As many places that I have already been to during my life being a flight attendant and as passionate world traveler, as many white spots are still left on the map that are just waiting to be discovered and explored. I do not know why it took me so long to have Prague on the agenda, but after my recent weekend trip to the Czech capital, I have certainly learned that I had missed out on something so far.
If I had to describe Prague in one word, I needed two the least: Simply beautiful! Most people think that Paris actually is the most romantic city in the world. Well, I think differently. Paris is gorgeous, no question about it, but in my eyes it does lack the downtown unhurriedness and small village touch that I associate romance with. Prague has both. Even though it was already crowded in late March (I really do not want to imagine how it must be during summer months!) and the weather kind of sucked, too, the city still seemed unrushed and relaxed and astonishing.
Traffic was a joke compared to Paris and most of the downtown area can well be explored by foot. There is an extensive tram, bus and underground system that takes you easily around and the 3 Days Visitor Pass costs only 11,50€ (you can buy it at train or metro station directly from a ticket counter or at a ticket machine). It is also a good idea to download a travel app for the public transportation system. I used the official DPP Info app (Dopravni podnik hlavniho mesta Prahy) of the Prague Public Transport Authority to have as backup to a regular street map.
To warn you straight ahead: Prague offers far too many sights to see them all in two and a half days, but like I say “leave always something for coming back”. The city is a masterpiece when it comes to Art Nouveau architecture and a lot of the buildings date back hundreds and hundreds of years, which is quite impressive. It almost feels like walking around in a natural museum when you wander the streets and little back alleys of Old Town. It spreads over both sides of the river Vltava which are connected by various bridges and small ferry boats that shuttle from one side to the other.
This might be a little reminiscent of Paris, I do admit, but the skyline is unmistakably Prague. The old castle with its mighty cathedral towering above the city with its many bell towers and elegant houses, it is a one-of-a-kind. But I will leave the adventure to explore Prague on your own to you. Simply giving you a few sightseeing and travel ideas at hand, that will make your visit definitely a great one:
If you arrive at Prague´s main train station Hlavní Nádraží, make sure to step inside the buildings main terminal to take a look onto the gorgeous dome. The construction dates back to the early 20th century and was designed in Art Nouveau style.
You will not get around it while discovering Old Town Prague. The Powder Tower is one of the original 13 city gates that are left of the ancient city walls. Its construction began back in 1475 and it was originally intended to be a decorative entrance to Prague at that time. During the 17th century, it was majorly used as storage for gun powder from which it received todays nickname.
Close to the Powder Tower lies the old House of Representatives. This marvelous Art Nouveau building is today´s seat of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and arena for the festival “Spring in Prague”. It also hosts a restaurant and a café which are both extraordinarily decorated in Art Nouveau. Even if you catch only a glance through the panoramic windows from outside, their decoration is absolutely worth seeing. Why not enjoying a cup of tea inside?
Also referred to as the Old Town Ring, this public square spreads over almost 9,000 square meters. It is probably Prague´s most important downtown plaza with many of the city´s sights and can well be described as the center of Prague. It dates back to the 12th century. The many different building styles (Rococo, Baroque and Renaissance) make this location fabulous for snapshots.
Probably the most exclusive address for luxury brand shopping in Prague and only a stone´s throw away from Old Town Ring. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, you name it, they are all there. With elegant buildings lining up, tall trees and wide pedestrian walks, this fashionable avenue truly sparks Paris boulevard reminiscence.
Ok, so you have been inspired by the window decorations on Pařížská Avenue and all these cool clothes on display, but you are not willing to pay that extra dollar? Then check out this pretty cool store that features luxury brand items at discount prices.
It is not only Prague´s most ancient one built (1909), it actually is these days one of the oldest still originally as movie theater used constructions worldwide. Hidden inside the Lucerna Passage close toWenceslas Square, this architectural gemstone should definitely be part of your sightseeing tour.
Mostly referred to as Wenceslas Square, this 60 meter wide avenue can rather be described as a boulevard than a square. While it is the center of the new part of town (Prager Neustadt), the view from its beginning up to the National Museum is beautiful. I am sure, the boulevard itself has seen more glamorous times in the past. These days, you will find all the average brands you will find in any city around the world. Yet I would still consider it a place in Prague you should have seen.
New Stage Weekend Market
It is a rather interesting piece of modern architecture, but the New Stage theater holds every weekend an outside public market with lots of food and fashion stands where local designers sell unique products at reasonable prices. A DJ takes care of the music and there are lots of local specialities and drinks to try while checking out the styles of Prague.
Being the only bridge across the Vltava until 1841, the Charles Bridge (built between 1357 and 1400) was the most important connection between the Prague Castle and the Old Town back then. It was also an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe and was built as a following example of the stone bridge in Regensburg, Germany. The bridge is over 621 meters long and almost 10 meters wide. It is one of Prague´s most renown sights and particularly popular during sunrise and sunsets.
