Falling in love with Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, city of a hundred spires, mother of all cities, capital of the Czech Republic, I love you. I unexpectedly came to Prague to catch a flight back home after a month of volunteering in Romania. I had been told in the past that Prague was worth a visit but it had not occurred to me to go there. What I had been missing out, Prague is outstanding! 

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View on Charles bridge and Prague Castle

The first time I went to Prague, I stayed there for three days. It was mid-August, in other words, it was the hellish touristy high season. I had to cope with herds of tourists following their guide all around the city center. Still, I managed to lose my heart to this wonderful city.

Among the remarkable activities I did during that short stay, there were the Extravaganza Free Tour and the Clock Tower Bar Crawl.

Free walking tour

When I arrived at the Old Town square for the walking tour, there were many other guides waiting for tourists. Luckily that day, the Extravaganza Free Tour was not crowded – we were six or seven people. It was great to be able to enjoy a walking tour with just a few people, it was friendlier. The guide was really cool too. His explanation and stories were very interesting and I was hanging on his every word. With this tour, I had an overview of Prague and its history. I definitely recommend taking a tour with them – they have several to choose from. They have changed the meeting point to avoid the crowd, now you can meet the Extravaganza guide at the Powder Tower.

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John Lennon Wall, a cool landmark in Prague. You might enjoy some music there too.

 

Pub Crawl

Since the number of people attending the tour was low, I easily made friend with an American girl. After the tour, we decided to hang out together. We had dinner and then we decided to join a pub crawl. Pub crawls are also promoted by hostels and the hostel staff will directly bring you to the meeting point or you can meet promoters on Old Town Square. We chose the Clock Tower Bar Crawl because it was the one recommended by my hostel.

The fee for attending this pub crawl is pricey (around 14 euros) considering that drinking in the Czech Republic is cheap. I think this is the only bad side. There are some advantages like free shots and a bartender dedicated to serving the group, but still I believe it is a bit expensive. I think it is worth the price though because you get to meet other travelers and you might even find travel buddies that way. Obviously, this pub crawl is what you expect a pub crawl to be: massive group of backpackers drinking and partying, going from bars to bars to clubs. You like it or you don’t. The club scene in Prague is quite amazing  though, so I think a pub crawl is a good way to discover it.

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Old Town Square, Prague

 

During the pub crawl, I had the chance to meet a lovely Czech boy who brought me all over Prague the following days. This way, I discovered Prague a little more through the eyes of a local.

Prague must-sees

What I really appreciate about the Czech capital is that you do not need to spend a fortune to enjoy the city.  There are many landmarks and the city itself is so fabulous, I could marvel at the architecture of the buildings for hours. Let me share with you my favorite sights:

Old Town – Staré Město

Old Town is very charming: cobblestone streets and impressive architecture. I think the Old Town is the most crowded place in Prague but it is understandable because it is magical. The highlight of this district is undoubtedly the Old Town square with Prague City Hall and its astronomical clock. It is the third oldest astronomical clock in the world! Every hour, the clock become animated with moving sculptures. It is called the walk of the apostles.

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The Astronomical Clock, Old Town square, Prague

 

There are also many artists performing on the square:

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Noisy Pots playing in Old Town square

There are many souvenirs shop in the area and the restaurants are a bit expensive, because… tourists.

Charles Bridge – Karlův most

Charles Bridge links the Old Town (Staré Město) to the Little side (Malá Strana).

Named after Charles IV, this bridge is the oldest in Prague. It dates back from the 14th century. It is embellished with statues of many Saints like John of Nepomuk who had been thrown into the river because he wouldn’t tell the Queen’s confession to the King Wenceslas IV. Legend has it, a halo appeared above the water when he drowned.

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Taking a stroll on the Charles bridge

 

Charles bridge is very lively and I enjoy taking a stroll there. It is the first place I go to when I visit Prague. There are many artists expressing their art: painters, cartoonists, jewelers, musicians… You can easily be entertained there! The view to the castle is also very impressive.

