As you wander through the narrow alleyways that pockmark the Old Town, or ascend the heights of the UFO Bridge or Bratislava Castle, you’ll be transported through time across centuries of development. Shaped in turn over the years by Slovaks, Hungarians, Austrians, Serbs, and many others, modern Bratislava is an international hub of culture, industry, and finance. Slovakia’s largest and most important city is packed with museums, theaters, castles, gardens, and corporations, lending it a flair that attracts visitors from the world over. Whether taking in history or dancing the night away, guests of every taste are sure to find something along the twin rivers in Bratislava.
Location: A City Grown on Riverbanks
Bratislava sits on the rivers Danube and Morava in the south-western corner of Slovakia, right along the Austrian and Hungarian borders. Bratislava Airport (BTS) is the country’s largest, and sees many flights daily–both domestic and international. Trains and roads connect the city to destinations across Europe–particularly nearby Vienna, another major cultural and transportation hub a mere 80 km to the west.
Business: A Center of Commerce, Technology, and Tourism
Though the Bratislava Region is the smallest of Slovakia’s eight, it’s also the most prosperous. The capital city owes its wealth and extremely low unemployment to the presence of numerous governmental institutions and private industry. Many corporations host headquarters in Bratislava, with a particular focus on the trade, commerce, and IT sectors. Tourism is huge as well; indeed, the bulk of Bratislava’s residents are employed in the service sector in one form or another.
Culture: The Center of Slovakian Pride
Climb to the hilltop Bratislava Castle, just outside the city center–this fortress (previously named Pressburg Castle) has been inhabited for thousands of years, and was one of the few in the kingdom able to defend against the first Mongol invasion of Europe. Performance lovers will enjoy a concert by the world-famous Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra or a show at the Slovak National Theater. A number of bars and microbreweries offer distinctive beers from Slovakia and beyond, but if beer isn’t your style, try ordering a Kofola instead–this Czech/Slovak soft drink (sort of a less-sugary Coca-Cola) is often served draft-style as well.
Activities: A Small City Chock-full of Sights
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Bratislava. The Devin and Bratislava Castles provide stunning views against the backdrop of the modern city, and the local suspension bridge (commonly referred to as Most SNP, or simply “The UFO Bridge”) over the Danube–one of the world’s largest of its kind–offers great vantages from the restaurant in its distinctive tower. History buffs won’t want to skip the Slavín War Memorial, and those with an eye for architecture will enjoy pastels of the Blue Church. Anyone can appreciate a stroll through the Old Town, exploring the narrow alleys crammed with shops, food stalls, and handicrafts for sale.