Bratislava’s city centre offers plenty of secret places which are fun to discover by you and your kids alike. Outside the city centre, there are just as many adventures to embark on.
How about starting with some castles and palaces? Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a big castle called Červený kameň hidden in the Little Carpathian mountains. Today, this fairytale land is open for you to discover. Guided tours are offered in English, German, French or Russian. Find out about the castle’s mysterious history and admire its many fascinating showpieces. Don’t miss the biggest castle cellar in Central Europe or the fairytale-like sledge from the 17th century. The castle is a popular location for film-makers too and the fairytale film ‘Princess Fantaghirò’ was shot here. Once a month, the meadow in front of the castle is covered with stalls and it turns into a vibrant antique market. If you visit in July and August, do not miss out on visiting another interesting castle, found only 15 kilometres away in the village of Smolenice.
If the weather is good and you fancy a bit of exercise, embark on a leisurely hiking trail from Smolenice towards the Little Carpathian Waterfall or the only cave in the Western Slovakia called Driny. Do not miss out on seeing the Molpír hill; an important archaeological site full of mystery. In the Early Iron Age sacrificial rituals with took place there.
Continuing your trip to the north, you will reach the town of Skalica situated in the Slovak-Czech border region. Here, a traditional Slovak sweet pastry called ‘trdelník’ will cheer up your children. ‘Skalický trdelník’ was the first Slovak product registered as a PGI (protected geographical indication) within the European Union. After visiting the wonderful old town of Skalica, head towards the water canal known as the Baťa Canal situated on the river Morava four kilometres away from the town. Hop on a boat and let the captain tell you about the importance of this 55km long canal that was used to transport goods to and from the famous Baťa shoe factory. On the way back, make sure you don’t miss the three obligatory stops on the Little Carpathian’s wine road – enchanting towns of Modra, Pezinok and Svätý Jur.
If your kids love animals, head to the organic farm Biofarma in Stupava. The sound of the sheep bells and horses grazing on the lush green grass will calm them instantly. After taking a break in the fresh country air, fill your belly with a Slovak speciality – ‘bryndza’ (young soft sheep cheese) and a loaf of freshly baked bread from the on-site old bakery.
Summer in Bratislava is spent outdoors. As the weather is hot, water sports are particularly popular. You can try sailing on one of the many side arms of the river Danube; join a boat trip from Bratislava to the Austrian border region or sail towards the Water Sports Centre Čuňovo. On a small peninsula nearby, you will find an interesting building designed to look like a Roman ship surrounded by water. Do not miss it as this is a renowned contemporary arts museum called Danubiana. Alternatively, if the lure of a beach entices you, return back to the city centre. On the Petržalka side of the Danube, every year between June and August, a popular man-made beach pops us. It’s a paradise for families with kids, with many activities on offer including beach volleyball, outdoors concerts and cinema. It’s well worth a visit if you fancy a nice cocktail too.
But wait, there’s more!
Nowadays it’s hard to imagine life without horsepower under the hood or trains rushing by. But what was it like in days gone by, when there were only a few cars, trains, buses and motorbikes on the roads? Visit the Transport Museum to experience another era of transport technology. Among the thousands of things on display is a one-hundred-year-old electric tram, which used to ferry passengers regularly between Bratislava and Vienna. Located next to the Main Railway Station, the Transport Museum also offers this experience to visitors for free on the first Sunday of every month.
Are your kids into arts and crafts? Take them to the Regional Handcraft Centre ÚĽUV on Obchodná Steet and let them carve out their own wooden toys or make a unique piece of crockery during one of the many tinkering workshops on offer.
For those who don’t want to leave their two-wheeled friends at home when travelling, we have a suggestion – the colourful bike lane running along the banks of the Danube River. If you choose to cycle in the direction of the Bratislava suburb called Devínska Nová Ves, you won’t even need your own bicycle as you can easily borrow one there. Following this adventurous cycle route will land you at the foot of a bridge spanning across the river Morava, but don’t cross it yet! Because just a hundred metres before the bridge lies a world of adventure for both the big and small Tarzans: a ‘Go Ape’ network of ropes & obstacles called Tarzánia. Grab a harness, climb a tree and navigate through as many obstacles as you can. After conquering this Tarzan’s paradise, carry on travelling for a few more minutes across the bridge to find yourself in the neighbouring Austria’s magnificent Castle Schlosshof.
Bratislava is a fun place to visit in the winter too. Only ten minutes from the city centre you’ll find Kamzík, a hill which overlooks Bratislava city, right in the middle of the Koliba forest. This place is a popular destination for small skiers and sledgers. To improve your skiing, head towards the hill of Pezinská baba in the Carpathian Mountains. In the ski-centre of Zochová chata, just 15 kilometres from the little wine town of Modra, you will find two blue runs perfect for practising your turns.