A historic date with Bratislava

A historic date with Bratislava

Unlike its more illustrious neighbours, Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is rarely in the checklist of travel aficionados. One of the youngest nations in Europe, Slovakia is a thriving democracy and a confident nation.

Bratislava, located on the banks of river Danube, is known for its vibrant night life, historic old town and being more pocket-friendly compared to other European cities. The cobbled streets, Baroque architectures, the retro trams bestow Bratislava its very own signature and panache.

Located centrally in Europe, it can be easily accessed from Vienna, Prague or Budapest as international flight connections are yet to mature.

My wife and I reached Bratislava from Vienna airport by bus, which cost 5 euros per head. The distance of 70 km was done in 50 minutes. There are frequent buses from Vienna airport or Vienna city which are very comfortable. We disembarked at the Mlynsky Nivy, the central bus station in Bratislava.

I had booked a private room for the family at Art Hostel Taurus (through hostelworld.com) which is located in the historic old town area, minutes away from the iconic Bratislava Castle and the ‘Most SNP’ bridge over the Danube. The facilities provided in the hostel were great and the breakfast served was really sumptuous.

Commute-Trams and bus services are excellent and round the clock. One just needs to purchase a 24 hour/48 hour public transport pass from the ticket vending machines located across the city. With one of these passes, you can travel within city limits in buses and trams.

The ideal way to know the history and cover the main attractions is to join a free guided walking tour conducted every day in the morning and evening, starting from the main square of the old town (Stare Mesto). The main square has several shops, pubs and a beautiful park. The Primates Palace, which is now the seat of the mayor of Bratislava, is also in the centre of the square. One cannot miss the statue of Pavol Hviezdoslav, the renowned Slovak poet and dramatist, in the square.

The guided tour took us through the Bratislava castle, walled old town with the St Martin’s cathedral, UFO tower across the Most SNP bridge, Blue Church, Slovak National Theatre and St Michael’s Gate.

I found the Bratislava Castle to be the cynosure of the city. The massive castle with its prominent four towers stands on a hill overlooking the Danube river. From the top one can have an excellent view of the city and Danube river up to Austria.

The Devin’s Castle in Devin, around 15 km from Bratislava, is another highlight of the place. The castle is situated at the confluence of Danube and Morava River.

Perched on a cliff the castle serves as a museum of bronze and iron age artefacts and inhabited since prehistoric times.

From the watchtower (Virgin Tower), we saw a panoramic view of Danube and Braunsberg Mountain in Austria. The Morava River flows to the Czech Republic.

The UFO-shaped observatory tower with a restaurant on top is situated above the MOST SNP, overlooking the Danube. The height of the tower is 95 m. An elevator took us to the top in 45 seconds from where we had a view of Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic.

My personal recommendation is to visit the observation deck around sunset for a great view of the city The surrounding area around the tower is picturesque, great for walks and cycling.

We also visited The Michael’s Gate and Blue Church. Michael’s Gate is the last standing gate to entrance of the old town. The roof of the 51m tower of Michael’s Gate is the statue of Archangel Michael slaying a dragon. The Blue Church or Church of St Elizabeth (Hungarian princess), is one of Bratislava’s more appealing art nouveau buildings.

Make sure not to miss the nightlife and food in Bratislava. One must try Slovak traditional cuisine.
Halusky, which consists of potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon is one of their national
dishes.

Do try the famous Slovak wines and slivovica (an alcoholic drink made from plums). Bratislava has so much to offer that one is sure to carry cherishing and memorable moments .

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