A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO VISITING BEAUTIFUL PRAGUE
Planning your trip to Prague? Well, be prepared to enter into a world of castles, cobbles, and beer that’s cheaper than water. Yes, Prague is a proper budget friendly gem of a city. It’s gothic architecture and vibrant ambiance make the Czech capital a must-go-to place, and right now it’s pretty hot on the map. The Vltava river weaves through it and spires on buildings can be seen from nearly everywhere. It’s truly beautiful and definitely one of those places you could go to a billion times and still see something new.
So, Prague also has another side to it; the Stag-Do scene. When I visited I was there predominantly during the week but my stay did overlap onto the weekend and I did notice a difference. It did get crazy busy on the Thursday and Friday afternoon/evening/night but to be honest this was pretty isolated to the Old Town Square. As soon as I was away from that it was pretty much business as usual. So be prepared but do not worry if you’re going over a weekend. As with everywhere, the main tourist hot spots are the most expensive places, so head a little bit out and avoid having a man in just a thong sitting next to you. Unless that’s what you want of course.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
There are no direct transport links between the Václav Havel airpot and the centre of Prague, but it’s still pretty easy to get there. You will need to get a either get bus 119 to the Nadrazi Veleslavin Metro station (line A) or bus 100 to Zlicin Metro station (line B), then hop on one of those to wherever you need to be.
The city is very walkable once you get there but if not then there is obviously the metro, buses and trams to get you around. Tickets can be used on all 3 of these and you buy different tickets which are valid for different length of times; 30 mins, 90 mins, 1 day, 3 day or a month. More info about this can be found on the official Prague Tourism site.
When you buy a ticket you must validate it using the machines near or on your chosen choice of transport. There are a shit tonne of inspectors and if you haven’t validated it they will literally frog march you to a cash machine to pay a fine. It all sounds very dodgy and unofficial and pretty scam-like, but you will not get out of paying them. So, whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO VALIDATE YOUR TICKET!
WHAT TO SEE
1) OLD TOWN SQUARE AND ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
This is the classic part of Prague that you see in all the photos, and to be fair, it is beautiful. It bustling, it’s home to the beautiful gothic church (Our Lady Before Tyn, keep reading for this!) and of course home to the famous Astronomical Clock. This clock has been here for over 600 years and gives its full show on the hour every hour. It has a lot of history and has a story and meaning behind it which some people are disappointed by, but I like it. I will be writing about this more on another post, so I won’t go into it now!
2) CHARLES BRIDGE AND THE OLD TOWN BRIDGE TOWER
I LOVE this bridge. Some people have a thing for doors and some people have a thing for bridges (ok, so I’m both but whatever), and this bridge is one hell of a beauty. It stretches over the Vltava River and connects the Lesser District of Prague to the beautiful Castle District. The Bridge is named after King Charles IV who instructed the bridge to be built in the 14th century and is decorated with 30 different statues depicting Patron Saints. You walk across it through the beautiful gothic Town Bridge Tower and along the way you will see the statue of St John with a rather shiny plaque which is said to bring you luck if you touch it. When in Prague and all that…
3) POWDER TOWER
This is one of the original gates in the city and I love it. I think I just have a thing for gothic architecture! It gets it’s name from when it use to be used to hold gun powder during the 17th century but today it contains an exhibition about the Prague Towers.
3) PRAGUE CASTLE
Just incase this city didn’t already look like a real life fairy tale, there’s a castle to add to the mix. It was built in the 9th century and is the largest medieval castle in Europe with the most iconic building on this estate being the amazing St. Vitus Cathedral. The castle was originally home to the Kings of the state but today the president of Prague uses it. The area also has a number of gardens, a microbrewery, the colourful golden lane of miniature houses, Deer Moat and a Toy Shop. Bit weird, but outside the toy shop is a statue of a small boy and it’s apparently lucky to give his penis a rub. Seems to be a bit of a trend with statues in Prague.
