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What to Do
- What to do
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spas & Relax
Spa tourism has long been a mainstay of the Slovak tourism industry. A combination of geothermal sources and fine-quality mineral water means that the country has several spa towns. The most prestigious, Piešťany, is about an hour north of Bratislava. More recently, aquaparks with slides, hotpools and wave machines have grown up not far from the capital. The closest aquaparks are in Senec, Veľký Meder and Galanta.
- Shopping Districts
Shopping outlets in Bratislava tend to be divided between larger stores in out-of-town centres and smaller shops in and around the city centre.
- Markets & Market Places
Bratislava residents increasingly do their shopping at the malls and supermarkets which have proliferated around the city over the last 15-20 years. But some of the freshest fruit and vegetables are still to be had at the several surviving old-style outdoor markets, known locally as trhy (singular: trh or trhovisko), of the kind found in towns across Slovakia.
- Handicrafts & Souvenirs
Slovakia has a particularly rich folk culture, which is preserved in local costumes, woodworking, ceramics and music. The Slovaks themselves are proud of their heritage, and several shops offer a range of goods produced by local craftsmen and women, including some with a modern twist. These range from the distinctive blue and yellow hand-painted pottery of Modra (a town just north of Bratislava), to modern glassware, to traditional wooden items.
Bratislava's architecture is replete with distinctive images, and there has long been a strong interest in design here. This is maintained by several of the city's institutions. Bratislava's Academy of Fine Arts and Design (VŠVU), which tutors students up to doctoral level in architecture, design and fine arts, also exhibits contemporary visual arts and design at its Medium Gallery in the city centre.
Given Bratislava's long and diverse history, interesting and sometimes valuable historical artefacts – including, but not limited to, rare books, maps, items of furniture, and works of art – frequently make their way into the city's several antique stores. Whether you want to browse for a unique memento or are an avid collector, these places can make for an absorbing visit.
- 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.
- Wine Cellars
Bratislava's history as a wine-trading town, and the surrounding area's winegrowing tradition, means that the wine cellar – or vinotéka, in Slovak – is a local institution. It is one that has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years: the private entrepreneurship that drives the wine business was stifled under communism but has revived since 1989, armed with knowledge and techniques handed down over generations.
- Bratislava for Children
- Tours & Excursions
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