A day-trip to Bratislava

Thomas has heard about the city of Bratislava and has wanted to visit it for a long time. Recently he got the chance to do a day trip to Bratislava, and this is his report!

Thomas in Bratislava
Thomas visits Bratislava – Source: Pixabay

Thomas woke up early in his Vienna hotel and quickly packed his stuff together. On the wait to the boat he bought some breakfast, and at 8.30 the Twin City Liner was ready to leave Vienna in order to reach Bratislava. The ticket price was 30 Euro (something Thomas found to be quite expensive), but it was still worth it as it would take him to Bratislava on the River Danube.

The boat trip took 75 minutes, and at 9:45 he arrived in Bratislava. The boat stopped in the heart of the city (Old Town), so now he was ready to discover whatever the city had to offer. His return with the boat would leave Bratislava at 16.00 (price was 20 Euro), so this is the story of what Thomas did during his six-hour stay in Bratislava.

The story of Thomas’ stay in Bratislava

He decided to start his day by getting some food. He noticed an interesting shaped “building” in the middle of the bridge had crossed under and decided to pay the UFO a visit. This is one of the most important landmarks in Bratislava, and it is a popular place to dine, so why not start the day in Bratislava with a UFO-visit?

ufo in bratislava
Thomas wants to visit the UFO in Bratislava

Thomas walks toward the bridge and follows the walking road “under” the bridge all the way to the UFO. He pays the entrance fee and takes an elevator to the top of the UFO. Here he can enjoy a spectacular view in all directions, and he uses the opportunity to grab a piece of food.

While waiting for the food to be served, Thomas takes a panorama photo with his mobile in the direction of the castle and the old town. He is very satisfied with the result.

A beautiful view towards the castle and the old town from the UFO in Bratislava
A beautiful view towards the castle and the old town from the UFO in Bratislava

Thomas wasn’t entirely satisfied with his food, but at least he got some new energy. Now he is ready to leave the UFO and get back to the old town. But, before walking around in the old town, he decides to visit the castle to see what the view is like from there and to learn more about the castle building itself.

It is a nice walk, but he uses more than 30 minutes to get from the UFO to the castle. During the walk, he takes some more pictures and notices the Martin Cathedral which seems to be a nice cathedral in the old town of Bratislava.

The Castle of Bratislava

The castle looked very impressive from the UFO, but as he gets close to the castle, he isn’t that impressed anymore. If the building would have been located in Paris, and not on a hill next to the Danube, nobody would even notice the building (at least so he thinks). But, as Thomas reads in his guidebook about the building, he understands that the castle has had a special history. A castle was first raised on the hill in the 10th century. It was later made into a gothic castle, a renaissance castle, and a baroque castle before it burned down in the start of the 19th century. It was left a ruin for more than hundred years before it was rebuilt around 1957. That kind of explains the look of the building to Thomas.

The Castle of Bratislava
The Castle of Bratislava didn’t really impress Thomas.

Thomas isn’t that much into museums, so he decides not to visit the department of the Slovak National Museum located inside the castle building. Instead, he drinks some water, makes some photos, and starts his walk towards the old town and the Martin Cathedral.

The Martin Cathedral is a nice church, but it cannot be compared to other churches Thomas has earlier. But, what should one expect from a small city like Bratislava (the city only has a population of 500,000 people). This is the most important church in Bratislava, and it has been the coronation church for kings throughout the centuries.

Martin Cathedral in Bratislava
Martin Cathedral in Bratislava

As he walks on towards the old-town he sees a beautiful tower at the end of a street (to the left). The tower is the Michaels Tower, and it is a very nice place to visit. He decides to visit the tower and pays the cheap entrance fee. As he walks towards the top he enjoys an exhibition portraying some historical objects, and from the top, he enjoys a fairly nice view towards the old town and towards the castle.

St Michals Tower
St Michals Tower, the only watchtower left in Bratislava

The building was originally built in the 14th century, but what we see today is mostly the result of the renovation work in the 18th century. It is one of the oldest buildings left in Bratislava today.

