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From its towering castle to the cosy old town, Bratislava has plenty of charming spots to explore. The Slovakian capital has a feeling of the undiscovered about it. Tread the footsteps of its past and explore the city by foot, taking in its old-world charm and captivating fairy-tale buildings. Over recent years, Bratislava has developed a reputation as a young city with buzzing nightlife, with travellers drawn by its bars as well as its culture.
Many Bratislava hostels are based in or around the old town, with easy access to the major sights. Choose between a boutique-style Bratislava hostel or an apartment in a historic, 19th-century building. You can even book a cabin on a tanker boat moored just below Bratislava Castle, complete with a bar and a barbecue. Most have free Wi-Fi and self-catering facilities to help your budget go a little further. There are Bratislava hostels with their own café or restaurant and a comfy social space. Some also have bicycles to rent. Read more about the best hostels in Bratislava in our guide.
Bratislava is relatively small, so it's easy to explore its little neighbourhoods. Stare Mesto (the old town) is filled with museums, medieval buildings and pastel-coloured town houses. For views of the city, head up into the hills to the district of Palisády. If you venture over the Danube river, you’ll arrive at Petržalka, the area’s largest district. It's known for its brightly-painted Communist-era tower blocks. You'll also find a brewery, restaurant and hotel here, all on a boat, where you can sip your beer on the top deck.
At Bratislava Castle, you'll get both history and a bird's eye view of the city from its hilltop location. Back in the centre there's a thriving café scene. By night, there are live music and comedy nights, with bars and clubs mostly centred around the main square. There's even a nightclub in a former nuclear bunker beneath the castle. By way of impressive buildings, the Blue Church of St Elizabeth is a fine example of Bratislava’s Art Nouveau movement, with its decorative facade and elegant interior.
The city centre is a 20-minute drive from Bratislava Airport. You can also take a bus to Hlavná stanica (the main train station) and walk to the city centre in 15 minutes. If you fly into Vienna, you could take a bus to Bratislava, which is roughly an hour's drive. Train travellers will find connections from Prague, Budapest and Vienna. When you’ve arrived, you can get around using Bratislava's tram, bus and trolleybus network. Read more with our Bratislava in 3 days itinerary.