It was not until I was mapping my way to build a viable rail itinerary through Italy, Austria, and Hungary that I discovered Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. I knew immediately that I would need to make room to explore it, and I did.

Bratislava is only one hour by train from Vienna and can be visited comfortably as a day trip. Trains depart every other hour and return with the same frequency. Having seen the highlights, I believe it deserves at least a couple of days to properly explore the city and its surroundings; even more if you want to go deeper into Slovak territory to see places that are not frequented by tourists on a busy itinerary.

The pièce de résistance is the picture perfect Devin Castle (Hrad Castle) sitting atop a hill that looks as though it was made from marzipan, like the eponymous hotel in the film “Hotel Budapest”, and the well-preserved old town centre with many historical sites to see on both sides of the River Danube that divides the city in two.

Various statues and artworks that dot the city centre provide another attraction to the visitors. Some of them are wacky and intended for fun, especially the signature landmark of “Man at Work.” Visitors take obligatory pics there and those who wish for good fortune are told to rub its nose. I duly observed the ritual!

3 comments

  1. Interesting. Would Bratislava make it to your top 3, if you were to compile day trip options from Vienna? Which would be the other two?

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    1. Some people even do day trips to Budapest, Salzburg and even Prague. Budapest is doable (less than 3 hours one way) but it would be injustice to visit it only for a few hours from Vienna. As I don’t like to backtrack, I don’t recommend these day trips; you end up wasting precious day hours on train and it also ends up costing more. I think the only viable day trip from Vienna to any other major city is Bratisalava. Aside from that you can do trips to the Danube Valley which is the most beautiful stretch of the river. Another option is visiting the picturesque town of Halstatt with beautiful vistas to behold.

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