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This post was originally written in 2017 since c-vid lockdown in 2020 I have decided to revise old blog posts.
During the Summer of 2017, I did my first Europe trip. The trip was a week-long and took me to three European countries. These being Slovakia where we visited Bratislava, Austria where we visited Vienna and Hungary where we visited Budapest. But this post is solely about the Slovakian capital Bratislava.
After finding absurdly affordable flights from Birmingham to Bratislava. I decided that I need to explore Slovakia, as it was a country I'd heard little about. This didn't stop me if anything, it made me more excited about exploring Bratislava.
Where to stay:
Before arriving in Bratislava we looked on hostel world, to have a look at accommodation options. We were starting and ending our trip in Bratislava, so decided to try two different hostels. The first hostel which we decided to stay at was the Patio Hostel, as it looked like a great social area which we were keen to use. We stayed in a four-bed mixed dorm which we cost us €17 per night which works out approximately £15 (May 2020). The hostel was in a profound location, as it was just over a 5-minute walk from the picturesque old town. Patio Hostel was a great hostel, with a lively sociable environment, and would not recommend staying here.
Upon returning to Bratislava at the end of our trip, we stayed at the Art Taurus Hostel. Which was located in the heart of the old town, at the foot of the castle. We didn't enjoy our stay here as much, as it lacked a social atmosphere, unlike Patio. On top of this, there was a lack of natural light in the rooms. Which may seem like an insignificant inconvenience, but it gave the rooms a somewhat dirtier mood, as there was no fresh air. The worse point about this hostel was the bathrooms. As the showers were dark and lacked a proper door, with only a shower curtain between you and everyone else in the bathroom. I would not stay at the Art Taurus Hostel again, and wouldn't recommend staying here.
Whilst in Bratislava there is a bountiful of activities which you can do. Stretching from visiting the Bratislava castle to doing a day trip to the neighbouring city of Vienna.
1) Free walking tour - Bratislava was the first country where I did a free walking tour, and it was a splendid introduction to Bratislava. Free walking tours are the top-rated activity to do in Bratislava, and because it is free, you can tip however as you want or feel it is worth. Traversing the city with a local, not only showed but also told us the stories of Bratislava. The struggles and the hardships, which the city has faced. A free walking tour is a must when visiting any new city, as it permits you to get a detailed introduction into the city.
2) Blue Church - The iconic Blue Church is a beautiful attraction to see in Bratislava, although it isn't the easiest to find. We were taken to visit the church, whilst on our free walking tour. The blue church was even more elegant in person, as the shades of blue mirrored the sky. Creating an exhibition of pure beauty. We were unable to enter the church but were able to peer in through a window, and it looked just as beautiful on the inside. Furthermore, we were told that the church had to be booked years in advance for weddings, due to its popularity.
3) Pub Crawl - As well as a free walking tour there was also the option of a pub crawl, which cost €10 which works out to about £9 (May 2020). This gave us entry into roughly five venues, a free shot upon entry and on top of this, the first hour of drinks was free. This was an extremely entertaining night out, filled with good drinks, music and new friends.
4) Bratislava castle - Bratislava castle was unlike any castle I'd seen before, as it was more of a citadel than the castles which I am used to seeing. As it was a white fortress towering over the city. On a clear day, you can see into neighbouring countries, Austria and Hungary.
5) Vienna - The Austrian capital of Vienna is a quick bus ride from Bratislava, and we found buses to be frequent and inexpensive. With both Slovaklines and Flix Buses offering services between the two cities. Visiting Vienna is something which I would highly recommend if you have a few days in Bratislava. As the difference between the two cities is stark. Even though they were both apart of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, and are neighbours the difference between the two is great.
6) Explore the Old town - There is something magical about exploring a cities old town, walking along streets and exploring markets which have seen the city through so much change. They enable you to journey into the past. The old town of Bratislava is lovely and an enchanting window into the history of Bratislava.
7) The UFO tower - The UFO observation deck which offers the ultimate view of Bratislava, as you are given a panoramic 360 view of the city. Sadly we didn't get to explore the UFO tower in Bratislava due to time constrictions. But when I return hopefully this will be one of the first things which I do.
Overall I adored my time in Bratislava and I cannot wait to revisit one day and do a road trip. Since it is was a country with so much beauty, and is just waiting to be discovered and added on to the backpacker routes of Europe. I would urge anyone to visit on a Europe trip, as it is a mixture of new and old Europe.
Out of ten, I would give Slovakia a ten. As I found it had everything which I wanted and more, plus I cannot wait to return in the future.
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