Bratislava was one of the cities we visited during the big 6 month road trip Sanne and I took in 2008. This road trip was all about finding Spotters for our first 20 cities, people who wanted to join our crazy idea to start a city blog network called “Spotted by Locals”. We’ve been there four times since to meet the Spotters, most recently a year ago during our 2 months – 22 cities Interrail trip.
I’ve always thought Bratislava was a small and beautiful capital, and that’s also how it feels when you visit the historic center, fantastically located on the Danube riverside, full of beautifully preserved medieval buildings and a giant castle. That’s what most tourists see, and I don’t blame them.
But if you look at the map in our app, you’ll see that the Bratislava Spotters write about many spots outside the historic city center. This is where they go. And that’s actually where we personally had the most memorable experiences. The nature around Bratislava is absolutely breathtaking. Adventurous Spotted by Locals users with more than one day to explore Bratislava should go there for sure!
We’ve made a selection of our locals’ spots for a perfect “48 hours like a local in Bratislava”. Have fun!
Day 1: 09:00 – 13:00
We’ll start with a late breakfast in an iconic Bratislava venue – Lemon Tree. It has exquisite food. Don’t start too early – a Bratislava local would take it slow on a holiday too (it’s not for nothing that there are places like Štúr that serve breakfast until 17:00 here!). You’ll have a perfect view over the beautiful caste, where we won’t be going during these 48 hours of course :).
Now, we’ll have to find you a bicycle. There are plenty of places around the city center that rent them out… None mentioned on Spotted by Locals though, as our locals have their own bike ;).
Slovakia is one of the 5 most coffee addicted nations in the world. From the early 20th century, people from Vienna have been coming to Bratislava to have coffee in one of the many cosy coffee houses. So, where do locals get their coffee?
Penny Coffea is a favorite. It’s quite a bike ride away, but a beautiful one. And worth it! The building has a long history and used to be a toll house serving the old bridge on the Morava river. According to our local Lenka “Penny Coffea is a great stop for refreshing drinks after a long walk or cycle trip in the area. I recommend their excellent raw cakes – right now the rhubarb one – and in summer they serve refreshing home-made lemonades mixing unexpected flavours (such as basil and watermelon).”
Day 1: 13:00 – 19:00
Penny Coffee is next to the Cyklomost slobody bridge (Freedom Cycle Bridge – although it was almost called the Chuck Norris bridge after an internet campaign). If you’re there on the weekend, it becomes some kind of promenade, great for people watching. The bridge extends high over the river Morava and leads to the open, serene Austrian fields and the Schlosshof Castle.
Our Spotter Eva writes about how Bratislava is becoming an evermore bicycle friendly city, although still mainly outside of the city center. And she has some great tips for a ride. “There are great bike routes on both sides of the Danube leading along the city as well as amazing ones in the hills of Malé Karpaty for the ones loving adventure.”
Day 1: 19:00 – 23:00
Obyvacka is one of Pauline’s favorite dinner spots. Her boyfriend is addicted to meat and fried foods and Pauline prefers healthier options such as salads or pasta, and Obyvacka does both very well. But most of all it’s the “old living room” atmosphere Paulina recommends this place for. Retro-looking sofas, dim lights as well as the books stuck on the wall… If you’re lucky, you could enjoy some live unplugged music too!
Obyvacka is a place you will want to stay at all evening. But of course we have no time for that…
Day 1: 23:00 – …
Let’s go enjoy the night culture at the YMCA Bratislava building! You’ll find something to your liking here for sure, as they have 2 clubs, 3 bars, a concert hall, an art space and an outside terrace in summer. Our Spotter Martin’s favorite part of this culture hotspot is the punk rock spot Randal. Not for first dates or anything, the name means ‘noise’ and it certainly lives up to its name.
Day 2: 09:00 – 13:00
If you followed last night’s program, you probably will have a little problem getting up… No problem, breakfast at Štúr is served until 17:00.
Day 2: 13:00 – 19:00
Support a local Bratislava bookstore, by visiting Artforum – bravely selling only quality books and magazines in this era of fierce competition from the big chains. They also organize many events. For many locals, Artforum is an institution. Our local Lenka calls it a book temple!
Slavica is a unique designer shop. Almost everything is handmade in Slovakia. There are local brands from local designers and artists, you can find clothes, bags, notebooks, shoes, wallets, books, porcelain, jewellery, ceramics, accessories and much more.
Beer is important for Slovaks, so we recommend joining them :). For a beer before dinner Martin recommends Richtar Jakub – a mini brewery with 12 unique (not all home brewed, but mostly Slovak) beers on tap every day.
Day 2: 19:00 – 23:00
Beer under 100 year old chestnut trees? Martin recommends Funus Bratislava. Their beers are very popular among locals, they have Chotebor and Budvar, which is non pasteurised. If you want to celebrate add Horec, a shot of vodka with gentian extraction, which makes it bitter.
One of the many local restaurants in Bratislava we can choose from is Chutovka – definitely one where you’ll find mostly locals. They serve some great traditional Slovak specialties such as pirohy and bryndzove halusky.
Day 2: 23:00 – …
Drinking, chatting and dancing all night to make optimal use of the last of the 48 hours? Nu Spirit bar is the place to go. A great place to meet young and open Bratislava locals too, who will be thrilled to tell you more about the capital city they’re proud of!