Bratislava is not just the political, but is also the cultural and sporting capital of Slovakia. Owing to its historically multi-ethnic character, the city's cultural scene is a product of various influences: German, Slovak, Hungarian, and Jewish, among others. Bratislava boasts numerous theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, cinemas, film clubs, and foreign cultural institutions. It also has the country's biggest football and ice hockey teams, a purpose-built white-water rafting centre on the Danube, and numerous walking and cycling trails in or near the city. High-quality spa and relaxation facilities, increasingly popular throughout Slovakia, are easily accessible. Bratislava has numerous coffee shops and restaurants, offering international as well as Slovak cuisine, as well as lively bars and clubs.
- Events & Festivals
The city has a full calendar of festivals events, and regularly attracts large meetings and conventions. Check out our events calendar for up-to-the-minute details.
Among regular favourites are: the Wilsonic pop music festival, which normally take place over several days in early summer; Bratislava Jazz Days, another multi-day music festival, normally held in November; and the Bratislava International Film Festival, held in late November or early December.
For the last few summers, an artificial beach, with deckchairs, bars and live entertainment, has been set up on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the old town. This normally operates from June to late August.
The city traditionally hosts a New Year's Eve party, free to all, in the city centre, with live music and entertainment. Turnout at the event in recent years has topped 10,000, so you will not be short of fellow revellers. Bratislava can be cold in December, so wrap up warm!
- Performing Arts
International popular music acts regularly play Bratislava, using a range of venues: the Incheba conference centre on the south side of the Danube is a favourite for larger concerts. Leonard Cohen, Pussycat Dolls, Alice Cooper and Diana Krall were among those who performed here during 2009. But classical music has perhaps a stronger tradition in the city. The Bratislava Conservatory of Music celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2009 and has contributed many outstanding musicians to the city's opera and philharmonic orchestra, not to mention numerous operas and orchestras abroad. The Slovak National Theatre stages opera and ballet at its two main venues in the city. One of those venues – the historical opera house – is also currently being used for performances by the country's main orchestra, the Slovak Philharmonic. Jazz is also popular and local and international artists play regular gigs at two dedicated jazz clubs. There is also a major jazz festival in November each year, the Bratis
For more than 90 years, the Slovak National Theatre Opera has been the training ground for renowned opera soloists such as Edita Gruberová and Sergej Kopčák. Its premieres even attract busloads of Viennese opera fans, lured by the reasonable ticket prices and local talent. The opera performs in two venues. The smaller is the aptly named historical building (historická budova), located in the heart of the old town. It was designed in Neo-Renaissance style by Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner, and opened in 1886. It was also the site of negotiations involving Václav Havel and Alexander Dubček after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. With just over 600 seats, the setting is intimate and elegant. Locals frequently arrive in dress suits or gowns, and champagne is served during intermissions. English and German are widely spoken, and programmes are almost always available in both languages. It’s best to avoid tiffs with the sometimes surly ushers by checking your coat and using small change w
- Sports & Recreation Activities
If you want to play sport there are, as you would expect, several recreation centres and swimming pools in the city. This site (in Slovak, but with an easy-to-navigate map with symbols) is a good place to find one, and check prices and opening hours. There is also horse-riding, rafting and a network of paths suitable for running and cycling in and around the city. The best are along the Danube River and in the forested hills above the city. If you want to watch, football and ice hockey are the main winter sports. Bratislava will co-host the 2011 Men's Ice Hockey World Championships (with Košice, in eastern Slovakia) and the main stadium is currently being rebuilt. Tennis is popular in the summer. There is a horse-racing track in the Petržalka district.
The shopping scene in Bratislava has improved out of all recognition in the last few years. Not only do many stores have long opening hours, with the big malls open at weekends as well as during holidays, but the range of products now on offer – from global brands to local specialities – is commensurate with the city's size and status.
- Dining & Nightlife
Bratislava's city centre has sometimes been referred to as “one huge restaurant”. This is more or less true: you can find a restaurant, café, bar or pub on just about every corner. There are hundreds in the old-town pedestrian zone alone. The people of Bratislava enjoy spending time socialising in them, and we await with anticipation the appearance of outdoor seating in May each year, which allows us (and visitors) to sit in the sunshine, sipping wines from local vineyards and admiring the beauty of the women of Bratislava as they pass by.
- Wining & Dining
- Bratislava for Children
- Tours & Excursions