Written by the Team at Be Free Tours Bratislava
You're drawn in by the gorgeous blue of the Danube river but unsure of how to best spend your time by Bratislava's pearl? Fear not! We've got you covered with our list of top ways to enjoy the Danube at any time of the year.
As you travel around Europe you'll no doubt keep coming into contact with Europe's second largest river, the mighty Danube. The river runs through the largest number of countries in the world, 10 (the Nile is second with 9 countries).
Slovaks embrace the outdoors & this is your opportunity to get closer to nature and add a different dimension to your trip.
One of the best ways to enjoy the Danube is to get up close & personal on it and what better way than to take an organised canoe trip. When the weather's good there's multiple operators just waiting to take you on trips through the “little Danube” (smaller offshoots of the main river).
If you're someone who craves a little more adrenaline in your veins, there's the option of speedboat hire & white water rafting. Be Free Tours offers rafting trips on a grade 4 artificial course where Slovak olympic gold- medalists train which uses water from the Danube. Since it's man-made it's completely safe from danger & great way to experience a different side to the river.
Have you ever visited a Brewery on a boat before? Dunajsky Pivovar is a unique experience which offers diners the chance to sample their locally brewed craft beer onboard their very own floating brewery/hotel. Beer tanks brought onboard are stored in 500L tanks & can be enjoyed alongside a meal or on the top-deck beside the pool with deckchairs, DJ & a stunning river-view of the city.
If you're in the mood to dance then Tanker Boat is a classic of Bratislava nightlife. Basically a boat turned into a club it's a favourite of Erasmus & stag parties but at 2e a shot it's also just a novel way for anyone to enjoy a cheap drink on the river. Our Bratislava Pub Crawl includes it on our bar crawl when they have special events.
In recent years far more focus has been put into Bratislava's undeveloped riverbanks which have been rather neglected since the communist era. But with new money and ideas emerging, these areas are coming back into focus with exciting new projects.
Eurovea shopping centre is the focus on the northern bank with restaurants, bars & a large grassy area that you can relax on & watch the life of the river flow by. What's particularly nice about Bratislava's setup is unlike Vienna or Budapest where there are large concrete barriers, the lawns flow down into the river, giving the area a natural & relaxed feel.
Perhaps being a landlocked country is the inspiration behind the setup on the southern side where there's often an artificial beach constructed in the summer time with a stage, a few bars, beach volleyball & various other elements. It changes from year to year & seems to be a work in progress but again, the attraction is your proximity to the river, making you feel connected to this famous waterway.
On a practical level the Danube also connects Bratislava with our neighbouring capitals, Vienna in Austria and Budapest, in Hungary. Flowing on the river, within less than 2 hours you can move within this triangle of cities representing 3 different cultures with completely different origins and language groups. (Be sure to check out Free Tour Community for the best free walking tours when you reach your new destination).
Instead of catching the train or bus to your next destination you can mix it up & hope aboard a boat instead. Alternatively, there are bike paths which follow the river all the way to the next big city where you encounter smaller villages & get a taste for more rural life along the Danube.
The Danube has played a crucial role in the history of Bratislava and what better to discover it than on our Free Walking Tours. Find out how in the times of the Roman Empire it divided the Barbarian north from the civilised Roman south. Or during the Cold War dividing communist Bratislava from neutral Austria.
Alternatively, it has been a uniting force allowing the silk route to run east/west and the amber route to run north/south. In later years it even played a part in the decision to move the capital of Hungary from Buda to Bratislava and the city's very establishment was based around having a defensive position with easy access to the river for commerce.
So when you're next in Bratislava, take advantage of one of our city's greatest assets, it's easy access to nature & embrace life on Danube. If you have any questions regarding these activities join us on one our Free Walking Tours & we'll be happy to help you out. See you on the river 🙂
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