Take a stroll through the centre of the town. Bratislava has one of the smallest historical centers around but the charm is more concentrated. The streets have been completely renovated over the last ten years, bringing life back here. Since then a multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants of all kinds have opened here, accompanied by a few souvenir shops and fashion stores. On warm days almost every cafe has an outdoor seating section in the street, bustling with life and giving the city a unique cozy feeling.
When it comes to sightseeing, Bratislava Castle generally is a must and is already opened after the reconstruction. You can visit also Slavin memorial for some really astounding views of the city. It's a calm and romantic spot but beware, it can get really windy up there. The City Museum located in the Old Town Hall offers visitors climbing up the steep stairwells of the clock tower or seeing the town's historical dungeons, an exhibition that was quite outdated but still scary in 2008.
In summer, you can also visit Bratislava Zoo, providing a nice walk between the animal enclosures, the latest addition being some rare white tigers. The facilities of the zoo are slowly being renovated to attract more visitors and the zoo is a favourite for families on sunny days. You can also go to the Botanical Gardens of Comenius University (Botanická 3, take trams No 1, 4, 5, 9 or 12 to stop Botanická záhrada) for quiet and peaceful strolls in this green space. There are also several lakes opened for bathing. The biggest and probably the most famous lake is called Zlaté piesky (Golden Lakes) or Vajnorské jazerá, known as Bager lake.
For a relaxed afternoon in the park, head either to Sad Janka Kráľa park (on the right bank of the river Danube and next to Aupark shopping centre), the oldest public park in central Europe, relax at the embankments on both sides of the river or head to Horský park (Forest Park) north off Slavin memorial for a civilized stroll through the forest. There's a small café here as well as a pub, the latter mostly populated by students from the nearby campus. For a more outdoorsy experience, hop on bus No 203/213 to Koliba and walk up to Kamzík (takes about 30 minutes uphill) or try the newly renovated facilities of Partizánska lúka and Snežienka, all with extensive picknicking areas and loads of fireplaces for grilling. The area is several kilometers long and you can either walk here from the terminal station of bus No 212 (Vojenska nemocnica) or take a bus to Patronka and use bus No 43 driving up the area and back every 15–30 minutes (depending on time of day/year as well as weather). Only cars with a permit can enter the area but there is a parking lot at the entrance, close to a bus stop. Snezienka's grass fields and the top of Kamzik hill are connected with a chairlift, operating Thursdays through Sundays and on holidays, the price for one ride being approx. €3.
In December, be sure to indulge in the scents and flavours of the traditional Christmas Market in front of Old Town Hall and on the Hlavne namestie (main square). The market - compared to the ones in Prague and Vienna - is smaller, but has a much friendlier, almost family-like atmosphere and feels much more traditional and less overtly commercialized than others in the region. The people of Bratislava love to meet here for a drink and a bite to eat; try the 'varene vino' (mulled wine).
Bratislava is the home of the world famous Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra so if you love classical music, you should consider attending one of the concerts in the historic Reduta building. For more cultural indulgence, the Slovak National Theatre offers a wide selection on ballet, opera and theatre performances. Although most of the activities have been moved to a city-district-in-the-making on the banks of the Danube, some performances are still being held in the historical theatre building, which gives them a unique feeling but a higher price tag as well. The old theatre building is right in the middle of the city at Hviezdoslavovo namestie. The new theatre is accessible by bus No 88 from the Coach Terminal at Mlynske nivy (get off at Landererova) or by buses No 50, 70 and 78 (stop is called Wüstenrot). None of these stop directly at the theatre though, so you should count on a 5-10 minute walk from the bus stop to the theatre. You cannot miss the building as it is of unmistakably communist megalomaniac design covered in white marble. The entrance is facing the Danube so you need to walk around the building to get in. Note that the riverside is currently being developed and the whole area is one big - although very clean, hats off - construction site and will remain that way at least until end of 2009.
For museum-goers, Bratislava is the place to go, with some bigger and loads of small museums around town (see a listing here ). The most recommended ones are:
It is situated in the Heydukova Street Synagogue, which is the only synagogue in Bratislava. Constructed in 1923-1926, it is a Cubist building designed by the Bratislava-based Jewish architect Artur Szalatnai-Slatinský and is listed as a national cultural monument. Orthodox in orientation, the synagogue still serves as an active Jewish house of worship. The Jewish Community Museum with a permanent exhibition “The Jews of Bratislava and Their Heritage” is installed upstairs and during the summer season is open to the public up till September, every Friday 1 till 4PM and every Sunday 10AM-1PM.
For a taste of visual arts, pay a visit to the National Gallery at the embankment between Starý most and Nový most with permanent collections of Slovak and European medieval art pieces, although the temporary exhibitions tend to be far more interesting. Bratislava City Gallery is also a good pick to see displays of historical fine arts, paintings and sculptures along with interesting temporary exhibitions. If you like modern art better, pay a visit to the Danubiana Art Museum on the southern edge of Bratislava but be aware that it is too far for a stroll, with little to no public transport connections, and is best reached by car or taxi.
Every year in the weekend around 24 April Bratislava celebrates a festival called "Bratislava for All", giving locals and visitors alike the possibility to visit most of the facilities governed by the city for free or a reduced fee, this including most of the museums and galleries. In May, the city's museums and galleries keep their gates open to visitors until late at night, this being called the "Night of Museums and Galleries".
If sports are your thing, know that ice hockey is the national sport of Slovakia. The local hockey team, HC Slovan Bratislava, plays games frequently throughout each year beginning in September and concluding in the spring of the following year. Since this team plays in KHL league, even more Slovaks started visiting it's matches. Home games are played at Ondrej Nepela Arena stadium, Odbojárov 9. Many Slovaks are passionate about both watching and playing ice hockey. The stadium can be reached easily by public transport.
Over the last two decades, many foreigners have been moving to Bratislava to study and work at the many international companies that created new jobs. After work, many expatriates and their Slovak friends hang out at casual events where everybody speaks English and enjoys the evening together. For travelers to Bratislava, joining these usually free events is an excellent and fun opportunity to meet local people and learn from them about what one should see or do in Bratislava next day.
A few recommendations are:
Bratislava Language Exchange Meeting, where people from different countries get together at tables and teach each other a foreign language.
Toastmasters Club Bratislava, a speech club where people practice their public speaking skills.
Bratislava Expat Meetup and Internations Meetings for the more business-oriented crowd that seeks to expand their network while having a glass of Martini in a stylish sky bar.
International Students Parties, where the foreign exchange students dance the night away and knock out their brains.
Upcoming events can be found in this calendar of international events .
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