This Summer come and explore Bratislava during a 3 day weekend break. The laid-back atmosphere, charming old town centre, and close by nature make the Slovakian capital a relaxed getaway worth exploring. We found that simply wandering around the city centre was worth it, to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the sights. When we thought of where to go during the long Bank Holiday weekend in August, Bratislava popped out of the map. The weather looked good and we had never been there. We explored the city for 3 days, and got a good impression of the city and its surroundings.
Most of Bratislava’s attractions and things to see are within a walkable distance. If you’re not a walker or are short on time, there are also options with public transportation that are inexpensive.
Where is Bratislava? How is the weather during August?
Only 2.45h min away by plane from Dublin, Bratislava is located between Austria and Hungary with the Danube River flowing through it. Many people visit Bratislava in conjunction with Vienna because of how close they are to each other. Vienna sits 70km away from Bratislava and can be easily reached by car, bicycle or boat.
Summertime is a great time to visit Slovakia’s capital. We went in August and the weather was hot and sunny (proper summer), with temperatures ranging between 25-29oC. It was a welcome break from the cold Irish August that we were experiencing and much more enjoyable than other southern European cities around this time of year. To refresh ourselves we drank a few cold beers and ate delicious “gelatos”, there are plenty of ice cream shops and cafes around the city.
Even though the city has no beaches close by, you can always cool down by the lake Zlate Piesky.
Are 3 days enough to explore Bratislava?
There’s plenty to do and see in Bratislava in 3 days and is more than enough. The city has a lot to offer with its plethora of cafes, bars, historical buildings, and surrounding nature. Ca. 660 000 people live in Slovakia’s capital and the city is growing to become a cosmopolitan hub that attracts young professionals from all over the world. The Danube River crosses Bratislava from the west to the southeast and connects it to the Austrian capital Vienna (located about 70-80km).
Here’s a few suggestions on what to see during a explore Bratislava during a 3 day weekend break:
Things to see and do in Bratislava
1. Explore Bratislava’s old town with a free walking tour (about 3h). The free walking tour we took navigated us through the city and the country’s history, and main monuments which include:
- St Michael’s Gate and Street
- St Martin’s Cathedral
- Primate’s Palace
- The Blue Church (St Elizabeth’s Church)
- Slavin War Memorial
- Bratislava Castle
- Grassalkovich Palace
Bratislava’s old town is easily walkable, flat and you can do it in one day at a relaxed pace. It contains a mix of baroque palaces, churches, and fountains.
Slovakia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it went through pivotal moments during World War II, the communist era as part of the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic (between 1948-1989), and more recently as part of the European Union.
2. Climb up to the Bratislava Castle. The castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the capital and the interior is a national museum that covers Slovakian history from the middle ages to the present day. It is worth going all the way up just for the views. You can see the Danube and across the borders into Austria and on clear days Hungary as well.
3. Cross the Danube and climb to the top of the UFO bridge (the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world, it is 430m long) to have a panoramic view of Bratislava, you pay 7.50€ to have access to the view via a restaurant. This bridge connects the Old Town with another Bratislava borough called Petržalka. We crossed the bridge but did not go all the way to the top. We had seen a panoramic view of the city already from the castle top, so we skipped this one. When crossing the bridge, we took some great sunset photos and did great time-lapses of the river landscape.
Explore Bratislava’s surroundings and nature
4. Visit the Central Market Mileticova. The central market of Bratislava located a bit further outside of the city centre offers a bit of everything: fresh vegetables, dry fruits, nuts, pastries, flowers, clothes, small bars, and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat at a good price. The best time to head there is on Saturday morning.
5. Stroll along the park Sad Janka Kráľa, which sits alongside the river. When crossing the UFO bridge, you can walk towards one of the oldest public parks in Europe, dating from 1774-76. There are plenty of mature trees that fill it, making it a small corner of nature nestled in the city centre’s outskirts. It is a very peaceful place to go and enjoy a picnic.
6. Swim in the natural lake Zlate Piesky. This is a natural lake located about 9km or a 15min car ride north of Bratislava just next to the airport. Uber is a good and affordable way to get there from the city centre and there’s no entry fee to enter. There was a grass/beach area around, where we could sit and enjoy. We do recommend that you stock up on coffee/drinks and food beforehand, as food wasn’t that great.
7. Hike, cycle, the sky in the Little Carpathians (“Male Karpaty” can go up to 768 m in height and 100km long). The Little Carpathians are part of the Carpathian Mountains and are ideal for all outdoor-type activities. The area contains castles, caves, vineyards and is densely forested. We didn’t have the time to go there, but we would love to explore it next time.
8. Venture outside the city and cycle to Vienna. A cycle path connects both capitals (70km), following the Danube and is flat all the way through. We didn’t manage to do it this time, but it will definitely be on our radar next time we visit either of the cities.
9. Check out Bratislava’s street art and murals. Wandering around Bratislava’s streets you find really nice street art and murals spread throughout the city.
Where to stay in Bratislava?
Why not try something different and stay at a botel (a floating hotel)? We stayed at the “Botel Pressburg” (Pressburg means Bratislava in German), located 30min walking distance from the city centre and it was quite a pleasant experience. We literally slept in the Danube. People were friendly, the room was clean, and we ate a tasty breakfast with a nice view. Also, the evenings were very quiet. The prices were quite reasonable for what we got: 146.20€ for two nights for two people.
Eating and Drinking budget
In contrast to other European capitals, Bratislava is not an expensive city to visit. Compared to similar 3 day weekend breaks, we didn’t spent that much during our 3 day visit to the city.
We found that with an average of 20-25€ per day on food and drinks, you can get by easily in the city.
Eat and drink out: The food was good and cheap, ice cream can be found on every corner and many shops make their own beer, offering it at very low prices. You can try the Bratislava Flag Ship Restaurant, an old theatre made into a restaurant and it is huge, you can get lost inside. The place offers delicious and very large food portions, their own fresh beer and most importantly, they let you relax and enjoy your meal.
Cafes: Check out the Axioma Café, a little gem in the city. We found it by accident, in a random corner on a street, outside the old town centre. If you like books and coffee, this is the perfect place to chill for 1h or so on a rainy day or even just to sit down and relax after a long walk.
Overall, this trip was a very enjoyable city break. There’s a lot more to explore in Slovakia and we definitely want to go back. For three days, we enjoyed ourselves and saw a lot at a very relaxed pace. We hope you took away some useful tips for your trip to Bratislava and stay tuned for our next articles. We have similar guides for other short trips we did in European cities like Nice, Toulouse, Kaunas, and Vilnius that you can check out.