Bratislava is the capital and largest city in Slovakia (population 430,000).
Bratislava ('Pressburg' in German) has a very pleasant medieval inner city with tiny, narrow winding streets, surrounded by the biggest panelak complex (panelaks - blocks of flats; see Prague chapter for information about panelaks) in Central Europe called Petržalka that stretches on endlessly. So far, this looks no different from Prague. But Bratislava is an exception. It's so close to Vienna, it could practically be a suburb. Move farther east and there are plenty of rural places. Farms, vineyards, agricultural land and tiny villages are situated just about 50 kilometers to the east of Bratislava, just like in the case of Vienna or Prague.
Today, Bratislava and its surrounds form the second most prosperous region in Central and Eastern Europe, with a per capita GDP of around 108% of the EU-25 average (this is, expectedly, after Prague, which is the richest city in Central and Eastern Europe).
After being an independent country till the 9th century, Slovakia was part of Hungary from the 10th / 11th century onwards and part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 onwards, so that it was subject to the whims of foreign rulers most of the time - although, for example, the Czechoslovak presidents Alexander Dubcek or Gustav Husak were Slovaks.
During World War II, Slovakia was a formally independent Nazi puppet state. The modern Slovakia arose in 1993. Between 1992 and 1998, the country's Prime Minister was the controversial official Vladimir Meciar, who did his country's image no favors.Finally Slovakia elected new officials, and that has made all the difference. The Slovaks are making an effort to be more international.
Bratislava (known as 'Pressburg' in German) was the capital (1536 - 1784), the coronation city(1563-1830) and the seat of the diet (1536 - 1848) of the Kingdom of Hungary for many years. During WWII it was the capital of Slovakia. Since 1968 it has been the capital of the federal state of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia and, since 1993, it has been the capital of independent Slovakia.
Although today, Bratislava's population are mostly Slovaks, from the 13th to the early 19th century, the main nation of the town were the Germans. There were also many Hungarians in the town in the late 19th century, but not anymore.
There is an international airport in Bratislava (The Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport), but major flights usually fly to the nearby Vienna airport, which is situated at the eastern border of Vienna that is closer to Bratislava. There are two bus lines connecting the airport of Vienna with the Bratislava Bus Station and Bratislava airport. Buses are running almost every hour. Unfortunately, trains from Vienna to Bratislava do not stop at the Vienna airport, so that you have to go to Vienna city (15 minutes) first in order to board a train to Bratislava.
The situation regarding the Bratislava airport, however, is changing quickly recently, so that an increasing number of flights goes directly to Bratislava from major European airports such as Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, Zurich and many others including Ljubljana, Moscow, Warsaw.
The easiest way to get to Bratislava is from central Vienna by train (the Südbahnhof station or less frequently the Westbahnhof station). Trains leave Vienna virtually every 30 minutes and take (from the Südbahnhof station) 50 minutes to get to Bratislava Petržalka railway station situated to the south of the city, and some 70 minutes to get to the Bratislava - Hlavná stanica (main railway station) situated at the northern border of the city. There is no customs since Slovakia's EU accession, but passport checks continue, so that upon arrival, you will encounter officials from both Austria and Slovakia. Petržalka station, located south of the city, is not a particularly good position for getting around, but generally it is better to get off at the Petržalka station.
There are also many train lines from the Czech Republic (from Prague) and some train lines from Poland, Hungary and the Ukraine/Russia.
There many bus and tram lines at the Hlavna stanica Station. To get to the Old City from here, you can either take a bus or tram, or simply walk - which takes about 10 minutes.
At the Petrzalka Station, there are buses (no trams) heading north of the river, towards the centre of the city. One bus stop is in front the station (buses 90, 180, 82, 86) and another oner is behind the station and can be accessed through an underground tunnel constructed in May 2004 (buses 93,94,89,91,191,59 and others). Bus (+tram) ticket machines are in front of the Petrzalka station, however you will need to have Slovak coins in order to use it.
