How did Bratislava surprise a well-known American travel writer?

Rick Steves, who writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows, described the Slovak capital as “the fastest-changing city in Europe”.

BratislavaBratislava (Source: Jozef Jakubčo, Sme)

“Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and once a nearly desolate ghost town, is one of the big surprises of my recent travels,” starts the early July piece of American travel writer Rick Steves for the USA Today website.

Steves, who writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on both radio and television stations, praised the city’s compact old town with its “colourfully restored facades, lively outdoor cafés and swanky boutiques”, as well as the redeveloping industrial quarter and the makeover of the Petržalka district, known for its communist-era paneláks.

“It’s arguably the fastest-changing city in Europe,” Steves wrote.

Ideal for strolling

While Slovakia was disfigured by its communist regime and then overshadowed by the Czechs, the country has found its wings in recent years, the travel writer continues, pointing to the fact that the region around Bratislava has the hottest economy and highest per capita income of any region in the former communist bloc.

Related articleBratislava among the top 10 underrated cities in Europe Read more 

Unlike Vienna (which is less than an hour’s train ride), which Steves describes as a staid, elderly aristocrat sipping coffee, Bratislava is a vivacious young professional jet-setting around Europe. Moreover, at night it is a lively place, also thanks to thousands of university students.

“Though lacking blockbuster sights (you could easily have a great day here without paying a single admission fee), Bratislava is made for strolling,” Steves wrote.

He recommends visiting the old city centre, wandering the streets, and finishing at the SNP Bridge or Bratislava Castle for the views. For a longer stay, Steves suggests strolling along the Danube riverbank and the Eurovea development, where one can have a drink in one of its chic outdoor lounges.

“I admit that Bratislava used to leave me cold, Steves concluded. “But changes over the last two decades have transformed it into a delightful destination. Bratislava’s energy is inspiring.”

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