You will enjoy one of the best views from up here onto whole Prague! And the best, it is absolutely for free. In order to enter the premise, you will only have to pass a security scan and check, but if you are only coming for the view, no need to buy a ticket. I am sure the St. Vitus cathedral as well as the other buildings and palaces are well worth visiting, but I will keep this for my next visit. One thing that I personally did not find worth paying money for is the Golden Lane inside the castle. But if you want to see it, go ahead.
A fantastic place to enjoy either a steaming hot chocolate or classical coffee specialities along with a decent snack or a piece of high-class confectionary in a surrounding that gives great insight into what a café must have looked like in the First Czechoslovakian Republic back then. The Neo-Renaissance ceiling dates back to 1893 and the café manufactures its own fine pâtisserie downstairs with a window showcasing it on the way to the toilet. It is a good idea to place a reservation in advance, particularly when traveling in a group and on weekends, as the rather straight-forward receptionist has no issue to turn people away.
150 00 Prague 5 – Malá Strana
T +420 257 311 562
Try a Trdelník
Being a famous sweet to sample when in Prague, Trdelnik has actually Slovenian origins. The recipe is believed to have been imported to Slovenia back in the late 18th century by a Transylvanian cook where it was eventually improved over the years to the version that it is today. It is a pastry which is made of rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick and then grilled (originally over hot coals). The classic version is afterwards simply covered with a sugar and walnut mix. Today, you can also buy more modern versions filled with ice cream or hazelnut creme, but I rather stick to the originals. No question that mine had to be grilled over coals, right?
Have a Czech Beer
Beer has an amazing and very long tradition and history in the Czech Republic. It is actually the country where it was invented. While the first pale lagers were brewed back in 993 (now that is a date!), today there are many different types and brands available that cater to every taste. The Czech consume the largest amounts of beer annually per person. No wonder, since it is really good! The great thing is, that almost every larger restaurant brews its own particular brand. I very much enjoyed the intense dark stout from breweries such as U Tří růží or Lokal Dlouhááá.
Of course, one of my most favorite things to do when traveling is eating. This is, in my opinion, a very important aspect to learn about the country and the culture that you are visiting. The Czech cuisine is hearty, and I mean it by heart. Lots of meats, lots of sausages and lots and lots of potatoes and dumplings. This is great if you normally favor a different eating habit, but every day this can become a little boring, I have to admit. Luckily, Prague features an extensive array of international cooking styles to sidestep to, but if you are here for just a few days, take the chance and indulge in classic Bohemian kitchen. Just like mum would cook at home. Here are a few recommendations:
U Dvou Kocek
Praha 1, Uhelny trh 10
+420 224 229 982
Dlouhá 731/33, Praha 1
+ 420 222 316 265
Hastalská 753/18, Prague 1
+420 222 311 234
U Trí Ruzí
Husova 10/232, 110 00 Praha 1
+420 601 588 281
No matter what time of day or night you decide to take a walk, the promenade on both sides of the river offer gorgeous lookouts and scenic viewing points from different angles onto Prague and the skyline. You can also do a river cruise (which surely is fun when it is not raining). There is always something remarkable to see and benches invite for a little break in-between.
Called Fred and Ginger, this house reminds me from the design a little of the Hundertwasser House in Vienna. Even though the styles are completely different, I think there are a few similarities. The building was a design cooperation between Frank Gehry and a local architect and is quite a diverse construction to the surrounding area. It holds a viewing platform on top which is the outside terrace of the hotel´s bar that is situated inside.
Jewish Quarter & Old Town
Called Josevof, the Jewish Quarter lies right between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Settlements date back to the 13th century and it was birthplace to the famous Franz Kafka. A beautiful area to walk around in.
If you feel like you need to power up your energy reserves, this “Land of Milk and Honey ” candy store with several branches will lighten up your darkened skies. Try the dried strawberries covered in chocolate or any of the wonderfully arranged and presented wine gums! Be careful, it´s a sweet tooth trap and you should not go in when you are hungry!!!
If you did not know this already, but Bohemian crystal is well-known around the world. It might not be everyone´s cup of tea in terms of style, but some of the design approaches can be a wonderful souvenir for home. Particularly the colored Roman drinking glasses for wine are a classy memento or maybe one of the majestically and opulent chandeliers? If you are into the latter, you will definitely have to check out Preciosa!
It is the city´s permanent farmers as well as tourist market located right in the heart of Old Town. There are lots of locally produced foods and specialities to be sold from wooden stands as well as handmade souvenirs. It is open year round and on every day. I loved the atmosphere here as well as the setting. An absolute must even if only stopping by shortly.
I could go on like this endlessly! Prague is such a diverse city with so much to see and to be offered, that a weekend is definitely not enough to pay the attention that all of this deserves. Yet I think I was able to give you an idea of what to expect in one of the most beautiful cities in whole Europe. And which place can say of itself to be even thrilling on rainy days?
If you are ready to explore the “Paris of the East” by yourself now, maybe you will find my previous blog post about budget travel into Prague also helpful. For a hotel recommendation and future travel highlights, do not forget to subscribe to HideousJourneys to always stay updated!
I am also always happy for feedback or tips from your side, so please get in touch via the comment box or on my social media accounts. Until then, happy traveling, peeps!