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Is Bratislava as dangerous as its reputation?

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?


Bratislava, Slovakia

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.


Bratislava, Slovakia

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.

Bratislava, Slovakia

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.


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Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

21 Responses to “Is Bratislava as dangerous as its reputation?”

  1. Ashley

    It looks so lovely!
    Did you by any chance get to talk to any locals who gave their opinion on the reputation those movies may have given their city? I’m curious to know!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      No, I didn’t think to! But I did read an article once on the response of the tourist board of Slovakia, who invited the film’s director on an all-expenses paid trip to Slovakia to show him that it wasn’t the dangerous and horrible place he might have thought it was!

      Reply
      • Ashley

        Really! Well, it seems that have made efforts to show that the movies aren’t a real representation of the city. Good on them!

        Reply
        • Daniel

          I’m local. There are two types of people. Those who laugh on the movies and those who are angry about the stupid american movies! 🙂

          Reply
    • Karin

      Bratislava is definitely a city full of young people (especially city centre on Friday and Saturday), cheap drinks and a friendly atmosphere! I live in Munich now but I am from Bratislava. Yes, you just need two days there and you are familiar with the culture. That´s it! Bratislava is pretty safe city, you don´t need to worry but as in any other city, you need to take care of yourself 😉

      Reply
      • Ashlea Wheeler

        Absolutely – danger can be present in any city, even your own home town, but Bratislava is no more dangerous than any other. Thanks for sharing your tips Karin!

        Reply
  2. Jordan

    I stayed at Downtown Backpackers Hostel…I was amazing!!! I loved Bratislavia although I agree you only need 1-3 days. I headed out to the ruins of an old castle right outside Bratislavia and also climbed to the top of the Red Army Memorial (amazing!). Definitely a hidden-gem city in Europe 🙂

    Reply
  3. Lily Lau

    It’s such a relief that you say Bratislava’s a lovely place… I’m travelling there soon and now I feel better about it 🙂

    Reply
  4. Franca

    I went to Bratislava for a day on a school trip ages ago and I barely remember how it looks like, I definitely need to return and explore it better and this time take Dale with me 🙂 By the way I didn’t know about Bratislava reputation of not being safe maybe because I didn’t see the film 😉

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      If you haven’t seen either of the films then you may be blissfully unaware of the reputation they give the city! It’s definitely worth a re-visit Franca!

      Reply
  5. Sarah

    I’ve never been to Bratislava, but so far I only heard neutral to negative reviews from travellers who have been there. It’s good to hear a positive review! I was starting to doubt if it was worth exploring… If at least one person says it’s good, it’s worth it! 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I usually wait until at least 2 people recommend a place before I go ahead and explore it! Bratislava isn’t at the top of most people’s lists, but that’s not to say it’s not worth visiting!

      Reply
  6. Jesper, The Biveros Effect

    Lived for one and a half years in Bratislava a few years ago and still really enjoy each visit of the city. Bratislava might be small, but the city got it’s own charm to say the least. 🙂

    Regarding the safty in the city then it is probably as safe if not safer than most other European capitals. We felt a lot safer in Bratislava than we do in Stockholm when walking outside late at night. We even used to walk home to Petrzalka on the other side of the Danube in the middle of the nigth. It might have been stupid as some Slovak friends insisted of telling us, but we never saw anything during those walks. Reason for not going was that the bridge (Most SNP) historically has been famous for having a lot of drug addicts around it.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your comment, Jesper. I agree, I think Bratislava is less dangerous than many other European cities! On top of that, it’s also charming and an interesting place to walk around. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay there!

      Reply
  7. Francisco Ortiz

    I was in Bratislva for 2 days, a couple of months ago, and it’s not only a beautiful charming little european capital but also one of the safest ones. I stayed at a hostel attended by travelers just one block away from the Christmas Market in the main square and everything was great. Explored a lot, went out to a bar, came back at 3am walking all around Old Town and never felt in danger. It’s not on my top list, but it’s worth the visit!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I completely agree, Francisco! It wasn’t one of my top European destinations, but it was definitely worth a visit. I loved debunking the myth about how “unsafe” Bratislava is 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jamie

    I went to Bratislava in 2006 with some friends. We actually wanted to go to Budapest but the flights were really expensive so we booked Bratislava instead without the slightest idea what it was going to be like. I found it to be one of the least dodgy cities I have ever visited, at no time did I ever feel the city felt threatening, I loved it. Unfortnately like most cities there is loads of graffiti about which spoilt the appearance of parts of the city but the old town seemed mainly free of graffiti and was a very attractive area. One night my friends were still drinking at 3 in the morning and I felt as though I’d had enough so I walked about 20 minutes back to our apartment under the influence of quite a few beers! I didn’t get any bother from anyone and felt completely safe. In hindsight I guess you should get a taxi in any city but because I felt so safe there it didn’t even enter my mind at the time. I really enjoyed it there and hopefully I’ll get back there again one day but it’s a big world and I’m still trying new places at the minute. If you are concerned about safety in Bratislava then I can genuinely say don’t be. I found Prague, Barcelona, Amsterdam to feel far less safe than Bratislava.

    Reply
  9. andrej Sintaj

    don’t worry. One of the safest. Bratislava is not a very attractive place to vistit. I can honestly say that Bratislava is better place to live than visit. Crime is low because population is more less homogenous . People are friendly and girls are so pretty 🙂 infrastructure is horrible public service as well needs to be improve. Slovakia is independent from 1993 you can’t expect miracles:)

    Reply
  10. Alex

    Surely you have to be particularly stupid to think a city is unsafe die to two third rate horror films.

    You may as well believe that The Avengers is a documentary and expect alien invaders if you go to New York, or North Korea to attack if you visit Washington

    Reply

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