Bratislava, Slovakia

Our hotel in Vienna had a great, very European breakfast buffet included with the price of the room.  Every morning we had coffee, juice, fruit, sliced meats (cheeses for Bryn) and a huge selection of breads to choose from.  It was over breakfast on the fourth day of our trip that Bryn and I decided we would go to Slovakia for the day.

In the months leading up to our trip we discovered that Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia is only an hour or so from Vienna by train.  We kept the idea in the back of our minds, but didn't commit to anything (we don't like to plan our trips out like that).  

We had done some research the night before only to find that there is not a whole lot of detailed information about visiting Bratislava from Vienna online.  We managed to scrape up enough from several different sites, but it would have been convenient to have it all in one place.  So, that being said, here's my rough guide to a quick day trip to Bratislava if you're staying in Vienna! (Well, following the photos.)

On the way into Bratislava the Soviet history is obvious - lots of very dull, box-like buildings and a lot of it is quite run-down in contrast to Vienna.  The second you step into the historic area it feels like a different world.  It is colorful and ornate, full of winding cobblestone alleys with church spires peaking over the rooftops.  It really is fairytalesque, almost like time has stopped (until you see the tourist groups with their selfie-sticks held high).  

You can tell the Slovakians must have a good sense of humor thanks to the collection of silly statues that are dotted around.  Unfortunately many are hard to photograph unless you want to wait your turn with the other tourist photographers.  We managed to snap this one in between people posing for their next Instagram shot!

Getting there:  For 16 Euros you can get the "Bratislava Ticket", a round trip ticket from Vienna to Bratislava.  The ticket is good for four days, and also allows you to ride public transport while in Bratislava.  Get this ticket.  A regular, one way train ticket is 14 Euros, so you're basically getting your return trip for free!   You can buy them from OBB ticket offices, but just skip the line and use a ticket machine (located just outside the OBB ticket office).  You can select the language on the bottom of the screen, then select "International Travel" and then "Slovakia" (well, it will actually say "Slowakei").  The Bratislava Ticket will show up, put in some money and you're good to go! 

While this train will stop at several stations in Vienna, we got on at the Wien Hauptbahnhof, Vienna's new central station.  The train ride takes about an hour and it fills up fast, so get on early to make sure you get a seat!  You want to go to Bratislava-Hlavná Stanica, the central train station.  (There is another main station in Bratislava but it isn't as convenient to get to the old town.)

Once you arrive, you have some options.  You can walk to the old town in about 15 minutes.  You really only cross one busy street and there is a pedestrian bridge, so it's easy and well sign-posted.  If you don't feel up to the walk, several busses will take you in the right direction.  We hopped on the X13 bus (just exit the station and turn right, you'll see it) because it pulled up as we walked by.  The second or third stop (sorry...I can't remember) is called Namestie SNP and will put you at entrance to the old, historic district.

Trains to Vienna leave every hour, giving you plenty of time to wander the winding, cobblestone streets at your leisure!  

Bryn and I both loved our day in Bratislava, but a day was plenty.  The guide books will tell you it's cheaper than other, nearby European cities, and while that is true, you are going to have more to see and do in a bigger city such as Vienna.  That being said, go to Bratislava, I highly recommend it!

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