The Slovakian capital, located near the border of Austria and Hungary, is a popular port stop for river ships cruising the Danube. The city has a fascinating mix of past and present, and time in port can be spent wandering the streets of the old town, walking or biking along the river, or touring the many small galleries and museums. The city has seen an overall renaissance in popularity as well, and Bratislava is rapidly becoming a choice spot for weekend getaways for young Slovakians.
What We Love
Old Town: The medieval city center is a pedestrian zone. Walking tours hit all the highlights, or you can stroll through the narrow, winding streets on your own. Make sure to pop in to one of the small pubs, lively bars, or cafes to sample local Slovak fare.
20th-Century History: The city has a complex history. Formerly a part of communist Czechoslovakia, its Soviet-era architecture stands in stark contrast to the medieval buildings of its old town. For a true off-the-beaten-path experience, Authentic Slovakia provides tours that show what life was really like behind the Iron Curtain.
Best Known For
Bratislava Castle: The picturesque ninth-century castle looms large over the city as you cruise into town along the Danube. The landmark played an important role in the region’s past and has been extensively restored. Take the 20- to 30-minute walk uphill for a bird’s-eye view of the town below, and tour the exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum’s Museum of History inside.
St. Martin’s Cathedral: Gothic in style, this Roman Catholic cathedral took nearly 150 years to build. Construction finished in 1452, and the church was used to crown Hungarian kings and queens for decades. There is a re-enactment of the coronation ceremony every year in late June.
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Who It's Best For
Beer Lovers: The city may be surrounded by vineyards, but beer has long competed to be Slovakia’s drink of choice. And those looking for a pint will revel in Bratislava’s brewing culture. From tiny, tucked-away pubs and microbreweries to the appropriately named Beer Palace in the city center, you can sample local, home-brewed beer as well as beers from all over Europe.
History Buffs: It may be a young capital, but Bratislava is old. Slovaks can trace their history in the city back to the fifth century. It's now home to 30 museums dedicated to art and history, including the Bratislava City Museum and the Slovak National Gallery.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Kristen Boatright is the New York City-based senior video editor of ShermansCruise.com.