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On the bank of the Danube, roughly halfway between Vienna and Budapest, lies Slovakia's capital Bratislava. Its charming Old Town (or Staré Mesto), nestled in a sea of communist-era flats, is compact and easily explored by visitors. Through the centuries, the city has been influenced by numerous neighbouring cultures, including Austrian, Czech, German, Hungarian and Jewish culture. It was a key centre of the Kingdom of Hungary and its capital under the Habsburg monarchy from 1536 to 1783.
Even as the national capital, Bratislava is small (500,000 people). In fact, Slovaks call it a big village, and in many ways it is. For tourists, the main neighbourhoods of interest are the old city and surroundings, but there are some more remote areas, like Slavin and its upscale houses that are worth a look. For wine drinkers, take the tram out to Raca or Vinohrady and visit the vineyards, which produce nice white wines.
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Bratislava has a moderate continental climate with warm summers and relatively cold winters. Summers last from June to September with average maximum temperatures mostly between 22 °C and 26 °C in the lower parts of the country. Nights average around a pleasant 15 °C during this time. Winters, from December to March are usually a little above zero during the day and a few below zero at night, though cold spells of weather when the wind blows from the east are possible. The east and north of Slovakia is colder than the southwest, where Bratislava is located. Absolute highs and lows are 38 °C and -23 °C. Precipitation is quite evenly distributed throughout the year, with spring and summer somewhat wetter though. On average, there are about 10 days with some rain (or snow).
|Avg Max||2.4 °C||5 °C||10.6 °C||16 °C||21.6 °C||24.5 °C||26.9 °C||26.7 °C||21.7 °C||15.4 °C||7.6 °C||3.6 °C|
|Avg Min||-3.5 °C||-2.2 °C||1.3 °C||4.9 °C||9.6 °C||12.9 °C||14.7 °C||14.5 °C||10.7 °C||5.6 °C||1.4 °C||-1.5 °C|
|Rainfall||42 mm||37 mm||36 mm||38 mm||54 mm||61 mm||52 mm||52 mm||50 mm||37 mm||50 mm||48 mm|
Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport (BTS), or simply Bratislava Airport, near the capital Bratislava offers a range of flights. Low-cost airline Ryanair offers by far the most flights with destinations currently being Alicante, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels South Charleroi Airport, Dublin, Edinburgh, Girona, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Liverpool, London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport, Malaga, Milan-Orio al Serio, Paris Beauvais-Tillé Airport, Rome Ciampino Airport, Stockholm-Skavsta and seasonal to Alghero, Palma de Mallorca and Trapani.
A few other airlines serve destinations like Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Yerevan, Tirana, Prague, Kosice, Catania, Split and Zadar.
Bus number 61 runs from the airport to the central train station and it takes approximately 30 minutes. Some people find it easier to fly into Vienna and then taking the bus from there to Bratislava. This costs €9 and leaves you off at the Central Bus Station (Mlynsky Nivy). The Old Town is a short public bus trip from there.
Another good option is to land at the Vienna International Airport (VIE), also known as Schwechat, about 40 kilometres away and travel to Bratislava from there.
Trains run frequently from Prague and Budapest, and hourly from Vienna. Bratislava has two primary stations - Hlavna Stanica (Central Station) and Petrazalka Stanica, which is located across the Danube from the old city. A number of buses run across the river, but you are better off trying to get into the Central station.
The Railways of the Slovak Republic operates a network of railways in the country.
Most trains depart from Bratislava and there are more expensive daily express train linking cities further east.
With the borders down, driving in from Austria is easy, with a trip from Vienna taking about an hour.
BBDS is one of the major bus companies in the country with frequent buses to and from Bratislava.
Slovak Shipping & Ports operates ships on the Danube, including those to and from Bratislava. It is possible to get to Bratislava by boat from Vienna. The Twin city liner, connects the two capitals. The trip takes about 75 minutes.
Some parts of the city are not accessible by car, including the old town.
Most of the city, old and new, is reachable by a solid network of trams, buses, and trolley buses. You can get more information on the website of the municipal transport.
You must buy tickets in advance, from tobacco shops or ticket machines located near stops. The former close in the early evening, and the latter only takes coins. So plan in advance if you are staying out late. After 11:00pm or so everything stops except night buses which are all signposted with N#.
