prague and Budapest. Vienna is only an hour by train, making Bratislava an easy day trip.

One of my key criteria for choosing a European city break is how easy it is to get around.

Bratislava is very walkable. Most of its main attractions are clustered in and around its Old Town rendering public transport unnecessary. If you are arriving by train, you can reach the Old Town on foot within 15 minutes from the Main Station.

Keeping safe when travelling alone is a primary concern of solo travellers, especially female solo travellers.

Bratislava is generally a safe and friendly city with low crime rates. Street harassment is minimal and the city is easy to navigate, even after dark.

That said, as with any destination, a little bit of common sense goes a long way. Stick to familiar streets after dark and make sure that you know your way back to your hotel or apartment.

Keep your valuables at your accommodation and use an anti-theft backpack when you are out and about. I always use this PacSafe backpack which has anti-RFID technology and a hidden pocket.

pretty illuminated old buildings with clock tower in square in bratislava at night

I am a major railway geek and the journey between Bratislava and Košice via Poprad is one of Europe’s most scenic. It skirts the snow-capped peaks of the High Tatras, past mirror-like lakes and rivers.

Thank you for reading my reasons for visiting Bratislava

I hope it has persuaded you to add this picturesque city to your travel bucket list.

I spent two nights in Bratislava at the lovely Marrol’s Boutique Hotel, a touch of affordable luxury travel.

bedroom in marrols boutique hotel bratislava with double bed and table and chair
bathroom in room in bratislava marrols boutique hotel

Here are the best things to see in Bratislava in a day. I recommend getting to know the city by joining this excellent free walking tour. It lasted two hours and Bianka, our guide, generously shared lots of local information.

If you are exploring more of Slovakia, here are a few other guides that might help you:

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at or follow her on social media.

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