Saturday, May 21, 2016


Also see day trips from Prague to: Karlovy Vary, Kutna Hora, Cesky Krumlov & Budejovice

Prague, the city that quite literally steals your heart away.

Built in 885 this city stands on the legend of the Prah or the threshold, that it would be a great city under the stars one day.  Thinking about visiting Prague if you're in the neighborhood, I would recommend it any day.  You won't find anything quite like it throughout Europe.  Budapest comes close as it too is a hilltop city with everything tight together, but Budapest lacks the thrilling path from the castle to the old town with a bustling bridge and photo ops at every turn.  Prague tops many of the favorite cities of Europeans themselves.  Here's why and what to do when you're there.


Here's an important thing to remember about Prague, everything is very very close in the old town.  You can literally walk the old town in a day.  The only other city I was able to do this was in Budapest, but trust me as a former collegiate athlete, walking the entirety of Budapest was torture.  All other major European cities are ridiculously spread out, whereas Prague has everything close together with a castle on a mountain that can be seen from every vista.  This means you really feel like you step back in time into a magical land as you wander the streets.  You never really lose the feel that you're in Europe, a fairytale world, and that magical feeling - it really is unforgettable.

How to Get There

Prague isn't too difficult to get to.  A lot of buses go from major cities, or you can take a train, although trains are much more expensive.  Czech out for a way to take a bus.  You can also take really cheap flights from most major cities, and once at the airport just take a bus to the center. 
Where to Stay

The Czech is famous for its cheap penziony, but hostels in Prague are ridiculously cheap, and they are usually well kept and taken care of.  But if you want to get a hotel, hotels are really not that much either compared to any other major city.

Things to Eat

A lot of foreigners don't like Czech food, but I think the major problem is many of the Prague places are expensive and just aren't the best.  So find a good place and look to eat some of these:

Trdelnik-nice little roll with cinnamon sugar, now there's a place that puts ice cream in it, and is great.
Svickova-One of my favorite meals, it's a creamy carrot sauce with dumplings and meat
Ovocne Knedliky-These are fruit dumplings and are amazing, get shredded Tvaroh though, not the liquidy stuff.
Halusky-This is actually Slovak, but it really is good. Kind of Gnocchi like noodles with sheep cheese and bacon.  The Czech version, if you can find it, has sauerkraut in it too. (mmmmm)
Ham-You can get this on the main square, just whack off a piece.
Klobasa-Sausage, and very good just about anywhere.
Vazeny Syr-Fried cheese, one of my favorite things ever, get it with tartar doesn't have the tart taste like in the states.
Krokety-These are croquettelike things that you can find in Spain and France, but they're smaller and rounder, and umm, really good.
Kofola-I couldn't leave this list without Kofola.  This is the communist version of Coke, but like waaaaay better, you probably won't think so the first time you try it, but drink it straight for a month, and you'll love it ;)

Things to Do

Alright, so you made it to Prague, now what?  First step is go buy a metro pass, just save yourself effort and buy a day pass, it's usually around $5, but it has been going up in the past few years (to like $6-7).  The metro pass will pay for transportation on everything from buses, metro, and trams.  the metro is the easiest to navigate, but if you're feeling bold, hop on a tram and take it around the city, they offer stunning views and you don't even have to walk.

Next head to the stop Hradcanska or even better, take a 22 tram to Kralovske zahrady.  There you can walk the king's gardens to the castle, hold a hawk, take a pic of the changing of the guards (usually every hour), and enter the castle.  From there it's best to go straight and buy a full pass to all of the castle.  This lets you enter the huge St. Vit Cathedral, and walk through all the old buildings, including the golden street where you can buy lots of old fashioned trinkets made in the old ways and see a huge collection of armor.