Please note that you should only take the €0.70 tickets, if you are sure that you make the trip within 15 minutes (which is the period, after which these expire.) You need to stamp them, when getting onto the tram or bus.
Bratislava is a compact city, and getting around by foot is the preferred method to explore. This is particularly true in the old town, where car transport is nearly impossible due to the many tables and chairs placed on the 'street'.
There are no dedicated bike paths in the old town, but there are two excellent paths along either side of the Danube river. In fact, one can bike to Vienna, Budapest or a little bit closer, Devin Castle along a lovely path away from cars. The countryside surrounding Bratislava is superb for cycling, with good, almost flat, bicycle paths along the Danube and Morava rivers. If slopes tickle your fancy, then the Carpathian range is nearby with plenty of trails for mountain bikers and more fit riders.
Beware of thieves in the city and try and keep your bicycle in sight, or locked with a good lock.
Slovakia is typical of Central Europe in that most foods are of a hearty nature, usually meat and a starch (potatoes, rice, etc.), washed down with beer. Typical meals include Goulash or the Slovak national dish Bryndza Halusky, a potato risoto covered in a tangy, salty white cheese and bacon. It is somewhat of an acquired taste, but good on cold days.
Vegetarians suffer somewhat in Slovakia, even in Bratislava, as the Slovak concept of "meatless" permits a liberal usage of bacon. However, a growing number of places in the old city and in ethnic restaurants now offer more varieties for those who go meatless. When in doubt (and one should always be in doubt about whether dishes come with meat in Slovakia), ask "Bez Mesa?" (without meat?).
The most common non-Slovak food is Italian - the Slovaks are crazy for Italian food. It is usually of the southern red-sauce variety, but can be tasty. Chinese, Sushi, Indian and Middle Eastern can also be found in and around the Old City.
Slovak Pub and Flagship offer a large choice of local and international dishes, and also provide cheap student meals. Pivovar is a busy pub and restaurant but also offers a variety of local and international dishes. Primi concentrates more on international cuisine, with a large variety of pizza's and pasta's.
Beer is one of the main drinks in the city. One of the raisons d'etre of Slovak life, it is easy to find, cheap and tasty. If you like a malty dark beer, you are mostly out of luck, as the Slovak dark beer (Tmave Pivo) is very sweet. The Pilsner, which at times is closer to a weak ale, is quite nice, and varies in strength from brewery to brewery.
The Slovaks also like fruit based alcohol, but don't be fooled. This stuff, depending where it comes from will peel paint and fix anything wrong with you. Try them all, and should you find them too strong for you, try it again - it gets easier!
Most visitors to Bratislava choose one of the many restaurants or cafe's in the old town for drinks. Also the party and restaurant boats moored on the river are popular at night. There's also a really interesting nightclub inside a bunker from the war that has a slightly claustrophobic feel to it, but good dance music.
|Apartment Blue Danube||Medená 10||Apartment||82|
|Apartment Blue Danube II||Dobrovského 6||Apartment||-|
|Apartment Historical Centre||Heydukova Street No. 3, Bratislava||Apartment||82|
|Apartment Kramare||Klenova 11||Apartment||84|
|Apartment Presidential Palace||Lermontovova Street No. 4||Apartment||82|
|Apartment Twin City||Budovatelska 2 Bratislava||Apartment||-|
|Bratislava city apartments||Vajanského nábrezie 9, Bratislava - Old town Kollárovo námestie 20||APARTMENT||-|
|City Hostel Bratislava||Obchodna 38||Hostel||77|
|Downtown Backpackers Hostel Bratislava||Panenska 31||Hostel||81|
|Hostel Blues||Spitalska 2||Hostel||88|
|Hostel Possonium||Sancova 20||Hostel||83|
|Hotel Color Bratislava||Pri Starom myte 1||Hotel||74|
|Hotel Plus||Bulharska 72 Bratislava||Hotel||77|
|Hotel Premium||Priekopy street 20||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Turist||Ondavska 5 P.O.Box 128||Hotel||77|
|Patio Hostel||Spitalska 35||Hostel||83|
|Pezu BB||kupelna 10||Apartment||79|
|Red Star Hostel Bratislava||Botanicka 25||Hostel||59|
