Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

So as you know, through the summer I’ve been travelling across Europe.

Yes indeed!

But why, you might ask?

Well, you know.

It’s the summer!

And even though Britain is out of the EU, I’m still European!

I'm the British Berliner - a British European. And I'm proud of it!
I’m the British Berliner – a British European.
And I’m proud of it!

What better thing to do than to travel through one of the world’s best continents – that’s right Europe!

If you want to read about ALL the countries that I’ve visited in the last two years, then just click here!

Oh, the summer!

It's summer. Drink up!
It’s summer. Drink up!

My challenge was to visit a European city. Every weekend, through the summer holidays.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

And only to travel.

By train!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

So let’s see how we’re doing.

If you as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’m going to put the countries that I’ve been to, on Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign below:

DENMARK:

Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers' markets. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Ditte Isager
Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers’ markets.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Ditte Isager

I started off with Denmark and hopped off to Copenhagen.

Is Copenhagen a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Sort of a tick!

Copenhagen was great and you can read all about it below:

SWITZERLAND:

A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!
A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!

I then went to Switzerland, and bounced into Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern!

Is Lucerne a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern was brilliant, and you can read all about it just below:

LUXEMBOURG:

After that, I went to Luxembourg.

Me in front of the Palace of the Frand Dukes. In August! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Me in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes. In August!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg was a new country for me, and I had heard lovely things about it, so I was pretty excited to visit!

Is Luxembourg a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

Luxembourg was pretty impressive, and you can read all about it just below:

The next destination was Slovakia!

SLOVAKIA

A historical castle in Slovakia!
A historical castle in Slovakia!

Slovakia, otherwise known as the Slovak Republic, is a country in Central Europe.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, and Hungary to the south. Slovakia’s territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres or 19,000 sq miles, and is mostly mountainous. The population is a little over 5 million!

The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 10th century, the territory was integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which later became part of the Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks and Czechs established Czechoslovakia, and on 1st January 1993, Slovakia became an independent state,  after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

A prime example of how two nations, even after separation, still live together and or are, connected to each other, without hate and strive!

As lovely as Prague!

As lovely as Prague!

As you know, I used to live in the Czech Republic and whilst there, I lived briefly in Slovakia too!

In those days, there was hardly any difference at all, so I wanted to find out if it was still true!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava, is the capital of Slovakia.

Bratislava, for much of its history, was a three-language town. Its citizens spoke Slovak, Hungarian and German, and was always quite cosmopolitan in nature. Before 1919, Bratislava was known as Pressburg, Prešporok, Prešpurk, Pozsony, Břetislaw, Bratislav, and finally Bratislava!

Slovakia is a small country, so the capital has a population of just 450,000 – the largest city in the country!

Bratislava in southwestern Slovakia, occupies the banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. It borders both  Austria and Hungary, and is the only capital city in the world that borders two independent countries, separated by just 66 kilometres!

All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!
All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!

Bratislava has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely from Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Hungary, and the Jewish nation. Not only that, but between 1867 and 1918, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary were parts of the same country, otherwise known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

WHY GO TO BRATISLAVA?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Once again, my task?

To visit Bratislava. Sleep in Bratislava. Eat in Bratislava. With young boy tween in tow.

Here we go.

Whoopsie!

TAKE ME THERE?

The best way to travel through Europe is by train!
The best way to travel through Europe is by train!

Bratislava is a small city.

We came in by train.

As you know, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign is to travel through the summer by train. Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

Think about your budget, and travel cheaply. By train!
Think about your budget, and travel cheaply.
By train!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

Don't suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Last year, I bought a twelve-hour direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

I bought a five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin. In August for just €29.00! And don’t forget, on the German inter-city Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Use public transport. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Use public transport.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00!

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July was just €98.00. My child was free!

For Luxembourg, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, again, and the twelve (12) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Luxembourg via Cologne and Koblenz – Berlin, including reserved seating in August was €116.00. My child was free!

For Slovakia, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, once again, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Bratislava – Berlin including reserved seating in August, was a mere €59.00. Yes €59.00! My child was free!

In a future post, I’ll be giving you tips as to how to prepare yourself when travelling on a European train!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t say so.

We went to Bratislava in August.

Of course you get the day-hopper tourists from Vienna and Budapest, and neighbouring Czechs, but most people haven’t a clue where Slovakia is. In fact, many confuse it with Slovenia.