Taken from one of the unique Prague Exhibits showcasing Early Modern period art coming from the Czech Republic
Alternatively, you could walk up higher to the Petrin tower (looks  like a mini eiffel tower) or the Strahov Monastery a little bit farther up (super cool).  The Strahov Monastery is also one of my favorite night views of the city, very few people go there, so it's like having the entire city to yourself.  After that you could come down to still above the castle where there are three National Museums right above the castle, yeah I said it, three.  And NO ONE GOES!  These galleries are awesome, the cheapest you'll find around Europe with well-known painters and usually almost completely empty.
One of my favorite El Greco's in one of the galleries
Once you walk downwards from the castle you'll be tempted to walk right past two of the coolest gardens in Prague.  These are really hard to find.  One is a small opening in the wall behind the metro opening to Malostranske (parliament), the other is straight down the street from Malostranske and a small opening in the wall.  
The gardens behind parliament

Once you're through that, you can wander towards Charles Bridge, and if you feel like it you can take a detour towards what's known as Lennon's Wall, and if you have spray paint, you can tag the wall too.  
Lennon's Wall
Then you go across Charles' Bridge, checking out all the vendors and if you want you can go up the tower on the far end for a breathtaking view, and walk to Old Town.  Once there you can watch the astronomical clock, which goes on the hour every hour, but if you're not there around that time, it's really not worth waiting for it to go.  You can also go up in the town hall for another amazing view, this one is more expensive, but once again, very worthwhile.  There are also two cathedrals on the main square, one - Tyn Cathedral - is worth going inside.  The other is one of the few Hussite churches around and usually hosts many free concerts, but a concert or a service there is very worthwhile.

An alternative to this is you could veer off to the right after crossing Charles Bridge for one of the best views of Prague, this also leads you to a small island where you can rent paddle boats or run in a bubble out on the river.  If you keep going done the street you'll run into the dancing house, which you can go up in as long as you buy a drink from the bottom, but it closes pretty early, so you need to get there before 5 for sure.  If you went this route, you can swing a little off to the next street over where you can find the last hideout of the assassins that killed one of Hitler's most famous generals.  you can also read all about it in HHhH by Binet.  Oh and this is also one of the few Czech Orthodox churches you'll find.

Once you finish with Old Town Square, you have the option of heading back towards the river to the Jewish Quarter, with the Jewish Cemetery and the Synagogue.  Honestly, Budapest has a better Jewish Quarter, but that's just my opinion.  What is great around there, however, is the old medieval art gallery not far from there.  This gallery has some of the finest preserved medieval art galleries in the world preserved in a Franciscan Monastery, and once again the place is usually completely deserted, it feels like you're really a medieval monk.

You could also turn and go the opposite direction towards Vaclavske Namesti or Wenceslas Square. On the way, make sure to eat at Ceske Kuchyne, which is now perfectly findable as it is next to Hooter's.  You can walk the long Square and shop all around there.  If you choose to shop, you can walk your way towards the powder tower and towards another huge shopping center called Palladium.  On this route, there is also a museum about communism.  If you walk up the square, you'll find the large national museum at the far end, they've been renovating it recently, but when it is open it has lots of exhibits and concerts you can go to.  

And there you have downtown, I could tell you about the nightlife, but let's be honest, it's Prague, just go follow people into awesome pubs, karaoke places, and clubs, you can't really go wrong, although there are better ones than others, but they're hard to find, so find a Czech and ask.

Finally, what can you do outside of the center?  Well, some of greatest things to do are go to Vysehrad, it's the far castle looking back at the city, you can access it through the red line, and it is very worthwhile.  You can also go to the baby tower, which is quite strange, but really brings you back to an era of communism.  You can also visit Trojice, which is right next to the zoo, the zoo is alright, but probably not what you want to see as a world traveler.  Also, if you're new to Europe, Prague has one of the easiest and quickest accesses to the suburbs and the large blocks (panalaky in Czech) where most of the average people live.  It's not exactly what you think of when you think of Europe, but it's worth a visit if you've never seen them, just hop on a metro and take it to two or three stops from the end of the line.

If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute click here to send me an email.  If you would like to sponsor my trip somewhere to showcase your business or to work with me please send me an email as well.

Additionally, follow me on InstagramFacebook, or check out my photography website at A River Runs Through It Photography.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support by donating to Travel Guide 201

Additional Links