GETTING THERE AND AWAY
M. R. Štefánik Airport, or simply Bratislava Airport, is 9 km from the city centre. You can take bus #61, which run every 15-20 minutes throughout the day, direct to the main train station (Hlavná stanica) – journey takes 23 minutes and costs €0.90 each way (30 minute ticket). However, you’ll probably need the 60 minute ticket should you wish to travel onward to the centre via bus #93 or tram #1 (see below for more details). A pre-booked taxi or private transfer should cost somewhere between €8 and €15. You’ll pay significantly more if you take one of the taxis waiting in front of the terminal building. Another option is to use Uber.
VIENNA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Another decent option for getting to Slovakia is flying to Vienna International Airport, which is only 40 km away from Bratislava. There are regular direct buses from the airport to Bratislava bus station (AS Mlynské nivy or Nový most) with Flix Bus (from €5 each way), Slovak Lines (from €1 each way), or Student Agency (from €4 each way); the journey takes around 1 hour. A taxi from the airport will cost around €60.
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Bratislava is extremely well connected to other central European cities. There are many trains throughout the day that make the short journey from Vienna Hbf, and a return ticket, which is valid for four days, costs €14. From Hlavná stanica (main station) take tram #1 to the centre. However, some trains to Vienna arrive and depart from Bratislava-Petržalka, which is on the other side of the river. From here take the underpass under the tracks, and then bus #93 or #94 to the centre.
The main domestic line is between Bratislava hl and Košice, the biggest city in Eastern Slovakia, and there are numerous smaller cities along this route including Trnava, Žilina and Poprad, The national rail company, Železničná spoločnosť Slovensko, and the privately owned Student Agency both operate frequent trains on this route. All domestic train tickets can be purchased online, although you’ll need to go to a train station for some international tickets. In addition, there are direct trains from Budapest (three hours), Prague (four hours), and Berlin (nine hours). The trains can often get very busy so it’s best to reserve a seat or travel in the quieter first class; you can also usually find space in the restaurant carriage.
ARRIVING BY BUS
Domestic and international buses depart and arrive from Autobusová stanica Mlynské nivy (a 10-15 minute walk east of the centre), whereas some services stop at Most SNP (Nový most) on the edge of the old town, which is likely to be more convenient. As with trains, Bratislava is also well connected to its neighbouring European countries by bus (Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria).
ARRIVING BY BOAT
A final option for getting to Bratislava from Vienna is sailing along the Danube – several companies operate on this route including DDSG Blue Danube, LOD, and Twin City Liner. These boats depart from Vienna Schwedenplatz, taking an hour and a half to reach their destination in central Bratislava, situated between Most SNP and Starý most. The return journey up-river takes slightly longer. Daily sailings are between March and October, and tickets start from €20 each way. The journey isn’t overly spectacular as the landscape is fairly flat, although the best section of this route is around Hainburg an der Donau and Devín Castle, which sits on a small hill at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers.
Central Bratislava is very compact so chances are you’ll easily be able to walk everywhere you need to go. Downloading a free offline map is probably a good idea, however it’s not essential. Having used both Mapy.cz (Apple, Android) and Maps.me (Apple, Android) on my iPod, I’ve found them both to be essential additions for my travels around Slovakia.
Bratislava has an excellent integrated public transport network of buses, trams, and trolley buses, as well as some local trains. Regular services operate between 5 am and midnight, with night buses running on the major routes outwith these times. Tickets are available from public transport operator’s shops, some newsagents, and the many yellow ticket vending machines at various transit stops (these accept coins, although you can use cards with some). A barrier-free system is in operation; this doesn’t mean free travel, it means you are responsible for buying and validating your own tickets, which cost a reasonable €0.70 (15 minutes), €0.90 (30 minutes), €1.20 (60 minutes) or €3.50 (24 hours). Inspections are common, particularly on routes that tourists are likely to use: the fine is €70, or €50 if paid within five working days. Fare dodging isn’t worth the potential hassle, so just buy tickets to help maintain the public transport network. Transport maps in PDF format can be found here, and are worthwhile saving to your smartphone if you’re planning on travelling around the city. The CP atlas website provides information on transport connections in Bratislava (and throughout the Slovakia); you can download the app for both apple and android devices (Slovak language only). Timetables are also displayed at bus and tram stops.
If you’re looking for a taxi, and don’t speak Slovak, Hopin is an easy to use app which you can use to order a taxi. Another option is Uber, which has the added bonus that all payments are electronic. Allow yourself plenty of extra time if travelling around rush hour.