Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explore an area which was in the (not too distant) past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
Bratislava, Preßburg in German and Pozsony in Hungarian, is the capital and largest city of Slovakia. Officially, the population of the city is about 440,000. However, it is estimated to be more than 660,000.
Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia at the foot of the Little Carpathians, occupying both banks of the Danube and the left bank of the Morava. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two sovereign states.
The city’s history has been influenced by people of many nations and religions, including Austrians, Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Serbs and Slovaks.
It was the coronation site and legislative center and capital of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1536 to 1783; eleven Hungarian kings and eight queens were crowned in St. Martin’s Cathedral. Most Hungarian parliament assemblies were held here from the 17th century until the Hungarian Reform Era, and the city has been home to many Hungarian, German and Slovak historical figures.
Today Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak president, the parliament and the government. It has several universities, and many museums, theatres, galleries and other cultural and educational institutions.Many of Slovakia’s large businesses and financial institutions have headquarters there.
In 2017, Bratislava was ranked as the third richest region of the European Union by GDP (PPP) per capita, after Hamburg and the City of Luxembourg. GDP at purchasing power parity is about three times higher than in other Slovak regions. Bratislava receives around 1 million tourists every year.
Small city centre
Bratislava’s city centre is small and best explored on foot. Unfortunately we were there on a Monday. A rainy Monday. So most interesting sites were closed and the rain didn’t invite us to stroll around town or the riverbanks of the Danube.
But rain or no rain, after visiting Bratislava Castle, we did walk around town, passing by the Hlavné námestie (Main Square) with the Roland Fountain, the St. Michael’s Gate (hidden due to renovations), the Old Market Hall or Stará tržnica (closed) and the Primate’s Palace or Primaciálny palác (closed).
We also walked passed the Slovak National Theatre‘s old building now used as opera house. It featured in the 1987 James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights‘, with Timothy Dalton.
Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza is near the presidential Grassalkovich Palace.
We could see the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising or Most SNP from afar.
In the evening, we walked to the St. Martin’s Cathedral and we walked past the Napoleontic Soldier near the Embassy of France.
It’s a shame it rained too hard. But it dissuaded us to just wander around. It’s just not fun.
Honestly? You just need a day. I’m sure you can fill a long weekend as well, but we don’t feel we missed much. Perhapas add Bratislava to your Vienna city trip. It’s only an hour by train.
It then asks your interests, such as art, culture, nightlife, sights, young etc. Then it asks when you’re visiting and it creates a schedule. Nice.
2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe
- POTSDAM 2021 | Schloss Sanssouci.
- 1945 Potsdam Conference’s Cecilienhof Palace.
- Potsdam 2021.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Berlin.
- BERLIN 2021 | Pergamon, ‘Das Panorama’.
- BERLIN 2021 | Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.
- BERLIN 2021 | The Bundestag in the Reichstag.
- Berlin 2021.
- By train from Berlin to Gdansk via Szczecin.
- Stopover in Szczecin.
- REVIEW | Restauracja Ritz in Gdańsk.
- REVIEW | Holiday Inn Gdansk.
- GDAŃSK | Museum of the Second World War.
- GDAŃSK | European Solidarity Centre or Europejskie Centrum Solidarności.
- A walk through Gdańsk.
- Gdańsk 2021.
- POLAND | PKP Intercity Gdansk to Wroclaw via Warsaw.
- Wrocław Museum of Architecture.
- The Dwarfs of Wrocław.
- Poland 2021.
- By train from Wroclaw to Karlovy Vary.
- Karlovy Vary.
- REVIEW | Hotel Imperial Karlovy Vary.
- Czechia’s Great Spa Town of Europe Františkovy Lázně.
- CZECHIA | Pilsen Historical Underground Tunnels.
- CZECHIA | Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour.
- CZECHIA | Pilsen.
- CZECHIA 2021 | Cheb and its castle.
- Hotel room for one.
- By train from Karlovy Vary to Prague via Pilsen.
- Czechia 2021.
- RegioJet from Prague to Bratislava.
- Bratislava Castle.
- REVIEW | Crowne Plaza Bratislava.