He leaves the tower and walks towards the main square of Bratislava. He can spot a little market and some restaurants along the way, but nothing that catches his interest. At the main square, Thomas can see a big fountain in the middle. This is the famous Maximillian Fountain. This monument is more than 10 meter high, and it looks very nice in the middle of the square.

main square bratislava
The main square in Bratislava with the Maximillian fountain and the old town hall

On the picture above you can see the fountain itself and in the background the old town hall with its famous clock tower. As Thomas went closer to the clock tower he noticed a little tunnel. As he walked into the tunnel he discovered a beautiful backyard, and as he went on he discovered another famous attraction in Bratislava, the Primates Palace.

The Primates Palace in Bratislava
The Primates Palace in Bratislava

As Thomas discovers the Primates Palace he starts to wonder. Is this the building he has read about? Is this what many call the most beautiful of all buildings in Bratislava? He cannot understand it. His guidebook says that it has had an important role in history and that it was here the Peace of Pressburg treaty was signed in 1805. But, who cares about that today? Thomas can say that he has seen the building, but he wasn’t very impressed!

Disappointed Thomas returns to the main square of Bratislava. Soon he gets in a better mood as a silver guy takes off his hat and greets him!

Schone Naci in Bratislava
Beautiful Ignac (Schone Naci) welcomes you to Bratislava, a popular statue in Bratislava – Source: Pixabay

Thomas immediately gets in a better mood, and as he turns his eyes back to the main square he discovers another statue. This time it is a soldier leaning onto a bench on the main square. This is one of the soldiers in the army of Napoleon, and Napoleon supposedly wore a similar hat back in the days.

French soldier in Bratislava
French soldier at the main square – Source

The boat is about to leave Bratislava

Thomas looks at his watch, and he can see that it is 15.00. He has spent quite a lot of time walking around, so he walks in the direction of the boat. He looks forward to taking a closer look at the Hviezdoslav Square, but before he gets there a crowd has gathered in front of him. Thomas wonders what’s going on, and then he sees a guy looking out from a manhole in the street. Luckily it isn’t a real person, but it is one more of these cool statues around in Bratislava. The guy he looks at is called Cumil, and he is one of the most popular attractions in all of Bratislava.

man at work in Bratislava
Cumil, a very popular statue in Bratislava.

Thomas takes a picture and walks on towards the Hviezdoslav Square. As he reaches the giant square he observes the National Theater to the left.

The National Theater in Bratislava
The National Theater in Bratislava

He quickly looks at the building, but as he loses his interest quickly, he takes a look to the right instead. There he can see lots of stands and it is some kind of market taking place at the square. There are lots of nice restaurants lined up, so the next time Thomas comes to town, he wants to grab something to eat here.

On the other side of the square, he can see a giant hotel, the Radisson Blu Carlton hotel. It might not be the nicest in Bratislava, but it has a fantastic location. Maybe this is were Thomas should stay if he ever returns to Bratislava?

The beautiful Carlton hotel at the Hviezdoslav Square in Bratislava
The beautiful Carlton hotel at the Hviezdoslav Square in Bratislava

Thomas walks on towards the river, and before he finishes his trip at the boat, he buys some chocolate and something to drink in the Billa store located on the side of the Carlton hotel building.

Refreshed he walks down to the boat and is ready to ride back to Vienna after six nice hours in Bratislava.

Thomas’ short Bratislava wrap-up

On the boat back to Vienna Thomas has some time to sum up his thoughts about Bratislava. He has enjoyed walking around in the city, but he is a bit disappointed by the city itself. He had greater expectations to the buildings and the architecture of the city. He could easily imagine spending a few days in the city for the sake of just walking around in the old town and eating in the nice restaurants. However, if the goal is to discover beautiful buildings, visit interesting museums and to be inspired by the surroundings, Thomas would rather spend an extra day in Vienna.

The main square in Bratislava
The main square in Bratislava

Have you been to Bratislava? Did you enjoy your stay? Do you feel the same way Thomas felt, or did you experience the city totally different? Write a comment and share your thoughts.

Six hours in Vienna with Thomas

Thomas is sitting on the train when he hears the sound from the speaker: “Next stop is Wien Hauptbahnhof.” He puts on his backpack and gets ready to see as much as possible of Vienna in six hours.

