What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention Bratislava?
I bet it’s probably the movie Hostel, where a bunch of innocent backpackers get unceremoniously tortured and murdered by high paying international businessmen in an unknown Slovakian location.
Otherwise it would be Eurotrip, where the travellers accidentally arrive in a sketchy Bratislavan neighbourhood, surrounded by some alarmingly uncivilised locals and no way of getting out of the city.
Even if you haven’t seen these movies, you probably know about them. Or even if you don’t know about them, you probably know of the reputation they’ve given the city.
I imagine when most young travellers add Bratislava to their European travel itinerary, their parents start quietly freaking out about the safety of their child, but is Bratislava really as dangerous as its reputation?
are the hostels safe?
We stayed at Hostel Possonium, which was actually themed on the movie Hostel. There were posters on the walls featuring movie scenes, and the movie was playing full-time on a screen in the bar which was set in the hostel basement and had a wonderful array of blood spatters decorating the walls.
The rooms were a good price but the hostel wasn’t actually the best in Bratislava, though my opinion could be jaded as a girl in our 6-bed dorm had a hacking cough that kept me awake for 2 nights straight. Why, why, why would you stay in a dorm room when you obviously have some sort of probably contagious and very loud chest infection! I was hating on her so hard.
But aside from that rather infuriating experience, the hostel was like any other.
One night we ate dinner at the restaurant of Downtown Backpackers Hostel, which seemed nicer than the one we chose and the location was much better. The meals were also good and the restaurant had a lively atmosphere.
are the streets safe?
We did the 30 minute walk from the train station to our hostel at night. Around the station were some soviet looking apartment buildings similar to the buildings we saw in Moscow. While the streets around them were fairly quiet, they were well lit.
There were plenty of other backpackers enjoying Bratislava’s gorgeous old town, even in the middle of winter. We wandered through the narrow cobblestone alleyways, walked up to the castle for some awesome views, and visited the Bratislava City Museum which gave us a fantastic account of the local history and included entry up the Old Town Hall tower.
At no time did I feel as though I was in any danger. Obviously you should always be cautious in an unfamiliar place, but there’s no reason to think that Bratislava is more unsafe than any other city. In fact, I felt much safer here than I did in Paris.
Are the people trustworthy?
No one tried to scam us while we were in Bratislava, which is saying a lot compared to many other European cities! The locals we came into contact with were fairly nice, straightforward people, which was the icing on the cake when proving that Bratislava is not the scary dangerous place it’s made out to be!
I thought Bratislava was a lovely city with an interesting history. 1-3 days should be enough time to get your head around the place. And don’t worry – the likelihood of you being tortured and murdered here is slim to none.