Buses 90 and 91 run from the Petrzalka railway station to a bus terminus below the north side of the Novy Most (New Bridge, just below the Bratislava castle and the St. Martins's Cathedral) - the bus 90 runs from about 5am until just after 11pm. During daylight hours it runs approximately every twenty minutes. Once at this bus terminus you are within walking distance of most places within the city centre, or alternatively you can catch a tram or another bus to get to your final destination. Bus 93 runs directly from the Petrzalka station to the Main railway station and generally is the best connection with the city. Bus 94 also passes through the city. Bus 89 brings you to the Main Bus station (for long-distance and international bus lines,e.g. to the Vienna airport). The fast line 180 goes directly to the city and ends at the Obchodna Street. Bus 82 brings you to the south-eastern border of the city on the north bank of the Danube.
If necessary, it is also possible to walk to the Petrzalka station from the city (some 25 minutes), but the path isn't particularly clear and note that Petrzalka is nothing more than the biggest block flats housing estate in Central Europe. Head for the bridge with the UFO looking tower atop it. Once you reach the bridge, you will notice that there is a walkway running along the underside of it, for pedestrians. You can cross this Novy Most bridge (New Bridge, formerly called Most SNP - The Bridge of Slovak National Uprising) and head to Petrzalka. Once on the other side of Danube river, you can walk through Bratislavas equivalent of the Central Park called Sad Janka Krala (Park of Janko Kral, Slovak poet), visit the Aupark Shopping Mall at the park, or go deeper to concrete jungle of block of flats. It's very safe during the day, but for typical American-looking tourist, it can be dangerous during night, but not more than in any other European panelak (see below) housing estate. Take some guide, when needed.
The main bus station is 1.5 km East of the city centre. Bus lines connect Bratislava with all of Slovakia, a high number of Czech cities and a number of EU destinations, including Vienna, Prague, Brno, London and Paris. Daily buses also depart to Budapest.
There are ticket machines at almost every bus/tram stop in the town and at many newsstands. The machines, however, work with Slovak crowns only. As of June 2004, a normal 30 minute ticket costs 18 Sk, a 10 minute ticket costs 14 Sk and 60 minute one 22 Sk. Note however, that during weekends and holidays the 30 minute ticket is valid 45 minutes and the 60 min ticket 90 minutes. You must validate your ticket in the validation machines on the bus after boarding (via any door). The minutes on the ticket refer to official schedule times not actual travel times (do not give in to unfriendly ticket inspectors claiming the contrary).
Bus doors are opened by the driver, tram and trolleybus doors, however, usually have to be opened by yourself by pushing a green lit button outside at the door.
St. Martin's cathedral (Dóm sv. Martina) located on Rudnayovo námestie at the Danube. This church was the old Hungarian kingdom's coronation church, and it is currently partly under renovation. Between 1563-1830, 11 kings and 8 consorts were crowned here. It is the most prominent Gothic building in the city, a 3-nave design which was built on the site of an older Romanesque church in the fourteenth century, but not consecrated until 1452. Its location immediately below the castle served both a practical and religious purpose - the highest tower served as a bastion in the city's defense system. In the 1800s St Martin's gained the large Hungarian crown which adorns its main tower, but the best-known works in the cathedral were created in the eighteenth century by Austrian baroque sculptor Georg Raphael Donner at the behest of Imre Esterhazy, bishop of Esztergom. He created the main altar, a small Baroque chapel dedicated to St John and a large lead statue of the cathedral's patron saint, Martin, astride a horse. Art historians consider this statue of St Martin among Donner's most interesting works. Martin is leaning off his horse to cut his robe in two pieces so he can give half to the shivering, naked poor man cowering below. Donner's statues are always quite vivid, but this figure engages the viewer in the action even more than usual. Facing the rear of the church after walking in, there is a Westwerk, a gallery where the king could sit above the congregation during services. On a tablet underneath this gallery on the rear wall of the church is a tablet commemorating Beethoven's op. 123, which premiered here during the last century. The especially vivid stained glass in St Martin's draws the viewer forward into the main body of the church, where thick columns support the church roof. In the section of the ceiling over the high altar, where the choirstalls house a number of tiny carved men and beasts, the Hungarian colors of red, white and green are everywhere among the intricate gold and colored designs. At the front of the church, turn left and look at St John's chapel. To the right of the chapel is a tablet commemorating Pope John Paul II's visit 3 June 1995. Walk out of the church and down the outdoor stairs back towards town. On the wall to the right of the stairs is a tablet honoring Franz Liszt, the great Hungarian composer.
