Bratislava Castle illuminated at night

Getty Images

Bratislava Castle

Top choice in Bratislava

Magnificently rebuilt in Renaissance style, Bratislava Castle looks as though it has been transplanted from a children's picture book. Inside is a history museum, though many chambers feel empty and underutilised. The castle's oldest original feature is the 13th-century Crown Tower; climb it for bird's-eye views. Another highlight is the late-baroque Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1762–3) painting by Anton Schmidt in the Music Hall. Without a ticket you can wander the manicured baroque gardens behind the castle.

The fortification dates to the 9th century. Reshaped as a Gothic fortress in the 15th century, then again in Renaissance style a hundred years later, it lay in ruins after a fire in 1811. Today's incarnation, with four stocky towers and painted a dazzling shade of white, is a 1960s rebuild.

During summer, arrive early if you want to avoid crowds; this is a tourist-bus hotspot.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bratislava attractions

1. Museum of Clocks

0.12 MILES

All burning questions about 17th- to 19th-century clockmaking will be answered within this narrow, rococo-style building, known as the 'House of the Good…

2. St Martin's Cathedral

0.14 MILES

The coronations of 19 royals have taken place within three-nave St Martin's Cathedral, alluded to by the 300kg replica crown atop its spire. The interior…

3. Museum of Jewish Culture


This enriching museum unveils the stories of Bratislava's once-thriving Jewish community through photographs and objects from daily life, with a focus on…

4. Hviezdoslavovo Námestie

0.24 MILES

At least once during your visit to Bratislava, you'll stroll along this tree-lined plaza, bypassing embassies, tourist-magnet bars and some of the city's…

5. Napoleon's Soldier

0.31 MILES

Napoleon's army besieged Bratislava in 1809. According to local lore, one of his soldiers fell in love with a local girl and stayed in Bratislava. He's…

6. Most SNP

0.32 MILES

The sci-fi silhouette of Bratislava's 'UFO bridge' came at a heavy cost. Period mansions and an old synagogue were sacrificed for the construction of the…

7. Roland's Fountain

0.32 MILES

Planted in the heart of Bratislava's most storied square, Roland's Fountain is said to have been erected in 1572 to serve as a public water supply. It's…

8. Watcher

0.33 MILES

Crowds amass around the ground-level Watcher statue, who peeps out from an imaginary manhole on Panská. Originally installed as a joke in 1997, the statue…