GUIDE: Bratislava Nightlife, Dining, Clubs, Bars
UPDATED IN SEPTEMBER FOR THE AUTUMN 2011 SEASON!
For the more cosmopolitan and mixed crowd, try the city centre - you will find many places and try one of the ones advertising Slovak beers such as Zlaty Bazant. Alternatively go for a great Czech beer on tap - lagers like Budvar or Pilsner Urquell, Kozel, Radegast, Starobrno...
Mestiansky Pivovar microbrewery in Drevena is the new place to go. Svet Piva in Hviezdoslavovo Square, Sladovna in Venturska and Beer Palace serving unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell from tank at Gorkeho are new and fresh.
17s Bar on Hviezdoslavovo square 17 serves Czech beer. The Dubliner's Irish Pub on Sedlárska Street is a stalwart on the scene.
In the centre, the key nightlife areas are in the Hviezdoslavovo Square and around the Korzo pedestrian zone in the streets of Ventúrska, Panská, Michalská and Sedlárska.
Marakech in Main Square is refreshingly cosmopolitan (the smoking section downstairs is often the more happening area), Antic next door has some tradition. Havana at the top of Michalska and Malecon at Mostova draw crowds for mojitos. Paparazzi at Laurinska serves modern international cuisine to a cosmopolitan crowd. The Coctail Bar on Panská is of the same flavour, as is the Greenwich Pub on Zelená, known to the locals as the Coctail Bar (sic), but neither serves food. Downtown on Klariska is a hip trendy bar also serving food.
On the side of the castle hill on Beblaveho street you can find a few friendly bars clustered together, some even open quite late every night. Both U Certa, Vydrica and Andy Drink-in Gallery are well worth visiting for their laid back ambience and the local crowd, as is a growing number of newer spots in this charming neighbourhood.
Another area to explore is the new Eurovea quarter by the Danube, with a number of interesting venues. A popular spot outside of the centre but well worth a taxi ride: Harley Davidson is a large and popular bar not only for bikers playing mainly rock and oldies located on Rebarborova (20 minutes by taxi).
If you want to opt for more of a local flavour, be careful. Avoid tourist traps and nasty local dives. Use your best judgment, you will learn fast.
If you would like to sample the traditional Slovak fare or Pressburg specialties (not really what most people eat these days), try Traja musketieri styled as "the taste of 1625" on Sladkovicova (not far from the Presidential Palace). The taste of traditional Pressburg drawing on Austrian and Hungarian culinary traditions is offered in Leberfinger, across the Danube from the Old Town (a pleasant, 10-minute walk across the bridge and a taxi ride back, as you will be too full to walk).
Another recommended restaurant with traditional Old Bratislava fare is Modra Hviezda (The Blue Star) located in Beblaveho street, a narrow street on the way to the castle, serving meals in the Slovak, Austrian and Hungarian traditions and great Slovak wines complemented with a little bit of history written onto the menu.
Staroslovenska krcma (the Old Slovak Pub) in the pedestrian zone on Michalska is also a solid choice, both in the winter when you eat in a tastefully decorated cellar and in the summer at one of the two outdoor seating areas. Another place in Michalska worth a visit is Presburg.
Do try Prasna basta, it's been around for a long time and is featured in many travel guides. Try Archa around the corner from the Archbishop's Palace in Primaciálne Square, A-Klub on Panska.
In a lower price category, to eat what the locals eat, visit Lahodky u Sherlocka on the corner of Mileticova and Prievozska.
If you are interested in the more exotic restaurant offerings (Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern...), see our Ethnic Restaurants in Bratislava listings.
Bratislava purports to be famous for its cakes - perhaps reflected shine from the Vienna tradition. Keep in mind the Slovak saying when picking that "Not all that glitters is gold". But keep looking, you will generally not regret it. Great cakes are served at Korzo, a traditional café right next to the New Bridge (the one with the UFO on top). For very good ice cream and cakes visit Ice Bar Luculus at Hviezdoslavovo Square 19.
Bratislava has a long café tradition. Some traditional cafés are still around and many Slovaks love to go for coffee. You order an espresso (called presso - comes in small - piccolo and large with the same amount of coffee but more water), most places also serve cappuccinos, lattes and the like. You usually get a small cookie or piece of chocolate and sometimes a glass of water with your coffee. To name but a few, try the new but very popular Shtoor in Sturova (now with a second location in the centre in Panska), Café Mayer in the Hlavne namestie (Main Square), Roland, Café Korzo near the New Bridge, Antik near Hlavne namestie.
Coffee-to-go chains Bagel and Coffee Story, Coffee and Co. and Greentree Coffee are appearing fast around the centre and serve good coffee, though not cheap.
A young and trendy crowd can be found sipping lattes at the Cafe Central on Obchodna street, but do not miss other nice cafes along that street either. If you would like to watch or join an artsy crowd, try Café Verne with wild decorations based on sci-fi by Jules Verne in Hviezdoslavovo Square (frequented by students of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design located next door) or the cosy and hip Café Kút hidden in a courtyard next to the Prasna Basta restaurant. Low-key and friendly Next Apache serving gourmet coffee and selling second-hand English and Slovak books is located on Panenska. In nearby Palisady, tri - styri and Scherz are the "in" places.
Several charming cafes focus on hot chocolate: literally dozens of delicious types of hot or cold chocolate are served at the Bon Bon in Panska, Maximilian on Main Square and Chocolate at Michalska (all are smoke-free).
Duplex at the Hotel Crowne Plaza is the new name in town. The former luxury clothing store Alizé at the top of SNP Square has reopened with a new venue - Music Bar Priatelia.
The cosy, really chill, mostly downtempo Nu Spirit Bar (formerly known as Buddha Bar) on Medena features DJs on most nights - soothing nu jazz and sophisticated electronica draw a sophisticated crowd of different age groups. Its nearby larger sister Nu Spirit Club in Safarikovo Square has some of the best gigs in town.
The stylish Loft in Tovarenska is the new number in town with numerous interesting events.
KC Dunaj, occupying a floor in the Communist-built Dunaj department store building opens to great local interest in 2011 (enter from Nedbalova). DJs can also be found at Kartell in Suche Myto and Radost, an underground chill-out bar. A young crowd chills at Channels with two underground floors of varied electronica on Zupne Square. Subclub, a former nuclear fall-out shelter on the river side of the castle hill just behind the New Bridge is a unique experience, mainly for techno fans. A more up-scale clubbing experience can be found on good nights at Trafo, a trendy club with European prices in the pedestrian zone on Venturska.
Aligator on Laurinska is mainly rock orientated and frequently features live bands. Two other central rock bars are Barrock in Sedlarska and Bar OK in Safarikovo. A Cuban band plays most nights at the very popular, up-scale Malecon near Reduta.
The biggest club nights, of course, are Friday and Saturday but Thursdays and even Wednesdays can get reasonably lively at some of the more popular venues. For event and party listings see BratislavaGuide.com's Bratislava Event Calendar.
For clubbing, try Gay Club Apollon on Panenska 24 (Mon-Thu 6 pm to 3 am, Wednesday to 5 am, Friday and Saturday 8 pm to 5 am, disco everyday except Monday from 10 pm, Sundays men only 8 pm to 1 am), Apollon Club Cafe at Vysoka 20. A gay sauna is located nearby at Zivnostenska 4.
Information courtesy of Bratislava Guide (c) 2003-2010.