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How To Make Sense Of Public Transport In Bratislava

Bratislava has an incredible public transport network, however for a non-Slovak speaker, it can be challenging to decipher. Route maps seem hard to come by and it isn’t clear what stop names apply to which destination. That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide of public transport in Bratislava which is based on my own trial and error. Hopefully it will save you time, and of course if you think anyone else can benefit from it, please share.

Bratislava theatre
Bratislava theatre
Open air bars and cafes in Bratislava
Open air bars and cafes in Bratislava

IMHD public transport app

Download the IMHD app which will allow you to plan journeys in Bratislava. It’s a bit clunky, so I’m going to give you some pointers to save you time. I literally wasted a few hours, and missed a few stops, before I got the hang of it.

Screenshot of hopin taxi
Screenshot of hopin taxi

Public transport stops

The app identifies destinations by stop name. This name is posted above the timetables and on a tall red pole by each stand. However, you may not know the name of your destination stop, in which case, use the maps features to show each stop on a map.

Bus stop in Bratislava
Bus stop with the stop name Slavic above

You will have to move the map around until you find where you want to go. This can be a little fiddly, so my top tip is to find the nearest stop to where you are staying and memorise its name.

Bratislava public transport app
Bratislava public transport app map view

Lines

Once you know which bus route you need, you can click on the lines feature and see all the stops on that route. This allows you to track your progress and hopefully not miss your stop. It can also help you figure out which bus you want, but I did not find this especially useful as the stop names often do not reflect the part of town in which they are located.

Public transport app for Bratislava
The lines option on the IHMD app

Journey planner

If you want to figure out how to get from A to B in Bratislava, the journey planner will provide a route with details of the change points. Insert the name of your stop and the name of your destination stop to obtain routes and timetables. If you then click on your starting stop, it will indicate the times of the buses and trolleys. Take note, there may be more than one option for travel between the stops you need, so it pays to check the timetables at each stop. This way, you may find other buses or trolleys going to your destination.

Journey planner for Bratislava
The journey planner screen on the app

The information at each stop is generally excellent, with up to date schedules and timetables. Each also lists all the destinations on the route, so you can double check that you are on the right bus.Take note, if your route includes a connection, you may need to cross over when you change buses/trolleys. Again, check the timetables, as it will be evident if you are on the wrong side of the road.

Using the buses

Hopefully, you have now downloaded the app and had a little play around. You should therefore be ready to take the plunge and see if you can find your way around town on public transport. Here’s a few things you need to know when you ride the public transport system in Bratislava.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased from yellow machines at each stop. Instructions are not in English, but if you plan to stay within the main city, you only need tickets for zones 100 and 101. You can buy individual tickets, a carnet of tickets or a full day pass.

Bratislava bus ticket machine
Bratislava yellow bus ticket machine

When you get on the bus or trolley, you will need to validate your ticket in the yellow machines by the doors. Failure to do so means you do not have a valid ticket.

Bratislava bus ticket validation machine
Validate your ticket in the yellow machine. The red stop button is directly below

Ticket prices

An adult single ticket is €0.70 and a full day pass is just €3.50. Each individual ticket is only valid for 15 minutes so if you are going on longer journeys or are likely to be changing frequently, save yourself the hassle and opt for the day pass, I swear this is the best €3.50 I’ve ever spent. I lost count of how many buses and trolleys I hopped on and off.

There are also concessions for children and seniors. Children aged 15 and less, and seniors over 62 pay just €0.35 per ticket or €1.70 for a full day pass.

Getting on and off

Unlike buses in Britain, the bus doors do not open automatically. On the doors there is a little sign of a hand, and you will need to press this to open the doors. The floors are low, allowing easy access for wheelchairs, the elderly and those with pushchairs.

Signage

Some buses have screens showing the next stop. The next stop is highlighted in yellow, with upcoming stops featured below.

Bratislava bus information screens
Screens showing upcoming stops

Requesting a stop

The buses do not always stop unless requested, and I managed to miss a stop in this way. If you need to request a stop, you will need to press the red buttons underneath the ticket validator. On the screen, you will be able to see once the stop request activates.

The request stops have a little red hand in the circle to the left of the stop. If it doesn’t have this hand, then the bus automatically stops at that destination. Although many of the buses announce which stops you need to request, I often could not hear the announcements, so it pays to follow the information on the screens too.

