Eating While Backpacking Through Bratislava
Is Bratislava worth visiting? Read on and find out
This year we planned a summer vacation that was really very different from what we usually do. This means that instead of lying somewhere on a Mediterranean beach and eating seafood, we backpacked through Europe, attending concerts while searching for a more urban vibe.
Long story short, in just 2 weeks, we've visited 5 countries and seen more than 7 cities, all the while testing local cuisines and vendors.
Anyway, today is about Bratislava and how we fell in love with this small but charming European capital. I will tell you everything about our journey there and the food discoveries we've made.
However, I want to say right from the start that this is not a Bratislava food guide, as it's impossible to try out all restaurants and rank them. Especially from a traveler's perspective.
This being said, let's start!
First things first. The Slovak capital is just one hour away from Vienna. So if you don't have a direct flight to Bratislava, I suggest you fly to Austria and simply hop on a train.
Now, what I really recommend is not to take one of those one-day trips from Vienna. Visiting Bratislava should not be a rushed thing. It's a beautiful place so give it at least 2 days of your time.
If you expect to find an ex-communist city, like so many in this part of the world, think again. Bratislava is a very cosmopolitan place, where the old town combines very well with the glass buildings from the new areas.
Regarding the food, I suggest that before talking about what are, from our perspective, the best Bratislava restaurants, I want to give you a few insights into what you should expect when it comes to Slovak food.
So Slovakia is a very meaty country. Therefore, if you are a vegetarian, you will have a hard time navigating through traditional dishes. However, Slovak cuisine is more than pork, beef, or game. There are a lot of potato dumplings, sauerkraut, cheese, and garlic involved. Basically, it's very similar to what the neighboring countries have to offer. Especially if you compare it to Czech food. After all, they were once part of the same country.
Anyhow, I strongly suggest that you leave the international venues for other occasions and check out local food. The great thing about the Slovak capital is that it offers lots of possibilities for you to taste its genuine flavors.
For instance, you can have lunch in a very small but charmful restaurant called U Sedliaka. The restaurant functions in one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava. As a matter of fact, this building is a vineyard house from the 19th century, and it was inhabited mostly by winegrowers. So, don't hesitate to order some local wines with your food.
Now, what I most liked about this restaurant is the fact that it was packed with locals and that it was not fancy in any way. We actually passed it twice with our Google maps on. Yes, it is right in the heart of the city, but it is so discrete that if you don't know where to look, you will miss it. So make sure you pay attention.
As for the food, everything was genuine and delicious. Therefore, I am sure that you will love everything you order. However, try and fit the garlic soup into your schedule. It was one of the best I've ever tasted.
Another Bratislava traditional restaurant that is absolutely worth checking out is Modra Hviezda. You can also find it in the old town and to reach it, you will enjoy a lovely view of the Danube river.
This restaurant doesn't have a terrace, but the interior is so lovely that we didn't mind. You can serve dinner in the cellar or upstairs in the restaurant. Now, even though the cellar was looking spectacular, we asked for a table in the restaurant as we felt that the cellar was not ventilated enough.
Anyway, regardless of where you'll choose to sit, make sure that you book a table in advance. It is a very popular venue, so you don't want to have the unpleasant surprise of finding everything fully booked.
But what about the food? Is it as good as the place is beautiful? YES! Everything was super duper amazing. Go with the duck and any of the liver dishes, and you will thank me.
Our only regret is that we didn't get to taste their wine. The waiter misunderstood us and brought un 4 pints of beer, and we didn't have the heart to send them back. The good part is that the beer was also extremely tasty.
Now, when it comes to Bratislava restaurants, the old town is not the only place where you can eat incredible food. Truth be told, we had the best pork knuckle of our life in a noisy and crowded beer house located 20 minutes of walking from the city center. The place I am talking about is called Bratislavsky Mestiansky Pivovar, and I have to admit that when we first entered, we didn't really like the vibe. It was nothing genuine, it was packed with people, and we were sure that we would have to wait a very long time for our order.
But you know what? The waiter came by really fast, and the food as well. We had the pork knuckle and the ribs, and I have to say that it was a hassle to finish everything in 4 people.
So the only advice I can give you is to be sure you go with someone who wants to share their food with you. It would be such a waste not to try out that crazy crackling.
