Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2-day budget itinerary for Bratislava, Slovakia.
Forget everything that you have ever heard about Bratislava.
And if you have never heard of Bratislava, it is the capital city of Slovakia. Sitting south of Poland, north of Hungary and east of Austria. In fact, Bratislava and the Austrian capital are within an hours’ distance of each other via train, bus or car. It is easy to make a day trip from Vienna, however, I would recommend staying at least two.
Going in, I had no idea about what to expect. Perhaps I could have researched more or maybe I just like to be surprised. Either way, Bratislava exceeded my expectations in beauty and fun activities to do around this walkable city.
Here was my itinerary, including budget breakdown, over a two day period.
If you like exploring castles and historic locations, then you will adore Hrad Devin. This castle is just 10km (6 miles) outside of the city center and accessible by local bus (numbers 29 or 28). The site dates back to the 5th century and provides panoramic views of the Slovakian countryside, Danube river and across the “border” to the Austrian side. The castle sits perched on top of a formidable looking hilltop, however, the walking trails are at a moderate gradient, making it easy to ascend.
After exploring the castle, you can further explore the grounds surrounding it, grab some lunch or even a quick beer for as little as 1.20 Euro.
Like most major cities, Bratislava has free walking tours. These tours are operated by a company called “Bratislava Free Tour”, based on tips, and run twice daily at 11 am and 4 pm. The meeting place is in front of the Hviezdoslav statue in Hviezdoslav Square. As we visited in mid-September and the days were quite hot, I chose to go at the cooler time of 4 pm.
The tour guide was a charismatic theater performer, named Andy. She guided us through the city center and Old Town districts, taking us to some of the most historic and important sites of the city. The tour touched on the history of Czechoslovakia’s independence from the Hungarian empire in 1920, as well as the separation of Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
Andy shared with us anecdotal tales from her family and local legends, including insights into the Communist era, Slovak National Uprising, and Velvet Revolution. What I really enjoyed about this walking tour, was hearing a local’s perspective on Slovakian history and culture.
Following the recommendations of our walking tour guide, I headed to a restaurant called “Flag Ship”. Here they serve traditional Slovakian dishes, including the garlic soup in a bread bowl and “halusky” which is a type of small dumpling made out of potato and covered in a sheep cheese sauce with bacon. Both meals were very rich, especially the garlic soup, but delicious.
Don’t worry too much about not knowing the Slovakian names, as the menus have English translations and the waiters are happy to help.
The Bratislava Hrad sits above the city of Bratislava and is visible from multiple locations. A gentle 15-minute walk from the city center, the castle is home to decadent gardens which are usually open until midnight. Unfortunate for me, the castle grounds were closed due to a European Union event when I tried to visit. Still, it was nice to wander around outside the castle walls and enjoy the view of the city.
Slavin War Memorial
For another great city view, head to the Slavin War Memorial. The monument was built to honor the Soviet Union soldiers who died whilst fighting the German occupation of Bratislava in 1945. Certainly an interesting and important period of Slovakian history.
Slovakian Street Food and Beer
While walking around downtown, you might notice a large shopping mall called “My Bratislava”. Well, I am not one for malls, but it has other treasures hidden inside. Here you will find some cheap restaurants and a range of affordable street food. What makes it even better, is that you can pick up the free WiFi signal from the Tesco while you peruse the food vendors.
I ate here on more than one occasion, after falling in love with Langose. These are a doughy pastry, stretched out into a pancake shape and then deep fried. A thick layer of buttery garlic is smothered on one side followed by an even thicker layer of cheese and any extra sauces you may want (I opted out of sauce and it was still delicious!). Wash it down with either a Budweiser (brewed in Czech Republic) or Kofolo (the Czech / Slovakian version of Coke).
To finish off my last night in Bratislava, I visited Klasterni pivovar Strahov (The Strahov Monastic Brewery). This pub and restaurant is located right next door to Flag Ship and serves beer that they brew onsite.
Budget breakdown: Bratislava
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: 2 nights’ in a 8 bedroom hotel dorm (€54.60).
Food: Our hostel provided free coffee, tea, and snacks. Each morning I would go to the local supermarket to buy pastries for breakfast and lunch. Tap water is drinkable in Slovakia so I did not have to buy bottled water.
Day 1 – Pastries (€4.65), 2 beers at Devin Castle (€2.40), Slovakian dinner at Flag Ship (€9.60), ice creams (€2).
Day 2 – Pastries (€2.52), 1 langose, 1 Kofolo and 1 beer (€3.60), 2 beers at The Strahov Monastic Brewery (€4), 1 Twister pastry with icecream (€3.50).
Activities: Entrance fee to Devin Castle (€6), Old Town Walking Tour (€5 Euro tip).
Transport: Public bus to Devin Castle and back (€3.60).
Average daily spend: 25.36 Euros each* ($28.51 USD and $38.11 AUD as of 16 September 2016), excluding transportation in and out of Slovakia.
*This daily amount could be reduced by sticking more strictly to street food or cooking your own meals.
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