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Slovakia’s capital used to be Maria Theresia’s favourite city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire – and even if you are not an archduke, Bratislava still has lots to offer to visitors. And it’s just a boat ride away from Wien
Whether it’s by boat, bus, train, bike or car, today, there are countless ways to cover the 60-km beeline between Vienna and Bratislava. There even used to be a tramline connecting the two capital cities, which gives you an idea of how intertwined they once were. While the former capital of the Empire is much smaller in size than its Austrian counterpart, it makes up for a perfect daytrip destination with its striking old town and vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene.
The most scenic way to get to Bratislava is by boat; the Twin City Liner runs five times a day between Schwedenplatz, at the edge of the 1stdistrict in Vienna and Bratislava’s old town. Make sure to claim your front row seat on deck quickly, as the ride only lasts for little more than an hour, during which you’ll enjoy fantastic vistas along the spectacular landscapes on the shores of the Danube. However, the best seat in the house is in the captain’s lounge and can be booked along with a romantic candlelight dinner. Even with a regular ticket, the ship’s catering is worth a try if you can’t wait for our restaurant recommendations in Bratislava below.
First thing you’ll notice upon arrival is this castle centrally situated on a hill. The best way to get up there is on foot, leaving from the St. Martin’s Dome – just avoid the main road where the trolley bus runs, and instead look for the stairs hidden in the narrow streets that run along the road. Your reward for the small hike is a dazzling view over the city below, the surrounding Austrian landscape and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the sprawling plains of Hungary. Historically, the castle used to be inhabited by Hungarian kings and served as a protective outpost for Vienna to fight off invading forces.
Don’t worry, you won’t be dining with extra-terrestrials here, but the food is just as out-of-this-world as the location. Situated 85m above the city in a central location on the Nový Most (New Bridge) it guarantees a spectacular view of Bratislava. Even if you don’t want to eat there, it pays to take the elevator up to the platform for a small charge). Next to the award-winning food, they also serve cocktails to accompany your meal.
Slovaks love to go out for a drink or two (or three) and this might just be the most exclusive bar in the city. While the focus lies on vodka with a selection of more than 70 brands, they stir and shake up some superb cocktails. If you get hungry from all the drinking, try some Prosciutto, Souvlaki or Carpaccio from the light Mediterranean menu. During warm months, this is all best enjoyed on the outside terrace with the imperial city sprawled beneath you.