6 Hours in the Bratislava Old Town

Bratislava Old Town is in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. Being the largest and one of the fascinating cities of emerging Central Europe, the city has many cultural events and diverse styles of architecture. The nightlife of the city is vibrant with numerous activities.

Bratislava Castle

I took the chance to explore the Bratislava Old Town after I joined an international conference over there. Since the Loft Hotel where I stayed is not far from the old town center, it only took me a few minutes to get to the old town. Shortly before I reached the Bratislava old town, I came across the first site, the Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava. During the entire 6 hours of my visit, I have discovered the following highlights of the Bratislava old town::

  • Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava
  • St. Michael’s Tower gate
  • Main square
  • Old Market Hall
  • Local restaurants
  • Slovak National Theatre
  • Hviezdoslav’s Square

Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava

The Grassalkovich Palace is the official seat of the president of Slovakia. It is a Rococo-late Baroque summer palace with a French garden and is worth a visit. I saw a few people were strolling around in its park with free entrance. 

Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava; Bratislava Old Town; Things to do in Bratislava Old Town

St. Michael’s Tower gate

Although the hotel staff provided me a map of the old town, I did not know where to start my round walk and got lost soon after I entered the old town.

I stopped a local middle-aged man and asked for the direction. He did not speak a single English word. After examining my map, he managed to help me to locate myself. According to the map I had, I was able to locate the historical sights in the old town.

The first sight attracted me was the St. Michael’s Tower gate. It is one of the main entrances to the old town. People can climb up the tower and have a nice view of the old town.

The Bratislava old town was quite flourishing. Everywhere was business and crowds. Meanwhile, I found it was quite easy to explore the old town without any stress.

St. Michael’s Tower gate in Bratislava Old Town Centre

Main square

Many tourist groups were in front of Main Square, the center of the old town. I could see the famous clock tower from nearly all parts of the inner city.

The Main Square is the very heart of the Bratislava old town. It is also a great place to admire the beautiful architecture and ambience of the city.

Buildings, such as the Old Town City Hall, Kutscherfeldov palace or the Holy Saviour Church, are worth seeing. There is also a beautiful fountain called Maximilian Fountain.

Main square of Bratislava Old Town

Old Market Hall

One of the things I would like to do on each trip is to visit a local farmer market. Since the Old Market Hall of Bratislava old town was famous for local farm products, I headed to the place and hoped to eat something there.

However, several armed guards near the entrance of the hall blocked me. They informed me that due to a private event they only allowed the persons with invitations to get in.

In front of the old market hall, I saw many food stalls selling the local food.  But there were too many people squeezing each others, I was not even able to come close to the food stalls. I wished I could have spent a few Euros and booked a Bratislava walking tour to explore the old town better.


Local restaurants

Failed to find the food in the Old Market Hall, I turned into the restaurant corner.  In the Bratislava old town centre, there are so many restaurants that offer international and local cuisines. Looking at their menus, this time, I had difficulty to decide where and what to eat. The menus posted outside of each eatery were so attractive.

The Slovakian capital is home to many great pubs since Bratislava also has some good breweries. Since one of my hobbies on the trip is to try a local beer if possible, I narrowed down my choices to a Scottish pub with several lonely guests.  The pub offered burgers mainly and was quite cozy to sit for a while. So I decided to have a drink there and eat lunch.

Historical Building of Slovakia National Theatre

Only q few steps away from the Bratislava Old Town as well as the Danube River are the eclectic Baroque and Neo-Renaissance building, Slovak National Theatre, dominants the Hviezdoslav’s Square. It is the second oldest professional Slovak theater founded in 1920. The national theatre has a new building built in 2007.

The historical building has three ensembles: drama, opera, and ballet, and can seat 1000 people. You can find its programs at the theater’s website.

Slovak National Theatre; Bratislava Old Town; Things to do in the Bratislava Old Town

Hviezdoslav’s Square

Walking 100 meters further to the west of the national theatre, I arrived at the elegant and charming Hviezdoslav’s Square in the heart of the city center. Some locals were walking, reading a book, meeting friends, or just sitting and looking around. Some outdoor restaurants, bars, and cafes are around the area.

Travel tips

Since I had to catch my flight back to Germany in the early afternoon, I had to leave out the evening activities of the old town. Other things you could do are such as walking along the Danube and attending many concerts.

A better way to explore Bratislava is to get on a Sightseeing Bus. It has several options and goes to different routes. You can also take a tour from Vienna to look around the old town.

Bratislava is a cultural city and it takes time to explore.If possible, you should stay there for a couple of days or a weekend to explore its charm. The city has many hotels at various price ranges:

Old City Hotel Bratislava

How to get to Bratislava

By Airport transfer from Vienna

To avoid the stress of navigating a foreign public transportation system and enjoy a private transfer between Vienna International Airport and your accommodation in Bratislava, you could book a Vienna Airport Transfer to/from Bratislava.

By Bus
Bus No. 61 links Airport Bratislava with the city centre in the direction from the Main Railway Station (Hlavná železničná Stanica) and bus No. 96 in the direction from Petržalka, Prokofievova
From Vienna Airport, you can take Flexibus to Bratislava.

By train

There is also a direct train connection between Vienna Airport and Bratislava.  Check this website for the schedule.

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