Slovakia wasn’t the easiest country that I traveled through! I was very happy that both Em and W wanted to visit Bratislava with me, because I would have felt a bit hesitant to go on my own. It is not that I felt unsafe… it is just that this was the least tourist friendly city that I went on during my backpacking trip around Europe (catch up by reading about my time in Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague).
We managed to squeeze this trip in between Prague and Budapest. While I am glad that I was able to see more countries (and therefore meet my 31X31 goal), I would have rather had that extra day in Budapest than see Bratislava.
We arrived mid morning and wandered around the station looking for a money exchange place so we could by a bus ticket to get into town. We eventually noticed some people walking upstairs and found the poorly marked place to exchange.
We had very specific directions from our hostel- Hostel Blues, to get to the hostel. While we were not certain that we had paid the correct amount, the bus driver let us on the bus and we found our way to the hostel easily enough. The bus was nice and clean and announced each stop so we could easily keep track of where we were going.
At the hostel they let us check in early and then they hooked us up with maps & directions to get to the good stuff in town.
The gave us a recommendation for a good place with local food for lunch. I had the pork knuckle and Em had the local dumplings. Both were delicious, but very rich and more suited to cold weather rather than the super hot cloudless day we were experiencing.
From the restaurant, we immediately walked to the bus station to take us to Devin Castle. Devin Castle is about an hour bus ride away from our hostel on the #29 bus. The ticket is less than one euro and it is good for 90 minutes. Public transport is super cheap!
We enjoyed walking around the lake and checking out the rural village surrounding the castle. Just make sure that if you want to actually go into the castle ruins that you don’t get distracted by the wine vendor parked in front of the entrance… like we did. Also check out closing times ahead of time because we didn’t have much time to explore before it closed for the day.
The bus back into town dropped us off right in front of Bratislava Castle, so we hiked up the hill and poked around a bit. It was closed by then but we still enjoyed the view.
After checking out the castle, Em and I went to have drinks at the top of the UFO Tower. This might be the most expensive thing to do in all of Slovakia (it certainly was for me!). It was 6.50euros to get up to the top. Then it was 10 euros for a tea and a water. I was extremely thirsty because I had long since finished my water while I was at Devin Castle so I drank every bit of it. It was the nicest bathroom in Slovakia too!
We then meandered along the gorgeous old town center. It reminded us of what Prague could have been like if the streets were a bit wider and there were hardly any tourists. We enjoyed people watching, looking at the street art, listening to local street musicians, and just feeling like we had all the time in the world because the city was so small and walkable. We eventually found the famous blue church which reminded me of a fondant covered wedding cake, and then we headed back to the hostel.
Not sure if it was the heat or the pork knuckle that finally got to me, but this night I was violently sick. It also happened to be the worst night of sleep I’ve ever had in a hostel (other than the place I stayed in Potosi, Bolivia). While I loved the decor, the staff, and the ambiance of Hostel Blues, our room overlooked the street and we heard the trolly and bell from a local cathedral all night. My friend W who slept in the larger dorm, Em and I had previously booked the four person dorm, said her room was quiet and had a great view.
After our early morning alarms awoke us, we caught the local bus back to the train station. We caught our train, but the train that our tickets told us was a “direct train” turned out to include a two hour wait in a station along the way. Thankfully there were some semi cute military guys who spoke enough English to inform us of what was going on. The station they dropped us at had staff who gave us several answers, but none of them turned out to be true.
If you go to Bratislava, give yourself enough time to explore, get lost, and wait for trains!
Please Share: Have you been to Bratislava or somewhere else in Slovakia? Did you love it? Hate it? Have any tips to add?