Bratislava may not be on your list of places to visit yet, but Slovakia’s capital has a lot to offer as a family friendly destination. From exploring the maze of cobbled streets in the old town, to taking in the views from the iconic castle, to sampling the very best Slovakian cuisine, there’s something for everyone!
We built Bratislava into our Europe road trip and spent two full days exploring the city. From our experience, 2-3 days is enough to fit in all of the sights at a gentle and toddler-friendly pace.
Bratislava old town is full of character, stone built buildings and cobbled streets, however surrounding this is a metropolis of sprawling residential blocks, supermarkets and tram lines.
During our visit we stayed very centrally in the pedestrianised area of the old town at Aplend City Hotel Perugia for around £80 per night. The hotel was perfectly situated on a quiet side road in the heart of the old town within easy walking distance of the main sights. The rooms were modern and large enough to put the travel cot up. We had a small outdoor patio area with table and chairs which was nice to sit out on in the evening while Fin was asleep. The downside to this was us having to leave the car in a nearby garage for the bargain cost of €20 per night!
Wander through the old town
With its completely pedestrianised winding cobbled streets lined with restaurants, shops and historic buildings, Bratislava’s old town is perfect for little explorers! We spent a few hours getting lost in the maze of streets, eating ice cream, climbing the old building towers and watching the talented buskers. Our favourite spot was the chocolate café in the square! The main sights are very close together and easily walkable within 10-15 minutes of the centre. The Blue Church is a little beyond the old town and is worth passing by but it was closed for visitors when we were there.
Become King of the Castle
From the old town, the iconic castle is a short [steep, cobbled] walk. It is free to enter the grounds and walk around the outside of the castle. We really enjoyed the well-equipped playground, beautiful gardens, stunning views of the city and a lovely restaurant. We spent a whole afternoon exploring, playing and relaxing here and would definitely recommend it for children of all ages.
Head to the UFO
Yes, you read that correctly! Bratislava’s skyline is pretty unusual with an impressive UFO restaurant hovering over the Danube river. For €7.90 you can ride the elevator to the panoramic restaurant and take in some breath-taking views of the city… and a slice of delicious cake too! There are a few additional steps up to the rooftop viewing platform Oh, and did I mention the ‘poo with a view’ toilets / baby changing with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city?!
Other things to do (and avoid)
- We enjoyed spending time in Bratislava City Park which is a huge green area on the other side of the Danube to the old town. The park is nice for a walk and for the children to run around freely. We found it to be a little dilapidated in places but generally clean and pleasant.
- Devin Castle is mentioned frequently in travel guides for Bratislava. The castle is interesting to visit, can be reached by a nice boat trip down the Danube and is set in beautiful countryside. We probably wouldn’t go out of our way to visit this again as there’s not much else to do once you get there.
- We reluctantly visited Bratislava Zoo as we were about to leave the city because it has a DinoPark, but we would not recommend it. Entrance is very cheap [€7pp] and while the DinoPark was great, it quickly became apparent that the zoo did not meet the needs of the animals.
As mentioned… cobbles! Cobbles everywhere! Everything in Bratislava old town is within a short walk so children who can walk for up to 15 mins will be able to get around fine on foot. For napping toddlers or little legs, an off-road pram or carrier would be ideal. We took our basic travel pram which just about coped but definitely took some damage!
The old town is completely pedestrianised so Fin was largely free range. There are a few larger roads to cross to get to the castle, supermarket or over the river. There’s no need for taxi’s or cars (parking is around EUR 20 per day!) in Bratislava. There are also regular trams if you wanted to venture further out.
Baby & Toddler Supplies
There are two large supermarkets easily walkable from the old town including Tesco and Lidl. Both have a range of babycare brands (including Pampers and Huggies), snacks (toddler snacks, baby food) and essentials (bottles, bibs, wipes). These are MUCH more affordable than shopping at the pharmacies… we learnt this the hard way!
Overall we found Bratislava a great place to visit with kids for a couple of days or long weekend. From Bratislava it’s so easy to explore deeper into Slovakia, or venture into neighbouring Hungary and Austria.
A few of our favourite photos from Bratislava…