Prague has to be one of the best examples of an old city that is over 700 years old but still coming of age. Squeezed in between its new-look Baroque architecture and cobbled lanes of the Old Town there are glitzy fashion shops, funky tech startups, traditional coffee shops, budget beers and cheap eats. Prague is a haven for weekend tourists, hens and stag parties, Contiki guests and travelers like us.
We were delighted to find a new, shiny and boutique hostel just around the corner from the Charles Bridge and while we were tempted to just hang out in the new digs, we made sure we got out and about and enjoyed everything Prague has to offer. Since the city is so popular we made an effort to get out early and stay out late to ensure we saw things at times that didn’t suit other travelers.
You must know by now that we always try and walk cities as much as we can. It offers loads of opportunities to find the best bits and gets some exercise! But… sometimes its cold and you want to go a long way. The public transport in Prague is pretty great. Trams, subways, and buses can get you almost anywhere. Tickets are available at tobacco shops, newspaper stands or int he subway. Just don’t forget to stamp your ticket in the machine to validate it!
Head out and explore these spots:
You just can’t miss it. Charles Bridge is the spot where old meets new, from the statues lining the bridge to the classical music being played on all range of music here you’ll also find a million people taking photos of the green tinges river, the many other stone bridges that cross it, or of themselves. Watch out for the selfie sticks.
Prague Castle is hard to miss. It’s on the top of a hill and most romantically you can easily see the spires of St. Vitus Cathedral when you look up at the castle from below. The castle area consists of multiple sections including the Cathedral which you can buy a ticket for. If you’re on a budget like us, just head in and look around for free. The ticketed sections are well marked – you won’t end up in the wrong place!
Petrin Park is the city’s biggest park, with sweeping views of Prague. A walk around the park will include a climb up the hill. We powered up the stairs but those less brave can take the funicular. As you wander through the expansive park you’ll find a bunch of walkways, gardens, a maze, and the ‘Czech Eiffel Tower’. Here you can climb the 299 stairs to the top for an epic view of the city. We were treated to all the autumn colors and it was just beautiful.
Sometime in the late 1980s, students started writing John Lennon lyrics on a city wall as a way to share and publicise their angst against communism. Today, the wall represents love and peace and is just about the most instagrambale spot in the city. Its hidden away near a small canal, near the hot spot that is Charles Bridge.
Old Town square
The square is probably one of the best people watching spots in the city. Between the bars, restaurants, churches and park benches you’ll find something to keep your interest. While we were there the annual light festival was on and the square hosted one of the most popular exhibits. On top of that, it also houses the famous astronomical clock. People think this is overhyped. Is it just a clock right?
Wrong. While it doesn’t have an impressive cuckoo or anything like that, its very being is very cool. Learn more about its many wheels and sophisticated systems in this article.
Rumour has it that Hitler saved large parts of the Jewish Quarter from Nazi destruction because he wanted to make the area a museum to the lost Jewish race. Now, the synagogues and multi-layered Jewish Cemetery honor the history of what was once one of the largest Jewish communities in all of Europe. If you’re a fan of synagogues head out of the Jewish Quarter and make tracks for the colourful Jubilee Synagogue.
Getting to Kutna Hora from Prague takes about an hour by train. Pick up a ticket from the main Station and you’re away. Once you reach ‘Kutná Hora hl.n.’ you can either take a walk to the bone chapel, before heading into the town or grab a bus.
The town is mostly famous for its bone church, Sedlec Ossuary, which holds more than 40,000 rehomed bones from the closeby cemetery. Once you’ve had your fill of bones, head for the center of town and visit the quaint chocolate museum, one of the many fabulous (and affordable) bars or restaurants for a bite and wander around the St Barbaras church on the hill. Enjoy the quiet small town for as long as you can, but don’t forget to get back on the train to Prague!
You might also want to check out Prague’s active and bustling events scene:
To get out to the Ice Hockey rink we had to take a subway and were delighted to have the help of our hosts from the Roadhouse Prague. We went to watch the mighty Sparta Praha play (and win) on a sunny but cool Sunday afternoon. An afternoon of Ice Hockey, beer and stadium snacks was delightful.
During our trip, there was a Goose and Cider festival in the city and we couldn’t resist giving both a go. Check out whats happening when you visit!
Opera, Symphony, and Theater
Motzart was a big deal in Prague. In fact, he conducted the Oct. 29, 1787, premiere of his opera Don Giovanni in Prague. If the opera is on (Motzart or not…) you may be able to get standing tickets and I would encourage it! Check out what is happening in all the arts.
Have a meal
The traditional meal of Beef sirloin with cream sauce, dumplings, and cranberries (svíčková omáčka) is both easy to get your hands on, delicious and worth trying. Throw in a salad and a cheap local beer and you’ve got lunch.
Learn a spot of Czech and make yourself a friend or two:
While most Czechs’ in Prague speak excellent English, its always nice to throw in a little bit of the local language.
When you head into a restaurant or a shop a quick “dobrý den” for “good day” or “dobrý večer” for “good evening” won’t go astray. Then add in “děkuji” for “thank you” or “prosím” for “please”, because manners are key.