48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 Hours Exploring Bratislava in December

When we planned a couple of days in Bratislava, Slovakia, last December during our European Christmas Market explorations, I had no idea how much we would both fall in love with the city. Our short visit of just 48 hours was packed with festive Christmas Market strolls, a stop at the castle, clock towers and statues in old town, cute cafes, cozy pubs, and even a speakeasy.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

We were all about relaxing and soaking up the Old Town atmosphere on this trip, so we spent our two days in the city lazily strolling around town and finding delicious food to fill our bellies. And after a very busy and hectic year, relaxation was just what we needed. Here’s how we spent a chill 48 hours exploring Bratislava in December:

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Accommodations

The Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel Bratislava is located right in the heart of the cities historical quarter, and lucky for us, we had enough Club Carlson reward points to enjoy a free two-night stay at the hotel. It was a gorgeous property and our room sat overlooking Hviezdoslav Square which was right out the hotel’s front door.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

The square is home to one of the larger holiday markets in Bratislava and we loved peeking out our window to watch all of the action after we were in for the night. We loved how convenient the location of the Radisson Blu was—it was in the heart of the action, and basically everything we did during our stay was a short walk away from the hotel. You really can’t get better than that!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Exploring the Old Town and Bratislava’s Famous Statues

We spent many hours just wandering the streets of the historic quarter of Bratislava. From the Christmas Markets to the quirky statues to the charming architecture, there was always something interesting to catch our eyes. I loved the small alleys that twisted their way through the historic quarter, especially with the streets lit up and festive for the holidays.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

There are several famous statues located throughout Bratislava, so we couldn’t resist looking for a few of them. We spotted “The Watcher”, which is a worker hanging out in a manhole, “Schone Naci”, which is a silver statue portraying the man Ignac Lamar, and “Napoleon Soldier”, which is a statue of a soldier leaning on a bench. Each statue has a legend to go along with it and there are several others hiding around town. They are fun to seek out when going for a relaxing stroll around town!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Christmas Markets

The Christmas Markets in Bratislava were some of our favorites from the entire trip. We visited the Hviezdoslav’s square (the market that was right outside of our hotel), Old Town Hall’s court, and the market that spans both Frantiskanske square and the Main square.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

While the markets all had handmade crafts and lots of beeswax products available for sale, the main focus of the markets seemed to be food and drinks. So, of course, we had to sample plenty of the treats that we found. We tried a Ciganska Pecienka, which is basically a chicken (or pork) sandwich with mustard and onion, a Bratislava roll, lokše (potato pancakes) with Nutella, a Trdelnik (chimney cake), Medovina, a honey wine, and Punc, which is a fruit punch with actual fruit pieces in it.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Our favorite was the market at the Main square—we were able to see the views of this market from above when we went up the tower at the Old Town Hall. Afterwards, we caught a gospel choir concert while we were sampling some of the delicious treats mentioned above. Even though it was chilly outside, the festivities sure left us feeling warm!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Restaurants

 Besides eating all the treats at the Christmas Markets, we also made it to four different restaurants. There were so many great sounding restaurants in Bratislava, so it was hard to narrow down our choices, but we ended up loving all of the spots we visited. Two of the restaurants were more trendy cafes while the other two were pub style and served traditional fare.

Slovak Pub:

 On our first night in town, we wanted to try some traditional Slovakian fare, so we made our way to the Slovak Pub. The restaurant is located on the second floor of a building and there are several rooms filled with tables. We sat in the first room right next to a window overlooking the streets below. Our table was cozy and the bench was lined with throw pillows to keep us warm and toasty.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

I ordered the beef goulash with homemade bread dumpling, and Micah ordered the chicken schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese. Both entrees were great and it was a delicious way to kick off our visit to Bratislava.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

 Urban House:

 The next morning, we had breakfast at a cute café called the Urban House. The café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, pies, and desserts, as well as coffee, beer, wine and cocktails.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

I ordered the poached egg on avocado toast, and Micah decided on the English breakfast. We also got a pot of drip coffee for two—it was nice to find delicious drip coffee in Europe—something we always seem to have a hard time finding there!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Bratislava Flagship Restaurant:

