Bratislava Region Brussels Office

Activities in Bratislava City

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Once you have arrived in the Bratislava city centre, a good way to orientate yourself is to take a walk along the River Danube, through the old town, and up to the castle.

The Danube is the city's dominant feature, but the city's two most distinctive landmarks are the castle and the nearby New Bridge (Nový most), which spans the river.

The instantly recognisable bridge, with its asymmetric cable-stayed construction and still-futuristic appearance, was completed in the early 1970s. The round café-restaurant at the top of the main columns – known, inevitably, as UFO – is a trendy hang-out with great views.

The old town is the traditional area for dining and entertainment in Bratislava, but the city centre has widened in recent years to incorporate newly developed areas.

Eurovea, a large development including a shopping centre, cinema, five-star Sheraton Hotel, apartments and offices opened in 2010 and has since become a popular place for eating and drinking, especially on its summer terraces. It occupies a riverfront location – whose landscaped layout has won an architecture award – with numerous restaurants and bars overlooking the water.

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Also on the left bank of the Danube, but upstream from the city centre, is another new development, River Park, including waterfront restaurants and a five-star Kempinski Hotel. It opened in summer 2010 and is also becoming established as an entertainment destination.

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Bratislava's historic old town is the jewel of the city. Pretty, compact and mostly pedestrianised, it is a very pleasant place just to wander around. From spring to autumn most of the wider streets – principally, Michalská, Ventúrska, Panská and Laurinská – are filled with café and restaurant terraces;
in colder weather they turn into cosy bars.

The centre of the old town is the intimate Main Square (Hlavné námestie), around which are clustered an array of late medieval, baroque and art nouveau buildings including the Old Town Hall. Nearby is the much larger, tree-lined Hviezdoslavovo Square, which forms part of the city-centre promenade ('korzo' in Slovak) that witnesses heavy pedestrian traffic in the summer months. Hviezdoslavovo Square also boasts many restaurants and bars, as well as the large Carlton Hotel and the Slovak National Theatre.

Scattered around the old town's streets are a range of public artworks, many in or near the Main Square. A bronze figure in Napoleonic uniform features in one, leaning over a public bench; Napoleon is a running theme around the rest of the city. Other tourist favourites are Čumil, the man at work emerging from his manhole at the junction of Laurinská and Panská, and the adjacent Schöne Náci, a statue of a local celebrity who used to wander the streets doffing his hat to passersby and presenting flowers to women. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who was charmed by the city during a visit in the 1840s, make an appearance on Hviezdoslavovo Square.

As well as the public artwork in the centre, there are several galleries in and around the old town.

The Bratislava City Gallery has several sites. The Mirbach Palace on Franciscan Square (Františkánske námestie) is an eighteenth-century rococo mansion which houses the city's collection of baroque artwork and a range of contemporary exhibitions by modern artists. The Pálffy Palace on Panská has the gallery's more modern pieces and a stunning installation, 'Passage', by Slovak artist Matej Kren. In the Primate's Palace on Primaciálne námestie you can see the gallery's collection of seventeenth-century English tapestries and visit the Hall of Mirrors, where the 1805 Peace of Pressburg was signed following Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz.

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The Slovak National Gallery, whose main site faces the river, houses the largest collection of Slovak fine art from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries, along with works by a range of important European artists.

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For nightlife, most venues are clustered in the city centre. There are several trendy, late-opening bars around St Michael's Gate, at the top of Michalská.

Up-market nightclubs can be found on Hviezdoslavovo Square (The Club) and Ventúrska (Trafo). Dress code is smart, but door policies are fairly relaxed by the standards of other European capitals.

Alligator, on Laurinská, plays rock music till late. For more a chilled-out feel, try the Nu Spirit Bar on Medená, or its sister club on nearby Šafárikovo Square.

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Photo: Bratislava Region

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