Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia is one of the most underrated European cities. It’s a small cozy city that is easily accessible from Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
Planning to spend a day in Bratislava? Well, you made the right decision! Because even though Bratislava is a very small city, it’s absolutely stunning!
Here’s a 1-day itinerary that includes the main sights to see and things to do in Bratislava
Currency: Euro €
Language: Slovak with basic English.
This itinerary will let you start your day by exploring the Northern part of the city first. Then it will lead you to the heart of the old town, visit the Bratislava castle, see the city from great viewpoints. And finally, end your day by watching the beautiful sunset by Danube river.
The Presidential Palace and Garden
Start the day by exploring the Northern part of the city. Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava is the residence of the president of Slovakia. In front of the palace, there is a French garden that you can visit.
Even though you cannot enter the palace, it’s still a pleasant walk in the garden to capture a few pretty pictures on your camera.
Location: Hodžovo námestie 2978/1, 810 00 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
Try Slovac Crepes “Slovenske Palacinky”
After the garden, just a few minutes walk you can stop at Petite Creperie for some French crepes that literally melt in your mouth! These crepes are served warm, and you can choose between sweet and savory fillings. When I visited I thought that these were Slovac crepes, but then a reader told me that those were French crepes and the little place was opened by a girl that lived in France for a bit.
Location: Vysoká 4282/22, 811 06 Bratislava, Slovakia
Walk towards Michel’s Gate, it’s one of the town’s oldest buildings that was built around the year 1300, and it’s also the only city gate that was preserved. This tower houses the exhibitions of weapons of Bratislava city museum. And the design of the building is very unique with a beautiful turquoise colour.
Location: Michalská 806/24, 811 03 Staré Mesto, Slovakia
If you pass by the gate and keep walking down the little streets, you will be in the heart of the old town and will be able to enjoy the lovely streets filled with lovely cozy coffee shops and bars. Make sure to make a stop at one of the coffee houses in this area, sit back and watch the tourists and locals pass by as you sip your cup of coffee.
You will also see a lot of locals enjoying their coffee in this area, and life will look very relaxed and slow.
The Main Square and Roland’s Fountain
You probably have guessed it, after passing Michel’s gate and going down the road you have reached the city’s main square. You will see Roland’s fountain.
This fountain is the city’s most famous fountain that was built in 1572, as ordered by the king of Hungary to supply the public with water. It has been said that many legends happened around this fountain, and it’s also a popular meeting point.
Location: Hlavné námestie, 811 01 Bratislava-Staré Mesto-Bratislava, Slovakia
Man at Work Statue
Man At Work “Cumil” is probably Bratislava’s most known statue. It became the old town’s symbol since it was put there in 1997. It’s a Bronze statue of a sewer worker resting at the top of the manhole.
It’s actually a funny statue, and there are 2 different explanations. The first one claims that he’s just a typical worker from the communist era who is not bothered to do any work. And the other explanation suggests that he’s just hanging out there peeking under women’s skirts that are passing by the street.
Location: At the junction of Laurinská and Panská Streets.
Tip: You have to rub the man’s head, make a wish and never tell anyone about it if you want it to come true.
Bratislava Castle is the city’s main castle and a major attraction. It’s a rectangular castle with 4 towers that have views of not only Slovakia but also Austria and Hungary.
You will have to climb up a hill to reach the castle, but the steps aren’t too high if you take it easy. Once you are up there, you will be able to take stunning pictures as the castle is overlooking the old town’s red roofs, Danube river, and Bratislava’s UFO bridge.
If you stand in front of the castle by the terrace, you will be able to see this awesome panoramic view. So make sure that your camera is ready to capture this stunning view.
UFO Bridge and Tower (SNP)
I suggest seeing this bridge from the same viewpoint. This bridge is often referred to as The New Bridge (Novy Most) or SNP (Slovak National Uprising), it is the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world. If you take a closer look at the top of the bridge, you will find an observation deck with a fine dining restaurant.
Tip: For a spectacular panoramic view and perhaps a romantic dining experience, it might be worth checking out the UFO observation deck to spend an evening with your loved one.
Shop for Slovak Souveniers
As you are visiting the Bratislava castle, you will find a little cute souvenir shop where you can pick up some very lovely Slovac pieces to take home with you.
Be it a mug that you want to buy for a friend or a traditional table runner that will look pretty in your dining room, or perhaps just a fridge magnet to remind you of your trip. In this shop, you will find it all.
