Traveling to another country means exploring and discovering new cultures, monuments, history, and lifestyle. The tourism industry is full of tour operators that provide unique experiences either through sightseeing, food discovery, or a visual tour at traditional and daily performances.
Unfortunately, it is common for tours to be quite expensive and often we desire to tour around a new city by ourselves. But traveling around unknown paths can be time-consuming. For this reason, unique inexpensive tours have been rising all over the world that often are targeting solo travellers or students.
Around the European countries, there are now several cheap or even free walking tours around capitals or other well-known cities. I believe walking tours are the best option for low budget travellers. They showcase the best places in the city, either those are historical monuments or lifestyle places such as shops, restaurants, or pubs. Besides, walking tours are an excellent way to meet other travellers from around the world and have a great and relaxing trip with new friends.
Over the last years, I’ve joined several walking tours around different countries in Europe. Today though, I will introduce you to the very first one I joined in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Before starting the description of the walking tours, a short introduction to Bratislava is needed. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is located in central Europe. The city is relatively small. Hence a weekend is all is needed to get acquainted with the history and culture of the capital. Furthermore, Bratislava is in-between Austria and Hungary. Therefore, it’s a perfect stop for some relaxing before exploring more countries and cities. Also, Slovakia uses euros, so if you’re from a eurozone country or are someone who plans to travel around eurozone countries, you won’t have to worry about changing currencies again.
Regarding accommodation, Bratislava is, overall, an inexpensive country. Therefore, I would recommend staying in or near the Old Town. The Old Town is the closest to all the attractions. Also, it borders the Danube river and provides beautiful scenery of the river and the town. When staying close to the Old Town, you won’t need more than a day to explore and walk around the scenic streets of the capital and relax at a coffee shop with the river as your view.
Nowadays, there are different walking tours around the capital. There are in total four tours, the Old Town and Castle, the Original, the Communism, and the Bratislava Pub Crawl Runs tours. Moreover, now, there is also a Spanish tour available. I joined the Original tour, and I believe it is enough if you travel there for a weekend.
The Original tour consists of several stops around both the Old Town and New Town so you can grasp an idea of the history and culture of the city a little bit better. Also, usually, these tours are taken by solo travellers or small groups. Hence, it is easier to make new friends. In my case, thankfully, the group was quite small. We were only ten in total, and most were solo travellers like me, and from different backgrounds. So, it was great to meet and talk and give tips for our next destination.
Some of my favourite highlights of the tour were the main square, where you also find the Old Town Hall and the Roland Fountain. Another favourite stop was St. Michael’s Gate, which is the only medieval city gate that is still preserved. The gate gives to the street the perfect touch and is the best place for some beautiful travel photography. Also, during the tour, we had the chance to see several churches from various art backgrounds, but my favourite one was the Blue Church that is in the New Town. Moreover, when in New Town, we had the chance to see Grassalkovich Palace that now is used as the presidential residence. Furthermore, another essential stop is the site of the 1968 Soviet Occupation, which will also give you information on the more recent history of the city.
In general, the tour provides the best amount of information on history and culture to understand the city, the country, and its people better. Indeed, the tour does not include everything, but I believe it is enough for exploring. And one of the reasons I prefer the original tour rather than the old town and castle is because I think it would be better if you take your time to explore the castle. You should take your time to explore and take some fantastic pictures of the scenery.
Likewise, another important part of the city that I believe you should also enjoy by yourself is the UFO bridge and tower. It is the seventh-largest hanging bridge in the world, and the tower is 95m. The cost to climb at the top of the tower is only 7.5 euros, and I think the view surely deserves the money.
Lastly, like any other solo traveller, the Pub Crawl Runs tour completes the perfect exploring day. The tour starts at a pub with drinking games that allows you to meet and get to know everyone. And then the fun continues at a bar with more drinking. Usually, it ends with getting wild at clubbing. Obviously, you don’t have to follow the entire schedule. Still, I am always in for a good beer or wine and especially when in Europe, especially central Europe, you are bound to explore the pubs and the beer.
And with this, the walking tours come to an end. I very much enjoyed my time in Bratislava, and I dare say it’s a hidden gen city in Europe. The baroque and medieval streets and the neoclassical buildings give a fairytale-like vibe that makes you feel like the protagonist of a first-rate Disney movie. Furthermore, the friendliness of the people is perfect for learning more about this beautiful country, and meeting new people is always a positive thing.
If you ever find yourself in a city that provides free walking tours, don’t hesitate, just go. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.