Essential Information on Bratislava

Bratislava at nightSlovaks like to tell you their peaceful little country is home to the most beautiful women on the planet. Now surely that’s a thesis worth testing! Naturally, those women are drawn to their nation’s capital, the charming city of Bratislava. Sure the population may be less than 500,000, and the centre compact, but that makes it all the more attractive for a weekend break. For once you can say ‘been there, done that’ and sound like you mean it.

Bratislava-UFO-bridgeThe socialist government shamefully bulldozed some of the old town in the 80s to make way for a highway, and now the city is an interesting mix of cobblestone streets and old buildings, with touches of social realist architecture; including high rises and a suspension bridge over the Danube with what looks like a UFO on top. The flying saucer used to be a surveillance point for the authorities. These days it’s a restaurant and nightclub. That’s Bratislava for you. So give this interesting, weekend-sized town a shot, with Stag Republic as your guide, and experience something unique. All this, while testing the validity of that ‘most beautiful women’ claim, which we think holds up pretty well.

Feeling lazy? Jump straight to Kiss me, I speak slovak!Weather / Transportation / Money and Currency

Pobozkaj ma, hovorím slovenský!

Bratislava LanguageSlovakian is not a language you are likely to start picking up in a few days, but if you arm yourself with a few polite phrases you’ll make a big impression on the locals. For the curious, the language has its roots in the Ancient Slavic tongue, and is part of the West Slavic group of languages, which includes Czech and Polish. In fact it’s so close to Czech you could be forgiven for thinking it was the same lingo. But some Slovakians when visiting Prague for example, will use faltering English rather than concede this point. Ah well, it’s all part of the rich cultural tapestry that makes this part of the world so alluring. That, along with cheap beer and scorching hot women of course.

English Slovak Pronounced like
Good day Dobry Den DOB-ree den
Hello (informal) Ahoj Ahoy
Bye-bye (informal) Dovidenia Dovey-denya
Yes Ano Arno
My name is Dave Moje meno je Dave Moy meno ye Dave
One beer, please pol litra piva, prosim Pol leetra piva, proseem
I love you Lubim ta Loobim ta

Average weather conditions in Bratislava

Bratislava SquareYou’ll doubtless be glad to know that Bratislava is in one of the warmest and driest parts of Slovakia. Don’t pack your board shorts and flip-flops in January though. This is Central Europe (in fact the centre of Central Europe!) and winters are cold. Both summer and winter seem to last longer than autumn or spring. That said, there are at least four distinct seasons. It can certainly bake during the summer, with the transitions of spring and autumn both decidedly pleasant. Bratislava is a windy city, pleasantly taking the edge off hot summer’s days, but another reason to pack your winter woollies if visiting in December through to February.

Average yearly conditions in Bratislava via the BBC’s Weather Centre:

Bratislava Weather

Getting around in Bratislava

Bratislava TransportYou can spend most if not all of your holiday in Bratislava without leaving the picturesque Old Town. Most of the sights are here, as well as many of the best bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs. You can eat, drink, be merry, and see almost all of the sights (Castle, Cathedral etc) all within a few hundred metres. For anything outside the cobbled streets of the Old Town, trams clatter up and down the streets, and a single ticket only costs 50 euro cents for journeys of 15 minutes or less, or 70 euro cents for a 60 minute transfer ticket. Best to make sure you buy before you ride, and validate in the ticket marking machine when you get on. The ticket inspectors take their role pretty seriously. Fortunately, taxicabs are still a pretty affordable option. When you book with us, we give you a list of reputable, English-speaking taxi companies that’ll get you around without charging like wounded bulls, and indeed give you a special Stag Republic discount.

Show me the money

Slovakian CurrencyThe official currency of Slovakia is now the Euro. Prices have crept up a bit since it was introduced in January 2009, but as the Average costs chart (below) demonstrates, a big night out is still a bargain, especially compared to London, or Sheffield for that matter.

There are money exchanges around the city, but the simplest thing is just to bring your cashpoint card and get your cash that way. You’ll get a better exchange rate than any currency exchange anyway. Certainly do not be tempted to exchange pounds to euro with money changers who approach you on the street or at the train station. These guys’ sleight of hand would put Paul Daniels to shame.

If you’re not buying electronic gear, fancy designer clothes or other imported goods, Slovakia is still cheap compared to the UK. Here’s what you can expect to pay for the essentials:

Average costs

(at time of writing)
-one beer (2.50 Euro = 2 GBP )
-one packet of fags (2.50 Euro = 2 GBP )
-one bottle decent wine (6 Euro = 5 GBP)
-one basic meal (10 Euro = 8 GBP)
-one taxi ride (17 Euro = 14 GBP )

A word on tipping

While tipping isn’t compulsory, the done thing is to round the bill up to avoid accumulating change. If you want to be that bit more gracious, a standard 10% tip for decent service will mark you as a man among men, at least as far as your waiter is concerned.