How to spend your morning
We found the Slovakian capital the perfect stop to recharge our batteries by falling in love with the city’s historical café culture. A café revolution as such, so notable that even the New York Times recently reported on it. With around 160 cafés in Old Town Square it’s obvious the city caters to all tastes.
For delicious, traditional cake, we recommend The Zeppelin Café. After being suitably distracted by the traditional trinkets and folk themed souvenirs (directly from local crafts people), our first coffee of the day was long over due. Through the gift shop, is the warmly lit café, adorned in traditional outfits so adorably cute I nearly talked Darren into matching ones. As self confessed cake connoisseurs, Darren and I treat our cake selection with the same decisiveness we would choosing the name of our first born child. However, the kind waitress was more than obliging with recommendations, particularly of local treats.
Time to put the caffeine and calories to good use
Luckily the majority of highlights are within the charming Old Town so if you pack comfortable shoes, you can pack in all the must-see sites before bedtime. Being Scottish, we love a good castle and being filled with cake we loved the fact Bratislava Castle was only a 15 minute hike up the hill from Old Town. Inside there is a Museum of History for an entry fee of €7. However if time and budget is your priority we’d recommend the hike simply for castle gardens and the stunning views over the city.
After that strenuous fifteen minute hike and all that posing for selfies, you probably deserve a drink. Zamocky Pivovar or Castle Brewery is on the way down the hill from the castle, offering your first opportunity for traditional craft beer and Slovak specialities such as goulash, dumplings and schnitzel.
Now for an afternoon of exploring
I have lost count of the amount of times I have nearly been run over/missed trains/lost Darren in my quest to get the perfect pic of a pink building. It’s a fact universally acknowledged that I am a magpie for Barbie inspired architecture. Whether blush or bubblegum, flamingo or fuchsia, I will find you and I will photograph you. (Side note – if you feel the same way, search the hashtag #willtravelforpink on Instagram. You’re welcome)
Anyway, you can imagine my delight that the jewel in Bratislava’s architectural crown is an unmissable pastel pink building, Primatial Palace. Where for a mere €3 entry fee you can explore the Hall of Mirrors or the chamber where the Peace treaty of Pressburg between Austria and France was signed. Nowadays the chamber is used for far less exciting events and hosts mere conferences and council meetings. Yawn. However the interior remains just as beautiful none the less.
Heading towards Rudnay Square it would be impossible to miss St. Martin’s Cathedral. As the number one most visited attraction in Bratislava, the cathedral hosted 19 coronations and even has underground crypts which are open to the public. Make sure to leave time to explore the colourful narrow streets that surround it- including Baštová Street, the most narrow street in the city. Or if sunshine is on your side, Rudnay Square is a beautiful spot to catch a few rays, people watch and enjoy a vino or two from nearby wineries.
Time for the evening agenda
Returning to our earlier applaud of Bratislava’s café culture, we fell head over heals for Urban House Café on Laurinská Street. With interior inspired by every Pinterest fanatic’s fave mood boards, large leather sofas swallowed us up as we rested our weary legs. The extensive array of craft beers and cocktails made us wish we could stay all night (its open until 2am at weekends.) Instead we opted for hands down the most delicious ginger tea we have ever tasted.
The best part was the people. From tourists to tinder dates, accountants to artists Urban House epitomises café culture – a space between work and home where you feel welcomed. Darren engulfed the minestrone soup, claiming it was a strong contender for my mother’s (let’s hope she’s not reading this) whilst I enjoyed my favourite pita and hummus. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Hipster heaven.
A further hidden gem we stumbled across in Old Town was The Loch Ness Pub. How many times have you been in a new country and not came across an Irish Pub? They are bloody everywhere. From Brooklyn to Budapest we’ve came across them but never, ever a “Scottish Pub”. So naturally, we had to take a photo, laugh at the necessary stereotypes on the menu but ofcourse, pretend we’re far too cultured to actually go in. Please, if you do let us know what you think!
Where to watch the sunset and party late into the night
From the castle (or the majority of locations in the city) it is likely you spotted a rather futuristic bridge, known locally as the UFO bridge. For €6.50 you will travel 95m in 45 seconds to the top of the observation deck and be blown away by the spectacular panorama views of the city. The entry fee is free if you are dining in the observation deck restaurant. Since we neither had the cash or the class, we left dining in the clouds to the experts and enjoyed our supermarket picnic on the bus en route to our next destination instead.
If you’re the wild sort, (we like those sorts) then Bratislava’s night life is for you. For something really worth writing home about (or worthy of a Facebook status update) we recommend Subclub. Even if techno and house don’t float your boat the fact the club is inside an old nuclear bunker probably will. Note, for anyone in hope of a hump-day rave, its only open Fridays & Saturdays – 10pm till 5am.
Assuming if cave like clubs aren’t your thing, then champagne along the canal probably will be, end your night with a private speedboat on the Danube. No longer reserved for James Bond, you can hire a private speedboat complete with your own captain and champagne. Although pretty pricey and very popular so book well in advance. Perfect if splitting the cost and an ideal stag party starter as its recommended for groups of 7-9 people.
So there you have it, dawn until dusk, breakfast until bed time with all the photos, food and frolics in between. Any must-dos we’ve missed feel free to pop a comment below or if you enjoyed any of these recommendations we’d love to know!
For more photos of our adventure in Slovakia, please take a peek at our gallery.