There is so much to see in Bratislava – an impressive castle, palaces in pastel hues, magnificent churches and quirky bistros, just to name a few – but given its small, compact nature, much of it can be seen in a day. Author Lucy Mallows takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her favourite sights.
After an early start, my first stop would be breakfast at Rannô Ptáča (Stefaničova 6). The name means ‘ Early Bird’ and they are open from 07.00. They serve eggs in seven different ways, as well as seven kinds of omelettes – a great choice is the chlieb vo vajci which is eggy bread filled with ham and cheese. You can also have homemade granola, porridge, semolina or fruit salad and great coffee. And don’t panic if you oversleep, as they serve breakfast all day!
After breakfast, I’d take wander around the car-free streets of the Old Town, checking out the shops and people-watching on Hlavné námestie (Main Square).
If you fancy getting a little exercise, climb up the narrow cobbled alleyways to the Castle to check out the view of the Danube, the UFO spaceship hovering over the Most SNP and the enormous 1970s housing estate of Petržalka stretching into the distance. I would visit the excellent Museum of History to see the latest exhibitions on show in the renovated Castle building.
From here, I’d walk downhill and have lunch at the wonderful little bistro, Soupa (Panenská 24), where they make great home-made soups, salads and cakes. After lunch, I would take a stroll over the Most SNP bridge, hire a bicycle from the Bratislava Bike Point and peddle my way along the tree-lined banks of the Danube on the network of cycle routes.
Afterwards, I’d walk uphill – again! – to the Slavín Monument, stopping at the Funus pub (Prokopa Vel’kého 1) for a glass of cold, draught beer under the ancient chestnut tree. Here, you can really wallow in nostalgia, as Funus really reminds me of the beer gardens of Brno in the early 1980s.
Up at Slavín, there’s a real sense of history, as the hill is crowned with a monumental Soviet war memorial to the 6,845 Red Army soldiers who lost their lives in the battle for Bratislava in the spring of 1945, and are buried here in six mass graves. From here, there is a superb view of the city and it’s a great place to get your bearings and watch the sun set over the Old Town spires and mushrooming skyscrapers.
If I had time before dinner, I’d join the crowds doing the traditional passeggiata around the Old Town, along the Coronation Route, following the little brass crowns set into the cobblestones. On Hviezdoslavovo námestie, I might squeeze in a naughty ice cream from the great Luculus (Hviezdoslavovo námestie 16) – I particularly enjoythe chilli chocolate flavour.
Dinner would be at one of the great new bistros in town, and Bistro St. Germain (Rajská 7), conveniently located opposite the arthouse cinema Kino Lumière, is an excellent choice, especially if there’s a good movie showing after. They serve fabulous quiches, burgers and rillettes and many versions of homemade lemonade: a local favourite. I would finish off a fabulous day with a cocktail at the Sky Bar (Hviezdoslavovo námestie 7) and admire the view of the red rooftops of the Old Town, St Martin’s Cathedral and the mighty ‘upside-down bedstead’ of the Castle. What a day!