People call Bratislava the Little Big City.
That’s a fantastic nickname because it might be one of the smaller capitals in Europe, yet it will enchant you BIG time.
Medieval castles, grandiose 20th-century buildings, graceful bridges that straddle the Danube River. You’ll find them all in the Slovak capital.
But did you know that Bratislava used to be the major coronation site of the Hungarian Kingdom?
Or that there’s a second river which flows through Bratislava?
Discover all these and many more in our 33 facts about Bratislava.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Food Facts About Bratislava
We’ll start with the most delicious part of our guide – the culinary facts about Bratislava. Get yourself a napkin before you start salivating.
- Meal in a UFO? It’s possible in the Slovak capital. How would you fancy a lunch or dinner in a gigantic UFO all while contemplating the sweeping view of the city? Well, that’s possible atop the famous UFO bridge in Bratislava. Want to know another mind-blowing fact about this bridge? It’s the longest bridge in the world that has just one pylon and one cable-stayed plane.
- You’ll find many microbreweries in the city center. Following the example of many cities in the Czech Republic and Germany, Bratislava started developing microbreweries that produce beer only for the consumption of their visitors. Some restaurants offer a rich choice of over a dozen draft beers. We recommend the Meštiansky pivovar.
- One restaurant in Bratislava offers gigantic pizzas. Pizza Mizza in the Slovak capital prides itself on making the largest pizzas in the country. The diameter of the biggest one is 19.7 in (50 cm). That size can easily feed four or even six people. But if you’re not a pizza fan, don’t worry. The place serves pasta, risotto, salads, and gluten-free dishes.
- Bratislava is home to one of Europe’s largest restaurants. This has to be one of the most interesting facts about Bratislava. But that’s not the only distinctive feature of this traditional Slovak restaurant. The Flag Ship is set out in an ornate theater, but you realize it only when you enter the modest entrance and walk through a few passageways. The establishment can hold over 1,000 people.
- The Slovak capital hosts an astounding array of Asian eateries. In Bratislava, you’ll find numerous Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and other Asian restaurants and bistros. We recommend Phong Nam, a Vietnamese bistro, and the Green Buddha, a Thai-fusion eatery.
Peculiar Facts About the City of Bratislava
Now that you know the most delicious food facts about Bratislava, let’s peek into some of the most peculiar ones about the city itself.
- Bratislava has several nicknames. Bratislava’s monikers include Little Big City and Beauty on the Danube. An unofficial nickname is The Suburb of Vienna, but we wouldn’t use that with locals if we were you.
- It’s the only capital worldwide sharing borders with two sovereign countries. Bratislava’s city limits share a border not with one but two independent states – Austria and Hungary. The close proximity of the Slovak capital makes visiting Vienna and Budapest great ideas for day trips from Bratislava.
- Bratislava is Slovakia’s largest city but one of the smaller capitals in Europe. Its population at the beginning of 2021 was a little over 437K people. That’s more than 50x smaller than New York City.
- In terms of territory, it’s Slovakia’s second-largest city. Bratislava might be the country’s biggest city population-wise. But when it comes to total area, it’s smaller than the township of Vysoké Tatry. That’s definitely one of the most surprising facts about Bratislava.
- Bratislava welcomes more than 1 million tourists each year. That’s almost 2.5x times its population. For comparison, Amsterdam receives around 20 million visitors. So, if you want to avoid the crowds, visit Bratislava.
- The city sits on two majestic rivers. This is among the most interesting facts about Bratislava. You probably know that the Danube River flows through the Slovak capital. But you might not know that the Danube River confluences with the Morava River at the northwest part of Bratislava – in the Devín district.
- Bratislava is a rich yet affordable city. In 2017, the city took the third spot in the EU’s richest regions by GDP (PPP) per capita. In 2019, it ranked as the 8th-richest region in the European Union with a GDP per capita around 180% of the average for the EU. Despite that, the city is still very affordable, compared to many Western European capitals.
- Close to 250,000 people from all over Slovakia travel to the capital for work. Given that its population is less than half a million, this means that the city grows by 50% every day of the workweek. Try to wrap your head around this crazy Bratislava fact.
- The elevation difference between Bratislava’s lowest and highest points is a whopping 1,200 ft. The lowest point of the Slovak capital is at the Danube River at 413 ft. (126 m). The highest point of Bratislava is Devínska Kobyla at 1,686 ft. (514 m).
- Bratislava is a very diverse city. This is due to the various nations and religions that have influenced it over the centuries. The peoples of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Serbia, and Slovakia had the most notable impact on the city.
Interesting Facts About Bratislava’s Rich History
For its rather small size, Bratislava prides itself on quite a history. In this section, you’ll find the most interesting facts about Bratislava’s past.
- It’s one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Bratislava might be a new name, but the city boasts a very rich and interesting history. The first known permanent colonization of the area started with the Linear Pottery Culture. This was back in the Neolithic Era around 5,000 BC.
- Bratislava served as the capital and coronation site of the Kingdom of Hungary. The city was the legislative center of the Hungarian Kingdom between 1536 and 1783. During that period, St. Martin’s Cathedral saw the coronation of 8 queens and 11 Hungarian kings. That’s certainly one of the weirdest facts about Bratislava.
- The first university in Bratislava functioned for only 25 years. Universitas Istropolitana was founded in 1465 by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus on the territory of present-day Bratislava. Sadly, it closed after the king died in 1490.