Thomas is on a quick-stop in Vienna during his intense interrail in Europe. He doesn’t like wasting money, so he lives in hostels, sleeps on trains, and spends almost nothing on transportation, museums, and other expensive activities. Now he has arranged it so that he has six hours in the city, and then he will travel to Munich with a night train from Vienna. But, before he gets on that train Thomas wants to watch as much as possible of Vienna.

Thomas is good with maps, so he has made a plan. He knows that he will miss out on quite a lot of attractions, most importantly Schönbrunn, but he will cover the most important sights in the inner town of Vienna.

Thomas is ready to discover Vienna

Thomas leaves the train at Wien Hauptbahnhof, and he heads directly for the exit. He has already spotted the start of the super-popular shopping street Mariahilferstrasse. It is supposed to be around 2km, but for most ladies (luckily Thomas doesn’t have anyone around him on this trip) that means at least a day. Our hero doesn’t have a day to spend in this street packed with stores of all sorts, so he just walks through the street as soon as possible. He has, however, noticed that there are quite a lot of grocery stores in the street (Billa, Hofer, Merkur, Spar), meaning that he will buy some cheap food there before he gets back to the train again.

Mariahilferstrasse is fantastic if you want to do some shopping
Mariahilferstrasse is fantastic if you want to do some shopping.

As he reaches the end of Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna starts to unfold before his eyes. Looking to the left he can see the majestic Maria-Theresien Platz, and on it, two fantastic museums (Natural History Museum and Art History Museum). These are both museums in world-class, making them must-visit places for those interested in either of the subjects.

The Art History Museum at Maria-Theresien Platz in Vienna
The Art History Museum at Maria-Theresien Platz in Vienna – Source: Pixabay

Thomas already feels sad. He would have loved to enter the Natural History Museum, but he knows that time will not allow it, and since he doesn’t have any leftover money for such action, he walks between the museums and gets to the “Ringstrasse.”

A short visit to Hofburg

He feels tempted to go both left and right as he reaches the ring, but instead, he walks straight forward. He can see some fantastic building in the background, and a quick search makes him understand that he is staring at Hofburg. This is the official residence of the President of Austria, and during the Habsburg reign, this was known as the Winter Palace. There is so much to see in the area, but Thomas knows time is ticking (just like it always did for Jack Bauer in 24), so he forgets about the Imperial Library, the horse school, the museums and all the other interesting places he could have visited in the Hofburg palace.

Hofburg Vienna
The Hofburg Palace in Vienna

Thomas turns around 180 degrees, gets back to the Ring and walks to the right. He immediately discovers a classicist building that looks important. An Austrian flag is raised in front of the building which turns out to be the Austrian Parliament. Again Thomas feels overwhelmed by the beautiful and majestic buildings of Vienna. But, it is far from over…

Thomas keeps on walking along the ring, and soon he can see another giant building. It is the City Hall that was built around 1880 (just like the Austrian Parliament). He likes the neo-gothic style of the building and quickly grabs his smart-phone to make a selfie in front of the building. During some surfing Thomas did online he also read about the beautiful Christmas market that is arranged at the square in front of the City Hall every year, and Thomas has already decided that he wants to return to Vienna for a longer period of time and in order to visit the Christmas markets sometimes soon!

The City Hall in Vienna
Thomas Ledl, Wien Rathaus hochauflösend, CC BY-SA 4.0

Time to leave the ring and enter the inner-city

Thomas walks on along the ring and smiles as he walks by Cafe Landtmann, a cafe in which celebrities such as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Peter Altenberg, and Felix Salten have discussed life’s big issues while drinking coffee a long time ago. Thomas would like to stop for a cup of coffee and a wiener schnitzel himself, but that will have to way. There is much more to see in Vienna before he returns to the train.

As Thomas gets to Schottengasse (located by the metro stop Schottengasse) he turns right. He doesn’t feel convinced that he has read his map correctly, but he trusts his instinct and walks in a high tempo. He is getting warm, and his back is soaking wet as he is sweating a lot because of his big backpack. He sees a Starbucks and feels tempted to take a break, but once again his will is stronger and he keeps on walking.

