BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—With the Ice Hockey World Championship in Bratislava on May 10–May 26, fans’ attention is turning to Slovakia.
Bratislava may not be a top European destination for most, but it does offer visitors a great deal to do.
Whether your team is playing in Bratislava or in distant Košice, you are more than likely to pass through the Slovakian capital. The championship’s semifinals and finals will also both be played there.
Bratislava isn’t that big, and the city center and surrounding area can be explored on foot. The Ondrej Nepela Arena, where the hockey championship is taking place, is not far from most places on this list.
If you’d rather not walk, public transportation is a good option. The Ubian app on your smartphone, which will give you the best options trips via bus, tram, or train, makes getting around even easier. If you walk about 12 minutes from the stadium to the traffic hub Trnavske Myto, you will have much better chances of catching a ride.
Taxi services tend to be fairly inexpensive. Most will charge five to 10 euros for a trip around the city. Easy Taxi is one of the cheapest and most reliable companies. Uber is also up and running in the area.
Here are 10 of my recommendations for where to go and what to do.
1. Central Shopping Mall
A very short distance from the hockey stadium, this shopping center offers something more than just the usual range of shops. From the second floor, where all the fast food restaurants are, you can enter a large outdoor area with plenty of room to relax and enjoy the sun.
Budweiser Budvar is a restaurant and pub close to Medicka Zahrada Park. It offers excellent beer, great local food, a historic interior, and an outdoor sitting area for those warm days—could there be anything better?
Located in the very heart of the historic city in an old town hall, the museum is a great way to learn about the history of the city. There’s a great view of the city center from the tower. And underground, you can see a spine-chilling exhibition on medieval torture.
Build in early 1900 in art nouveau style, this impressive religious building, with its light blue exterior, is definitely worth seeing.
Visiting “Blava” without seeing the Danube? Impossible! Taking a stroll by one of the largest European rivers on a warm spring day or evening is such a nice experience, not to mention lounging on the grassy stretches near the Eurovea shopping mall. The place just invites you to sit down and watch the mighty waters flow by.
Across the Eurovea promenade, on the other side of Danube, is a stylish ship-hotel-restaurant where you can enjoy not only lovely meals but also great views of the castle and Most SNP (also known as the UFO Bridge).
7. UFO Observation Tower
The UFO Tower owes its name to its shape, and it has become a modern icon of Bratislava. The 312-foot high tower is located on Most SNP and provides wonderful views of the city. An elevator located in the pillar of the bridge takes you up to a posh cafe and restaurant. If you dine at the restaurant, you can head up to the observation tower for free. And the best time to visit? Definitely sunset.
If you’re looking for wilderness you don’t need to go far. In the north, the city is surrounded by the Little Carpathian mountains, with plenty of forests and hiking opportunities. Above the city, and in the midst of tall trees, rises the Kamzik television tower.
The area provides more than enough walking trails plus there‘s a bobsleigh track nearby. When going by public transport, look for the Kamzík bus stop. You also can catch a bus to Zelezna Studienka and walk to Kamzik through the forest, just follow the signs.
If you get hungry while you’re there, there is a classy restaurant in the tower called Altitude or you can walk a short distance to Schoppa, a cozy restaurant furnished in the traditional style.
Fancy something more primitive and in the heart of nature? Head to Pekna Cesta woods and have a bonfire. Bring paper and firestarter and some food and drinks if you wish. Catch the tram 3, 5, or 7 to Pekna Cesta. Then follow the street of the same name straight until you reach the forest on the hill.
While there, take one of the dirt roads, and after some time, you should be able to find an open fire ring. Or you can set up your own. There are plenty of rocks and wood around. Locals like to roast a sausage on a stick, a nice delicacy— so why not do the same? Just make sure you extinguish the fire completely before you leave.
OK, this one is not in Bratislava proper but it’s only about 12 miles away, and technically it’s still a district of Bratislava. Cunovo lies on the Hungarian border near the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Dams. Onsite is a popular water sports center offering many activities, from speedboats to kayaking to rafting.
From the city center, catch the 90 bus or take a taxi (20 to 25 euros). For more information, see the center’s website at Divokavoda.sk/en.
Whether or not your ice hockey team makes history in Slovakia, I hope you will have a great time in Bratislava and make many wonderful memories.