When I decided to make a quick stop in Bratislava en route to Romania, I had no idea what to expect. I knew nothing about Slovakia, and less than nothing about Bratislava! However, sometimes a little ignorance isn’t actually a bad thing. I only stayed in Bratislava for a short time, but it was undeniably sweet, and the perfect antidote to the travel blues that had fallen upon me.
Bratislava is the perfect place to spend a day or two. The city is small enough that you can walk to pretty much everything and avoid paying for public transport, but has enough points of interest to keep you from becoming bored. Not gonna lie, that is kinda the perfect combo right there!
I spent my first few hours in Bratislava just wandering and getting a feel for the city and its layout, but after a while I found myself lost and needing directions back into the centre of the city.
As I attempted to find someone who spoke a little bit of broken English (easier said than done, I assure you) I stumbled across what was to become my favourite spot in the city – the absolutely stunning Blue Church.
Now, I am not usually one to get excited over a church. I am not a religious person in the slightest, but, if you travel a lot, every once in a while you will come across a church that is worth more than just a passing glance, even if you aren’t really all about your faith.
For me, the Blue Church is one such church. It is just so different from any other religious site I have ever seen! The architecture and painting looks more kitschy than anything, a vibe which I was most definitely digging.
Another positive thing about the Blue Church – it’s a bit out of the way of the city centre, so it sees far fewer tourists and it isn’t difficult to get the place all to yourself for a little while.
Once back in the city centre, there are endless streets, alleys and buildings to explore. I loved how even the dilapidated and decaying buildings still remained bright and beautiful!
The city may be a pretty one, but in my opinion, the sights aren’t what make Bratislava so special, the people do.
When I reflect back on my time in this city, one particular incident stands out in my mind. I went to the post office with the intention of shipping my big-ass winter jacket back home to Australia now that it would no longer be required. However, what would have taken me five minutes to do in an English-speaking country instead took closer to 40 minutes!
There was not a single human in this post office that spoke English and the ladies behind the desk seemed completely and utterly confused by my attempts and communicating through gesticulation. After a few minutes of such laughably terrible communication that it honestly would have looked at home in a sitcom, other people waiting in line decided to try to help.
In the end, I had seven local Slovakian women with little to no English ushering me around the post office, buying my post bag for me, helping me package it up and showing me where to write on the bag. They even helped me fill out my customs declaration! We were there, muddling through this process for well over half an hour. None of them showed any sign that they minded helping and once my parcel was finally put into what I hope was the outgoing box, they all just smiled at me and acted as if it was no big deal. But it was a big deal to me! It isn’t every day that a group of people are happy to spend a significant chunk of their day helping out a useless foreigner!
Slovakian people are just plain special.
I didn’t spend my time in Bratislava doing anything particularly exciting or out-there or crazy. I spent my time meeting wonderful people and walking around a gorgeous city (very slowly thanks to the blasted knee!) and while doing so, I was able to recharge my travel batteries and cure my travel blues.
Getting to Bratislava: Bratislava is well serviced by international railway and flight connections
Hostel Folks: An absolutely top notch hostel with amazing common areas and awesome staff, a dorm bunk starts at around $18/night AUD
Blue Church: Possibly the coolest church you’ll ever see, but be prepared, it isn’t often open for people to go inside
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: The real magic of Slovakia is with its locals – don’t be afraid to get to know them!
47 thoughts on “Slovakian Surprise | I Love Bratislava!”
Slovakia is one of the few countries I havent been in Europe but your photos and enthusiasm gave me motivation to visit the country 🙂 Bratislava seems so nice, thanks for sharing 🙂 PedroL
It is definitely worth a visit! I hope you get there soon 🙂
I hope too 🙂 have a great week! PedroL
So glad you liked it there, it looks and sounds beautiful. I’ve heard mixed opinions about the city so it’s nice to hear someone who likes it! Will definitely try and get there at some point! Getting lost is totally the best way to discover hidden gems 🙂
I had absolutely no expectations about the city… maybe that’s why I loved it so much?
I’ve never been to Slovakia, but all the Slovakians I’ve met are super nice! (I live in Poland so they’re around.) Actually, I’ve found that most Eastern Europeans are very nice, although not outwardly friendly. If you need help (like you did at the post office) they will always help you!
I must agree, I loved the people I met in Romania too. It was only in Ukraine that I encountered a bit more standoffish-ness.
Such pretty pictures, visiting Bratislava is on my travel wishlist for so long, hope this year I get to visit this beautiful place.
