Relocation

Location Guide: Bratislava

Welcome to Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and with a population of nearly half a million, is the country’s largest city. Bratislava occupies both banks of the Danube River and borders Austria and Hungary. It is the only national capital in the world that borders two other independent countries.

Bratislava has had many names over the years. In many English and German books, it’s referred to as Pressburg, and many languages have their own variants on the name, but as of 1919, the city officially became Bratislava. The city is incredibly wealthy, more so than the rest of the country and has one of the highest GDP’s in Eastern Europe, at a hefty 30% above EU average.

The city is the political, economic, and cultural heart of Slovakia. It is the seat of the parliament and the Slovak president. Several universities, museums, galleries and other institutions are headquartered in the city. Many large businesses and financial institutions are also represented in the city, with call centres and BPO environments constantly on the increase.

The city is filled with historical monuments and relics dating back to the early Stone Age, meaning that Bratislava has a blend of both old and new. The city has survived the Celts, the Romans, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Soviet domination, giving it a rich and varied historic, and an eclectic mix of monuments and architecture. The city has been the some of many Slovak, Hungarian and German historical figures.

Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals in Europe. Nearly 60,000 students make the city their home across three universities. This diversity of people gives the city vibrancy and dynamism. There are an extraordinary number of cafes, bars and clubs in the narrow streets, cellars and courtyards of the pedestrianised Old Town. This is the place to be, filled with exciting places to eat and drink and a feeling of youthful cosmopolitan energy that is at odds with the stereotypes that one might have about Slovakia. 

Working in Bratislava

Slovakia’s currency is the euro, making money an easy adjustment for anyone having lived previously in a Euro using country. Salaries may seem slightly lower in Bratislava compared to other cities, but the cost of living on average in the city is much lower, being 31% chapter than Berlin. Some of the prices are even cheaper than those found in Poland and Bulgaria. The lower salaries are offset by the savings earned on living costs and leisure, meaning that any expats working in Bratislava will have a very comfortable standard of living. 

In the workplace, punctuality is incredibly important to Slovaks. Business appointments are mandatory and must be made in advance, and it is considered extremely unprofessional to be late for a meeting or appointment. Most business people leave the office on a Friday afternoon, and businesses tend to close or operate with minimal numbers throughout August.

Slovakia is behind on other countries in addressing the work/life balance amongst their employees, but they’re making steps forward, offering flexible working hours, parental leave, time off to study, and many other benefits that just five years ago would have been unheard of. Slovaks have a very strong work ethic and if you’re in a management position, they’ll be diligent and respectful employees.

Many of the people in management positions in Bratislava are multilingual. Most speak English, Russian, and German, and people from southern Slovakia might also speak Hungarian. The younger generation tend to speak English as a second language. French and German are also popular, and the large portion of University students and graduates tend to speak a variety of foreign languages.

English is common in the business place, and most younger managers are fluent. Learning a few choice phrases of Slovak would definitely help you make friends in your new work place and would demonstrate your desire to fit in and make an effort. A few Slovak greeting phrases would also break the ice at the beginning of a meeting. A firm handshake and eye contact is also important in Slovak business etiquette.

Living in Bratislava

Bratislava is easy to explore. A historic red sightseeing tram circles the main sights of the city centre, and the compact size of the capital makes it easy to explore on foot. Don’t forget to grab a Bratislava City card, which provides a variety of discounts across public transport, restaurants, and museums.

There’s plenty of places to travel to outside of the city, with Austria (2 miles), Hungary (8 miles) and the Czech Republic (40 miles) all easily reached by hydrofoil or cruise across the Danube River.

The people of Bratislava are very outdoorsy, most of them enjoying some sort of vigorous activity in their free time. Skating, hiking, and cycling are popular, and there are gyms all over the city. If you’re into spending your weekends keeping fit and exhausting yourself, the city will be a great fit for you. If you’re not a fan of that sort of thing, then consider the healthy denizens of the city your motivation!