We decided to go for a traditional dinner again our second night in town, so we made our way to the Bratislava Flagship Restaurant. The restaurant is located inside of a beautiful building and we dined on the first floor of the main room. There are many large tables throughout the restaurant but somehow it still maintained a cozy feel. This time around, I tried the cauldron goulash with bread and Micah stuck to ordering the chicken breast schnitzel. We almost decided to spring for dessert here too, but we ended up heading back to the Christmas Markets for a sweet treat before calling it a night.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Urban Bistro:

For breakfast on our last morning in Bratislava, we went to the Urban Bistro, which is the sister café of the Urban House that we visited the previous morning. It also serves as the entrance to the speakeasy mentioned below! This café was just as cute as the other location, but quite a bit smaller in size.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

I tried the eggs benedict and Micah had the pancakes with berries on top. I also couldn’t resist ordering one of the specialty teas on offer, so I ordered a glass of the jasmine passionfruit iced tea. Yum!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Speakeasy

Located up an unmarked stairway inside of a bistro, you will find a wicker armoire next to the toilets. If you dare open the closet and make your way inside, you will enter a swank speakeasy reminiscent of a 1920’s prohibition bar. Grab a table in the dimly lit bar and peruse the seasonal cocktail menu for a range of innovative flavors and combinations.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Michalska Cocktail Room is located inside of the Urban Bistro right in the heart of Bratislava’s historic quarter. Reservations are possible prior to 7:30 p.m., or you can just show up early like we did and for a chance at an open table. We visited at around 6:00 p.m. on a weeknight and practically had the place to ourselves when we arrived, but it was starting to fill up by the time we left. I ordered a drink called “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” which was delicious and made up of Genever, Aperol, Verjus, Prosecco, Rhubarb and Rosehip Espuma. A stop at the cocktail room was a great way to warm up before heading out to the Christmas Markets for the evening.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Bratislava Castle

Our visit to the Bratislava Castle didn’t actually see us going inside for a look around, but we did explore the grounds around the castle. We walked around the castle, through the gardens, and took in the views of the city from a fantastic vantage point. If you want to venture inside of the castle, you will find collections of the Slovak National Museum.

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

Old Town Hall and Tower

I love getting views of a city from up high, so observation decks are always on our itinerary if at all possible. We didn’t go to Bratislava’s UFO Tower on this visit, but we did manage to visit the Old Town Hall and climb the tower. We made it inside the museum just in the nick of time—the tower closes at 5:00 p.m. during the week. Thankfully, we arrived at 4:00 p.m., so we were able to climb to the top before they closed for the evening. The Museum of City History is located inside the tower, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to look around. Once we made it to the top of the tower, we got to see the sunset and the markets all lit up and pretty below us!

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

48 hours exploring Bratislava in December

While there are still plenty of things I’d like to see and do in and around Bratislava, this short visit was a wonderful way to introduce us to the beautiful country of Slovakia. We had a great time exploring Bratislava in December and hope to return again someday in the summer to see even more!

Have you ever been to Bratislava? What would you like to do in Bratislava in December?

24 Comments
  • Les Petits Pas de Juls
    Posted at 11:44h, 15 December Reply

    Lovely!
    Some day… I’ll have to stay in Europe in winter and enjoy Christmas markets all over the place too! 😉
    Funny how we “never” do those things nearby when we live on the spot but we realize we’ve been missing out on something when everybody else does!
    Thanks for the reminder!

    Happy roads!
    Jul’
    Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted…Photo of the Month: The Woman that Most Moved my Heart in MyanmarMy Profile

  • Victoria
    Posted at 18:40h, 16 December Reply

    I would just love to visit Slovakia especially during Christmas time! That Raddison Blue looked like an absolutely fantastic hotel! I will have to check it out!