St Clare's Church (Kostol sv. Kláry) On Klariská Str. This Gothic Cistercian church, founded in the thirteenth century, holds an ongoing exhibit of medieval art. Its pentagonal tower (1360) is supported on buttresses. While small, this church is very richly decorated.
Church of the Annunciation (Kostol Zvestovania / Františkáni / Františkánsky kostol). Also known as the Franciscan Church. One of Bratislava's oldest churches, completed 1297 but significantly altered over the years, the Franciscan Church has a saint's body behind glass in its Gothic chapel. It is across from the Mirbach Palace, which houses a large art collection. Hungarian king Andrew III, present at its consecration, would hardly recognize the church interior now. Only a stone Pieta sculpture remains from the original Gothic interior - like so many Central European churches, this church has been "Baroquified." The two-story chapel St John the Evangelist, incorporating a burial crypt and originally built for the family of a city administrator named Jacob, is the only remaining Gothic interior segment, but one of the finest examples of Gothic art in Slovakia.
Church of the Holy Savior (Kostol Najsvätejšieho Spasitel'a) Central European history repeats itself for the umpteenth time in the Church of the Holy Savior. Once a 3-nave hall-style Protestant church built by German settlers between 1636-1638 for use as their parish church, it was co-opted by the Jesuits in 1672 and "Baroquified." In the typical manner, the exterior was more or less left alone, while the inside was then richly decorated. The Jesuits were so rich, and had been given such free rein over all aspects of the religious world they controlled, that they could afford the very best artists and sculptors and religious objects. They typically overdecorated the buildings they took over, and this is no exception. The front of the church is littered with religious memorials and monuments, including the oldest Baroque memorial pillar in Central Europe (the first in Bratislava). One unusual fact about the Church of the Holy Savior - it did not have a tower thanks to the Hungarian king, who did not want the building to differ from the surrounding houses.
Bratislava Castle (Bratislavský hrad) From Hussites to Maria Theresa to the twentieth century's wars, this castle has seen it all. Existing since time immemorial (at least since the Neolithic period), refortified in the fifteenth century to stand a chance against marauding Hussites, the castle morphed into its current style under the Central European King Sigismond of Luxemburg. Queen Maria Theresa, who spent much of her time in Bratislava, did major renovations in the eighteenth century before the capital of the Empire reverted to Buda. It was bombed during the world war and turned into the central Communist ministry building in the 1950s. Stylistically, the castle is rather plain, but there is a great view from the top - on a clear day you can see both Austria (sometimes even the UNO City in Vienna) and Hungary! The vast panelak array can also be seen from here. The castle was first mentioned in the Salzburg Chronicle in 907 as Brezelauspurc, the residence of a Slavonic Prince of the country called Great Moravia. Salzburg was a significant city in the religious (and therefore cultural) life of Central Europe earlier than Vienna, Budapest or any other nearby cities due to its settlement of monks, the first important settlement north of the Alps with enough money and connections to make a difference. In 1811, the castle burned to the ground and was rebuilt. Today, its chequered past behind it, the Castle houses historical exhibitions put together by the Slovak National Museum.
