Prague Induced Wanderlust
Lately, I’ve kept seeing pictures of Prague showing up on Instagram as well as other places on the web. And when I had to look through all my Prague maps and leaflets to help someone, it was decided what my next post is going to be about.
It was only the second time I was abroad and the first time I was anywhere without parents. Exciting! I think this is when I became hooked on traveling. Here is what I totally recommend for a city break in the lovely Czech capital.
The Prague Castle
Obviously, if you’ve been to Prague and you didn’t visit the magnificent castle, then you haven’t really been to Prague. The Old Royal Palace, the Golden Lane and the crown jewel of the castle, St Vitus Cathedral are places where you’ll find the most tourists. And before you go all hipster on me (“dude, I want to avoid the places where the masses go”), keep in mind that these sights are popular for a reason – they’re beautiful and full of history.
Try to catch the changing of the guards as well, it happens daily at 12 PM. During the “summer season” (April 1st – October 31st) it is open from 5 AM to midnight so you have plenty of time to admire all the beautiful buildings. It’s fairly easy to get up there, this link explains all the possible routes you can take. There are different types of tickets, depending on what you want to see or if you’re a student, the most expensive ticket being the Long Visit that would cost you 350 CZK (about 13€). Here is where you’ll find all the information you need.
Tip: Czech food is delicious, that’s a fact. Although the restaurants inside the castle walls aren’t the cheapest ones, this is where I had the best food. And since you’re in a country well known for its beer, don’t forget to try one.
Unless it’s raining, this bridge is always packed with people. Travellers admiring the numerous statues, artists waiting to paint your portrait, performers putting on a show for the entertainment of the people passing by. On both ends there are towers where for 75 CZK (2.75€) you can climb to the top for a view of the entire bridge, as well as the city and the Vltava river. Although it’s pretty small, it can trigger your fear of heights so be careful. Speaking from experience (not mine) 😉
The Astronomical Clock (Old Town Hall)
For 600 years this clock has been one of the greatest treasures of the city and hundreds of people gather every your to see the 12 Apostles coming to life. Little did I know back when I went to Prague (you could tell how inexperienced I was) that you can go to the top of the tower, I bet you’d get a very great view of the Old Town Square.
Old Town Square
I know I seem to use the term “the heart of the city” pretty often in my posts, but there was never a better place for it than this one. This is a place where I could have spent hours. You have the stunning Gothic Týn Church, the Baroque St Nicholas Church, the Kinský Palace, and old yet charming buildings with names such as “At the Golden Unicorn” or “At the Red Fox”. What does the fox say? The fox says that in the past, buildings in Prague weren’t numbered so they had to be identified by their name. What an insightful fox!
Tip: Have a meal here only if you’re really really really hungry and can’t go somewhere else. Or if it’s your last day and still have a lot of Czech crowns on you and don’t want to go home with them (what we did). The prices here are off the roof, compared to other places.
On the adjacent streets to the Old Town Squares you will find a lot of places filled with souvenirs, from tacky shirts to cute snowglobes, to expensive Swarovski crystals.
For a taste of history and chilling facts, visit the Jewish Quarter. You can easily access it by metro (line A) or tram (trams 17,18,53), Staromestska stop. In the 13th century, the Jewish people were forced to move from their homes to a single area which would be later known as the Jewish Ghetto. A ticket grants you entrance to all the synagogues (I definitely recommend the Old-New one and the Spanish Synagogue, an incredible beauty). Or you can take a walking tour for a better understanding of what you’re seeing.
Off the beaten path: Petrin Hill
Petrin Hill isn’t generally a popular sight, we might have skipped in as well if it wasn’t right across the street from our hotel. You can take a funicular to the top of the hill, but we chose to walk, I found it much better. There, you’ll find the Observation Tower, a mini-replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Mini, because it’s only 60 m tall, although it stands on a 300 m hill. If you climb the 300 steps, you’ll be in for a magnificent view over Prague.
I would’ve talked about the National Museum as well, but at the time of writing it was still closed for renovation. I hear it will reopen during the summer of 2015.
There were a couple of things that we did while we were in Prague that I considered mentioning. The first one would be about the Krizik Singing Fountain. Don’t get me wrong, the show was great and nowadays it seems to be even better than the one we went to, but that doesn’t change the fact that the shows start really late and the fountain is pretty far from the center. The second thing is a contemplation, sort of a “learn from my mistakes” kind of thing. The old city is filled with people trying to sell you tickets to different shows. We gave in and we went to a “musical” which was basically a lady singing songs from musicals from an hour. It was nice, but looking back I think we could’ve made better use of that time.
Prague is the perfect choice for a city break. It’s the perfect place to wander aimlessly on the streets where it will win you over with its charm and you’ll fall in love with the city, making a promise to return one day.