Little Side – Malá Strana 

The Little Side is located on the other side of the Charles bridge. This lovely district is paved with cobblestones, which make it very picturesque. It is less busy than the Old Town but it is still packed during the high season. On this district, there are many churches to visit, the most noteworthy would be Saint Nicholas’ Church which is of Baroque style.

On this side, there are also many pubs and shops to go to. One of my favorite store would be Manufaktura, which is a Czech store that produces home spa products made of natural ingredients. I really enjoy their beer shampoo and conditioner!

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The Observation Tower on Petrin hill

 

The Little Side is also home to the Petřín hill. This a nice green spot to go to. You have the choice to either climb the hill walking on the path or hop into the funicular. If you want to see Prague from a very high spot, you should visit the observation tower. This is like the Czech Eiffel Tower. You can climb the 299 steps and you’ll have a magnificent view over Prague! If you’re not into climbing steps, you can simply take a stroll in the Garden of roses or perhaps go into the mirror maze (I don’t recommend that one though, it’s not spectacular).

 

Castle District – Hradčany 

I cannot write an article about Prague without mentioning the castle district which is home to the one of the most renown landmark of the Czech capital: the Prague castle. The castle itself is not the only interesting place to check out on this district though.

Prague Castle is said to be the biggest medieval castle of the world. It is located on a hill, so it is one of the nicest spot to get magnificent views on the city (hello Charles bridge) – go there at night, it will be empty and the night lights would make it even better. During the day, I won’t lie to you, it gets crowded. There are many ways to visit the castle: just wander into the enclosure castle (which is free), take a self-guided tour or take a guided tour. I’ve done the self-guided tour and I wandered into the enclosure castle. I’d recommend the wandering. The tour is nice because you can enter the building but there is nothing astonishing, the best part is outside. One nice thing to experience is the changing of the guard ceremony at noon.

After you visited the castle, check out the Palace gardens. The five gardens are magnificent and romantic places to relax. The best time of the year to visit them would obviously be spring, when flowers are blossoming. But the Palace gardens must have their own charms in winter too.

Another place to visit in the castle district is the Strahov monastery, it is one of the oldest Premonstratensian monasteries in the world. Inside this landmark, there is an impressive library which has been featured in movies like From Hell and Casino Royale.

Eating Prague

If you are visiting Prague, I do recommend you to try Czech cuisine. It has the reputation to be fatty and heavy but trust me, it is delicious. It will give you plenty of energy to go explore the city.

Food

My favorite traditional Czech dishes are guláš (meat stew served with dumplings) and pečená kachna (roast duck served with sauerkraut and dumplings). Czech soup are also delectable so I suggest you to try some! Svičková (braised beef served with sauce, dumplings, whipped cream and cranberry jam) is considered the national dish of Czech Republic, so you should have some too.

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You can even get a Czech burger!

 

On the lighter side, nakládaný hermelín (pickled cheese similar to Camembert) and utopenci, a pickled and marinated sausage with vinegar, pepper, bay leaf, onions and chili peppers would be very good pub food to haveOther Czech delicacies to try are Chlebíčky. They are open face sandwiches garnished with many different ingredients.

Drinks

You might wonder which drinks you should have while savoring the Czech cuisine. The unanimous answer would be… beer! Indeed, Czechs love their beer. The country consumes the most beer per head with 143 liters per year! They are many kind to choose from but the most famous would be Pilsner Urquell.

If you are a Coke lover, I suggest you to switch it for Kofola. It looks like Coke but it does not taste like it. It is slightly different and quite good.

The best addresses

While in Prague, I had the opportunity to discover very nice eateries where the food is simply exquisite.