It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon exploring this area of the city and to make the most of it I would recommend going with a tour guide. Sandeman’s offer this as a paid tour at a reasonable price and I thought it was well worth it! Also, you will need a transport pass to get up to the castle on the tram. Make sure you validate your ticket!
4) JOHN LENNON WALL
I’m a big lover of street art so this was always going to be a winner for me. As random as this wall may seem at first glance, it is in fact a symbol created by lots of young people who were defying the communist authorities in the 80s. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about history or politics (no matter what I do it just doesn’t stick in my head) but John Lennon was a idol from the then banned pop music, so when he was assassinated the wall was painted as a big ‘fuck you’ to the communists. Love it!
5) PETRIN HILL AND TOWER
A trip up Petrin Hiss is a fantastic walk with a fantastic view of Prague at the top. You will walk through loads of beautiful gardens and at the top there is Prague’s answer to the Eiffel Tower. Here you can walk to the top and get an even better view of the city. It cost just ISK120 to go up the tower and is a winding staircase of 299 steps to the top. Even if you don’t have a head for heights it’s a great spot to scoff an ice cream. If you can’t face the walk down there is also a cable car to take you to the bottom.
6) OLD JEWISH QUARTER (JOSEFOV)
The history of the Jewish people in Prague is a rollercoaster as I’m sure you will understand. in the 13th century the Jewish people were forced to leave their homes and move into one area of the city together. And then when the Nazi regime took over about 90% of the Jewish population were killed. Ironically, Hitler wanted to create a museum to remember the ‘destroyed’ Jewish race, but today there are museums to preserve their treasures and a number of synagogues (including the Old-New Synagogue which is the oldest in Europe) and the cemetery. Yet another ‘fuck you’ to the authorities!
7) THE DANCING HOUSE
To be honest, this building is far cooler from the outside than the inside. But it is one of a kind so worth a walk past. It’s located near the river as well so it’s a nice walk to it.
8) CHURCHES AND SYNAGOGUES
There are so many beautiful religious buildings in Prague and each have their own beauty about them. They’re well worth a look in as you make your way around the city. My favourite story about one is that there is a shrivelled up very old dead hand hanging from the wall in which is rumoured to be that of a thief who tried to steal some jewels from the Madonna in the Church! So brilliantly gross!
9) WENCESLAS SQUARE
Ok, so not gonna lie, this is a bit of a confusing one for me because it’s not really a square but more if a street. It’s where tonnes of hotels, restaurants and bars are located so a good place to aim for!
11) PRAGUE GOLF AND GAMES
So not exactly a top and well known attraction but I really liked it because I’m a big kid and I don’t want to grow up! Basically it’s glow in the dark mini golf and you get 2 free beers when you buy an entrance ticket, so it’s a win win if you ask me! They also have an escape room game which would be a great thing to do if you’re part of a decent sized group.
Obviously there are loads of places to eat in Prague, and it’s truly on of those cities where you’re not confined to the main centre for choices. So here are a few of the delicious places I went to:
Marina Ristorante – This is an Italian restaurant on a boat. What a better place to have a chilled out part of the day! The food is delicious and has a very acceptable price tag!
U Parliamentu – A great place for a snack or a main meal with lots of choices of traditional Czech food to try.
Dish – This places honestly served up one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. It’s not a massive restaurant and it gets crazy busy, so if you wanna go, I would recommend booking!
For something sweet – Pick up from a market stand somewhere. They are kinda like a donut and you can get then with nutella inside, served all warm and gooey. Literally a dream to scoff down!
You’re in Europe, beer’s a pretty huge thing. And it really honestly is cheaper than bottles of water. No word of a lie, I almost came back from Prague looking like a dehydrated old prune. But while you’re there, it would be rude to not try
some a lot of the local beers! The King of beer in Prague is Pilsner, the local pale ale but there are a tonne of others to try and lots of bars do tasting trays. The average size of a beer is about the size of your head and costs the equivalent of 80p. So yeah, enjoy!
Have you been to Prague? Tell me about your trip in the comments below!