Perched atop a forested hill on the north bank of the Danube River, overlooking the Old Town (Stary Mesto), Bratislava Castle is the city’s most distinctive landmark. Visible from all over the city, the grand Renaissance palace dates back to the 16th century and now houses the Museum of History, part of the Slovak National Museum.
A Bratislava Castle tour is at the top of many visitor’s itineraries, and even if you don’t explore the interior, it’s worth climbing the castle hill for a stunning panoramic view over the city. If you don’t want to climb the steps up to the castle, opt for a scenic city tour aboard a Presporacik—a traditional open-top trolley bus—instead.
It’s also possible to take in the highlights of Bratislava, including the castle, on a day trip from Budapest, Hungary, or Vienna, Austria.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Plan to spend up to two hours to tour the castle and grounds.
- Entrance to the castle museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
- Some parts of the castle are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The castle is located on a hilltop at the western end of Bratislava Old Town. It’s possible to walk to the castle from the city center; it takes around 15 minutes from St. Martin's Cathedral, passing beneath the New Bridge, and then climbing up the steps to the Sigismund Gate. The closest bus stops to the castle are Hrad and Zamocka.
When to Get There
Bratislava Castle is open daily, except Mondays, throughout the year. The busiest time to visit is in peak season (July–August), when it’s best to arrive in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
History of Bratislava Castle
The castle has been at the center of Bratislava history for centuries and was one of the many palatial residences of Europe’s Habsburg dynasty. In the 1750s, Empress Marie Therese gave the castle’s interior a rococo makeover, but after her death in 1780, it became a garrison, before tragically destroyed by fire in 1811. It was reconstructed in the 1950s, and in 1992 the constitution for the newly independent Slovakia was signed here.