Planning a trip to Bratislava was one of the most spontaneous, easy, things we did on our last trip to Europe. The small capital of Slovakia is home to beautiful architecture, delicious food, and friendly locals. So as you all can expect, we loved it!
We probably have 1 friend who we know who has also been to Bratislava, so we thought sharing our advice on how to plan a weekend trip to Bratislava would be very useful for our readers.
If you’re already toward Eastern Europe then this is going to be pretty easy. As Americans we innately over prepare and over plan. However, when it comes to travel in Eastern Europe, spontinaity and last minute planning is entirely acceptable. Sure we had our accommodation booked, but everything else we did was last minute.
Bratislava is about 45 minutes by car from Vienna. Renting a car and driving is one very simple option and might be quite enjoyable as it enables you to see the Austrian and Slovakian countryside.
We chose to take a bus from Vienna. These are charter buses, often with WIFI and movies. The cost of the bus was about 10 EUR per person and only took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Bratislava. The great thing about buses in Eastern Europe is the ability to be spontaneous. First, they’re cheap (even last minute). You can buy them online or at the bus station. Second, you don’t have to worry about foreign roads or sobriety. We tend not to drink much, but if you want to enjoy a beer or bottle of wine on the bus you can definitely sneak one on and make it more enjoyable of a ride.
(Taking the bus in from Budapest is also cheap and easy. This should take about 2-2.5 hours.)
The train between Vienna and Bratislava is a breeze. Many of the travelers we encountered in Vienna were taking the train. The train runs about 1 hour to 1.5 hours from Vienna to Bratislava.
The ferry is an option that we highly considered because it enables you to have a nice cruise down the Danube River and reach Bratislava in about 60-75 minutes. The only reason we chose to take the bus over ferry was that the ferry will cost about 35 EUR each. Still affordable, but 350% more costly than the bus.
Radisson Blu Carlton is an elegant hotel located in the heart of Old Town Bratislava. We were fortunate enough to have a room on the 1st floor with a wonderful balcony offering views of Bratislava Castle and St. Martin’s Cathedral.
We just released a blog on Couple’s Coordinates that outlines our top 5 things to see in Bratislava. For quick reference, they are:
Arguably the most popular restaurant in town and it won’t break the bank. This Thai bistro will run you about $10 or less for a delicious, filling meal. Thai in Slovakia? Yes, we love ethnically eclectic and confusing situations as well.
The Savoy Restaurant at the bottom of the Radisson Blu is a great option, especially if you’re staying at the hotel. The goulash and fish are both delicious options. As is the trend for Bratislava, this restaurant also will not break the bank. We spent something like $25 for a nice dinner.