If you’re an admirer of a city steeped in history, crammed with charm, speckled with orange roof tops, brimming with stunning architecture and beer – oh so much beer – then Czech Republic’s capital should be high on your to-do list. On top of that, throw in the sparkling Vltava River which divides the city meaning no shortage of scenic bridges and the rolling hills that provide breath-taking vantage points, you’ll quickly realise Prague is easily one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
There is so much to do and see in Prague it’s unlikely that you’ll be short of things to choose from as you plan your trip. You’ll find yourself meandering along narrow cobbled streets to beautiful cathedrals and synagogues, marching up hills and taking advantage of the look-out points and undoubtedly you’ll blend in with the rest of the tourists, weaving in and out of one another, as you stroll along the Charles Bridge. Prague is the perfect place to relax, recharge, explore and have a real-life history lesson.
WHERE TO STAY IN PRAGUE?
My sister and I stayed in a beautifully modern Airbnb studio in the Andel neighbourhood which was the perfect location for exploring all the tourist attractions and seeing the lifestyle of the local people.
Airbnb has become my go to place when I want to book somewhere to stay. I prefer to rent an entire apartment via Airbnb rather than stay in a hotel because I feel it gives you a real sense of adventure and maximises your experience. Not only is it often cheaper, you receive a personalised service, it’s a secure platform for booking, it feels like home away from home and the rental options are so diverse – I’m mean you can book a lighthouse or tree-house, how cool is that!
Now I may not have been to hundreds of places before but I do know what I like and what I look for when booking a place to stay. I want a good nights sleep, I want a good place for breakfast nearby, I want easy access to the city and I want a clean, stylish apartment, A301 nailed all of this!
Not only that, our host also provided guide books and maps and gave us personal tips and information about places to visit and eat which really helped plan our days.
Kick your morning off by heading on over to the Arctic Bakehouse, full of delicious homemade pastries. Located just opposite Ujezd tram stop this tiny slice of delight in Mala Strana become our main port of call each morning for breakfast. Full of freshly baked bread and various pastries – it was pure heaven for a massive pastry lover like myself.
With your pastry in hand head down Vitezna street until you reach the river front. Continue walking alongside the river, passing Museum Kampa (museum of modern art) until you reach Europe’s oldest and most recognisable bridge, The Charles Bridge. Spanning the width of the Vltava River, connecting Old Town with Lesser Town, the bridge and it’s surroundings appear like something from a film set or fairy-tale. Many people say it’s better to visit the bridge very early morning or late evening, but regardless of the time of day, and no matter what the weather the Charles Bridge is surreal and a must see attraction.
Oh, and whilst you’re weaving in and out of folk join the queue of people who are touching the statue of St. John Nepomuk and make a wish! You never know, it may bring you luck!
Passing under Old Town Bridge Tower wander the cobbled streets of Prague and just absorb the beauty it holds. Meandering its winding streets lined with colourful intricate buildings don’t forget to look up at the detailed architecture and who knows you may just pass by the hanging man, Sigmund Freud. It is a little unexpected and eye-catching if not disturbing in an otherwise sublime area of the city. Go and get happily lost and find your own offbeat attractions and things to enjoy in the city.
Reaching Old Town Square, home to many of Prague’s top attractions, it is one of the most picturesque square’s filled with a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Here you can see the Astronomical Clock, the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, Old Town Hall, and St. Nicholas Church. But despite having all these beautiful places to visit, and I insist that you do, just sit and hang out in the square. People watching is unbeatable in a environment full of tourists, stag parties, students, musicians and locals. Grab a bite to eat from the food stands selling Old Prague ham which roasts over a zesty spit fire. But beware of the pigeons, they tend to get a little close for comfort!
The Astronomical Clock is a mighty attraction ringing on the hour, every hour. It is regularly flocked with tourists snapping photographs but then again who can ignore the intricacy and artistic detail it beholds.
As for the Old Town Hall itself, for the best view of the square head up the elevator for the most splendid views of the historical core of the town. We didn’t actually do this, but it’s something for the list when I return.