|Residence Sulekova||Sulekova 20||Hotel||-|
|Summer Youth Hostel Mlada Garda||SDaJ Mlada Garda Racianska 103, 831 02||Hostel||63|
|Hotel Baronka||Mudrochova 2||Hotel||83|
|Botel Marina - Bratislava||Nabrezie Arm. Gen.L. Svobodu||HOTEL||82|
|City Hotel Bratislava ***||Seberiniho 9||Hotel||77|
|Petit||Suche myto 19, 811 03 Bratislava||Guesthouse||80|
|A1 Hostel Bratislava||Heydukova 1||Hostel||77|
|Botel Gracia||Razusovo nabrezie||HOTEL||81|
|Hostel Spirit||Vancurova 1||Hostel||81|
|Studio Apartment||Suhvezdna 4||Apartment||-|
|Apartments Lafranconi||Nábrežie L. Svobodu 40||Apartment||84|
|Hotel Junior Bratislava||Drienova 14||Hotel||81|
|Hotel Arcus||Moskovská ul.5||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Remy||Stará Vajnorská cesta 37 / a||Hotel||-|
|Penzion Gremium||Gorkého 11 Bratislava I 01 Slovak Republic||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Max Inn||Pri Suchom mlyne 7 Bratislava 11||Hotel||-|
|Apartments Bratislava||Grosslingova 39||Apartment||-|
|Skaritz Hotel & Residence||Michalská 4||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Taxis||Jaskovy Rad 9||Hotel||-|
|Echo Hotel||Presovska 39||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Sorea Regia||Kráľovské údolie No. 6||Hotel||-|
|Grand Central Apartment||Obchodná 30||APARTMENT||-|
|Bastion Apartments||Smrečianska 3592/6||Apartment||-|
|Bratislava Apartment Rajska||Rajska 14||Apartment||-|
|Hyde Park Hostel||Obchodna 53||Hostel||-|
|Bratislava Apartment Maly Trh||Maly Trh 002||Apartment||-|
|Chopin Hotel||Galvaniho Ulica 28||HOTEL||-|
|Bratislava Apartment Obchodna||Obchodna 201||Apartment||-|
|Art Hostel Taurus||Zamocka 24-26||Hostel||85|
|Penzion Berg||udernicka 24||Hotel||80|
|Apartments City Centre Bratislava||Obchodna street 7||Apartment||-|
|Gaudio Hotel||Udernicka 14||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Viktor||Kremnická 26||HOTEL||-|
|Junior Hotel Bratislava||Drienova 14||HOTEL||-|
|Gracia Botel Bratislava||Razusovo Nabrezie||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|President Hotel Bratislava||Drevena 4||HOTEL||-|
|Matysak Hotel Bratislava||Prazska 15||HOTEL||-|
|Club Hotel Bratislava||Odbojarov 3||HOTEL||-|
|Park Inn Danube-Bratislava||Rybné námestie 1||Hotel||-|
|Bratislava Castle Hill Apartment||Hradné údolie 1||APARTMENT||-|
|Hotel Set||Kalinciakova 29||HOTEL||-|
|Hostel Mansard||Obchodna 52||Hostel||-|
See also International Telephone Calls
Slovenská pošta is the national postal service of Slovakia. They have affordable, reliable and relatively fast services. You can choose to send letters/postcards first (express) or second class. Prices start at €0.40 for a second class letter (up to 50 gram) domestically, €0.60 for express services. Within Europe prices start at €0.90 (Czech Republic €0.80), outside Europe prices start at €1.00, all for second class letters/postcards up to 50 grams. You can use their parcels services as well, although you might be better off with companies like UPS, TNT or DHL, which offer similar prices, but usually faster and more reliable services. Post offices are available in all villages and provide banking services like money transfers as well. The post offices are usually open from Monday to Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturday until 1:00pm. The main post offices in larger towns or shopping malls are open daily to 8:00pm. It is possible to buy post stamps for post cards and letters directly in the post offices or in some newspaper stands.
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My name is Oskar and I am the "natural born local patriot" of Bratislava. I also work at Hostel Blues Bratislava so one can say that guiding and helping others with exploring my homeland is something more then hobby, more then a job ... a passion. I believe that Bratislava region and Slovakia has many beauties to offer, you just have to "walk with open eyes", willing to learn and explore. I want you to fall in love with this place, so I will prefferably write about local culture, traditions, those non-mainstream places, beaten of the track, where one can meet some locals and experience something more real then a crowded turistic highlights and souvenir shops :)
Feel free to ask me any questions and please make me happy by reading my blog.
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