It is time for our Wanderlust Wednesday Series: A Tourist in Your Hometown. Today, you will fall in love with Bratislava, Slovakia. Let’s discover together its hidden gems with fellow travel blogger, Nikoleta from The Bonfire Dream. Remember that this series is dedicated to people who want to explore more of their hometown, and also for those who are planning to visit at some point.
What’s your hometown best known for?
Most prominent sign of my hometown is Bratislava Castle, however probably the most favorite attraction is our Čumil. It is a statue of a man on ground leaning on his hands in the same fashion as men in work do. At this point, I have to disappoint you – there is no history behind it. This statue was put there some time in previous century as a joke. Since it was on the ground, many people used to fall over it and once even a car drove over it! Since then, city of Bratislava put official warning sign near by stating: Attention, man in work!
What’s the best time of the year/season to visit?
Depends what you want to do. Summer is an amazing time to visit, for you can enjoy the beautiful city covered with sunshine, but overfilled with other tourists. During the summer season, you can go swimming to one of our Aquaparks, go shooting, go rafting, go hiking or hide yourself in one of the many shopping centers. During winter season, you can still go hiking, swimming or shopping, but you cannot go shooting, or rafting. The highlights of winter is that Bratislava covered in snow is simply beautiful and that there are not that many tourists.
What is your biggest annual holiday or tradition?
We have many smaller traditions that are of the same importance, but probably the most interesting one is our Eastern tradition. First of all, don’t be scared of Slovaks after what you read, we are not masochists or violent people in general. And this tradition has meaning 🙂 So, preparations start days before Easter Monday. Girls cook, paint eggs, prepare ribbons, get some alcohol. Guys make their own whip from a willow tree. On the Easter Monday then guys dress up in the folk clothes, take a bucket of cold water (unless they live near lake or some other source of water) and hurray! to the girls. They usually wake up with the water in their face or being carried and thrown to the lake. Then they are whipped with the willow whipper and as a thank you, they have to give on ribbon on the willow, offer a cake and painted eggs to the guys. And no, it doesn’t stop with one guy. It’s usually every male friend or relative that visits us. But how did this become a tradition? Back in the day, Slovaks believed that cold water was making girls beautiful and that willow had a magic powers to heal and to keep us fresh that could be only transferred through whipping.
What is the currency in your country?
We are using Euro since 2008.
What’s the best form of travel to get around your hometown?
Walk!! Everything is in a walking distance and almost everywhere you go, there are either small historical romantic streets or nature. It’s very pretty everywhere.
Any recommendations for packing essentials?
Bratislava is a very modern European city, so nothing unusual is necessary. Only, don’t forget your camera. You would regret that endlessly!
Mention top three main or traditional dishes/drinks that people must try (including location).
The most traditional Slovak dish you can find is Bryndzové Halušky. It is a heavy dish, just like any that we have. It is small dumplings with a specific sort of sheep cheese that can be found only in Slovakia or Czech Republic and bacon over it. Due to the cheese it’s probably nothing of the sort you ever ate before. It has extremely strong taste, one either LOVES it or doesn’t like it at all! Another rather typical meal is a potato pancake with something inside – either meat or vegetables. Personally, this is my favorite dish and it is probably the lightest dish you would find in Slovak cuisine. Žemlovka is a dish that we historically share with Czechs. It is kind of pudding with old bread and some fruits served as main meal. Once again due to the bread, it is rather heavy meal, but incredibly delicious!
List the top 5 things to do.
Although sightseeing might be boring, it is simply a necessity in Bratislava. The historical part of the city is not very big but so stunning, with history and traditions so beautiful! Being done with that, make sure to go to one of the traditional restaurants or just sit in a coffee house. Let the atmosphere engulf you, relax for a while. There are many themed coffee houses, you can go and read something or try vegan products 🙂 Everyone can find something that would suit them. In the spirit of Bratislava’s romantic atmosphere, go to Danube and take a walk around, perhaps even crossing the UFO bridge to spend rest of the day in green parks of Aupark. Or stay in the city and continue exploring it; clock museum, transportation museum, wine museum, pharmacy museum, etc. Everybody can find something of their taste.
Any outdoor or nature related activities?
During the summer, Bratislava is full of outdoor activities. As I already mentioned, not only you can walk in the beautiful parks, but you can also go hiking in nearby mountains, go swimming in one of the many aqua parks, rafting, etc. Slovaks love to spend time outside. And so will you!!
Where can someone best have an authentic local experience?
Everywhere! It’s not a big city that sells something it doesn’t have, but it is a small city and what you do is most likely what locals do as well. If you are really looking for authentic, go to Be Free Tours, a free tour with passionate local guides that would be more than happy to show you around even after the tour. Generally this tour is attended by younger tourists and tourists with families opposed to older people, which gives it a huge vibe of energy!
Describe the nightlife and best places to go. Best Dance clubs to kicking up your heels!
I would advice you to attend Pub Crawling, for although it is not hard to be get orientated, there are many clubs that charge lots of money for entrance and which is much lower for Pub Crawling attendees 🙂
Best shopping spots and places to get souvenirs
Bratislava built so many shopping centers recently for increasing demands; Aupark, Eurovea, Tesco center and so much more!
Any tips for solo travelers?
Be opened. Slovaks are very talkative and love their tourists. So there is no way you will be alone during your stay!
I love my hometown. Do you love it too?
Thanks to Nikoleta from The Bonfire Dream for sharing her hometown pride with us. We at Dreams in Heels just added Bratislava, Slovakia to our bucket list. What about you? Already been there or planning to? Share your experience with us below.