Friends asked why go to Bratislava at Christmas time? For those of us whose lives revolve around a school schedule for planning vacations, travel is generally one week at a time, with three separate school breaks during the school year, or summer travel. The only other period of the year to get more than 9 days of travel time is the December holiday break when we can travel for two weeks.
Another aspect of Christmas season travel in Europe is the price of hotels are often fairly low. Winter season hotel rates are as much as 75% less than hotel rates in summer season. While Vienna was our ticketed destination, Kelley wanted to go back to Krakow, Poland this trip. In September, I spent two days in Bratislava staying at the DoubleTree Bratislava, about two miles from the historic city center. The opportunity to book the Radisson Blu Carlton Bratislava on a low Club Carlson 4-for-2 rate motivated me to shift 4 days of our time from Vienna to Bratislava, primarily due to the location of the Radisson Blu in the old town city center. There are primarily pedestrian filled streets with dozens of restaurants and pubs within a few minutes walk of the Radisson Blu hotel. I knew we would be able to get around easily on foot, regardless of the kind of winter weather the city experienced.
Radisson Blu Carlton Bratislava 49.50 EUR ($51.75 USD) per night.
Bratislava, Slovakia is a one hour train ride from Vienna, Austria. While the standard of living may not be as high for residents, the cost of tourism is quite low by European standards without sacrificing comfort and safety common to most European cities. And English is widely spoken.
Here are a few photos of Bratislava this Christmas season.
Ice skating rink in city center. Ice hockey is a popular sport in Slovakia. The city professional hockey stadium is located next to the DoubleTree Bratislava where I stayed in September.
Old Slovak National Theater building, Bratislava.
Several pedestrian alleys compose the old town city center of Bratislava.
Danube River, three minutes walk from Radisson Blu Carlton Bratislava hotel.
The main tourist section of the city is compact. A walk from the Danube River to the Castle and around the Old Town only takes about 60 minutes.
Bratislava Castle on the hill and St. Martin’s Cathedral view from Radisson Blu hotel room. St. Martin’s Cathedral was the coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary 1563 to 1830.
The castle grounds covered in snow with ice encrusted trees was a beautiful sight.
Quaint restaurants in medieval buildings and trendy pubs are part of the charm of Bratislava.
Prolaika is a pub one block away from the Radisson Blu Carlton with a film décor. A cool bar is decorated with hundreds of photographic slides. Bernard Czech lager for 1.40 EUR / 0.5 L and good dining made this one of our favorite places for a meal.
Uisce Beatha is a small cavern style pub run by an Irishman and his Slovakian wife. A cozy environment and good company with 1.70 EUR Svijany lager made this another one of our regular places to drink in the old town city.
Interesting art and sculpture abound on the streets too.
Mozart played a concert in a house in Bratislava when he was 5 or 6 years old.
Bratislava at night had quiet European charm.
But it turned out to be a little too quiet in Bratislava when most everything shut down on December 24 Christmas Eve for three days of holidays. Christmas Day was a good day to move on to Krakow, Poland, where the city was buzzing with festive holiday activity and tourism.