The best way to see Bratislava’s compact but charming Starý Mesto (Old Town) is on foot; part of the pleasure of exploring this minuscule Gothic and Baroque treasure is taking the time to meander the winding alleyways lined with sugar-colored townhouses, investigate the high-end stores and sip a few strong coffees in sidewalk cafés.
Most visits start off at the landmark castle, Renaissance in style but completely renovated in the 1950s following a fire a century earlier. Apart from the superb views across the Old Town to the River Danube, part of the Slovak National Museum is found here, where a permanent historical exhibition is being prepared. Wending downhill from the castle, the Cathedral of St Martin has a gem of a Gothic chapel and some flamboyant Baroque statuary, while the highlights of the Neo-classical Primate’s Palace include fine 17th-century tapestries and an ornate Hall of Mirrors.
The gardens of Grassalkovich Palace provide the perfect pit stop for an al fresco lunch, and there’s medieval weaponry to discover in the 18th-century Michael’s Gate, the last remaining tower in Bratislava’s once-fortified walls. In the evening take in a classical concert at the Slovak National Theater or reserve your place at Taste on the UFO Observation Deck of Nový Most (New Bridge) for views of the Old Town floodlit at night.