BRATISLAVA

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A city defined by cobblestone streets, beautiful European buildings in every direction, and some of the wildest, most engaging people you will ever meet. One of the greatest aspects about Bratislava, especially for a young (budget) traveler like myself, is that it’s such an inexpensive destination to visit. Although most people think of Paris or Barcelona when planning out a European vacation, visiting cities with such a high influx of tourists can get real pricey, real quick. Yet many travellers on route to Europe have it in their minds that other European destinations don’t provide the same experience, which simply isn’t the case.

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Now, Bratislava may not have the eiffel tower, winding canals with gondolas, or cafes that take you to other planets (that’s a marijuana reference if you didn’t catch on). But it is still an extremely special city that I highly recommend visiting. Something that’s amazing about Bratislava is the fact that it’s not a giant city. If you want to spend a day in London or in Paris and see most of what the city has to offer, you either have to walk at a fast pace for  12 consecutive hours or take the subway/tube/whatever it’s called in Paris. However, if you have one day to spend in Bratislava, you won’t feel like you have a fire behind you and you’ll actually get to admire all that the city has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, you can most definitely spend even a week Bratislava and be occupied with something new and exciting every day. But for a lot of young travellers who are on a time limit and a tight budget, spending one week in one city just isn’t possible.

That being said, if you plan on visiting this beautiful city which I’m lucky enough to call my first home, here are a few recommendations of things to see (and eat) during your stay:

  1. Bratislava Castle (Bratislavsky Hrad): Every Bratislava guide will tell you to take a trip up to the castle, and there’s a reason for that. This centuries old castle has such extensive history and visiting it provides you with an explanation of how Slovakia really came to be, from the Habsburg monarchy, to communist Czechoslovakia, to the democratic country it is now. Even if history isn’t your thing (it definitely isn’t mine), learning about Slovakia is quite fascinating since you most likely haven’t ever learned anything about it before. Revolutions, Nazi infiltration, and a powerful communist regime, have all heavily affected Bratislava. Making the journey up to the castle definitely sheds some light on how. Side note: go to Restaurant Castle/Restauracia Hrad and sit on their patio for a meal with a view (highly recommend ordering the crepes (palacinky, if you’re brave enough to order them in Slovak).
  2. Old Town (Stare Mesto): Wandering the alleys and streets around the old town has got to be one of my favourite things to do in Bratislava. You always see something different and interesting. Dozens of outdoor tent vendors sell traditional Slovak items there, all year long. Sit at one of the many outdoor cafes and do some people watching (or am I the only weirdo that does this?). Walk up the stairs at Michalska Brana (Michael’s Gate) for some incredible views of the city. Order some ice cream (seriously, Bratislava has THE BEST ice cream), and walk around, admiring the incredible European architecture. There’s always something to do around the Old Town.
  3. Eurovea: Now I would not typically recommend a shopping mall on a list of things to do. I think there are hundreds of better ways to experience a new city than from the inside of an H&M. And I’m definitely not saying that you should spend a lot of time inside Eurovea. However, the outside strip between Eurovea and the Danube river is a pretty incredible bit to walk around and eat in. Dozensof cafes outline the river and make for a great place to sit down and rest your feet. There’s also incredible ice cream here if you’re feeling it (if you see a flavour named “Mak” I highly recommend trying it.
  4. New Bridge/UFO Bridge (Novy Most): For some more incredible views of the red and orange rooftops, castle, and Danube river, I recommend taking a trip up to the UFO on the new bridge. Since the Danube runs through downtown Bratislava, it doesn’t take long to get to the novy most, so it doesn’t take out a big chunk of your day. However, I’ll pre-warn you that they do charge you some kind of fee to go up there. It’s probably just a couple of euros, but the instagram uploads will be worth it, right?
  5. Food: I highly recommend that you starve yourself the day before you arrive in Bratislava so you can binge out while you’re there (totally kidding). Seriously though, Slovak food is effing delicious (and extremely unhealthy and horrible for you). I know a lot of it may not look the most appetizing or be presented and plated in a beautiful manner, but I promise you’ll thank me if you try one of these suggestions out. Here’s a compiled list of the best Slovak food that you must try out while in Bratislava: bryndzove halusky, pagace, langose, parene buchty, gulas, and kapustnica.

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