We’re a huge fan of day trips. It’s a great way to squeeze an extra country or city into a trip. One of our favorite day trips was to Bratislava, Slovakia located just about an hour train ride from Vienna, Austria. Not only is the city easy to reach, but it is one of the cheapest day trips we have ever taken.
There is an excursion pass which can be purchased at the main train station in Vienna for about $20 per person. The pass includes round trip train tickets between the two capital cites plus public transportation in Bratislava.
From the train station, you can take one of the city buses toward the old town. The train station is also the main bus terminal, so there are lots of buses. Be sure to check the map or ask a local for the most direct route. You can also walk from the train station to Michael’s Gate in about 25 minutes. We decided to walk to old town in the morning and rode the bus back at the end of the day.
NOTE – Besides the train tickets above, all of the locations in this itinerary are FREE to visit!
Michael’s Gate, built around the year 1300, is the only remaining gate from the original part of the city. If you plan to walk from the train station, you’ll spot the green spire from a ways off. Once you walk through gate, the old town comes alive. The bustling streets leading from Michael’s Gate are filled with lots of restaurants and shops.
Main Square & Old Town Hall
Next, make your way to the main square. Take some time to check out the fountain and town hall building. This is a great place to stop for a mid-morning snack. Near the square, you can find a local TI (Tourist Information) office. Stop there to pick up a free map of the city and get some information from the staff.
Cumil, Man at Work Statue
One block from the main square, you’ll find Bratislava’s most iconic art sculpture – Cumil the Man at Work. The sculpture represents a sewer worker stopping for a break in the middle of the day.
Standing watch over the old town is Bratislava Castle, the most recognizable feature of the city’s skyline. Make the walk up the hill to explore the castle grounds and gardens. The castle grounds are free to explore. The museum costs extra.
Just to the east of the castle, you’ll find a small shaded playground that overlooks the old town. Take an opportunity to let the kids run around for a bit. If you packed food, this is the perfect spot to stop for lunch.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
From the park on the hill, take a moment to spot the steeple of St. Martin’s Cathedral. While the cathedral itself isn’t that impressive, it does contain a unique feature. The cathedral was built on top of an old cemetery. In the middle of the floor, you will find a glass panel to view an excavated section of the cemetery with several exposed skeletons.
Church of St. Elisabeth
Before heading back to the train station, stop at the famous blue church of Bratislava, the Church of St. Elisabeth. We unfortunately arrived later in the day when the church was closed and did not get to see the interior, but the exterior is the main feature.
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