Old Town Hall (Stará radnica) The Old Town Hall (1421) is now the Municipal Museum (Mestské múzeum), complete with many small collections. The complex began its life in the Middle Ages as a series of buildings, which were connected together in the fifteenth century after the city government purchased the central structure. It had always been used as the seat of the free royal town's municipal self-government, headed by a city administrator. Like the tower in St Martin's Cathedral, the Town Hall's Gothic tower was used for defensive purposes. The entrance to the city museum, established in 1868 (the oldest such museum in Slovakia) leads to the city archive and torture chamber exhibits. Its neighboring building, the Unger House, has a well-known statue of St Ladislav on the exterior. The Old Town Hall is an excellent example of adaptive use buildings in the capital city. Rather than build a new structure, cities would often merely connect multiple buildings or add multiple additions. This was due both to space and budgetary constraints. Begin downstairs in the entryway, where there is a collection of old Bratislava postcards and a large silver plaque listing the various names of Bratislava over the years. To the left is a brass model of the city dating to 1945-55. Just before the stairs there is a eighteenth century sandstone model of the city's coat of arms. Go upstairs to the ticket desk (25 Sk, 10 reduced for students and worth every crown). In the first case there are diplomas and seals from the Elizabeth University (Alžbetínska univerzita), named after the infamous Sissi (Empress Elizabeth), Emperor Franz Josef's wife. It had three faculties (what English-speakers would call colleges): natural sciences, medicine and philosophy. The black coat was ceremonial attire for the mayor. Immediately behind the case is is a large painting from 1878 of Mayor Henrich Justi putting such a uniform to work. The next case displays eighteenth century medical instruments and dental advertisements. In the corner nearest the wall is a "homeopatická lekárnička" (homeopathic pharmacy) kit from Leipzig, dating to the end of the last century. It contains opium and chamomile, among other natural drugs. Before the synthetic drug boom in the latter half of this century, Europeans almost exclusively relied on homeopathic remedies. They are still more prevalent there than in the United States. Culturally, there is a lot more faith in the natural remedies than in modern medicine and with good reason - they are effective without many side effects, and they don't create new drug-resistant strains of bacteria the way Western antibiotics do. The third case contains award-winning Slovak wine (or the empty bottles, anyway). Wine is a traditional Slovak product, but it isn't consumed at almost every meal the way wine is in Italy. The last case in this room contains some imperial Hungarian awards and a well-preserved ladies' dress and parasol. What's interesting about this museum is the very ordinariness of some of its relics. But these give an excellent glimpse into the past of a country, in a way king's crowns and sparkling jewels cannot. Step through into the second room, which contains beautifully embroidered church vestments, small devotional books in Hungarian and German and a menorah. Some other Jewish relics are close to the door. Where the second room is almost all religious objects, the third represents industry. There is a spice cabinet from an old grocery store, an old sewing machine and a fascinating case in the center of the room with money from all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 2-crown note says "2 crowns" in all the languages of the Empire (Czech, Polish, Russian, German, etc). These date from 1917. Go into the fourth room: in the case to the left there is a huge, symbolic "Key to the National Theatre" from 188, presumably given to visiting theatre luminaries. Just before the door, to the left on the wall there is a facsimile of the Preßburger Tagblatt ("Pressburg" was Bratislavas German name before 1919, "Tagblatt" is daily news) announcing the start of the first World War (1. svetová vojna). Step through the entryway into one of the prettiest rooms in the museum. On the right wall there is a copy of a Gothic Madonna from St Clare's and two fifteenth-sixteenth century Gothic christening bowls in the center of the room. The stained glass windows and barrel vaulted ceiling lend a very calm, peaceful Gothic air to this mostly modern museum. The next room is even more important. On the far wall are mayoral regalia, including sash, sword (made for Blazej Beham in 1150), mace and a small bell dated 1680. On two pillows in front of the window the ceremonial "keys to the city," as well as a sandstone lion clutching the city symbol (originally from a Renaissance city fountain in Frantiskanskom namesti) and a facsimile copy of the 1439-1517 Bratislava Land Register. The back of the room contains a Gothic madonna in a large wall niche. Look to the left at the red, white and black designs on the walls - yes, some of those are swastikas! Before the Nazis commandeered this