Are you wondering where to stay in Bratislava? I’ve put together this comprehensive list of places to stay in this city, to help you get the most from your visit. Keep reading!!
Known as the Little Big City, the capital of Slovakia is full of history, tradition and culture. It has impressive architecture to be explored during the day, the best of regional and international cuisine to be enjoyed, and a friendly, fun ambience for those evenings out.
The capital city of Slovakia since 1993 after the breakup of the Socialist Slovak Republic, Bratislava nestles below the Lesser Carpathian Mountains and straddles the River Danube in the south-west of the country.
The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact collapsed some decades ago. But it’s only in recent times that many of the old eastern-bloc countries have begun to realise there are some serious tourist euros to be gained from visitors wishing to learn how the other half lived under a communist regime.
A one-time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then for 40-years part of the Russian influenced Socialist Slovak Republic. Bratislava has developed into one of the favourite places to stay for visitors wanting to explore this area of ‘New Europe’.
Read on, to learn about six of the best places to stay in Bratislava on your next city break.
Where to Stay in Bratislava: Best Areas
1. Stare Mesto, where to stay in Bratislava in the beating heart of the capital
The third-smallest district in Bratislava at just over 9 square kilometres, Stare Mesto is also the historical, political, social and cultural hub of Slovakia, and one of the most heavily populated district of the city with over 43,000 residents.
The baroque-style Bratislava Castle sits on a hillside above the old town, providing stunning views across the city. While the Church of St. Elizabeth, known as the Blue Church, sits on the eastern side of the old town.
On almost every cobbled street and square, there are buildings of historical, cultural and political interest, as well as plenty of shops, bars, restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
Visit St. Michael’s Tower with its various exhibitions before passing through its one remaining gate into St Michael’s Street, one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares.
At the junction of Ventúrska and Prepoštská Streets, you will find the Classicalist-style Zichy’s Palace, built in 1775, and the Baroque-style Pállfy’s Palace, which was rebuilt in 1747.
Built in the 14th century, St Martin’s Cathedral is the largest and oldest church in Bratislava, and was used for the coronation of kings and queens from 1563 until 1830.
Around the junction of Fisherman’s Gate and Laurinska Street, street musicians and buskers entertain visitors as they take selfies with the statues, or enjoy a coffee or snack from one of the numerous eateries.
The old town area boasts five main squares, all worthy of a visit and surrounded by historical buildings now used as banks, museums or government offices.
Visit Bratislava’s very own left bank on the Danube. Relax on a riverside bench and watch private and tourist motor launches puttering up and downstream. Several excellent river cruises are available if you fancy a different city view.
You will also find the Slovak National Museum and the Slovak Philharmonic Concert Hall close by.
If you want to relax and enjoy a picnic in the summer sunshine, head for Medicka Zahrada Park with its colourful flora, local wildlife and numerous statues. Or, for a little retail therapy, make your way to Nedbalova Street with its designer shops, boutiques, stores, cocktail bars, pubs, and restaurants.
Accommodation around Stare Mesto is plentiful, from Airbnb, hostels, private lets, hotels and self-catering apartments. Compared to many European capitals, euro for euro all offer excellent value.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN STARE MESTO
2. Palisady, best place to stay in Bratislava for those who prefer quieter evenings
Still a part of Bratislava’s old town, Palisady is a suburb of Stare Mesto. The main road, Palisady Street, connects the Presidential Palace on Hodžovo Square to Bratislava Castle with a regular trolleybus service. Hail buses 203 and 207.
To the rear of Bratislava Castle is the area locally known as Palisady. It is primarily an affluent residential area with a smattering of foreign embassies and several upmarket hotels, apartments, and some Airbnb.
Being able to reach the centre of the old town area in a pleasant 15-minute stroll makes it a popular place to stay in Bratislava with those preferring to be slightly off the beaten track. It also provides some excellent photo opportunities of the old town as you descend Palisady Hill.
Even if you don’t choose to stay in Palisady, a visit to the Slavin War Memorial and cemetery should be on the itinerary. The cemetery is the final resting place of over 6,500 Soviet fighters, killed when Russia took over Bratislava City from German troops in 1945.
