Bratislava: free Pictures and Travel Tips

 

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city, with a population of some 450,000. Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak presidency, parliament and government, as well as home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other national economic, cultural and educational institutions. Bratislava lies on both banks of the River Danube, by Slovakia's borders with Austria and Hungary.

Getting there:
By boat
This is the way I would choose to arrive in Bratislava if I could! In the summer months there are regular services from Bratislava’s twin city, Vienna. This journey on the River Danube only takes 1 hour 15 minutes, thanks to the 60 kmph (37 mph) speed these tourist boats travel at. (You’ll probably wish they were slower so you could enjoy the trip for longer!)

By plane
Second choice for style, but maybe first for convenience, fly in to Bratislava Airport, which might look small but is the largest in the Slovak Republic. There are direct flights, mostly by Ryan Air, from Britain, Eire, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. Czech Airlines also fly from Prague. Bus 61 takes you to Bratislava’s main railway station (Hlavaná stanica), or you can take a tram to the city centre (Centrum). Taxis are not expensive by European standards for the 9km ride to the city centre.
Travel tip: you buy bus and tram tickets from vending machines that need Euro coins, not from the bus drivers.
Alternatively, fly into Vienna Airport and complete your journey by bus (see below).

By bus
Thirteen buses a day link Vienna Airport and Bratislava city centre, and almost one an hour takes you from Vienna Airport to Bratislava bus station.
By train
You’ve guessed it – a direct train service runs between Vienna and Bratislava central stations.

What to see and do in Bratislava
One of the most conspicuous buildings of the town is Bratislava Castle, situated on a plateau 82 m (270 ft) above the Danube. Although there has been a fortress on this hill above the old town since at least the 10th century, the present building dates from the 17th century, when a local chief, Palffy, had it rebuilt in the baroque style. In 1968, during the “Prague Spring”, the castle was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops; in 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent countries in the “Gentle Revolution”. Today the castle houses a museum and presentation rooms for the Slovak President. Outdoor areas are permanently open to the public.

Bratislava is home to a lively cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries and concert halls. The Slovak National Gallery has a permanent exhibition of European art, while the Bratislava Town Gallery has the extra attraction of being housed in three magnificent palaces of different periods. The city has long been multi-ethnic, and is influenced by German, Hungarian and Jewish culture in addition to its own. There are lively bars, nightclubs and restaurants serving international cuisine.

As the capital, Bratislava is also the centre of sport in Slovakia, with good football and ice hockey teams, and opportunities for walking or cycling in or near the city. There are several nice parks in Bratislava, one of them, ‘Sad Janka Krafa’, claiming to be the oldest public park in central Europe. There are also opportunities for white-water rafting and mountain biking, with the latest addition to the facilities being a scarily high aerial ropeway park.

Where to stay
For those wanting 4- or 5-star accommodation, in stare mesto (Old Town,) there are some popular choices which it would be wise to book well in advance. These are the Austria Trend Hotel Bratislava (4-star) which includes breakfast and WiFi in the price, but not parking, which is charged extra; and the 4-star Hotel Devlin, on the banks of the Danube, and with an indoor pool. Both hotels have their own gourmet restaurants. A little further out, in Ruzinov, 1.2 miles or nearly 2 kilometres from the airport and a similar distance from the city, is the NH Bratislava Gate One with 4 stars and also an indoor pool and restaurant on site. They also have a spa area, with hot tub, sauna and gym. A little unusually there are tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms. Go to Ruzinov, too, if you insist on having a hotel with 5 stars, though remember it may not be any better than some 4-star accommodation. The Sheraton Bratislava Hotel has the maximum 5 stars and boasts you will get treated like a celebrity. Not only does it give you access to an indoor pool, sauna and steam bath, but it also gives you free entry to their fitness centre. Bedrooms have seating areas and coffee and tea making facilities, as well as a minibar. If you pay extra for a room on the Club floor, you get free access to the Club lounge for free food and drink. (You might feel tempted never to go out of the hotel, which would be a pity! (See above for things to do while in Bratislava.))

I suspect most people choose a 3-star hotel, in which case two to consider are the Aplend City Hotel Michalska, in the Old Town, and the Hotel Blue Garni in Ruzinov. Both are in more typical examples of the vernacular architecture than the hotels mentioned previously. Inside the Aplend, the rooms are modern in style but retain historic features, and the Blue Garni itself describes their bedroom furniture as “functional”! Because of Bratislava’s proximity to Vienna, one more 3-star hotel deserves a mention, and that is the Vienna House Easy Chopin (known as the Hotel Chopin). Situated in Ruzinov, the hotel is only a 5 minute drive from the airport and 15 minutes by car or taxi from Bratislava Old Town.

Finally, if you are backpacking, and you want to be with other backpackers, you could head for the Freddie next to Mercury, a modern 2-star hostel handy for the station and bus stop. The old town is a fifteen minute walk away. They have rooms for two, shared single sex and mixed sex dormitories, some of which have bunk beds. There is a Common Room to help you meet people.

Tourist Information
Bratislava’s Tourist Information Centre is at 2 Klobučnicka, a little way north of the River Danube, where it makes a right-hand bend to the south. The staff speak English and can help you organise your visit to this, the capital of The Slovak Republic. Impressively, this office is open until 22.00.
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