Things to do in Bratislava

Must-see Bratislava attractions

Small in size but big in impact, Bratislava is perfect for culture-packed city breaks, with everything from ancient castles to Communist-era memorials.

  1. Amble the Old Town
  2. Capture the Castle
  3. See communist-era sights in a Škoda
  4. Drift down the Danube to Devin Castle
  5. Climb the Little Carpathians
  6. Eat your heart out
  7. Experience opera in style

Made capital of the newly-founded Slovak Republic after the1993 Velvet Divorce, Bratislava blends Old Town charisma and Soviet-era grit with a contemporary café culture to rival its big sisters, Vienna and Prague. One thing’s for sure - you won’t be short of things to do in Bratislava.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Amble the Old Town

Medieval city gates. Elegant eighteenth-century palaces. Romanesque municipal buildings. Bratislava’s cobbled Old Town isn’t short of historical attractions. Head to small but prettily-formed Hlavné námestie (Main Square) to see the sixteenth-century Roland Fountain and Old Town Hall, home to Bratislava City Museum. People-watching on the square with a coffee to hand is one of the best things to do in Bratislava.

Don’t miss: Primate’s Palace, with its pink-and-white cupcake façade and historic Hall of Mirrors.

2. Capture the Castle

Looming large over Old Town, Bratislava’s blindingly white hilltop castle has seen some action in its time. With ninth century origins, it was reincarnated as a Gothic fortress in the fifteenth-century, given a Renaissance makeover in the sixteenth-century, then re-built in the 1960s after being ruined by a fire in 1811. The Crown Tower dates back to the thirteenth century and is the castle’s oldest remaining structure. With romantic Baroque gardens to stroll, and a museum with a resident organist pounding the pipes in the Music Hall, it’s easy to while away an afternoon here, and the perfect place to take a tonne of Insta-worthy photos.

Don’t miss: climbing to the Crown Tower observatory for views across the city, down the Danube and over to Austria.

3. See communist-era sights in a Škoda

Though the brunt of many a joke (Question: what do you call a Škoda with a seat belt? Answer: a rucksack),Czech-made Škodas are certainly iconic. And what better way to see Bratislava’s lesser-visited communist sights than on a guided Škoda tour? While being chauffeured in your Soviet-chic chariot, you’ll get to visit the largest communist-era housing project, the former Iron Curtain zone between Czechoslovakia and Austria and the Slavín Soviet memorial. A must for anyone interested in modern European history, this tour is also one of the quirkiest things to do in Bratislava, and sure to leave you with tales you’ll tell for years.

Don’t miss: rocket-shaped Kamzik TV Tower. From its observation deck, you can see out to Austria, Hungary and Czechia.

4. Drift down the Danube to Devin Castle

Perched on a hill on the Slovak-Austrian border, and overlooking the Danube and Morava Rivers, the remains of Devin Castle are a national symbol, with the settlement dating back to the ninth century. While the castle was blown up during the Napoleonic Wars, there’s still plenty to see and do here, including indulging in a spot of wine-tasting. Though it's only twenty minutes by bus from the city, take a boat trip down the Danube for a more scenic experience - without doubt one of the best things to do in Bratislava.

Don’t miss: strolling the picturesque river path.

5. Climb the Little Carpathians

Discover ancient ruins in forests. Visit vineyards. Explore the labyrinthine Driny caves. Fall in love with fairytale Smolenica Castle – romantics, walkers and wine-lovers will be in heaven in the Little Carpathians. This easy out-of-town trip is perfect for cheap Bratislava holidays with extra romance and nature, especially in early autumn when the forest colours come into their glowing own.

Don’t miss: sampling sweet Včelovina honey mead in a mountain inn.

6. Eat your heart out

Fluffy knedliky (dumplings). Pork-packed potato pancakes. Roast sausage. Soul-warming stews spiced with cranberries and pepper cream sauce. Slovakian cuisine is nothing if not hearty and pleasingly heavy on the carb front. To wash it down, try a crisp Zlatý Bažant (Golden Pheasant) beer, or a glass of locally-produced Frankovka Modrá, a moreish velvety red wine. Fancy something stronger? Try a shot of slivovica – this punch-packing plum brandy never fails to warm (or burn) the cockles.

Don’t miss: bolting down Bratislava rolls (Bratislavské rožky), a sweet pastry filled with poppy seeds or walnuts.

7. Experience opera in style

Music-lovers wondering what to do in Bratislava shouldn’t pass up the chance to catch a performance in the elegant Neo-Renaissance Old Building of the Slovak National Theatre. The city proudly - and rightly - considers itself to be a big player in music history, with heavyweights like Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn having worked here. With daily performances of drama, opera and ballet costing from 4 to 50 Euros you’ve no excuse for seeing at least one while you’re in town.

Don’t miss: peeking through the glass viewing hole in front the theatre to see remains of the original medieval structure.

Find your perfect destination