Be aware that under local regulations, it is an offence to drink alcohol in the street in the Old Town, with the exception of officially organised markets and outside seating at bars and restaurants. Drinking in public can lead to a night in the cells, and the police in Bratislava are strict. Noisy and unruly behaviour in the streets can also result in fines or detention for causing a public nuisance. It’s the same anywhere in Europe. Also be aware that to drive in Slovakia you must have a valid international driver’s license.

Bratislava is filled with old town charm, sophisticated restaurants, pubs and a range of good music varying from jazz to opera. The hillsides on the edge of the city have been home to vineyards for centuries, and close by, there are wine towns where you can taste the best wine the country has to offer.

The city’s long history means it has an impressive range of architecture, language, and cuisine. The handsome homes of the Austro-Hungarian noble families dot the city, and many of them are open as museums and galleries. The castle is currently undergoing major restoration, awaiting a slew of visitors to fill it’s halls. There are great views of the medieval old town, the Danube valley, and the compact city from it’s garrisons. The city was once one of the most important centres of Jewish learning in Europe, and has a wealth of Jewish culture. Notable sights to see include St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Bratislava Castle, the New Bridge, the Slavin Monument and the Old Town Hall. The Grassalkovich Palace and gardens are worth  a strong around. The garden features a row of trees planted by famous figures, including one by Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain.

Bratislava is the home of the world famous Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and for classical music lovers, there are fantastic concerts in the historic Redutta building. The Slovak National Theatre offers a wide selection of ballet, opera and theatre performances. The city is also ideal for museum goers, with the Natural Science Museum, the National Museum, the Jewish Community Museum, and a Museum of Transport and Museum of Trade all worth a visit for history buffs.

If that all sounds a bit too dry for you, the city isn’t short on modern entertainment either. the city has a range of cinemas, bars, restaurants and clubs. It can be difficult to find a traditional Slovak restaurant due to the sheer variety of eateries lining the streets. Everything from Chinese, to Italian and Indian cuisine are represented. If you fancy spending some time outside of the city, the likes of Vienna and Budapest are only a day trip away.

Restaurants

Slovakia has a range of it’s own eclectic meals. Yndzové Halušky is a meal of small dumplings with sheep’s cheese, topped with pieces of meat. It is the national dish of the  country and recommended to try. Potent garlic soup and Slovak white wine are also delicacies. Fresh vegetables are cheap and common, and other typically Central European foods are in abundance. Bratislava has it’s own special form of junk food, a Richman, which is a big bread roll with with cabbage, cheese, and meat, with mayonnaise. Richman stands can be found around the city centre and are definitely worth sampling.

The Old Town has a range of restaurants offering many cuisines from many different cultures.

 

 Bars

Bratislava has an eclectic range of bars, and they are particularly fond of microbreweries in the city, with many bars brewing their own craft beers.

Clubs

The Average Cost of Living in Bratislava

Restaurants

Average

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant

5.00 €

Meal for 2 with 3 courses, mid range restaurant

30.00 €

Combo meal at McDonalds, etc.

5.00 €

Drinks

Average

Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught)

1.30 €

Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)

2.00 €

Vodka, single shot (depending on brand)

??? Doesn’t say

Wine (10 cl glass, depending on brand)

???

Cappuccino

1.61 €

Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)

1.32 €

Water (0.33 litre bottle)

0.97 €

Transport

Average

One way ticket 

0.90 €

Monthly Pass

26.00 €

Taxi Start 

3.00 €

Taxi 1km 

0.70 €

Petrol (1 litre)

1.50 €

Monthly Rent and Living Costs

Average

Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre

495.00 €

Apartment (1 bedroom) outside city centre

379.50 €

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre

858.24 €

Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside city centre

622.89 €

Utilities (electricity, heating, water etc. for small apartment)

159.58 €

1 minute of prepaid mobile tariff local (no discounts or plans)

0.13 €

Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)

12.05 €

Sports and Leisure

Average

Fitness club/gym, monthly fee

31.81 €

Tennis court rent (1 hour)

8.45 €

Adult cinema ticket

6.50 €

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