Long an important cultural, economic, and political center in Central Europe, Bratislava is the capital and largest city of Slovakia. Located on the banks of the Danube, just a stone’s throw away from Austria, Czechia, and Hungary, its proximity to so many different cultures has had a profound impact on the city’s look, feel, and identity.
Besides the myriad of architectural styles and cultural influences on show, the city also has lots of fascinating historical sights for you to visit, with castles, cathedrals, and palaces found alongside its gorgeous Old Town. Hidden away among its winding streets or tucked away in concrete blocks that were built in communist times, you can find cozy cafes, trendy bars, and brilliant restaurants.
A cute and charming place to spend some time, Bratislava is well worth visiting if you have the chance. Many people combine it with trips to Budapest and Vienna, both of which lie nearby.
17. Old Town Hall
Actually consisting of three different townhouses that were joined together to form the town hall, this peculiar yet pretty building exhibits a mishmash of Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance architecture.
The standout feature is its marvelous stone tower that is painted light yellow and dates to 1370. Located in the center of town, the Old Town Hall has housed the Bratislava City Museum since 1868. Inside, you can learn all about the city’s captivating past, as well as enjoying fantastic views from the top of the tower.
16. Hviezdoslavovo Namestie
Lined by lots of leafy trees and lovely buildings, Hviezdoslavovo Namestie – or Hviezdoslav Square – has remarkably been around in some shape or form for over a thousand years. Now named after the famous Slovak poet Hviezdoslav, whose wonderful statue lies in the square, it is here that many of the city’s cultural events take place.
While the Neo-Renaissance Slovak National Theater is perhaps its most important and impressive sight, the square is also a great place to head for a drink or bite to eat, as various cafes, bars, and restaurants are found here.
15. Eurovea Galleria
Lying on the banks of the Danube, Eurovea Galleria is one of the largest shopping malls in the city, and both locals and tourists come here to shop the day away. Only opened in 2010, the sparkling complex has revitalized Bratislava’s waterfront, with houses, hotels, and businesses found above the shops and stores.
With a casino, cinema, and swimming pool also available, Eurovea Galleria offers a myriad of leisure opportunities, and there is a delightful little park for you to stroll along by the river. Work is still ongoing, and soon, the shopping complex will boast the first skyscraper in the country.
14. Napoleon’s Army Soldier Statue
In 1809, Napoleon’s army laid siege to Bratislava as the little corporal waged war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While this was going on, legend has it that one of Napoleon’s men fell in love with a local girl and decided to stay on in the city.
Today, a statue of the soldier in his distinctive uniform can be seen leaning against a bench. Many people sit and pose for pictures with the famous figure.
13. Grassalkovich Palace
Now the residence of the President of the Slovak Republic, Grassalkovich Palace was built in 1760 and is named after the Croatian aristocrat who commissioned it. Its elegant and elaborate Rococo architecture makes for a splendid sight.
While its interior is said to be just as pleasing on the eye, only state officials are allowed inside. After drinking in all its fine features to your heart’s content, there are some peaceful and relaxing landscaped gardens for you to explore behind the palace.
12. Schone Naci Statue
Born in 1897, Ignac Lamar won the hearts and smiles of the city’s people with his charm, jovial nature, and ability to bring happiness to those around him. The son of a shoemaker would wander through the Old Town’s streets, greeting people here and there, making everyone smile wherever he went.
Such was his renown and reputation that the Schone Naci Statue was erected in his honor. This shiny silver statue of him holding out his top hat in greeting is a fitting tribute to his larger-than-life personality and testifies to the joy he brought to Bratislava and its people.
Another of the many quirky statues that are dotted around the Old Town, Cumil is perhaps the most unusual of the lot. Located at the point where the streets of Laurinska and Panska join, the statue is of a sewer-worker resting his chin on his arms as he takes a break from work. Emerging from a manhole, he has a very cheeky smile on his face.
Touching his head is said to make your wish come true – providing, of course, that you don’t tell anyone about it. Although no one is quite sure what the story surrounding the sewer-worker is, since it was erected in 1997, the bronze statue has made for a very popular photo stop.
10. UFO Observation Deck
Perched on top of the pylon that holds up the Most SNP bridge, the flying saucer-like shape of UFO Observation Deck is one of Bratislava’s most recognizable landmarks. Built in 1972, the bridge spans the Danube. From its futuristic observation deck, you can enjoy spectacular views of both the river below you and Bratislava Castle set upon a nearby hilltop.
As it is also home to a restaurant, you can grab a memorable meal here while basking in the beautiful panoramas. Evening is a particularly special time to visit when the sun is setting and the city and castle light up before your eyes.