- The city is one of the few capitals that never had a planetarium nor an observatory. The closest planetarium is in Hlohovec, 43 mi (70 km) away, and the closest observatory is in Modra, 19 mi (30 km) away from Bratislava.
- Many famous people were born in Bratislava. These include chess grandmaster Ľubomír Ftáčnik, United Nations special representative Ján Kubiš, World Cup alpine ski racer Veronika Velez-Zuzulová, and world champion slalom canoeist Jana Dukátová.
- Bratislava’s name is quite new. Known as Pressburg in German, Prešpurk in Czech, and Prešporok in Slovak, the city adopted its modern name in 1919. This name is attributed to Pavol Jozef Šafárik’s misinterpretation of Braslav as Bratislav when he was analyzing medieval sources. The mistake led him to create the term Břetislaw, and later that turned into Bratislav.
Facts About Bratislava’s Fascinating Landmarks
Dozens of visit-worthy attractions dot the Slovak capital. In this section, you’ll explore the most interesting facts about Bratislava’s enchanting landmarks.
- Two gorgeous castles await you in Bratislava. When most people visit the capital, they explore the Bratislava Castle. But skipping the second one – the Devín Castle – on the outskirts of the city is a big mistake. Why? Three reasons:
- The Devín Castle is much more fascinating than the Bratislava Castle.
- The Devín Castle offers a stupendous view of the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers.
- You can participate in your own “knight games” – at no extra cost.
- Bratislava Castle is not the original ancient castle. Rather, it’s a copy of the fortress that burned down in the early 19th century. For 140+ years, it laid in ruins until authorities managed to collect enough funds to restore it in the second half of the 20th century.
- You can see Hungary from the Bratislava Castle. Erected in the 9th century, the castle stands on a plateau 279 ft. (85 m) above the Danube. Its gigantic size and location in the middle of the capital has made it a central feature of Bratislava since Medieval times. The castle offers stupendous views of the city. If the weather is clear enough, you might even see parts of Hungary.
- Bratislava is home to many strange monuments. In its Old Town, you’ll discover its most famous one – The Man at Work. It’s a bronze figure of a male with a helmet and jacket who looks like he’s coming out of the sewers. Another peculiar monument depicts a photographer who secretly peeks out from behind the corner of a building.
- Only one city gate remains today. Ranking among Bratislava’s oldest buildings, Michael’s Gate (Mikhailovsky Gate) is the only preserved medieval fortification. Constructed at the beginning of the 14th century, the gate’s current shape is the result of Baroque renovations in 1758. That’s when local authorities placed the statue of St. Michael and the Dragon on top of the gate. Today, the tower is home to the Exhibition of Weapons of Bratislava City Museum.
- An official cemetery looks over Bratislava. Slavín is a military cemetery and a memorial just above the city. It’s the burial ground of 6,845 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in 1945 during Bratislava’s Liberation. What’s even more peculiar about this Bratislava fact is that the memorial sits on a hill within a rich villa district with dozens of embassies around.
Lesser-known Fun Facts About Bratislava
In this section, we’ve prepared several lesser-known yet fun facts about Bratislava that will make you fall in love with the Little Big City.
- Petržalka is the most densely populated residential neighborhood in Central Europe. Its 100,000+ population makes it not only Bratislava’s largest district but also the most densely populated one in the central part of Europe. Sitting on the right bank of the Danube River, Petržalka shares a land border with Austria.
- Europe’s closest two capitals are Bratislava and Vienna. The ground distance between the Slovak and the Austrian capital cities is around 50 mi (80 km). This means you’ll only need an hour by car to travel between them. This makes Bratislava the easiest international destination for a day trip from Vienna.
- Two cities held the world record for the shortest international flight. One of them was Bratislava. The other one was Vienna. FlyNiki, a Vienna-based airline, once ran the shortest international air service in the world. It was a 30-mile (48-km) trip from the Austrian capital to Bratislava. Since Vienna and Bratislava are the closest capitals in Europe, it only makes sense that they discontinued the flight.
- Bratislava’s center was much bigger than it is today. Due to the irresponsive “modernization” during the Iron Curtain period, the city has lost much of its historical center. Don’t let that discourage you from visiting, though. The Old Town’s medieval towers and imposing 20th-century buildings are enough to kill a few hours. And there’s a ton of places to take great shots. Here’s one:
- A fantastic forest looks over the Slovak capital. 10 sq. mi. of woods flank the northern part of the city. The Bratislava Forest Park is an actual forest, situated at the foothills of the Little Carpathians. You’ll find numerous hiking trails that meander through the treescape and meadows.
- Locals enjoy an abundance of greenery. The Danubian floodplains and the forests make up for one of the greenest cities on the Old Continent. The total amount of green space available to the public is 18.1 sq. mi or 1,200 sq. ft. per inhabitant. This is definitely one of the most interesting facts about Bratislava.
What Are Your Favorite Facts About Bratislava?
Bratislava is one of the most underestimated European capitals. That’s bad and good at the same time:
- Bad – because more people need to discover its unparalleled charm.
- Good – because this means thinner crowds and (still) affordable prices.
We loved every single minute of our stay in the Slovak capital. And we hope that with these 33 surprising facts about Bratislava, and our travel tips, you’re already considering a visit to The Little Big City.
Just remember to take it slowly and go easy on the beers 😉
Now, we’d love to know which Bratislava fact surprised you the most.
Let us know by leaving a comment below.