as their symbol, it was an Indo-European good luck sign seen on pottery and other archaeological evidence many, many centuries old. This room is where the mayor and his council met. In the next room there is an elaborate molded plaster ceiling (the acanthus leaves and swirls which predate the shell motifs of Rococo mark this room as Baroque). There's a wonderful view of the square from this room, and a 1913 model of the city in the time of Maria Theresa showing Bratislava's onetime moats. There are legal documents and the first (1311) brass seal of the city. Rondels scattered around the room commemorate visits to the city by the king and other luminaries. Think of those as the Franklin Mint commemorative plates of their day. The next room has an amazing painted ceiling reminiscent of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, but its guild signs and paraphernalia are even more interesting from a social history perspective. On the left hand wall, look at the iron "sign of the pretzel maker" (1741). On the wall to the right of the exit door are two beautiful signs meant to hang over a clockmaker's and a locksmith's respective doors. In the days before most people were literate, these signs told shoppers what was available inside. They remained in place even when more of the populace learned how to read, and were used as directional signs instead of numeric addresses. Prague has many of these still in place in its Malá Strana district such as "the house of the three violins." Bratislava, unfortunately, does not have as many. The Pharmacological Museum (see Michael's Gate entry below) does, though. For a taste of Bratislava's Celtic (Boii) past (there were Celtic tribes this far east - the Cotini in northern Slovakia and the Boii in Bohemia,Moravia and western Slovakia, which gave the Czech land Bohemia its name, are two examples) walk into the next room, which houses coins from this distant past, as well as more recent examples (1722). Going down the stairs into the next room, there is a sandstone symbol of Hungary coupled with an explanation of how Bratislava became the Hungarian capital during the Turkish occupation of Buda. In the large case nearby there are coronation medals from the rulers crowned in Bratislava's St Martin's during that time. Behind the staircase is a case filled with jewelry that would have been worn by a Hungarian noble to such a coronation or other special occasion. Pass through the next room of religious relics to a room filled with amazing eighteenth century furniture. The fabric on the chairs and loveseat dates to the first half of the eighteenth century, as does the inlaid wood secretary. Culturally important here is the typical white enamelled iron stove in the corner. The iron, once heated from within by a wood or coal fire, would emanate heat into the room for hours. It was a more efficient and cleaner means of heating a room than an open fire, and wouldn't risk damaging the furniture. These stoves were very expensive, and one this big would have been affordable only by the very rich, but they are widespread in palaces across Central Europe. This particular stove is very plain - some could be quite elaborate, covered in ornate fired ceramic tiles or other decorations. The reason it is seated in a corner niche is to reflect heat back into the room, like a Rumford firebox in a fireplace which, while quite narrow, forces the heat back into the room with its design. Wonder what Georg Raphael Donner, the Baroque sculptor whose work is everywhere in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, looks like' His picture is to the right of the mirror in this room, near the collection of antique globes. The two fancy glass mirrors here are Murano-style glass probably imported from Venice. Skip the next two rooms and look at the Slovak Secession/Art Nouveau pottery in the case to the left and the large modern sideboard to the right. Go up the stairs, past the dollhouse and into a room filled with late nineteenth century household goods. In the case to the right of the door there are some early twentieth century savings account books from various Bratislava banks. How's that for everyday' Not many museums would preserve such ordinary artifacts, but it's easy to step back in time and imagine taking this to the bank, maybe making a deposit or checking one's balance. Go through the next room, filled with an incongruous display of Egyptian mummies. Exit and go through the door to the left and down a spiral staircase to visit the old city jail. The jail is a miserable place, and it's easy to imagine how terrible it would have been here as a prisoner. In the first room down the large hall, there are posts to chain prisoners to, and on the right wall, an executioner's mask. Turn left and walk down the hall to see some cells - presumably the giant stone pit was a combination toilet and trash receptacle. Either that or someone tried to make a pretty daring escape!
Roland Fountain (Rolandova fontána) Built by stonecutter Ondrej Luttringer and commissioned by Hungarian king Maximilian in 1527, this was the first fountain in Bratislava.
