Pastel-hued buildings in cobblestone streets, a 9th century castle overlooking the city, charming old-world coffee shops, the very best of Eastern cuisine and restaurants and hotels are half the price than the rest of Europe; Bratislava should be on everyone’s travel list.
Surrounded by green forests, vineyards and perfectly situated alongside the Danube river, Bratislava is an exciting mix of classic and contemporary.
The city seamlessly blends 18th century town squares with socialist-era monuments and is right in the middle of the stunning Slovak countryside, making it an ideal base for those eager to explore nearby Tatra mountains.
Dog sledding and snow-shoe stomping your thing? This is the place to base yourself.
For those in need a some down time, renowned spa town, Piestany, is a mere one hour drive away, a soothing art-deco-esque retreat offering natural springs with thermal mineral water and sulphuric mud baths.
Yep, spa town – dreamy.
The city itself is a wanderer’s dream with tiny winding streets in the Old Town and incredible local restaurants to be found down every laneway.
By day, spend some time exploring the Old Town and getting lost in its endearing maze of twists and turns.
A stroll down the Danube is a pleasant way to spend a morning, followed by coffee and cake in Konditorei Kormuth, a breathtaking coffeehouse that has aristocratic murals on the walls, mahogany furniture and gold-plated bone china for a romantic place to catch your breath.
Seek out the old stone steps that lead to the city’s castle, and spend an afternoon admiring the old fortress and its panoramic views.
A trip to Devin Castle, 10km outside of the city, is an ideal way to spend an afternoon.
Standing on a massive rock hill, Devin Castle is a well-preserved ancient ruin that’s soaked in history.
With views of the Carpathian hills and secluded bike and hiking trails through the castle grounds, Devin makes for a peaceful afternoon stroll.
Getting there is easy, with buses running regularly from the city centre, or make a day of it and cruise down the Danube on a riverboat that stops at the castle entrance.
This is the kinda place where a boat cruise with prosecco won’t set you back more than a tenner, so make the most of it.
No visit to Bratislava is complete without watching the sun set over the Danube from the heights of the UFO bar and observation deck.
This ultra-modern 85m high bar and restaurant has views all over the city, and on a clear day you can see Austria and Hungary.
Sipping on a cocktail (they have some incredibly tasty mixes here) and gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows as the sky darkens and the city lights come on is an experience you won’t forget…
Foodies are well looked after in this city, with local delicacies such as sheep cheese spreads, organic mountain mushrooms and rabbit and venison all popular menu staples.
Bryndzove halushky – potato dumplings with sheep cheese (bryndza) and roasted bacon are a traditional Slovak speciality.
If you want to experience true Slovak cuisine (and you do, you really do), the intimate Modrá Hviezda is a candlelit restaurant built directly into the castle rock.
With exposed cave rock, wooden beams and friendly local staff, you may find yourself returning more than once to this cosy restaurant that’s straight out of a fairytale.
More modern choices include Savage Garden, an achingly hip bistro serving upmarket European dishes at decent prices, or Lemontree Restaurant, a Thai-fusion spot with live Jazz on Saturdays and an attached Sky Bar on the penthouse floor for an after dinner digestif.
The cocktails here are pure class and super cheap compared to crazy Dublin prices.
They’re also insanely creative – ceramic birds filled with alcohol and served in a little wooden nest? Eh yes, puhleaase.
For the full luxurious vibe, I recommend to stay in Marrol’s Boutique Hotel. Centrally located, a five-star hotel in a beautiful historic building has elegant rooms overlooking a courtyard, a fireside library bar and chandeliers twinkling overheard at the breakfast buffet.
It may sound pricey but Premium rooms actually start from just €90 per night.
Also, look how gorge it is? You won’t want to even leave here.
Whether you want a relaxing break on a budget or a weekend filled with outdoorsy activities, Bratislava is 100% the perfect spot to experience a taste of Eastern European culture and feast on comforting stews and locally brewed beer.
You’re gonna love this city, swear.