I had many reasons to be excited about my stop in Bratislava. First, the weather wasn’t completely awful for the first time in several days (I was on that super foggy Viking river cruise, by the way) which meant that I wouldn’t be freezing my ass off and that I would most likely get decent pictures. Additionally, I was ticking off a new country off my bucket list (my 26th!) and I was finally visiting a city that has long been referred to as one of the “jewels of Eastern Europe”.
Needless to say that at this point, I desperately needed Bratislava to not suck. And boy, did it not! Here’s what I did in my all-too-short but infinitely worthwhile 24 hours in the Slovakian capital.
Visiting Bratislava In One Day
Considering I had a very limited schedule (just a few hours) and that the better part of that precious time was going to be after nightfall, I had to be efficient and logical—that meant not going inside the castle or the museums, and pacing at a rather brisk pace. If you saw a lunatic power-walking around Bratislava and frantically taking pictures in December, that might have very well been me.
First order of business was Bratislava Castle. Standing 85 metres over the capital and the Danube River, the castle has been dominating the city’s skyline for several centuries; first mentions of it go as far back as year 907. But what we see today is largely a reconstruction; indeed, the perched fortress was nearly destroyed by a fire in the late 1800s and wasn’t rebuilt until a century later.
Even if you can’t make it inside to browse the permanent collections, you must walk up to the ramparts for the gorgeous views of Bratislava, and, on clear days, the Carpathian Mountains and even parts of neighbouring Hungary.
No doubt: this is Eastern Europe. With its retro trams and 18th-century peach-coloured façades, Bratislava really is a picture-perfect capital city that exudes charm. The starý mesto (old town) is rather small in size—a few dozen streets at most—but what it lacks in dimension it makes up for in authenticity and attractiveness. As you can see below, the city is, indeed, blessed with a very pleasant medieval centre.
I may not have done much during my time there but what I did manage to see just floored me: was I falling for Bratislava? Quite possibly.
Let’s just say my Instagram and I were both very happy about those rainbow-coloured cobbled streets. I ended up leaving Bratislava not knowing a whole lot more about it, aside from the fact that it’s an absolute gem and that I will need to come back in summertime for a proper visit.
Goodbye, Bratislava! Until next time.
Things To Do in Bratislava That I Unfortunately Didn’t Have Time For
- The Blue Church (Church of St Elizabeth)
- Slavín Hill and War Memorial
- Old Jewish Quarter
- Slovak National Gallery
- St Martin’s Cathedral
- Bratislava Forest Park
- UFO observatory
I was a guest of Viking River cruises. All opinions are my own.