Both churches which stand tall and grand in the square are equally sublime and impressive. The Gothic double towers of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn can be seen from many viewpoints around the city, along with the striking green domes that house St. Nicholas Church. Also known for its strikingly rich interior, it’s not to be missed.
From here walk up Parizska road, the most expensive shopping street in Prague. If your anything like my sister and I we were drooling at the window displays of Dior and Louis Vuitton – dreaming of being able to own something so extravagant and mighty. Continue until you reach the waterfront and begin to make your way back towards the Charles Bridge. Hopefully you should spot the Jazz boat, which after a little research sounded incredible and a way I would love to spend an evening in Prague, you will also walk past the elegant and famous concert building, Rudolfinum before reaching your dinner destination.
Jaegar and I didn’t have much of a plan for dinner on our first day, all we knew was that we were hungry and in need of a drink and falling upon Marina Ristorante seemed like the perfect place to eat. Not only was it recommended to us by our Airbnb host but it was in the most beautiful setting for dinner. It was a converted riverboat housing an Italian restaurant with city-wide views and an open deck. As we ate the sky was red raw as it set behind the castle and the restaurant soon began to fill up with languages from far and wide.
Heading back to the apartment, we saw the Charles Bridge in a different light. The statues were warmly lit along the bridge and the city sat illuminated in the distance.
Fueled by pastries, tea and a good nights sleep day 2 began bright and early. Marching up Petrin Hill, the highest point in Prague, we reached Petrin Tower. Built in 1891 as part of an exhibition it is essentially a mini Eiffel Tower. It cost 150 czk (approx £5) to climb the 299 steps to the top, but the panoramic view were magnificent from its two lookout platforms. Blessed with blue skies we could see orange topped roofs and church spires for miles.
Oh I should also let you know you can access Petrin Tower by hopping aboard the funicular, but waiting in a long ass queue when the sun was beating down on us seemed a little daft.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, Petrin Tower, in comparison to the hustle and bustle of city life down below, felt like a calm and peaceful place to take a stroll at any time of year.
Leaving the tower behind, head over to the baroque style Strahov Monastery set within a serene surrounding. One of the most acclaimed features within the monastery is the library which is over 800 years old. The admission fee to enter is 120 czk (approx £4) but with a big queue forming and additional 50 czk cost to pay inside to take a ‘decent’ photograph, we simply admired the exterior and and instead stumbled across restaurant Peklo. Meaning ‘hell’ in czech it’s hard to imagine why because you simply feel like you’re in heaven. Set within an old wine cellar, red satin drapes over candle-lit tables. We might have only been having a beer but the food looked incredible!
Venturing along be sure to stop off at the Strahov Garden viewpoint and admire all of the notable city landmarks, continue down the cobbled street towards one of the largest castle complexes and the crown jewel of Prague. Prague Castle was once the home of Bohemian monarchs and emperors it is now the official residence of the Czech president. Within the castle walls you will find St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, the Old Royal Palace and the Golden Lane. Whilst it’s free to roam the grounds there are numerous tours broke down into various circuits and an added bonus is that the ticket lasts two days, so if you don’t manage to see everything the first time around, just pop back the following day!
Whilst the historical palaces, churches, fortified buildings and expansive gardens are not to be missed neither is the panoramic city view. Gazing out across the Czech capital high above the city is is hard not to see why Prague was nicknamed ‘the city of a hundred spires’.
The most famous structure and absolute highlight of Prague has to be St. Vitus cathedral. Towering over the castle grounds it is a dominant landmark which is visible from so many locations outside the castle walls. It may have taken 600 years to complete the build which is prominent in it’s unique design combining multiple architectural influences, including Neo-Gothic and Renaissance styles. There are intricate stained glass windows throughout, detailed carved doors and arches and hundreds of gargoyles that decorate the exterior. It is overwhelmingly incredible!
Leaving the fairy-tale castle behind, amble down through St. Wenceslas Vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in Czech lands and catch the tram from Malostranská to Staroměstská. Heading back into the Old Town grab a bite to eat, or if your like me grab yourself a Trdelník, or 2, from Good Food. Whilst still retaining the traditional ingredients Good Food have adapted the famous cone ‘to meet the new and evolving tastes of the new word’. Brimming with various flavours, sweet and savoury, they make delicious chimney cakes filled with various homemade flavours of ice-cream and toppings.