It probably goes without saying since I am talking about amazing dishes in a brewery, but I will say it nevertheless. The beer is also great.
Again, don't go knocking on this restaurant's door without booking a table in advance. There was not a single table available inside or outside.
Now since we talked about beer and wine, I am sure that you are curious to know more about Bratislava nightlife. Well, truth be told, we are not the most party animals out there. But even so, we did manage to find a few bars that we really enjoyed.
One of them is called Barrock, and just as its name implies, it is a venue that sells booze in a rock music atmosphere.
We were there only on the terrace. Yet, the insights looked like a place for some heavy partying. So, if you like rock music and partying, I do believe that's the place to be.
However, if you are more of a posh kind of person, then Laurinska Street is the one for you. It's full of bars and a lively atmosphere. We wanted to go to a place called Cuba Libre Rum & Cigar House there, but we couldn't find a free table. And that was on a regular Tuesday evening.
But we didn't mind too much as we ended up in another Cuban bar (apparently, it's a thing in Bratislava) called Casa del Havana. It's located on a much quieter street, not too crowded. And as we discovered, they offer a great selection of cocktails and cigars.
So yeah, it was just what we needed. Oh, and I do believe dancing was happening inside but didn't go in to check.
Long story short, if partying is what you are after when visiting Bratislava, you will most certainly find it. And if you do, you will probably be craving food the next morning. So there are two possibilities. You can either go eat some eggs and bacon at a local venue. There are many to choose from but what we loved was a place called Urban House.
This is located in the posh part of town I was telling you about earlier. It has any breakfast you may desire. And you can even have a Mimosa with your eggs.
The other choice you have, especially if you are on a budget, is to go to any supermarket, buy some local cheese and meat and prepare a homemade breakfast at your accommodation. I do believe that we paid around 8 euro per person for the supermarket groceries.
Great! This being said, let's move on.
Up until now, I've only talked about meaty dishes, bars, and alcohol, yet I haven't said a word about desserts. That's because I left the best for last.
Bratislava is the home to one of the most beautiful pastry shops I've ever seen in my entire life. I am talking about Konditorei Kormuth. The place is decorated with Renaissance paintings and frescoes. And let's suppose for a second this isn't enough for you to check it out. In that case, you should know that the furniture, the cutlery, glasses, and plates are actually antiques that date from the 16th-19th centuries.
And the cakes, well, they are rich and lush and exactly how you imagine a dessert served to royalty.
So, long story short, is Bratislava worth visiting? Yes. It totally is, and not just because of the food. There are many landmarks that are worth your time and are not overrated.
The Bratislava Castle is a beautiful example of a 'must see' location. It is a baroque castle on a hilltop with a lot of history, a beautiful garden, and a breathtaking view.
Regarding venues around the castle, we only found Hradná, and I don't recommend it to anyone. Yes, the view up there is lovely.
But the services were horrible. We waited more than 15 minutes for some water and beers. I can't even imagine how long you have to wait for food.
Anyhow, if you are not into historical sights, then simply take your time and walk on Bratislava's streets. You will most definitely stumble upon something that will suit your style. For instance, we discovered this crazy mirror house, called gallerie Multium, that really blew our minds.
For 6 euros/person you can have a very interesting experience, one that I believe is suitable for all ages. Well, that is, if you don't suffer from a neurological disease such as epilepsy.
Now, before I close this article, I want to answer some questions many people have before visiting Bratislava.
- is Bratislava safe for tourists? Most definitely. We didn't have any moment in which we felt unsafe.
- is the food in Bratislava cheap? Cheaper than in any other European capitals we've been to. For a 2-course meal and a couple of drinks, you should expect to pay around 30 euros per person.
- How are the taxi fares in Bratislava? We traveled only by Bolt, and we found them to be even more reasonable than in Romania. I think we paid 10 euros from the city center to the train station.
- Are accommodations in Bratislava expensive? We booked an apartment right in the heart of the old town and paid around 20 euros per person per night.
So this is it. Let me know if you are planning a Bratislava trip and have more questions. Of course, feel free to give us a message if you've already been there and you think that we've missed something. We will gladly return to the Slovak capital anytime and try anything that you might recommend.