Most people don’t know where Slovenia is either!

WHAT IS BRATISLAVA LIKE?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but we’re used to that now!

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure, or Denmark!

I mean, Slovakia once used to be a part of Czechoslovakia, and it has a certain charm, but to be honest, it’s not anything like Prague either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga.

In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ - Bratislava Main Train Station - is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc
In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ – Bratislava Main Train Station – is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc

It’s a bit rough-looking, and the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ main railway station, unlike the main train station in Porto, is a disgrace!

Bratislava has presence, but is not very well looked after!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least impressed, but I’m putting it down to the fact that just the weekend prior, we were in a luxury hotel in Luxembourg, and he was treated like a king!

I DON’T SPEAK SLOVAKIAN!

The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!
The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!

Not a problem.

Most people speak English, but if you can speak Czech, German, Russian or Hungarian, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Not quite! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Not quite!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Nah!

Thanks to Bratislava’s excellent location on the border of three countries, accommodation ranges from quite simple to award-winning boutique hotels, so  it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

I had previously wanted to go the boutique route like I did in Warsaw, but the prices they were asking bordered on the ridiculous, so a hostel it was then!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I'm on a budget. I could sing for my supper! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
I’m on a budget. I could sing for my supper!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

In Copenhagen, I decided to book a family friendly budget hotel. In Lucerne, we went for the cheap and cheerful option of a hostel.

I like comfort, and I’m not averse to a little splendour every now and then so in Luxembourg, we went upscale to a very lovely luxury hotel.

But being that we wanted to be smart, we decided to take the simple route of a hostel, once again!

Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

We went to Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel.

Downtown Backpacker’s is a hostel situated in the historical quarter of the city, and the first hostel in the country!

It’s located 15 minutes walking distance from the main train station, and is one minute from the Presidential Palace!

I had booked a private twin room of course, as I liked the idea of paintings on the wall. We were put on the top floor and into what would have been the best room in the hostel – Mucha – as the private double room also came with it’s own balcony.

No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratsilava, so we had to look through from afar!
No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, so we had to look through, from afar!

Sadly, no one was able to open it, and so we looked through what would have been our private balcony, with our private outdoor table, where we would have watched our private sunset, whilst I sipped a glass of Slovakian wine as I wrote my blog!

But it was not to be, as the balcony door lock was broken!

Sigh!

Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Our room came with two single bed and bedsheets already laid out, two large wardrobe-like lockers, two chairs, two standing lamps, a glass table, a large private balcony with a further four chairs, paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs, dotted all over the room, and free WiFi.

There were side plugs, but only on one side of the room so “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least pleased!

The hostel had a large fully-equipped kitchen, a small dining room, a terrace that turns into a garden, a library, a piano, a large common TV, a dryer, a washing machine, and a very comfy large common room, which for some reason, one man spent every night sleeping in! And shared bathrooms and toilets on every floor.

The bathroom on the lower floor is nicer, and larger!

A free shot of vodka isn't a bad thing!
A free shot of vodka isn’t a bad thing!

There’s also a free shot, free tea and coffee, and a really nice paid breakfast with a 10% discount, if you’re a hostel guest!

We paid €50.00 per night.

It was a nice hostel, and the hostel staff were great and extremely warm and friendly. Highly recommended.

Tick!

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Most likely!

But you’re going to have to do your own research!

BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO BRATISLAVA?

But what should I dooooooo? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
But what should I dooooooo?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

There is plenty to do Bratislava. 

I would even go as far as saying, you should spend at least two (2) days in order to get a real feel of the city. You can:

Go on a walking tour in the Old Town. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Go on a free walking tour. We went with a little outfit called Be Free Tours
  • Make your own independent walking tour. Pick up free maps in your hostel and hotel, and just take off! It’s really not that difficult!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Bratislava
  • Get your camera out and take a selfie with Čumil peeking out of the manhole, or Schöne Náci in a tall hat and tails!
  • Put on your walking shoes and climb up to Bratislava Castle and take in the view. They sometimes have a night show too!
  • Wander round the cobbled streets of the Old Town, and just get lost!
  • Go to the Town Hall and visit the most impressive Bratislava City Museum  – the oldest museum in Slovakia!
  • Go to St. Martin’s Cathedral and as many other churches as you can manage!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Take photographs and buy souvenirs at Michael’s Gate – the only preserved gate left – dating back to the 14th century!
  • Visit the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Community Museum
  • Walk by the riverside
  • Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
  • Join in the summer celebrations
  • Go people-watching
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants, for a quick bite of rustic Slovakian sausages!
  • Relax , take a break, and have a Slovakian beer!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them! p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!
Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them!
p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!