  • U Dvou Koček (Two Cats) –  Uhelný trh 10, Praha 1: this is a traditional Czech brewery since 1678. They serve traditional Czech cuisine and they make their own beer on the spot!
  • Kavárna Slavia (Slavia café) – Smetanovo nábřeží 1012/2, Praha 1: this is a fancy café/restaurant since 1884. This means it is a bit pricey compared to other places but the location is perfect! If you are lucky, you will get a table overlooking the Vltava river and the Prague castle.
  • Kozlovna Apropos – Křižovnická 4, Praha 1: this is quite touristy place but the goulash I ate there was tasty! This is also a place to enjoy a Kozel beer.
  • Penzion u Švejků – Ú- jezd 22, Praha 1: this restaurant serves traditional Czech cuisine. It is located right next to Petrin hill and there is a small terrace outside.
  • Ovocný Světozor (fruit delicatessen) – Vodičkova 39, Praha 1: this is a dessert shop which offers various cakes and the famous open face sandwiches. There might be a long queue but the service is very quick. The shop is located inside the Pasáž Světozor which leads to Františkánská zahrada, so you might want to take a stroll there after eating.
  • Bakeshop – Kozí 918/1, Praha 1: located in the Jewish quarter, this is the perfect place for a coffee break (with a treat).

 

Tips

  • I recommend using public transportation to get around. There are buses, tramways and subway trains which go everywhere. Taxi would tend to rip you off as you are not familiar with the surroundings. Walking is a great option too though.
  • The Czech words you need would be dobrý den: hello, ahoj: hi, děkuji: thank you, Na shledanou: goodbye, and the most important sentence of all, jedno pivo, prosím: one beer please.
  • The official tourist website for Prague could be a source of interesting information if you plan a trip there.
  • The Czech Republic has also a short name which is Czechia. Thank you Vaclav for this information!

Sharing is caring 🙂

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34 comments on “Falling in love with Prague, Czech Republic”

    1. Marie says:

      Thanks 🙂

    1. Marie says:

      Thank you Vaclav for this extra information 🙂
      I heard about the use of Czechia before but I wasn’t sure it was official.
      I will add this information on the “tips” part of the article.

  1. Klara says:

    Hi, I am the founder of Prague Extravaganza Free Tour and I am so pleased you’ve joined one of our free walks! Thank you for your kind words regarding your trip with us, we always aim to give the possible service through the eyes of locals as well. We’ve just moved our meeting point to the Powder Tower, so both our guests and local guides can enjoy more quieter start in the Republic Square, rather then packed Old Town Square. I wish you safe travels in a future and come back to Prague in winter, although it is cold but less crowded and still amazing! See you later!

    1. Marie says:

      Thank you for your comment Klara 🙂
      I imagined there had some changes looking at the website.
      The tour I did was back in summer 2014 so some time passed!
      Keep up the great work 😀 I’ll definitely come back in winter 😉

  2. Gabi says:

    How not to fall in love with Prague? It’s been one of our most treasured destinations and one of those place I could have my backpack ready in a minute if someone told me I’m going back! I loved every bit of it and you managed to picture the most beautiful places with great mastery. Excellent tips on food and beer too! Lovely post.

  3. Carmy says:

    That burger looks DELICIOUS! What like of bun is that? It looks interesting! And good tip at the end, I’m personally wary of taxis because I usually look and sound like a tourist, prime rate to upcharge haha

    1. Marie says:

      The bun is made of dumplings! It was different from a regular burger but really tasty!
      Haha yes me too! I tend to avoid taxis as much as possible, even more when I don’t speak the language of the country because it’s easier to get charged extra!

  4. Laveena Sengar says:

    I have not been to the place but it seems wonderful to me. I instantly Fell in love with the pictures and descriptions. Another great thing is yhe food. I love that burger. Would love to visit sometime 🙂

  5. EG III says:

    Ahh Prague. The country where beer is often less than water! I’ve been there twice and your recommendations of places to go are spot on. Great pic of the Lennon Wall as well, I didn’t actually have a chance to go there during my time in Prague. The Jewish Quarter, Josefov, is also definitely worth a visit as well.