Sitting on a hilltop, the construction of the war memorial began in 1957, and it was opened in April 1960. In 1961 it was declared a National Monument.
If you enjoy visiting ancient graveyards, look out for the Goat Gate Cemetery on your way up to the monument. An evangelical cemetery dating back to 1783, it is the final resting place of several of Slovakia’s most famous composers, writers, sculptors and artists.
Accommodation in the Palisady area is varied, with hostels, guest-houses, self-catering apartments, and mid-range and high-end hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRATISLAVA IN PALISADY
- ($$$) Grand Hotel River Park, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bratislava
- ($$) LOFT Hotel Bratislava
- ($) Art Hostel Taurus
3. Nove Mesto, where to stay in Bratislava in a convenient and cheaper area
Situated north of the old town, on the slopes of the Lesser Carpathian Mountains, Nove Mesto ( New Town) is a more modern area than the Old City. Nove Mesto is a mix of Soviet-era housing blocks, and a lot of modern developments.
Totalling over 35 square kilometres, the one-time wine-producing area now is a neighbourhood with shopping malls, venues for most mainstream sports, and concert and theatre facilities.
With woods, forests and numerous hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed in the nearby Lesser Carpathian Mountains, it is an ideal district to stay in Bratislava for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
Nove Mesto also has some excellent attractions for those not so inclined to spend their days walking and cycling.
Located close to the central train station, the large shopping complex of Polus City Centre has plenty of modern stores for some window shopping, with cafes and bars to enjoy a coffee while checking your purchases.
Close by, you will find the Kuchajda Lake. Here you can stroll along the banks or stop at one of the many fast-food stalls, cafes or restaurants on the water’s edge. The park has plenty of swings, slides and roundabouts to keep the little ones occupied, and boats and water bikes can be hired on the lake.
Volleyball and basketball courts are available if you’re feeling a little energetic, and there is a large football stadium nearby. In addition, the Kuchajda Amphitheatre holds outdoor film nights and music concerts during the summer months.
Wherever you are in Nove Mesto, at 196 metres high, you can’t miss the Kamzik Television Tower with its observation deck on the top floor. The best way to get there is by hire car or taxi. The closest public transport leaves you with an arduous 45-minute uphill climb.
At a total of over 1400-metres above sea level, it is a dream location for photographers. It provides magnificent panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, and on a clear day, you can see Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. It also has a pretty café/bar and restaurant should the hunger pangs start to bite.
If you want to make a full day of it, you can take a cable car from Kamzik to another forest park called Zelezna Studnicka. From there you can board trolleybus No 212, which will drop you at the Presidential Palace in the old town.
There is a good range of accommodation around Nove Mesto, including business and family hotels, rooms, guest houses, apartments and Airbnb, with prices generally lower than in the Old City.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN NOVE MESTO
4. Ružinov, where to stay in Bratislava on a budget
There’s a lot to be said for choosing Ružinov as a base to explore Bratislava. The international airport is just ten minutes from Ružinov centre and 15 minutes from the city centre by car.
Ružinov is also home to Bratislava’s largest cargo and passenger port on the River Danube. While freight is shipped across Europe, most passenger movements are made up of tourist cruises up and down the Danube.
As Bratislava’s second most densely populated district with 70,000 residents, it has the usual industrial estates, business parks, hospitals and various financial institutions, as well as shopping malls, cafes, bars, local and international restaurants and numerous parks and open spaces.
Avion is Bratislava’s largest shopping centre, with over 150 stores and is just a few minutes from the airport. So whether you want global brands or artisan products, you’ll find them at Avion.
Add to that the large market on Mileticova Street, which is open every day of the week, and there should be plenty to keep the most ardent shopaholic happy.
There are parks aplenty around Ružinov, such as Rohlik Lake. With over 610,000 square metres of water area, it is a central recreational area for all types of water sports. Other lakes and parks in the area include Štrkovec Lake and Zlaté Piesky.