Free WiFi

Most buses have free WiFi, but this is not consistent across all the network. To access WiFi, simply search for networks without a padlock and then sign in with your email address.

Timetables

At some of the major stops, you will find big screens notifying you of upcoming services and how far away they are. On each stand, there are also lists of all the buses stopping there, and these numbers can be clearly seen below the stop name.

Bratislava bus stop timetable
Bratislava bus stop timetable (Sorry it’s tatty)

Public transport in Bratislava

Riding the public transport in Bratislava is great fun. It will allow you to see more of the city without exhausting yourself. In four days in Bratislava and Vienna, I walked and ran a combined distance of over 50 miles. This may be a compact city but you can soon rack up a lot of miles in the legs!

I wish I’d discovered the public transport system sooner, as I could definitely have saved my legs. One of my favourite trips was up to Zelezna Studnicka to ride the chairlift to the TV tower. This is a scenic route and gives great insight into the weekend pastimes of locals.

Zelezna Studnicka parkland
Zelezna Studnicka parkland
Bratislava bus interior
Bratislava bus interior

Any additional tips

There may be other points I’ve failed to mention, so if you have ever travelled on the public transport network in Bratislava and have other tips for my readers, please add them in the comments below.

Book your trip to Bratislava

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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14 comments

  1. THANK YOU for posting this! When I travel I always assume I will figure out public transportation easily since I live in NYC, but I often find myself so confused. I will definitely remember to download the app and reread this post prior to traveling there. This will make life (and our trip) so much more enjoyable!!

  2. In a place where you do not really know the language, it becomes difficult to figure out these internal transport systems. I am glad you shared this post that helps decipher this bit. Things like where to get the tickets and which route to take – glad there is an app for all that. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I love using public transportation wherever I travel but it does become a lot more difficult when you don’t speak the language. You’ve done such a great job of breaking down what seems to be a very efficient yet slightly complicated system. Thanks! And Cheers to free wifi on most buses!

  4. While using a public transport while travelling is the best and economical choice, the language barrier does frustrate me sometimes. Your post is very helpful for first time visitors to get frequented with the service. The app though a little complicated it is still a helpful one.

  5. The journey planner seems to be a very nice app! I used a similar one when travelling to Japan and it was really user-friendly and well managed so I found it super helpful. Also, thank you for the recommendation on using IMHD app. It’s never easy to find your way around a city, especially using public transportation so these kind of tips are always helpful!

  6. Hi Anne,
    couple of months ago, a public transport smart card was introduced. It can be filled with credit and any ticket/daily/weekly pass can be purchased inside the bus by holding the smart card on the machine with display showed above and choosing the ticket. Machine can be switched to English and German.
    You can purchase the card at any DPB office, I’d recommend the one in the underground passage in Hodžovo námestie.
    Actually, every single bus contains a display, which showing immediate and next stops. In some buses there is a screen as shown above, in others a running LED display. There is also a vocal announcing of stops in majority of buses/trams.
    I’d also recommend app called CG Transit, which I use every day. It’s free for one month and works offline.

    • Tomas, thanks for much for this update. That’s really useful to know. I definitely could have done with that on my trip.

  7. This is such a useful post! I’ll definitely be downloading that app if we head to Bratislava. I really appreciate the tips; even the one about the doors not open automatically. The yellow machine inside reminds me of the trams in Berlin, I believe it’s similar.

  8. I love Balkan countries and so I would love to visit Bratislava. I would opt for public transport in this beautiful city as I want to feel the true vibes of this place. You have listed all detailed information about public transport, tickets and how to download and use that tour planner app.

  9. I as a traveller prefer to use local transport wherever I go. This post gives a comprehensive guide for public transport which is really useful. Especially to a non Slovak speaker. And in a new country we sometimes don’t have assess to the internet all the time.

  10. This is a very handy guide to figuring out the public transportation in Bratislava. Especially since things are not written in English, as a tourist this will prove very difficult. It’s great to know that you can purchase tickets from the yellow machines. Thank you for the handy tip on the zones. The app does sound useful even if it’s a bit fiddly and can help in planning your trip.

  11. It’s much easier to use Google Maps, they have the public transport integrated, with all the lines, stops, departures, timetables and directions.

    • I did find myself using google maps too but obviously you have to be online to do that. As I was travelling overseas I had roaming switched off and there was a ton of info I could access on the app without a connection so having both is complementary.

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