Primatial Palace (Primaciálny palác) Immediately behind the Old Town Hall is one of the greatest neo-Classical buildings in Slovakia. It was built 1778-1781 for the bishops of Esztergom, Hungarian primates of the bishopric, by architect M. Hefele. What many people forget is that Slovakia was not an independent country until this century - it was a part of either Hungary or the Austro-Hungarian Empire for hundreds of years. Hungary had much more influence on Slovakia than any of the western European kingdoms, and there are 9,7% of native Hungarian speakers in the country today. Slovakia has often drawn its religious influences and nobility from Hungary. This is why it is still strongly Catholic, while the neighboring Czech Republic is much more Protestant-minded. The Primatial Palace was built to impress - it has a large cast-iron bishops' hat on the facade and a Hall of Mirrors like Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors is where Napoleon signed the Treaty of Pressburg (Pressburg is the former Bratislava's German name used in historical documents) 26 December 1805 after losing the Battle of Austerlitz to Austrian Emperor Franz I's armies. The second floor has some rare seventeenth century English tapestries.
Grassalkovich Palace (Grassalkovičov palác) On Hodžovo námestie. This impressive Rococo palace was commissioned in 1760 of the architect Mayerhofer by Count Anton Grassalkovich, head of the Hungarian Court Chamber. Composer Joseph Haydn conducted the in-house orchestra in 1772. After its reconstruction in 1996, the palace became the residence of the Slovak Republic's president. Its once-large gardens are now a public park, complete with a statue of Bratislava-born composer J.N. Hummel. "After-school special" takes on a new meaning with the Grassalkovich Palace. During the communist era the palace was used as an activity center for Bratislava schoolchildren.
Mirbach Palace (Mirbachov palác) Another impressive Rococo palace, but this one was built for a rich brewery owner, Michal Spech, instead of the nobility. Its architecture remains pure Rococo - untouched over the years by any renovation-happy owners as so many other palaces have been. Its last owner, Dr Emil Mirbach, left the palace to the city with the specific request a gallery be created inside. The resulting City Gallery of Bratislava still houses a large collection of Baroque and Rococo art.
Palffy Palace (Pálffyho palác) Best known for two things - a performance by six-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (in 1762) and the war trophies of its original owner Marshal Leopold Palffy which hang above the entry portal, the Baroque Palffy Palace now houses the Austrian Embassy.
Academia Istropolitana Slovakia's first university (correct name: Universitas Istropolitana), founded by education-promoting Hungarian King Matthias, is now part of the city's Academy of Music and Drama (Fine Arts). The Czech and Slovak lands and their rulers have always been exceptionally fond of astronomers, at least in comparison to other European courts. German humanist and astronomer J. Muller-Regiomontanus lectured at the university, as Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe would later find a home at the Bohemian (Czech) court.
Slovak National Theatre (Slovenské národné divadlo) Fronted by a tiny square which trails off into a colonnade of trees similar to the walks in many small spa towns, the Slovak National Theatre is built on the location of the city's original professional theatre. (Professional, as opposed to the traveling bands of entertainers so common before the rise of the almighty television). That first theatre, built in 1776, was improved upon by Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer 1884-1886. Their Neo-Renaissance style building was quite a change from the original classic style theatre. Today it houses the Slovak Opera House and national ballet. Bratislava native sculptor Victor Tilgner crafted Ganymede's Fountain in 1888, now located immediately in front of the theatre.
Lenin Museum (Leninovo múzeum) The former Lenin museum is now an art gallery.
Michael's Gate with Tower (Michalská brána) Michael's Gate is the only remaining gate from the original medieval city fortifications. The original Gothic tower was redone in Baroque style 1753-58, when the copper statue of Archangel Michael was placed on top. There is a display of medieval art and weapons in the tower which give some sense of Bratislava's military and trade significance early on. Walking towards the tower from Old Town there is a tiny, yet fascinating museum that shouldn't be passed up.
