Bratislava has joined the group of cities offering the ever more popular concept of Free Walking Tours in English. There are daily free tours taking place, no matter what weather there is. No need to book or order in advance, you just show up and enjoy the tour that usually lasts between two and three hours.
Let us first explain what a Free walking tour actually is. As the name already indicates, it is a tour that is mostly just walking and it has no fixed price, instead it is tip-based. Most people disapprove of paying for services/products before actually experiencing them first. That is how this concept was started. The magic behind it is, that it actually motivates the guide not to slack off, but to try as hard as possible to offer an excellent tour. And now to answer your question, as to why would there be an organised group of people doing free tours? Because it still is their job. They are often professional licensed guides, that have this as a side job or often it might be students who can work flexible times. One aspect that is crucial, is that the guides are locals and they often have spent years or all their lives in the particular city.
Bratislava is a perfectly sized city to walk around and the guides from Discover Bratislava have various different itineraries that cover most of the city. The original City & Castle Bratislava tour lasts around two and half hours (shorter in winter) and does a wonderful job of a general introduction to the history of Bratislava and Slovakia. It is not the standard boring history lesson, instead it is packed with fun facts, some surprising historical events and much more info that will hopefully make you remember Bratislava once you leave. You will cover the most important old-town venues and the Bratislava Castle hilltop as well. The free tours provide basic information about the culinary side of Slovakia and explain the basics of traditions and culture you can explore.
There are daily English tours happening both in the morning and afternoon, so whether you are coming just for a day or you are planning a multiple-day stay, you can simply choose one or more tours according to your schedule. In addition to the original free walking tour there is also a very factual Free 20th Century Tour and the unique Free Spooky Tour of Bratislava and when all 3 combined, they cover roughly 70% of the city’s touristic and local’s secret sites.
Bratislava’s old-town is a medieval heritage area and the area that we call Bratislava now, was inhabited already thousands of years ago. It has even been one of the Roman outposts for defending the Roman Empire. During the more recent periods of the history it has seen diseases, killers and other horrible events take place.
Starting just recently there is a new free walking tour in Bratislava, that covers these brutal and weird stories called the Free Spooky Tour. It is the only evening/night tour in Bratislava and had intensive research leading up to it. Currently there is a small group of professional licensed guides that run the tour. In this 1 hour tour you will hear about the world’s biggest female mass murderer, learn about the Bratislava witch-hunting and more. It is a short walking tour that covers a small, non-touristy part of the old-town and finishes in a bar area under the castle. You do not need to book or reserve the tour, just show up and make sure to dress accordingly to the weather and season. It is a tip-based tour so in the end you can contribute according to your liking. You can also explore other parts of Bratislava on the free 20th Century tour or the original free City & Castle tour.
The 20th century is the most crucial century for our modern times. Bratislava and Slovakia went through some very sinister events during this time. They of course refer to the dictatorships during the 2nd world war and the cold war. Slovakia between 1939-1945 became a nazi state and between 1948 -1989 a socialist dictatorship. The country and its citizens suffered tremendously during both these periods and there are still numerous venues in Bratislava, that remind us of that past.
Starting 2018 there is a dedicated Free 20th Century Bratislava Tour, with professional licensed guides that covers both of these time periods. It is a three hour tip-based walking tour. You will be shown unique sites of the 20th century, such as the Slavin war monument, the upside-down pyramid, the most fairy-tale Blue Church and much more. Try to enjoy the tour and contemplate some really tragic stories from the holocaust or the political persecutions by the communist party. Most surprising for all is the fact that both the communists and the nazis had a lot in common and were very brutal in punishing their own citizens.
After these three hours of walking and taking a public bus, you will be able to reflect upon the past of Slovakia and compare it with your own country. You do not need to book or reserve in advance for this tour, just show up, dress accordingly to the weather and the time of year. This tour takes place in the afternoons and you can also check the schedule of other Discover Bratislava tours and see how it fits into the free time that you have. This free tour is not suitable for children and requires 1 Euro before the start for the public bus ticket, or you can bring your own 60-minute ticket.
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