Lisa Owen

Despite Slovakia’s location wedged between countries I’ve travelled to many times before, it took me five trips to Europe to make it to the Eastern European country. But I can now say it’s worth at least a day trip if only to see the beautiful Old Town. The capital Bratislava is only an hour by train from the Austrian capital Vienna or you can reach it via Hungary or Poland. I came through a combination of bus and train from the Polish side of the Tatra Mountains which are shared with Slovakia.


Bratislava has a charming Old Town, and a castle taking pride of place on the capital’s hilltop. If you only have 24 hours in Bratislava, here’s a list of things you can do.

1. Walk around the castle

You can’t miss spotting Bratislava Castle. It sits perched above the Old Town and can be reached from several directions. The nicest path is from the Old Town. You can walk around most of the castle and take in the views of the Old Town over the spire of St Martin’s Cathedral, and across the Danube River.

While little remains of the original castle due to a fire in 1811, the castle was rebuilt to its current form.

The castle grounds are open from 8am daily and entry is free. The Castle Museum opens at 10am and costs £5.58. The museum is closed on Mondays. 


2. Wander the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town

Bratislava’s Old Town streets feature beautiful buildings, city gates, and fountains. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost here so lose the map and see what you find along the pretty cobblestoned streets. 

Highlights include the Mirbach Palace, Franciscan Church, and Old Town Hall.


3. Get a bird’s eye view of Bratislava from the St Michael’s Gate tower

Smack bang in the midst of the action of the Old Town is the St Michael’s Gate Tower. The gate once was the entrance to the city. To get a great view of the Old Town, climb up the stairs to the viewing platform of the 51 metre tower. Cost is £4.

The tower is also home to the Museum of Weapons and City Fortification. Underneath the tower, you’ll find a plaque showing the distance from Bratislava to other cities around the world. 


4. Eat ice cream from a doughnut cone

It’s a doughnut. No wait, it’s an ice cream. Actually it’s both. You can find the delicious doughnut ice cream cones in Bratislava as well as other European destinations such as Prague. The doughnuts are known locally as chimney cakes in English and are a rolled doughnut like pastry with a fluffy centre that are served warm traditionally with a cinnamon sugar coating. I first discovered then at a Christmas market in Budapest and make sure I find at least one every time I return to Central Europe. 

I couldn’t go past both an ice cream served in a warm spiral doughnut cone sprinkled with cinnamon sugar when I saw it at a food stand in Bratislava. You can also choose to have your cone rolled in cocoa or nuts, and then for some extra indulgence you can have it topped with chocolate or fruit. Or you could just go all out and have it all!


5. Visit the markets

If you’re in Bratislava on a Saturday, a market is held right near the Namestie Road entry to the Old Town. The markets feature fresh fruit and vegetables, second hand clothing, pastries, and other assortments of homemade food and products. 

6. Check out the view from the UFO Restaurant

Above the Danube River sits a UFO. The UFO Restaurant is located on top of the Novy Most (New Bridge) - which you can see from the castle. You can dine there or take a lift up to the observation deck. The observation deck is 95 metres up and is open from 10am. Entry is £6.80. 


7. Go on a free walking tour

Free walking tours run twice a day at 11am and 4pm. Tours are in English and run for 2.5 hours. Guides work on a tip basis, so give what you feel is deserved. The walking tours takes you through Slovakia’s culture, traditions and history.

If you want to know more about Slovakia’s history, you can also join a Communism and Bunker tour for £18.50. 

8. Dance the night away or drink local beer

Most hostels offer a pub crawl or you can join one for £12, which includes the option of unlimited beer or wine for an hour, welcome shots, and free club entry.

If you want to do your own thing, recommended bars and clubs including Casa Del Havana, BarRock, Re:Fresh, Nu Spirit Club and Bar and Unique Slam.

You can get a decent pint of beer at Zamocky Pnovar, Mestiansky Pwovar, and Sladovna House of Beer.

9. Tour the city at night

Don’t just wander the city during the day – the Old Town is also very pretty at night. You can get a good view of the castle at night from outside the St Clare’s church and the main square fountain against the backdrop of buildings is another picturesque spot.


10. Satisfy your adventurous side

If you are seeking some thrills and plan ahead, you can pack some adrenaline filled activities into your trip to Bratislava.  Activities offered from Bratislava include rafting and bridge jumping. More information can be found at

Things You Should Know:

  • Wear good shoes to walk around the Old Town – those cobblestoned streets can be tough on your feet.
  • You should get by ok with English in Slovakia especially in the Old Town – but a few local phrases such as Dobry Den (good day) and Ďakujem (thank you) will come in handy.
  • Many of Bratislava’s museums are closed on Mondays so plan your visit around this if you’re interested in museums.
  • Most of the key highlights in Bratislava are in walking distance. The major sights are concentrated around the Old Town and the castle. It’s possible to see the best of what Bratislava has to offer in a day trip from Vienna or an overnight trip from other destinations.
  • If you want to go further afield, you can buy tickets at the yellow ticket machine at most bus stops and these must be validated in the red machines when boarding the vehicle. 


Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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