Old and new collide in spectacular fashion in this quirky yet stylish capital...
The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is an interesting mix of old and new buildings and an increasingly popular destination. It has a fascinating old town with 18th-century rococo buildings and pedestrianised streets to explore.
The city has had a long history, which is reflected in the architecture found in the old town in particular. There are plenty of baroque palaces, as well as impressive churches. There are also lots of Soviet-era buildings still evident in the city. It is a busy city with a great nightlife and lots of construction going on.
As Slovakia's cultural centre, Bratislava houses some wonderful museums and galleries. The Bratislava City Gallery has some particularly prestigious works. There are museums outlining Bratislava's history as well as some which are a bit more unusual, such as the Museum of Clocks. The castle is also worth the climb as from it you can see Austria, Hungary and the Danube Valley.
Bratislava Airport (BTS) is the country's main airport and only nine miles from the city centre. Bratislava car hire can be easily arranged from the airport or you can arrange pick-up in Bratislava itself. Travel to the city is easy from the UK and it is particularly popular in the spring and summer months, which tend to be warm and dry. Winters are generally cold with some snow.
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The city centre has a wealth of curiosities, but the surroundings will throw up some welcome surprises too...
The other advantage of visiting Bratislava lies in the accessibility of the surrounding countryside. Car hire in Bratislava allows visitors to get out to explore the mountains, with the Tatras Mountains and Alps both within easy reach of the city. Another wonderful destination is the Mala Fatara National Park, which is a good place for lovers of hiking and climbing. The impressive Trencin Castle and the small, pretty town of Poprad are also popular locations for trips out of the city.
With car rental, Bratislava and the wonderful area enveloping it become instantly accessible. One of the first trips you should make is to Cerveny Kamen Castle. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale. Originally built in the 13th century, it was once a royal residence, but is now a superb visitor attraction and often used as a film location. You can get here by road from Bratislava in less than an hour.
Most people don’t go on holiday to visit motor museums, but the Museum of Transport on the outskirts of Bratislava is actually a great day out, and the collection of military prototype vehicles will have you curiously hooked. At less than €10 (£8) for a family ticket, you can’t go wrong.
Another great and inexpensive day out can be had at Bratislava Zoo. It’s a modern attraction with around 700 species and has plentiful facilities to keep young and old entertained. You’ll find it just a few miles north-west of the city.