I hope you get there too! It is so wonderful 🙂
I have passed by Bratislava a few times, and been to Tatra mountains (gorgeous area) in Slovakia for skiing. I live in Poland, so the Slovakian culture and language seemed familiar to me. One experience that stands out is how a sweet, old Slovakian couple who owned a shop just after the Polish border started a conversation with me on who I was, what I was doing in Poland, how I speak Polish well, where I am from (Nepal) etc. They were so pleasantly surprised that a person from faraway country somehow showed up at their shop on a cold winter evening. They spoke Slovak, Polish and Czech, and we conversed in Polish. At the end of the short conversation, they gave me a bar of Slovakian chocolate bar as a present. Such a surprisingly nice gesture by strangers that I was floored! Before leaving I told them that they had left a very nice impression of Slovaks on me. 🙂
Oh wow that is such a wonderful story! Reinforces my belief that Slovak people are wonderful!
I love the painted windows. Or are they pretend windows? There are a couple buildings where I live that added people staring out of ‘windows’.
Local post offices are fun. I had a similar incident as yours in Beijing, and my daughter and I speak enough Mandarin between us to expect little trouble. Packing, repacking, shifting from bag to bag to lower the weight which lowered the price. All with help, interspersed with laughter, of locals and post office staff.
I believe that they are real windows but I must admit that I am not 100% sure.
I love your priorities, finding good people, and just enjoying your surroundings.
Thanks Kathryn 🙂 I am a firm believer that every day spent travelling doesn’t need to be 11/10 full on – some chilled out days are definitely required!
Another great find! I will definitely include Slovakia, as well as the C.R., in my own solo journey, 3 1/2 years hence. For advice on Romania, I recommend the site of fashion model Ramona Crisstea.
I will have to check her website out!
How nice that the women helped you at the post office. It inspires us to be better hosts to people who visit here from other countries too! The photos are lovely and The Blue Church is so unusual and striking. Enjoyed reading your blog post.
It absolutely does! Those ladies didn’t need to help me out, but they did so without any hesitation – such wonderful humans!
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Nice post, brings back memories of visiting for a few days last year. Great to hear locals taking time to help out a confused traveller
Will add it to a future itinerary.
Glad this made your trip better. Small towns like this can be a pleasant surprise.
I really hesitated before visiting Bratislava, because there weren’t a lot of nice comments out there about it. I decided to go anyway, and I loved it! Your post brought back such nice memories. Thank you.
Oh really? What sort of negative comments did you hear? I am glad you loved it like I did 🙂
Bratislava is such a gem. I loved it there. I liked the various statues around town, especially the Man at Work. I’m surprised you had problems with English. When I was there 2 years ago I had little problems and I was there for 6 days. Nonetheless you had a great time.
Must just be some bad luck on my part in terms on language!
Well, overall you liked it. That is what counts.
I love reading your posts Ellen. – I have never been to that part of the world – Poland was the closest i have ever got to as yet – But I was wondering if you could occasionally post about the food you eat, share in some of these places – would love to know more about the culture from this aspect. Love Vicki S.
Thanks Vicki, I will do my best in future, but as I am always travelling on a budget you don’t want to know how many days go by with me just eating cheap instant noodles :/
I really enjoyed Bratislava when I visited. You captured it beautifully.
I loved Bratislava too! I feel like it is like Prague’s little sister. I wrote about my experience there if you would like to check it out: https://teachingwanderlust.com/2015/09/11/a-day-in-bratislava-slovakia/.
I can totally see that! I will be sure to check that out 🙂
That looks like and Orthodox Church. Plenty of those in Romania where you are headed. Good luck going forward.
Wow! Beautiful photos and a wonderful story at the end. This place is definitely on my list now.
As a Slovak I am happy to read that Bratislava has such a good impression on people. Only one small thing that a bit bothers me – correctly said adjective of Slovakia is Slovak, not Slovakian 🙂 but otherwise, great!
Thanks for the tip! You learn something new every day 🙂
Haha, I am Slovak(ian) too and I never understood why people are so strict about this 🙂 I use Slovak and Slovakian interchangeably … it might not be precisely right but IT IS OK! :)) Glad you liked our capital!
“The city is small enough that you can walk to pretty much everything and avoid paying for public transport, but has enough points of interest to keep you from becoming bored. Not gonna lie, that is kinda the perfect combo right there!”
So true Ellen! I think that statement fits all of my favorite travel destinations!
Out of curiosity, what are your favourite travel destinations?
I haven’t been to many places that I didn’t like, and most of my travel has been through Europe. I’m particularly taken with Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans and former Yugoslavia.
As a reader of many other travel blogs, I feel like the Slavic region isn’t nearly as traveled through (or documented) as it should be…you’re pictures make it look beautiful! And hearing that the people are very pleasant and kind is even more of a sign that people should definitely make their way over to that area of Europe! Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely! Some of the friendliest people I have ever met!
Omg i love this small town too
What an amazing way of looking at our small city! We are glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Really glad to see you here again with outstanding share.