(UPDATED AUGUST 2022) Bratislava, Slovakia is a top cruise port destination on the Viking River Cruise. Its breathtaking scenery will astound you and leave you with beautiful memories. Next to Budapest (the big draw on the Danube cruise), Bratislava was my favorite port on my river cruise. It was delightful and almost magical.
A Stunning European Capital
What can you expect to see in downtown Bratislava? Incredibly quirky statues, manicured gardens, and blooming daffodils set the stage for tourists to explore this beautiful town via cobblestone streets.
The Bratislava Castle (white with a bright orange roof) is one of the focal points of the town. You enter the property through the iconic Vienna Gates. You will get amazing panoramic photos of the town straddling the Danube River from this restored Baroque castle.
The castle’s gardens are definitely worth a visit. A fee is required to tour the inside of the castle, which we did not do because the outside scenery and panoramic views were good enough for us.
St. Martin’s Cathedral, or Dom Sv. Martina, is a stately Gothic-style building with a greenish dome and white steeple. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, it served as the coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary. Beneath it lies a crypt and catacombs. Michael’s Gate (green copper top) is the entrance to the city of Bratislava. It was erected in 1300 and is the only remaining gate in the entire city wall. The top of the gate features a statue showing Archangel Michael slaying the dragon.
Bratislava is bursting with delightful shops, colorful medieval buildings, and boutiques. Its people are friendly and welcoming to tourists. My friends and I found a few souvenirs to bring home in Franciscan Square, mine being all food. I bought a tomato jam product that was amazing.
Bratislava’s Town Hall is in the heart of the square and stands out with its bright yellow color. In front of it stands the Maximilian Fountain, erected initially as a public water supply.
Bratislava’s Sweet Side
My friends and I took a much-needed rest at an incredibly ornate dessert shop, Konditorei Kormuth. The outside made me feel like I was in a Hansel & Gretel fairytale, but the inside allowed me to live it.
I have never seen a restaurant so ornate and interesting—the hand-painted walls alone were works of art. Antique chandeliers and pastry curios held perfectly decorated sweets. We were shown to a table in a small, secluded room with a street view of downtown Bratislava.
Our enthusiastic waiter shared the shop’s history with us. We ordered pastries, and hot chocolate, served in an antique cup and saucer patterned china, each unique in style. The chocolate wasn’t hot enough, barely tepid, but the flavor was rich and enjoyable. The Instagram-worthy pastries looked better than they tasted (I had a pistachio macaron), but we were still happy with our visit to this charming place
Tourists’ Favorite Attraction
The one spot I couldn’t wait to visit was where the bronze sculpture that I had seen dozens of times on social media was. Čumil, “The Peeper,” is a sculpture of a sewer worker peeping out of a sewage hole. He appears to be beckoning for people to get on the ground with him to take photos, and they do. I had to oblige, as did everyone else I saw, to get the perfect shot.
Visitors leave fresh flowers on the street beside Čumil; I wondered if this was a typical occurrence. Sculptor Viktor Hulík created the Peeper.
Bratislava: A Cruise Port That Will Mesmerize
The cruise port of Bratislava, dubbed “Beauty on the Danube,” was definitely a favorite of many cruisers. The only drawback is that our guided tour (included with the Viking River Cruise) was only four hours long.
I wanted so much longer in this charming city. Bratislava will be on my radar for a future land trip to explore much more of this fantastic destination.
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Check out our other posts related to our Viking River Cruises:
Passau, Germany (cruise embarkation city)
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic