Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia. Its population is approximately 427,000 and it is also the largest city in the country. Bratislava lies on both banks of the river Danube in southwestern Slovakia. Its originality between capitals is that it borders with two countries – Austria (Vienna 60 km apart) and Hungary.
Bratislava is a political, economical and cultural centre of the country. It is a seat of the parliament, Slovak president and the executive branch of government. Several universities, museums, galleries and other important institutions have their headquaters here. It is also the home of many large businesses and financial institutions.
As the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is a logical starting point for your trip. It’s also easy to reach by air, car, train or Danube River cruise/hydrofoil from Austria (2 miles) or Hungary (8 miles) or the Czech Republic (40 miles). And it’s easy to explore because it’s compact and walkable. There’s even a historic red sightseeing tram that makes a circuit of the main sights. And don’t forget to get a Bratislava City card which provides discounts on public transportation, restaurants and museums.
Filled with historical monuments and relics dating back to the early Stone Age, Bratislava is both old and new. It has survived the Celts, the Romans, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Soviet domination.
Bratislava is also one of the youngest capitals in Europe. Of a total population of 450,000, some 60,000 are students at three universities. This – and the diversity of people – gives the city vibrancy and dynamism. You can feel it in the extraordinary number of cafes, bars and clubs in the narrow streets, cellars and courtyards of the mostly-pedestrianized Old Town. You’ll want to spend most of your time there, soaking up both historical ambience and youthful energy .
Bratislava is the most cosmopolitan, accessible city in Slovakia for Americans to visit. It has the best restaurants – with a wide selection of cuisines – the best cafes, bars, and entertainment – including operas and symphonies, folk music and dance and international pop culture. Although still inexpensive by Western standards – say, $15 for a good dinner for two including wine or beer – prices in Bratislava are the highest in Slovakia. Speaking of wine, take time to enjoy the wine villages just outside the city – vineyards start in the northern suburbs on the slopes of the Small Carpathian mountains. Bratislava has warmer temperatures and more sunshine than the rest of the country – good for grapes and good for people!
The city hosts a large number of festivals and special events throughout the year featuring folk and contemporary art, wine, beer, historical re-enactments, classical music, jazz, dance, and just plain craziness (come for April Fool’s Day!).
Heavily influenced throughout history by Germans, Austrians, Hungarians and its pre-WWII Jewish population, Bratislava is the most sophisticated and least typical town in the country. To get an idea of what Slovakia is all about, we recommend staying just a little longer and discover one or two other towns.
Bratislava City Districts
- Bratislava I – Staré mesto (Old Town)
- Bratislava II – Ružinov, Vrakuňa, Podunajské Biskupice
- Bratislava III – Nové Mesto (New Town), Rača, Vajnory
- Bratislava IV – Karlova Ves, Dúbravka, Lamač, Devín, Devínska Nová Ves, Záhorská Bystrica
- Bratislava V – Petržalka, Jarovce, Rusovce, Čunovo
The Public Transport System (Mestská Hromadná Doprava – MHD) in Bratislava consists of buses (“autobus”), trolleybuses (“trolejbus” – looks like a bus, but takes electric power from overhead power lines) and trams (“električka”). There is no subway (“metro”), although it has been a subject of municipal discussions for over 20 years.
The network is relatively dense and most lines operate between 5 am and midnight. During the night, there are special night lines, but they are not very frequent.
If you want to travel by public transport, you have to buy a ticket before the ride. The drivers do not sell the tickets. The ticket dispensers are missing on some stops, so you are well advised to stock up with all necessary tickets in advance. For example, if you expect to change busses before you get to your destination, then buy both tickets before you start your journey.
You should mark your ticket as soon as you get in. The marking device is operating the whole time except when the controllers get on board. The controller gives a small magnetic stick to the driver, who inserts it into the on-board computer. In this case, about 15 seconds after the doors are closed, the marking devices stop operating and no one is able to mark their ticket. The controllers then walk through the vehicle and ask for a valid ticket. If you do not have a valid ticket, then it is your problem how you weasel out of this situation. You will have to pay a fine.
Separate fare must also be paid for a dog or any large piece of luggage, and of course, don’t forget to check whether you have all the necessary tickets for all members of your family before the ride.
There are different tickets for rides of various duration: 10 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes. The first one is good if you travel only by one line without changing. The official time needed to get from one stop to another is always written on the diagrams at the stop. This stated time is binding for the controller and even traffic jams do not affect it. If you change the line, then the total time is accounted. So if your first ride takes 3 minutes and the second ride 5 minutes and you have to wait 6 minutes for the second line, then the 10-minutes ticket won’t be enough.
For tourists expecting to use public transport more frequently, or wish to avoid the minefield, which we have just described, a 24-hours or 48-hours ticket is a better choice. It allows you to travel as much as you wish by all forms of transport. People living, working and studying in Bratislava prefer to buy special tickets for one month, three months or even one year.
- Historická budova (Historical building) – Hviezdoslavova ul.
- Sála opery a baletu (Opera and Ballet) – Gorkého 4
- Sála činohry v novej budove (Drama in the New Building) – Pribinova ul.
- Address: Dostojevského rad 7
- Tel: 00421/2/54 43 30 83
- Address: Živnostenská 1
- Tel: 00421/2/20 48 81 00
- Address: Námestie SNP 14
- Tel: 00421/2/20 90 18 00
- Address: Škultétyho 5
- Tel: 00421/2/55 56 35 08
- Address: Viedenská cesta 10
- Tel: 00421/2/67 20 25 53
- Address: Vodné kasárne, Rázusovo nábr. 2
- Tel: 00421/2/54 43 20 82
- Address: Baštová 2
- Tel: 00421/2/5443 3039
- Address: Grösslingova 21
- Tel: 00421/904 288 278
Galéria Medium (Medium Gallery)
- Address: Hviezdoslavovo nám. 18
- Tel: 00421/2/54 43 53 34
- Address: Grösslingová 37
- Tel: 00421/948 813 220
Galéria X (X Gallery)
- Address: Zámočnícka 5
- Address: Mirbachov palác, Františkánske námestie 11
- Tel: 00421/2/54 43 15 56
Galéria F7 (F7 Gallery)
- Address: Františkánske námestie 7
Cinema City Polus
- Address: Vajnorská 100 Multiplex Cinema City
- Tel: 00421/2/68 20 22 22
Palace Cinemas Aupark
- Address: Einsteinova 20
- Tel: 00421/2/68 20 22 22
- Address: Námestie 1. mája 5
- Tel: 00421/2/59 27 21 71
Kino Dúbravka (Dúbravka Cinema)
- Address: Saratovská 2/A
- Tel: 00421/2/69 20 30 30
Aupark Shopping Centre
- Address: Einsteinova ul.18
- Tel: 00421/2/68 26 62 00
Avion Shopping Park
- Address: Ivanská cesta 16
- Tel: 00421/2/48 22 68 00
Polus City Center
- Address: Vajnorská 98
- Tel: 00421/2/44 44 12 34
Main Tourist Information Office
- Address: Klobučnicka ul. 2
- Tel: 00421/2/54 43 37 15, 00421/2/59 35 66 52
Information Office – International Airport M.R.Štefánika
- Address: Ivánska cesta
- Tel: 00421/2/43 63 03 06
Information Office – Main Railway Station
- Address: Predstaničné námestie 1
- Tel: 00421/2/52 49 59 06
Information Office – Passenger Port
- Address: Fajnorovo nábrežie 2
- Tel: 00421/2/52 74 31 6 02