Being a short drive by car from the city centre attractions, or a little longer on bus or tram, it is a popular base for those preferring to stay in the suburbs and save some money.
Accommodation is not huge but it offers better value for your money, and there is a popular campsite by the lake for campers and backpackers.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRATISLAVA IN RUZINOV
5. Petrzalka, communist-era Slovakia with a modern facelift
Located on the right-hand bank of the Danube, the Petrzalka district of Bratislava is the city’s largest and most heavily populated borough. It is also an area once highly influenced by the communist doctrine.
If you are debating where to stay in Bratislava, to get a feel of life under communism, Petrzalka is an excellent option to reflect on what was, and marvel at what is.
In the mid-1970s, while still a part of the Czechoslovakia Republic and under communist influence, it was decided Petrzalka would be turned into a massive residential and leisure area, to promote all the advantages of communist living.
Low-cost housing was the name of the game, and high rise apartment complexes known as ‘panel houses’ were constructed in large numbers across Petrzalka, as they were in other areas of Czechoslovakia and the eastern bloc.
Uniformly grey concrete, drab and depressing, they were designed to show everyone is equal, and the collective nature of the system. However, much of the infrastructure required to integrate it with the historical parts of the city was missing, and locals began calling it the ghetto.
By the late 1980s, with the iron grip beginning to loosen, Slovakia sought its own destiny, and in Petrzalka, things began to change. Whether designed to reflect the new mood of optimism in the country as independence gathered pace, or just to brighten the place up – who knows. But the grim, grey, high-rises got more than just a make-over.
Little did they know it, but the artists who painted the apartment blocks were likely the forerunners of modern street art. Not just one single colour per block.
Each block is a combination of two or three complimenting colours, highlighting different areas of individual blocks. Now, what was total uniformity, has been changed to something totally unique.
Today, Petrzalka is a popular multi-cultural district, with new residents arriving from Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Germany. It is an area of bright, colourful apartment blocks, large green parks with various water sports, kiddies playgrounds, museums, hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants.
With economical hotel and apartment prices, plenty to keep the little ones amused, numerous excellent bars and restaurants, and just a ten to twenty-minute journey into the city centre, choosing Petrzalka for your stay in Bratislava makes perfect sense.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRATISLAVA IN PETRZALKA
6. Raca-Koliba, whether you want town or countryside, this pretty district could fit the bill
Located in the foothills of the Lesser Carpathians, the Raca-Koliba district of Bratislava is one of country parks and sprawling urbanisations, and one of the most popular locations to live in Slovakia.
It was documented in the early 13th century as a rural village. In the 16th century, Raca was designated a town, and at the end of WW2, it became a district of Bratislava.
Originally very much a rural district, in the early 1950s significant residential and commercial developments began, changing a lot of the area from rural into an urban extension of the New Town (Nuvé Mesto) district that it borders.
Although there is some light industry in the area, most of Raca’s economy is driven by agriculture. Especially viticulture and winemaking, which is on the increase.
Koliba also is a popular residential area, with many residents making a living from the numerous film and television studios dotted around the district.
The area is well served with shopping centres, independent stores, cafes and eateries. And miles of fabulous countryside trails to get a real feel of old rural Slovakia.
Although a hire car would be an excellent way to explore the unspoilt countryside and small towns around Raca-Koliba, there are some superb walking/biking trails to get the most from this delightfully rural environment.
One such hike will take you from Koliba into Raca. The walk typically takes around four hours, and you can stop off to visit the Kamzík TV tower, enjoy a ride down the bobsleigh course, or visit the climbing centre with climbing walls designed for both adults and children.
With plenty of places to stop for lunch and rehydrate, the whole trail is well signed for visitors, and you will pass a war memorial, a gazebo amongst the trees and other old chalet type buildings.
If you want to get a feel for everyday life in Slovakia away from the tourist hotspots, add Raca-Koliba to your list of places to stay in Bratislava.
Just 30 minutes away from the city centre by public transport (closer if you stay in Koliba close to Palisady), and half that by hire car or taxi, it makes an excellent base for exploring and has a good selection of accommodation.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN RACA – KOLIBA