Bratislava is up to date with the West

Tourists will find many examples that prove Bratislava is a modern capital, catching up fast with its western-European counterparts - and not just in the food industry.

Visualisation of the Sky Park project by Zaha Hadid in Bratislava.Visualisation of the Sky Park project by Zaha Hadid in Bratislava. (Source: Courtesy of Penta Investments)

Only one month after the first selfieccino machine was put in operation in London, the Bratislava-based coffee enthusiast and a café owner Marián Galuška made sure the locals and visitors of the Slovak capital were also able to drink their coffee with a picture of their choice printed on it.

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His Five Points coffee shop on Panská Street in Bratislava was the first to serve such a drink in Slovakia. Selfieccino simply works by printing a photo on top of the milk froth with a special food-safe cartridge filled with cocoa and coffee powder, Ivan Lačný, a manager of the café, explained. The drink-your-selfie idea is just one of many examples showing Bratislava has been catching up fast with western Europe. And not just in the food industry.

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Over the past 20 years, several high-rise buildings have sprung up in Bratislava as part of new premises housing top-level office spaces, apartments and shopping centres. The fastest-developing area is currently located on the left bank of the Danube, the former industrial zone between the Mlynské Nivy bus station and the riverbank near the Eurovea shopping centre.

In the vicinity, the two tall towers of Panorama City office and residential development rise up to the sky. Opposite the street, the Twin City building offers office space near the bus station. Between them, Bratislava’s Zaha Hadid project Čulenova is expected to rise in the near future. The Eurovea extension in the pipeline should include a 160-metre-high tower, Bratislava’s first skyscraper.

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Let virtual reality entertain you in Bratislava

Even though there are no actual skyscrapers in Bratislava for now, thanks to young Bratislavans it is possible to jump off a skyscraper in the city, hike to the top of the Mount Everest, perform surgery or ride a roller coaster in the city centre. The technology for virtual experience has been improving steadily and developers have now reached the point where all one needs is a special VR headset to be literally swept off their feet.

VR is a great experience not just for individuals, but for groups as well, thanks to screens projecting what is happening in virtual reality to everyone around. Ján Hrončák, manager and a co-founder of the VRBA virtual reality bar, talks about two elderly customers who received a virtual reality experience as a gift. One of them jumped off a skyscraper as if it was nothing. In contrast, Hrončák remembers a situation where a young girl was so scared by her VR experience that she had to go on all fours and climb “back to safety” in the same situation.

Thanks to young Bratislavans like Ján Hrončák, who help with the development of the technology, virtual reality will have more use than just in the entertainment industry, such as in architecture and in medicine. And it seems that in Bratislava, great developers like Hrončák are not hard to come by. Bratislava has recently been voted the city with the highest share of brain business jobs in all Europe. Architects, scientists and programmers are well represented in Bratislava, with over 179 per 1,000 inhabitants having a “brainy job” according to the Geography of Europe’s Brain Business Jobs study published by the European Centre for Policy Reform and Entrepreneurship in 2017.

Think green and rent an electric car

Advanced technology can also serve to improve Bratislava’s air. In Slovakia, nearly 6000 people die prematurely of air pollution every year, according to the European Environment Agency. Becoming more conscious about our environment, Bratislava is running the up!city project, an ecological means of transport. An electronic automobile, electric scooter and a bicycle help fight unnecessary emissions while enjoying the rider enjoys city views. A fully electric car is available for hire from €25 for half a day and comes with a GPS pre-loaded with 6 different routes in and around Bratislava, which will take you to some of the best-known places in the capital.

The electric cars for hire are made in Bratislava at the local Volkswagen factory, the most modern plant of that global automotive company. For those interested in how the (not only electric) cars are made, the carmaker offers guided tours of the plant, including in German and English.

For those who want to avoid traffic jams, a bicycle provides more freedom. Bratislava has more than 85-km of cycling paths and a ride along the river Danube is a real adventure. Visitors can rent an e-bike for €14 a day and an electric scooter for the same price. Bikes, scooters, and cars can be rented at SNP Square in Bratislava.

Visit creatives at home

Within 15-minute drive from the square visitors can peek into the life of Bratislava’s creative community at Nová Cvernovka. The community gathers architects, designers, painters, photographers and other creatives who offer a whole range of events all year round for the public. The ground floor features a large space for concerts, exhibitions, lectures, discussions and plays. There is a shop offering the production of local artists – everything from music, books, clothing items to paintings.

Nová Cvernovska’s Library, called Kabinet pomalosti, helps to understand literature better by giving lectures and seminars throughout the year. There is a shop with a Slovak brand of children’s clothing and a shop with a design furniture for little ones. You can buy clothes from locally-sourced recycled materials as well. Nova Cvernovka also provides a creative space for EDUdrama, the first drama centre of its kind in Slovakia. A full list of activities and artists can be found online at Nová Cvernovka is open every workday between 8 am and 8 pm.

Shopping malls in Bratislava

More conventional shopping in Bratislava is possible in its many shopping centres. Some of them are also worth visiting due to their contemporary architecture. There are three commercial centres within walking distance of downtown Bratislava: Eurovea on the left bank of the river, boasting a river promenade with views of the Danube, Aupark, near SNP Bridge on the right bank of the Danube, and Centrál, at the Trnavské Mýto intersection.

Bratislava’s biggest shopping mall is Avion, near the airport, the oldest is Polus City Center and the newest is Bory Mall, on the western edge of the city.

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