He reaches a Billa on the right side of the street. He walks in and buys a bottle of water and some chocolate. He leaves the store and walks along Freyung (which is a bit to the left). This is another location known for a big and nice Christmas market, but since it is in the middle of the summer, Thomas doesn’t see anything related to Christmas currently.

He walks straight ahead touching Heidenschuss, Am Hof, and Bognergasse, before he discovers that he has entered into the famous Graben (one of the big main shopping streets in Vienna). Before he got there, he passed by some very luxurious stores like Prada, Briono, Saint Laurent and others. Thomas has never understood why people will spend so much money on clothes, but if he gets very rich one day, maybe he will understand.

(Thomas considered walking in Herrengasse instead of Freyung. If he had done so, he would have passed by some beautiful buildings, museums, and ended up Michaelerplatz, from which he could have entered into Hofburg using the opposite entrance compared to where he entered a few hours ago. Had he done so, he would now have walked to the left down Kohlmarkt and ended up at the same spot at which he is currently standing).

Graben, Stephansdom, and Kärtner Strasse

Thomas is impressed by the size Graben. The street is big, with majestic buildings surrounding him on both sides. There are thousands of people walking around drinking coffee, eating ice cream, or just rushing home from work.

As Thomas gets to the end of Graben, he spots the most famous church in Vienna on his left side. He closes up to take a picture of the Stephansdom and also walks in to see what it is like on the inside. He has seen lots of churches before, and he isn’t that impressed with the church itself, but that doesn’t ruin his general impression of the city.

Stephansdom in Vienna – Source: Pixabay

He returns to the end of Graben and continues his walk in the Kärtner Strasse. This is maybe the nicest looking shopping street in all of Vienna, and it is crowded with people. There is a mixture of locals and tourists walking up and down, and Thomas runs into a souvenir shop to buy a Manner (chocolate biscuit kind of thing from Austria). At the end of the street, he discovers the famous Hotel Sacher. Based on his quick math, he could stay about 15 nights at almost any hostel in Vienna for the same price as he could stay one night in this hotel. But, even if he doesn’t want to stay in the hotel, he would have loved to enter the cafe in order to taste an authentic Sacher Cake at the legendary Hotel Sacher. But, that will have to wait for another visit.

Instead, Thomas finds his camera. Beautiful building coming up! It looks majestic as he walks next to it, and as he gets to the face, he simply knows that the Austrian State Opera is another building he wants to take a closer look at some other time. And even if he cannot stand listening to opera, even Thomas feels tempted to buy a ticket for a performance based on the extraordinary look fo the building.

State Opera Vienna
The magnificent State Opera in Vienna – Source: Shutterstock

Thomas is preparing to get back to the train station

Thomas has had a fantastic walk so far. He is now getting ready to return to the train station, but he decides to walk straight ahead in Kärtner Strasse. He is soon at Karls Platz, and he can see the Karlskirche at the end of the square (to the left). He walks in the opposite direction, follows the ring, and soon he can see a big Nordsee sign. This is the start of “Naschmarkt”, a popular place in Vienna for shopping. It is a market where you can buy fresh meat, food, and groceries, and of course, eat a lot. Thomas takes a look at this for a few minutes.

Once finished, Thomas along Getreidemarkt, and after a few hundred meters he has reached a spot he has been on before, the end of the Mariahilferstrasse from which he spotted the Maria-Theresien Platz many hours ago.

Thomas walks into the Mariahilferstrasse once again. He has time to enter the Merkur store where he buys some fresh groceries and drinks that he will enjoy during his train ride. He also buys some more Manner biscuits, a package of “Mozart kugel,” and a bottle of Austrian schnaps for his father.

Thomas wants to visit Schönbrunn during his next trip to Vienna
Thomas wants to visit Schönbrunn during his next trip to Vienna

After 5 hours of intense walking, Thomas has now returned to the train station. He is happy about his stay in Vienna, but he looks very much forward to visit the city again. There is so much he hasn’t had time to see and discover, and highest on the list is Schönbrunn and Belvedere.

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