Bratislava is small. Everywhere is walkable, but local trams, buses, and cruises are simple to use.

In the olden days, the capital cities of Austria and Hungary were so close, that they were connected by a tram line!

Sadly, after World War II, the tram line was closed down!

Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest are connected by the river Danube via a cruise ferry, and there are frequent bus and train connections. In fact, many tourists happily go from at least one of these countries to the other, on a day-trip.

Isn’t that marvellous!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Even though we're tourists, stop cheating us! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Even though we’re tourists, stop cheating us!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

We had lunch in the Old Town and we were over-charged twice! One restaurant even had the cheek to charge the complete bill of their local Slovakian mates, from the next table!

My suspicions were raised when the bill started with the butter that I ordered, but never received…..!

MY VERDICT:

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava is a European historical city, mixed with forgotten reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

We wouldn't go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you're in the region, why not? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
We wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, why not?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit, or go to the countryside, which I hear is amazing!

If you’re on a budget, stay in Bratislava and commute to Vienna instead.

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

Quit your job! Don't quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don't travel through Europe!
Quit your job! Don’t quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don’t travel through Europe!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about Slovakian food, art and films in Berlin, travels to the German Baltic Sea, as well as a comprehensive post on how to use the train in Europe!

In October, I’ll be preparing to go to the TBEX ASIA travel conference in the Philippines, and an extra Asian country, but I’m still not sure where, but heavily leaning towards a Chinese-speaking country!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria.

Yay!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

The Old Town in Slovakia. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
The Old Town in Slovakia.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the most delicious Slovakian sausage that we gobbled up, are my very own!

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 21.09.16 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll also be attending an exclusive GOLUM! Preview Social Meetup at the Jewish Museum in Berlin!

Save the Date!

September is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in September, I can’t imagine where else you would be!

Watch this space!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Have you ever been to Slovakia? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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13 thoughts on “Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

  1. I’d most definately visit Bratislava! I’m still planning a Prague-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest tour so yes! I would..it would be a waste to come all the way and not take a peep! Thank you for the informative post…bravo for doing this Europe tour..it’s a shame you couldn’t have access to the pretty balcony..summer was blazing..it would have been nice to fling the door open and enjoy the breeze! Have a good trip to the Phillipines..so jelo..I LOVE Asia!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Caroline!
      Yep! If you’re doing “the tour” then you ought to go to Bratislava too. However, leave plenty of time to visit them all. One girl thought she could do the rounds in 3 days and regretted it!

      If you’ve got the time, I’d say you would need a fortnight (two weeks) – 3 days in each city, and 2 days for “travelling time”. If you’re really squeezed, then drop Bratislava altogether, and spend 48 hours in Prague, Vienna and Budapest, leaving 1 day “for travel.” However, it would be exhausting! The thing is, Bratislava is near to both Vienna and Budapest, but Prague, isn’t that near to Vienna. And Vienna isn’t that near to Budapest either. It needs a couple of hours! My recommendation, if you only have 1 week, do 2 cities (3 days in each), and 1 day “for travel” etc!
      p.s. ‘Can’t wait to get back to Asia. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I’d love to visit Slovakia, and Slovenia too. Both are on my list! I would go to Bratislava, but not stay for too long – nature there is stunning, I’d need to experience some of that!

    Your trip sounds awesome! Actually, I thought perhaps you have some funny memories from your trip, this one or past ones, and would be interested in sharing some funny, weird and/or embarrassing travel moments? You have been challenged: http://www.livenowdreamlater.net/en/2016/09/21/weirdest-travel-memories/ 😉

    I hope you’ll take it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We quite liked our stay in Bratislava, although we didn’t love it like we did Budapest, Split or Prague. Like you, I wouldn’t rush back to visit again but I’m glad we went. Your hostel looks lovely, we stayed in an Airbnb place out of town, it cost just £17 a night, but we did have to get the bus in and out.

    Like

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