Spend some time walking around the castle, and perhaps even explore the castle from inside. If you go around the building you will see the Bratislava castle baroque garden.
It’s a lovely garden that was recently restored and is now open to the public. The entry is free so make sure not to miss this part, and it’s open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM. I even saw a bride and a groom getting a professional photo shoot done in this garden since it’s so pretty there.
As you walk down from the castle hill, there are lots of lovely terraces and little snack bars that you can stop at. My favourite is this cute little Chinese Tea Bar that plays relaxing music and makes high-quality premium teas including Slovak tea, cold brew coffee, and even serves homemade lemonade infused with elderflower syrup.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
As you cross the little bridge that goes from the castle part of the city to the old town you will be able to see the UFO bridge closely and St Martin’s Cathedral.
If you’re interested in visiting the Catholic cathedral, it’s open from Monday to Saturday from 9 to 11:30 in the morning and 13:00 to 18:00. It’s also open on Sundays from 13:30 to 16:30.
St Martin’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Bratislava, it’s also one of the oldest.
Location: Rudnayovo námestie 1, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia
As you walk from the cathedral to Hviezdoslavovo Square, you will see some lovely street art. Look at each painting closely, and might find something that you will surprise you or warm your heart.
This is one of the city’s main squares with lots of green spaces, it is also where all the action happens. You will find a big number of restaurants on the sides of the square filled up with tourists and locals. There’s a playground for children, so if you’re travelling with your little ones then you’re gonna love this part.
Stop for an Ice Cream at Andersen
At the beginning of the square, you will find Andersen Ice cream. It’s a little shop that sells Italian homemade ice cream and freshly baked wafer cones.
Stop here to catch your breath, and to cool down refreshing with a fruity ice cream. They have a little seating area for you to relax, but you could also take your ice cream and continue walking in the square as there’s a lot going on in there.
Location: Hviezdoslavovo námestie 169/12, 811 02 Bratislava, Slovakia
In the square, you will also pass by Hviezdoslav sculpture and fountain. This is the statue of Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav.
Slovak National Theatre
At the end of the square, you will see an old theatre. This is Slovakia’s oldest theatre. A new theatre opened in 2007 near Eurovea Mall so all the activities have been moved there.
However, the architecture of the old theatre is stunning and there’s always a lot going on around it. When I visited the square, there was a street magic show right in front of the theatre with big crowds watching.
Location: Gorkého 132/2, 810 02 Bratislava, Slovakia
Blue Church (Church of St. Elizabeth)
The little blue church is a beautiful Catholic church that looks like it came from a fairytale. This church is Hungarian and it’s located in the Eastern part of the old town of Bratislava. Do not miss this beauty, as it’s a very unique looking church especially on a beautiful day when the sky is clear and as blue as the church.
Location: Bezručova 2534/2, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
Humanic – Eurovea Shopping Center
From the square, walk to Eurovea shopping center. It is the most visited shopping center in Bratislava and there you will find lots of different shops from local to international brands. So if there’s anything that you need to buy, then this is the place to go.
It is open daily from 10 AM to 9 PM, and the food court stays open until 10 PM.
Location: Pribinova 8, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
Outside of the mall, you will find the promenade. This is probably my favourite part of the city because you could feel the young vibe there. It’s the social point of the city, and it’s filled with cafes on both sides over the stunning views of Danube river. You will most probably be very hungry by this time, so finding a restaurant for dinner will not be a problem in this area.
If you’re not hungry, then you could just chill in one of the cafes. You order a glass of wine and maybe even smoke Shisha if that’s your thing. If it gets chilly in the evening, you could even ask one of the waiters to bring a little blanket for you to get you warm as you enjoy the music and the view.
On the riverside, there are playgrounds for children as well as an outdoor gym. and if you stay there after sunset, you will get to enjoy spectacular views of the river and the bridges.
Getting around in Bratislava
Explore the City by Foot
I always say that the best way to explore the city is on foot. Bratislava is a small city, and if you are exploring the old city and the parts mentioned in this post then it’s doable by foot.
Public transport is available in all parts of the city and is easily accessible. The buses and trams also run until late at night even on the weekends.
I have used Hopin Taxi to get to the main bus station from my hotel. I stayed in the Northern part of the city and was charged 4 euros for the ride, plus 1 euro because I had a piece of luggage.