9. Michalska Brana
One of the oldest buildings in the city, Michael’s Gate (as it is known in English) was built at the beginning of the 14th century and is Bratislava’s only remaining medieval gate. While it was once set in fortified walls, the gate is now flanked by historic buildings. Making your way through the narrow alleys towards it is an amazing experience as it feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Rising impressively before you, the gate’s lofty tower reaches 51 meters, with a distinctive copper dome and spire perched atop of it. From inside the tower, you can enjoy lovely views of the city, as well as peruse some interesting exhibitions on the history of the city’s fortifications.
8. Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum
Although it lies a bit outside of the city, the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum is well worth visiting. Set on a small promontory that juts into the middle of the Danube, the museum boasts a fabulous collection of contemporary artworks by both Slovak and international artists.
Founded in 2000 by the art collector Gerard Meulensteen, it has a scenic sculpture garden for you to explore, as well as avant-garde and abstract art installations. Built in the shape of a Roman galley, the building itself also makes for a fine sight. It is located among some beautiful wetlands, with the Hungarian border lying not too far away.
7. St Martin’s Cathedral
One of the largest, oldest, and most important churches in the country, it is here in St Martin’s Cathedral that many Hungarian monarchs of years gone by were coronated. Built in 1452 on top of an earlier Romanesque church, the solid-looking cathedral actually used to be embedded into the city’s walls. The sturdy building supports a large tower that once acted as a lookout point. Its tall spire is topped by a replica of the sparkling golden Crown of St. Stephen, which highlights that it was a coronation church.
Besides the delightful Gothic architecture, there are some magnificent stained glass windows, charming chapels, and a statue of St. Stephen inside for you to check out. Located on the edge of the Old Town, St Martin’s Cathedral is a just short walk away from Bratislava Castle that looms above it.
6. Bratislava Castle
Towering above both the Danube and Bratislava, the city’s castle has stood in the same spot for millennia. Although records show that the hill has been inhabited for thousands of years, much of the current castle only dates to the 50s and 60s, when it was rebuilt following a disastrous fire.
Perfectly rectangular, each corner of the castle is topped with a tower. Because everything is painted a brilliantly bright white, it makes for a spectacular sight at night as its walls are illuminated against the sky.
One of the most popular and famous landmarks in the city, Bratislava Castle is now home to an interesting museum. Wandering around its many rooms, courtyards, and gardens is a great way to learn more about Slovakia’s captivating past.
Built between 1957 and 1960, this impressive memorial commemorates and honors the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives fighting to liberate the city from the Nazis in the Second World War. Set upon a hilltop overlooking Bratislava, with pleasant gardens all around it, the memorial’s 42-meter high obelisk makes for a fine sight.
On top of it, there is a statue of a Soviet soldier crushing a swastika underfoot. The quiet and scenic hilltop is a peaceful resting place for the 6,845 soldiers buried in its cemetery, and the views from its gardens are some of the best in the city.
4. Hlavne Namestie
Literally meaning ‘Main Square,’ Hlavne Namestie is lined by beautiful old buildings. For many people, it is the beating heart of Bratislava itself. Full of fantastic architecture, with Gothic, Neo-Baroque and Romanesque features all on display, the square is home to a number of palaces and embassies, as well as the Old Town Hall.
In the center lies the Roland Fountain, which was built in 1572 by order of Maximilian II to provide the people with fresh water. With lots of bars, restaurants, and cafes found around the square, Hlavne Namestie certainly has a lot for you to see and do.
3. Blue Church
Officially known as the Church of St. Elizabeth, Blue Church looks gorgeous and is one of the highlights of any trip to Bratislava. Built in 1913, almost every centimeter of the church is painted in a marvelous light blue color; this is what lends it its nickname.
The elegant Art Nouveau architecture is a joy to behold, and its small tower and facade appear as if out of a children’s fairytale. The blue theme is continued inside as its colorful pews stand out delightfully against the crisp white of the walls. Designed by Odon Lechner, the Blue Church is just one of the many architectural wonders that Bratislava has to offer.
2. Devin Castle
One of the most popular excursions from Bratislava, Devin Castle lies just under ten kilometers outside of the city, at the spot where the Danube and Morava rivers join. While the castle is first mentioned in written sources all the way back in 864 AD, most of the fortifications date to later centuries.
Looking out imperiously over the hills and rivers surrounding it, Devin Castle’s now crumbling ramparts and dilapidated watchtowers long guarded a vital trade route that ran past it. Nowadays, its incredible ruins are loads of fun to explore. From its prominent position on top of the hill, you can enjoy splendid views out over the countryside.
1. Old Town
The historic heart of the city, the Old Town contains many of Bratislava’s most important and impressive sights and is the main place that all visitors head to. Getting lost is a great way to explore the center; small, scenic alleys give way to large squares lined by elegant townhouses, pretty palaces, and fascinating historical landmarks.
Besides its many marvelous medieval buildings and magnificent museums, the Old Town also boasts loads of fantastic cafes, bars, and restaurants. With a laidback yet lively atmosphere, the Old Town has a plethora of incredible things for you to see and do. Exploring its many treasures is the highlight of many people’s trips to the city.