Farmaceutické Múzeum (Pharmacological Museum) is housed in a tiny shop with a large red lobster door sign above. Walking towards the back, in the first room on the left there is a tiny model of a sixteenth or seventeenth century alchemist's lab. Alchemists were the very model of the mad scientist, except instead of creating Frankensteins from used body parts they tried to make gold from lead and other metals. Their claims made them popular with rulers who needed all the gold they could get. Prague's Golden Lane housed a gaggle of alchemists at one time. When looking at this model, try to imagine Faust at work - or perhaps using it as a dollhouse for a particularly demented child. To the right of the model is a bust of Paracelsus (1493-1545), an Austrian doctor and alchemist from Salzburg who visited Bratislava in 1537. His contributions to medicine were considerable for the time. There is also lab glassware to the left. Go back one room and look at the display of ingredients that would have been used in pre-twentieth century medicine. The top floor of the museum has a display of more medicines and scales, including a twin of the homeopathic medicine kit on display in the City Museum. The baroque and newer chests used to store medicinal ingredients are sometimes quite elaborate. In the back room to the right there is a map of all the former pharmacies in Bratislava and what year they opened and closed, as well as a collection of containers used to store medicinal substances. Turn left just before the stairs to view some old medical treatises. This museum is important because it gives some idea of what medicine was like in the days before man-made substances came to the forefront. Doctors relied on natural concoctions, time-tested over centuries, and had much more success with them than one would think. This shop's location near Michael's Gate indicates that it did a good amount of business. What is now the upstairs display area would have been the living quarters for the shopkeeper and his family.
Drink and eat in one of the many restaurants in Old Town. Try Prašná Bašta for tasty meals, Pizza Mizza for the biggest pizza in the town or Paparazzi for classy (and expensive) Italian meals. For Bryndzove Halusky, the unique Slovak national meal, visit the Slovak Restaurant.
Shop in the large shopping malls - Aupark, Polus, Soravia or Avion.
Visit Slovak Opera, Slovak National Museum or Slovak National Gallery for taste of culture.
Halušky (small, spaetzle-like dumplings with sheep's cheese), potent garlic soup (but perhaps not on a date) and Slovak red wine. Schnitzels, goulashes and other typically Central European foods. Fresh vegetables are more common here thanks to the large amount of land given over to agriculture.
If you're low on cash and want to self-cater, there's a huge Tesco supermarket on Kamenné námestie (at the junction of Štúrova and Špitálska) directly in the city. You could easily have lunch consisting of a couple of bread rolls, ham, cheese, fruit and maybe a cake or two, for the equivalent of three or four Euros. New American-type shopping malls with big cinemas within the reach of the center are the Aupark at the right Danube bank (next to the Sad Janka Kráľa park, some 10 minutes from the St.Martins's Cathedral) and the Polus City Center on the Vajnorska Street to the north of the city (some 10-15 minutes from the city by a tram).
Of course, junk food can be found in Bratislava, too. Check special Slovak junk food - richman that is kinda bread filled with cabbage and cheese with mayonnaise.
Try Kofola, Slovak & Czech soft drink having similar color to Coca Cola, but much better taste while lower on sugar and caffeine.
Vinea is another genuine Slovak soft drink made from grapes, offered both in "white" (green grapes) and "red" versions (red grapes) and even in not-so-tasty "soft" version without carbon dioxide.
Drinks are good at the Moulin Rouge, but a bit pricey. It's a very good gentleman's club as well. Address is Cintorínska 32 (MAMUT), 811 08 Bratislava.
Hotel Junior,  - Drienova 14 (street), Bratislava (Ruzinov), tel. 4333 8000, fax 4333 8065, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Hotel Turist Bratislava,  Ondavska 5 (street), Bratislava (Ruzinov), tel. 55 57 27 89 or 55 41 05 09, fax 55 57 31 80, Email: email@example.com, , double rooms at 17 Euro per person, triple rooms at 14 Euro per person, near Ice rink (Zimny Stadion), 10 minutes by bus to city center. €28/34/42. (singles/doubles/triples)
Hotel Holiday Inn
Hotel Kyjev, , Rajska 2 (street), Bratislava (Stare Mesto), tel. 59 64 22 11 or 59 64 22 13, fax 52 92 68 20, firstname.lastname@example.org, double rooms from 28 Euro per person with breakfast, city center location, just a short walk from the Old town.