72 Hours in Bratislava - eateries, breweries and bars
DISCLAIMER: This post is full of recommendations that I can’t even begin to pronounce.
What do you do on a drizzly Monday in Bratislava? You do a free walking tour of the city.
What do you learn? You learn that when the film ‘Hostel’ was released, there was a 75% drop in the number of backpackers visiting the city.
How do you react? You laugh maniacally from the absurdity of this statistic. Or maybe the outburst is straight delirium after a few wild nights in Bratislava. It’s likely a combination of both.
A pint of beer averages at about €1.5. Don’t judge.
Bratislava was the communist-era industrial powerhouse of Czechoslovakia; so don’t expect the immense beauty of Prague. Vibrancy and culture was kept at bay during the clutches of communism; the historical old town was largely destroyed and the Jewish quarter was razed to the ground. But if you’re looking for a short, European city break, Bratislava might be the answer. It has charm, fun locals and beer, lots of beer. Accompanied by meat, lots of meat.
In fact, what follows is mostly a summary of the best eateries, breweries and bars. Most of the trip revolved around food and drink. My stomach still smiles thinking about it.
There are obvious other attractions that I won’t mention in this blog because they’ve been written about, and then written about, and I couldn’t possibly say anything new or interesting about them. Including, but not limited to: Bratislava Castle; Devin Castle; St Martin’s Cathedral; Michael’s Gate; the Slovak National Museum; the National Gallery; and Roland Fountain.
Meštiansky Pivovar – feast on ALL of the traditional dishes
We may have over-ordered. It took us a good 3-4hrs to digest the meat/stodge-heavy array of dishes, but this was easily the best traditional food that we had. We pretty much had one of everything that anybody had ever recommended to us – ribs, duck, goulash, dumplings, cured meat platter, red cabbage, pancakes, more ribs. We washed it down with pale ale from the establishment’s own brewery. Anything heavier and we may have burst.
Dunajský Pivovar – brewery on a boat
Bratislava has countless breweries, but this is the only one you’ll find on a boat. Its prime position allows for beautiful views over Bratislava Castle at sunset. It wasn’t the best food we had, but the concept and the beer made up for it. Book a table for 6pm and watch the sunset behind the city as you feast on ribs and premium Slovak beer.
Pod Kamenným Stromom
There are lots of hidden plazas and discrete alleyways in Bratislava. Pod Kamenným Stromom lies at the end of one of them. A café/restaurant and bar combo. During the day, they serve perfectly cooked fish and fresh vegetables out of a ‘street food’ style shipping container. There’s a beer garden kind of atmosphere, which is great for summer days unless you get rained on, which we did. A torrential downpour quickly ensued. This amusing situation resulted in a conversation with the chef, who encouraged us to come to the accompanying bar later on that evening.
The bar is an old-school style taverna down in the cellar. All arched ceilings, exposed brick walls and books from floor to ceiling. We were the only tourists here and we loved it. We ended up ordering a bottle of Tanqueray gin and sharing it with the chef, his friends and two 18-year-old Slovaks who joined in with our card games. The management called for a lock-in and the night got messy…
Urban House – amazing waiter
Our highlights were quite often defined by amusing characters. One of the best was undoubtedly our waiter at Urban House, where we were stranded on a Sunday morning thanks to a ‘quick’ (thanks accuweather) 4 hour thunderstorm. Noticing my inability to make a decision, he allowed me to try all of the different draught beers; neglected waiting-on duties to take selfies with us; and brought us a dessert of chicken wings as a joke after the guys almost passed out from eating a bucket of wings slathered in blue cheese sauce. Slovakian legend.
The fig and parma ham pizza is worth going for by itself.
Sky Bar – drink a cocktail out of a lampshade
This could have been a bit too gimmicky, but views over the city and insanely delicious cocktails made up for all of it. The extensive (we’re talking 100+) cocktail list is impressive. Next to the drink description is a drawing of the vessel that contains the drink. So when we saw a lamp there, we were clearly confused.
The Mare Nostrum – gin, blood orange and a ‘unique taste of the Mediterranean’ (not sure what this means) is served in the lightbulb of a disused lamp. Other containers include a mini bathtub and a teacup. Call it hipster. We didn’t care.
A trip to the UFO is mandatory. Mostly because it’s a giant UFO that dominates the city’s skyline, but also because you get to take in 360 degree views of the city from a fancy bar that serves even more fancy cocktails.
Dinner in the Sky – the most beautiful high experience
We happened upon this by chance and it was easily one of the best moments of the trip. Unfortunately this isn’t a permanent fixture in Bratislava; they move from city to city during the European summer. It involved being hoisted 150 feet up in the air and having a stream of rum cocktails come our way to help ease the nerves. The champagne reception may also have helped. If you get the opportunity to do this, you absolutely must!
Bratislava Bike Point is located close to Starý most (Old Bridge), near to the historic centre. You can opt for a guided tour, but we went for the ‘go out on your own and get lost in Bratislava’ option.
Cross the Danube and make your way to Sad Janka Kráľa park. There are numerous pathways, fountains and even a gazebo made from an old church tower. There’s also a beautiful bike path close to the park, it runs through through the forest that lines the side of the river. It was completely deserted when we were there and easy to forget we were in a European capital city.
P.s. we saw a naked man bending over and washing his bits next to the castle wall. Naked castle man.