  • Kavita Favelle
    Posted at 02:41h, 17 December Reply

    A relaxed weekend exploring and filling bellies sounds absolutely perfect to me and your photos are really making me want to do the same. Bratislava has been on my list for ages so I need to make it happen. Particularly love the thought of walking around and finding those statues, love that one of the man emerging from the pavement drain! The Christmas market looks so lovely, I may have to time our visit similarly to yours!
    Kavita Favelle recently posted…The Way of Whisky by Dave Broom | A Journey Around Japanese WhiskyMy Profile

  • Dany
    Posted at 04:25h, 17 December Reply

    I loved Bratislava in december because of the snow and the Christmas markets. Of the treats you mentioned I remember clearly the Ciganska Pecienka and the Medovina. I need to get back next year!
    Dany recently posted…Naples Christmas Alley – Via San Gregorio ArmenoMy Profile

  • Marissa
    Posted at 11:38h, 17 December Reply

    Everyone I know who goes to Bratislava loves it, so I want to go now. I’d love to go during Christmas and see the Christmas choir and buy some treats at the market!

  • Elaine J Masters
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:12h, 17 December Reply

    What a foodie paradise! Love that your room was across from the Christmas market too. Sounds like a wonderful holiday trip.

  • Lois Alter Mark
    Posted at 22:47h, 17 December Reply

    I would love to visit Bratislava, especially now in time for the Christmas markets. It’s such a magical time of year and it looks like a beautiful city. All those sweet treats sound delicious!

  • Kerri
    Posted at 15:48h, 18 December Reply

    We were on our way to Hungary a few years ago and accidentally drove over the bridge that took us into Bratislava so we were there for moments only as we didn’t know if we needed a visa or not! As per usual with Euro countries though, this one looks absolutely stunning, especially the old town squares and oh to be at those christmas markets right now drinking beer! The old streets, full of cobblestones are just so beautiful. The speak easy sounds like something we would be up for as well.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:56h, 29 January Reply

      That’s a great story!! Too bad you didn’t have a chance to stay longer but can definitely understand not wanting to get into trouble if you weren’t sure about visas and all that! Hope you can make it back again sometime–it was a really lovely town!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Museum Adventures in the Emerald City: Seattle Museum MonthMy Profile

  • Agness of a Tuk Tuk
    Twitter:
    Posted at 05:34h, 19 December Reply

    Bratislava seems so charming and yet, I have an impression that it is somehow underrated due to the proximity of Vienna and Budapest. You definitely had a wonderful time there. The pictures show a very magical place. What did you like best there, Jenna?

  • Meagan
    Posted at 15:33h, 19 December Reply

    I’ve been dreaming of Christmas markets all month, and this just adds fuel to the fire. The fact that you’re also showing so much more of the city – not just the famous Christmas market – is probably my favorite part of the post. The food looks so hearty! Plus, your photography is lovely. Thanks for the great writeup!
    Meagan recently posted…Town of Banff: A perfect Canadian Rockies townMy Profile

  • Izzy
    Posted at 21:48h, 19 December Reply

    I should’ve not read this on an empty stomach, uyyyyy! Those food shots looked to good! The photos have me convinced that Slovakia should be my next stop. And I love this idea of a Christmas Market tour through Europe! That’s definitely a new bucketlist entry for me! And I’m definitely heading to Michalska Cocktail Room when I hit up Bratislava! Cool joints are a must for me!
    Izzy recently posted…The 2017 Traveler’s Holiday Gift Guide Part TwoMy Profile

  • Megan Jerrard
    Twitter:
    Posted at 23:41h, 19 December Reply

    I fell in love with Bratislava too! We visited in summer though, and it was such an incredibly charming city. Would love to visit in December and soak in the winter atmosphere and festive cheer. When I visited we went in for the day on route elsewhere (contiki tour), so thanks for the accommodation tip- Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel sounds wonderful. Love that it overlooks Hviezdoslav Square!

    Glad you had a great trip! This brought back such fond memories – really looking forward to the Christmas markets now!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:48h, 29 January Reply

      We really enjoyed visiting during the holidays, but I’d love to switch it up and visit during the summer next time, so I know how you feel! And yeah, the Radisson Blu was the perfect location and we loved our view! Glad you enjoyed your visit to Bratislava too!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Museum Adventures in the Emerald City: Seattle Museum MonthMy Profile

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