I was in two minds about Prague before I visited; on one hand I’d heard it was a city straight out a film set with idyllic streets and coloured houses, but on the other I’d been told stories of bachelor parties and intoxicated Brits taking full advantage of the country’s cheap beer (eeek!), so I wasn’t convinced I’d come back loving Czech’s capital. But after four days, I was very happy to be proved wrong!
If there was a prevalent ‘Stag do’ culture here in Prague, in my experience it managed to go largely unnoticed. Prague was full of architectural delights, hearty meat dishes, stunning streets and relaxing beer gardens and it was the perfect size to explore in a long weekend.
Our choice of hotel wasn’t the best, location wise. We’d based ourselves to the East of the old town, about a 20 minutes’ walk into the main tourist areas. Usually I wouldn’t mind staying a bit further out of the city, as it sort of forces you to explore a different area you ordinarily wouldn’t, but again we’d chosen to visit in the height of a heat wave and our hotel could only be reached by hiking up two desperately steep streets. It was only on our last day when we discovered the tram! (*face palm*)
Heading straight for the old town square to drink in the atmosphere… and a beer! Prague was just drying up from a recent downpour, the sun was starting to push out the heavy grey clouds and the place looked pretty darn stunning. The astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall is one of Prague’s most popular attractions, and pulls in a thick crowd on the hour every hour when it presents the apostles with a creepy little skeleton chimes the hour. There’s a sad legend that explains how the clockmaker had plans to make an even better clock than this one, but when Prague’s Councillors found out, they blinded him to prevent it being created.
You can go up the Old Town Hall tower for a small fee, to get a decent view across the square towards the Church of Our Lady but here’s a better option; instead of jostling with the crowds, try out Hotel U Prince, a luxury hotel adjacent to the tower for their charming roof terrace for a panorama of the tower and the church and enjoy this with table service and a beer or ice cream. There’s a mark-up on the food and drink here, naturally, but it won’t break the bank.
Now to try this Central European food and get more acquainted with the Czech beer. We sought out Prague Beer Museum, which is just a pub with a wide range of tipples. Then to U Vejvodu for a feed; a restaurant a few minutes stroll south of the Old Town square to sample goulash, beer cheese (seriously… the beer cheese!) and pork. I would heavily recommend feasting on the bread dumplings in cream sauce.
Luckily for my hips and thighs (after all the bread dumplings), Prague is super walkable and you can easily loose a day to just wandering around the streets. Cross Charles Bridge and take a picnic in Kampa Park and head over to John Lennon wall.
You can also spend a day taking a hike up to the Petřín Lookout Tower (a sort of less impressive Eiffel tower-esque steel structure but with arguably better views).
We decided to do this in the mid-day sun (big mistake guys!), we actually gave up the trek, on what we thought was just more than halfway up for a quick recharging nap on the bench, then, after gearing ourselves up mentally to solider onward on our uphill battle, (‘We can DO THIS!’) we took half a dozen determined strides, passing around a thick cluster of trees….
And, uh… we had arrived.
Turns out Prague is pretty gorgeous whichever way you look at it, from the ground or from 299 stairs up. You can get a superb panorama of Prague Castle; all the red-roofs, the river Vltava and the city’s many bridges.
Because we hadn’t yet had enough of hills (uh huh, yeah), we meandered towards Prague Castle to get a better look at this area. Time and money restrictions meant we chose not to visit inside the castle, or see the 15th century attraction, Golden Lane (you can only buy one ticket to serve them both) but here are some of my photos from my time.
What is FP?
The affordability factor; there’s no denying that Prague is incredibly cheap as Europe goes. You can get away with not being too strict on your wallet, because it’s near-on impossible to splurge; we were eating very well, good breakfasts, two course lunches, snacks and dinners fit for kings. Not to mention beer being cheaper than most soft drinks, so naturally a fair bit bit of that was consumed too. It the kind of city you can get away with not spending too much on, because there’s so much to see just wandering around. If you’re looking for a cheap weekend, here’s your place.
The beer garden on the top of the hill. For a beer garden, this one comes with a view that’s hard to beat. Letná Beer Garden is perfectly perched high up to south of Old town with a super panorama that includes the river, the bridges and the rest of the city. It’s pretty low-maintenance, just rows on benches arranged in a leafy part of the gardens and the beer is fairly standard, but this place is just so fantastic in the summer months, I would recommend heading up this way.
Old town square. Its the main tourist spot, and yes it’s really very busy! Prague is a relatively small city with a crazy amount of people wanting to visit it. But the old town and it’s square is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, and because Prague is so cheap in comparison to other places, even eating and drinking at the ‘tourist traps’ in this area aren’t even going to break the bank. But, if you’re keen to keep costs as low as possible, and you don’t fancy paying for the view, just head a few minutes down one of the side streets and find something else.
What did you think of Prague? Have you been elsewhere in Czech Republic? Let me know in the comments.