Now for something a little more modern and new, since we’ve filled our boots with ancient history, walk or hope on the tram to Jiráskovo náměstí and go see the Dancing House. Or better known, Fred and Ginger. It is a stark contrast to the beautiful buildings nearby but it is an incredible sight to see. The building’s design is said to reflect a man and woman (Fred & Ginger) dancing together. It also has a cool rooftop bar which offers a different outlook on the city and the Vltava River.
After all that walking go and enjoy some local Czech cuisine and a few rooftop cocktails at Terasa U Prince.
And on the 3rd and final day make the most of the public transport. I’m sure after all the miles you’ve covered in the last two days you’re legs will be grateful for the rest.
Prague is well connected by three metro lines, trams and buses. You can purchase tickets from in arrivals at the airport and metro stations and your ticket can be used on ALL public transport services. Little tip, it’s useful to have some spare coins on you as some of the machine are a little temperamental. Tickets prices are below and the ticket activates as soon as you scan it at a little yellow checkpoint (you only need to do this once)
30 mins – 24 czk
90 mins – 72 czk
24 hrs – 110 czk (approx 3.70 for a day ticket!)
72 hrs – 310 czk
Jumping on the tram head over to Čechův most and hop off, then begin the hearty march up to Letna Park. The park features several walking trails and unparalleled views of the city, especially from the Hanavský Pavilion. I believe in the summer months tourist and locals flock to the Letna Beer Garden absorbing all the stunning views of the Old Town below.
From there either head over the adjacent bridge and meander back down Parizska or get on the tram at Čechův most and hop off at Staroměstská. Like Prague Castle, entering the Jewish quarter has various prices, I suggest choosing a tour based on what you want to see. I recommend choosing Tour 2, this included everything except the Old-New Synagogue. I also recommend planning enough time to visit the Jewish quarter as it is one of the most significant historical areas of Prague and it is an incredible experience and preservation of this area. In fact, I didn’t realise how moving and turbulent it was going to be!
Hitler saved this area from Nazi destruction because he wanted to make this location a museum to the lost Jewish race. Today six Jewish synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery honour the history of what was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe having survived war and segregation.
Within the walls you can visit the Pinkas Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Klausen Syngogue and the Ceremonial Hall. For me, the Pinkas Synagogue was the most moving. As a memorial inscribed on the walls are the names of the 80,000 Jews who didn’t survive concentration camps from the area. Accompanying the memorial there is a heart wrenching exhibit of drawings and paintings done by the children while they were awaiting transportation to the Auschwitz gas chambers.
Outside the walls step inside the Maisel Synagogue and also the Spanish Synagogue – the most recent synagogue in Prague Jewish Town. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful synagogues due to its exotic interior.
Continuing your route of synagogues catch the tram from Dlouhá třída to Jindřišská and make your way down Jeruzalémská street until you reach the Jerusalem synagogue. The exterior is richly decorated reflecting its combination of styles, including Art Nouveau and Moorish architecture.
Leaving the astounding Jewish history behind jump back on the tram and head for Újezd and then onto the John Lennon Wall. Another remarkable piece of Prague’s history and not one to miss. Some might view it simply as a graffiti wall, but this slice of delight means far more than that. Since the 1980’s people this wall has been filled with art, names and song lyrics. Today the wall represents a symbol of love and peace. All you need is Láska.
Prague is undoubtedly a city which captures your attention and heart with its monumental buildings and architecture, rich history and lively atmosphere. If I was to explain Prague to anyone who had never been, it would best be described as a maze of cobbled streets, tall steeples, rust topped roofs and the perfect place endlessly discover more along the way.
Where to Eat & Drink
- Artic Bakehouse
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 8:00am – 8:00pm
- Marina Ristorante
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:30am – 12pm
- Restaurant Peklo
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:00am – 10:00pm
- Terasa U Prince
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:00am – 11:30pm
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00am – 1:00am
- Priory Mill (Velkopřevorský Mlýn)
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 9:30 – 11:00pm
- Good Food – Trdelník
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00am – 11:00pm
Below you can find a map of all the places I discussed in this post: