Although surrounded by bigger and more popular cities, Bratislava should not be overlooked. The capital city of Slovakia is nearly an hour from the neighboring capital of Austria. Bratislava is a charming place that is well worth a visit even if you have limited time to explore. With only have half a day in Bratislava, I decided to stroll from Bratislava Castle to Old Town and simply explore the Old Town area and see what drew my interest.
Table of Contents
Bratislava Castle: Home to the Slovak National Museum
You’ll find Bratislava Castle towering over Old Town. It houses the Museum of History, also referred to as the Slovak National Museum. The museum features Slovakian history from the middle ages all the way up to the present, with various timely exhibits.
The castle is often referred to as an upside down table due to its appearance. It provides a great view of the city. In addition, it also lets you peek into the neighboring countries of Austria and Hungary from its terrace or from the Crown Tower, the tallest part of the castle.
Old Town: A bustling, lively borough
Sightseeing in Old Town
About a 15 min walk from the castle will take you to the lively Old Town full of cafes, restaurants, shops, souvenir stores and other attractions. I found that the best way to sightsee in Old Town is to just take your time and stroll through it at your own pace. I especially enjoyed walking among Old Town’s colorful buildings while people watching and discovering hidden courtyards. Here are a few of the features I enjoyed.
Michael’s Gate and Tower: The last standing city gate
Michael’s Gate was originally built in the 1300s as one of the four gates surrounding the city. Now it is the last standing gate. To learn more about the city’s fortification, visit the Museum of Arms housed inside. You might also opt to climb to the observation deck of Michael’s Tower to look at Old Town from above.
Old Town Hall: Home to the Museum of City History
The Old Town Hall that sits right in the heart of Old Town is the oldest town hall in Slovakia. A previous seat of the city’s government, Bratislava’s Old Town Hall now houses the Museum of City History. You can take the stairs all the way up for the panoramic 360-degree view of the Old Town available through a walkway that goes around the tower.
St Martin’s Cathedral: The historic location of coronations
St Martin’s cathedral, a place of worship in the Catholic religion, is primarily known as the coronation place of Hungarian monarchs back when Slovakia was part of Hungary. When you peek inside, pay attention to its beautiful altars and gothic windows. You can also check out the crypts in the cathedral’s underground. The crypts mainly house the remains of church officials and notable people of the time.
The Blue Church (St Elisabeth’s Church)
I ended my visit to Old Town Bratislava at Saint Elisabeth’s Church, also known as the Blue Church. The Blue Church is a unique attraction of Bratislava, built in the 20th century in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style. The church gets its name from its appearance. It is covered with blue majolica tiles manufactured in Slovakia that give it a fairy-tale look.
If you have more time, there are plenty of other attractions in the city worth visiting. This includes palaces, bridges, and statues. However, if you only have half a day or a few hours to devote to Bratislava, I recommend starting at Old Town. See what interesting things might attract your attention!
Traveling through Slovakia in autumn, I found the countryside to be especially beautiful. It was full of the colorful rolling hills and ruins of castles popping up here and there. Choosing to take small roads over a highway took me a bit longer, but the views made up for it.
Interested in visiting nearby Austria while in the area? Read my post about the cultural attractions of Vienna, Austria.