  6. Suanlee says:

    I have heard so many good things about Prague. It’s often an understated place to visit but has so many amazing and unique things to offer. That Czech burger looks like all sorts of deliciousness!The medieval castles are something else – you have described them so vividly. Love the post! 🙂

  7. Prague is one of my favorite European cities and I love visiting it. Charles Bridge is my favorite spot, especially in the late afternoon or around sunset on a sunny day. I agree with you on the public transportation tip. I only used the subway to and from the hotel on my last trip and it was the best thing ever. Well, after the sights, food, and beer 😀

  8. shounak says:

    Looks like another experience typical of most places in Europe. Actually your post reminded me of Paris. Loved the food list that you compiled. Very useful.

  9. verushka says:

    Prague sounds and looks beautiful.I like the free walking tours a great way to see the city on a budget. The food looks incredible. My friend visited Prague and drank beer as it was cheaper than fizzy drinks.

  10. Janine Good says:

    I loved Prague when I was there! The Charles Bridge, the John Lennon Wall, these were momentous on my trip. Not to mention the food! I was given the chance to write a message on the wall and felt proud to do so. I would definitely go back!

  11. I am waiting for the day I can set foot in this amazing country. Many of my friends have been here and this looks a cool place to go to.

  12. Kevin Wagar says:

    Prague is one of those places that you hear about so often that, if you haven’t visited before, it’s easy to forget that you hadn’t!

  13. Czech is on our list. Have just been to Prague as a daytrip from Vienna, but it deserves so much more time. Thanks for the list of the restaurants, that would be so helpful.

  14. Megan says:

    OMG thank you this is so perfect I’m heading to Europe next year and this is on my list!

  15. what the clock in Old Town still functioning? I really like antiques like this. Old clock full of history and very beautiful. I so wanted to go there to see the beauty of the place.

    1. Marie says:

      Yes it is still functioning 🙂

  16. Prague is a city anyone would easily fall in love. The history, the architecture and the lively ambiance had fascinated us a lot during our visit last year. Definitely worth a visit.

  17. Joanna says:

    I love when you make friends at the free walking tours and end up spending time with them afterwards. I have actually became good friends with some of the people I have met like this. Prague is a wonderful city, same as you I enjoyed walking on the streets and just discovering the beauty of every corner.

  18. blair villanueva says:

    I only see Prague in the movies, and somehow I find it very interesting and also romantic just like the neighboring countries. I would like to visit in the future, and also partake some beer time at The Pub

  19. Shane says:

    Prague was one of my favorite cities in Europe! Loved the street art and architecture of the area. Can’t wait to return!

  20. Ami says:

    Prague has always fascinated me. And the tip on the free walking tour has suddenly increased my intent and interest levels of visiting it.Time to start planning now. Thanks for the share.

  21. Anju says:

    wow that astronomical clock looks awesome (the geek in me is geeking out looking at it! :D). I’ve heard great things about Prague, especially the pub crawl scene. Hope to visit sometime soon!

  22. That changing of the guard ceremony is magnificent. I have watched so many changing of the guard ceremonies on youtube and I’ve gotta say this is an outstanding ceremony. Will go to Prague for the architecture and for this!

    1. Marie says:

      Yes on this day, there was a choir singing in the castle enclosure while there was the changing of the guard ceremony so there was extra beauty 🙂

  23. Paola says:

    I loved visiting Prague. In my opinion is one of the best and most romantic city in western Europe I visited so far. Would love to go back one day!

  24. Ana says:

    Looks like you had such a fun trip! And thanks for sharing the complete mini guide of things to do in Prague. It’s on my bucket list and hopes to go there someday in my life!

    1. Marie says:

      You’re very welcome! I hope for you to go there, Prague is magnificent!

  25. Therie says:

    Prague has this old European town charm that I love! I’ve never been there but from the pictures the city looks so romantic and alluring!

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