A Weekend In Prague

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Do's:

  • Take a break from the crowds and relax in one of the many parks among the islands, just to the left of the Charles Bridge.  
  • Find one of Prague's hidden gems, the Lennon Wall.
  • Make your way to Old Town Square where you will find many of the city's main attractions. 
  • Stick around for the 1 minute hourly performance of the Prague Astronomical Clock.
  • Sample some of the bohemian cuisine, including street ham and bread dumplings, potato pancakes, trdelník, and pivo (beer).  
  • Walk up to the Prague Castle and along the way stop at the oldest Czech winery, St. Wenceslas' Vineyard, to admire the view of the city.
  • If you buy a ticket to tour the castle don't forget to stop at Golden Lane.
  • Have a glass of the green fairy at one of the many Absinthe bars in town.
  • Climb to the top of the Old Town City Hall Tower or the Church of Our Lady before Týn for some amazing views of the city. 
  • Walk across the historic Charles Bridge to Kampa Island

Don't:

  • Take taxis unless you really need to. Public transit is insanely cheap here and taxis will rip you off. 
  • Stress about seeing the Dancing House. In comparison to everything else you can see in Prague, it's rather uneventful. 
  • Go on a Segway tour. It'll make you look like an idiot.  
  • Drink absinthe on an empty stomach. 
  • Forget to exchange your money. Euros are not accepted everywhere, especially in coin form, so you'll need some Czech Koruna
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It may not have been memorial day weekend in Germany, but everyone here still enjoyed a three day weekend (thank you Christianity). So my boyfriend and I did what we do best and went on a little adventure down to Prague. After a movie, a few snacks and almost 4.5 hrs later, we were driving over a bridge with a short glimpse of the city of 100 spires to our right.  

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We arrived at Florenc Central Station and walked almost directly across the street to A Plus Hostel. Apparently the hostel doesn't go by online rates, so don't be surprised if you're charged a few extra euros upon arrival. The women at the front desk seem rude at first but I guess they're just loud. Other than that it was a pleasant stay and it is in a really convenient location, only 10 minutes walking distance from the Old Town Square. 

You'll be fascinated by the architecture and stone detail of each building along with the occasional wafts of vanilla and cinnamon floating through the air. It's almost as if you're taking a stroll through a fake medieval village since the style of the city is only something I've seen in children's books. Except there are absinthe bars and night clubs sprinkled throughout the streets, so it's real!  

You'll know you're getting to the center when the streets become more and more crowded and the price of food and water increases by almost 50%. For your reference a small bottle of water should be 15-20czk whereas in the center it's 50czk or more. The Church of Our Lady before Týn (the giant gothic church that you can't miss) also comes into sight. 

Once at the Old Town Square, you'll be in the midst of bubble makers, food vendors, street performers, and landmarks. Oh and also a sea of tourists. I recommend buying a ticket to go up to the top of the Old Town City Hall Tower (120czk) or to the top of the church (150czk and less crowded). Both towers will give you great views of the city and it's beautifully clustered rooftops. 

Another main attraction, just on the side of the City Hall Tower, is the Astronomical Clock. It's a 600 year old working clock and every hour on the hour it puts on a show that lasts about a minute. It's not life changing but it's definitely entertaining and worth seeing.   

Have a wander around the streets that are lined with souvenir/toy shops, museums and restaurants. Even after leaving the center, the city continues to enchant, not falling short of elements that are pleasing to the eye. 

Eventually make your way to the river where you will find several bridges you can walk across. Of course the most popular is the Charles Bridge, which you should cross at least once, but personally I think it's better to admire it from the Mánesův Most (bridge) where crowds are less and views are better. (Side note: The Mánesův Most is also closer to the stairs of the Prague Castle.) Apparently if you go at dusk, no one is on the bridge so you'll get an even better experience. However, unless I'm still out at dusk from the night prior, there's no way I'm getting out of bed to walk across a bridge. Another suggestion is to get some drinks or food from one of the surrounding Asian markets and hang by the bridge/river. 

The other side of Prague (after crossing the river) is a bit more quiet and really romantic. You could spend a few hours here getting lost and taking random turns onto different paths. 

Luckily, my random turns took us straight to the Lennon Wall. The wall is on a seemingly hidden street along a line of large trees and is definitely a cool find! Bring a pen or some spray paint to leave your mark.

We continued on with our unplanned walk and found ourselves at the Wallenstein Garden, a peaceful oasis where brilliant blue peacocks are roaming freely around the grounds. 

In addition to this garden, there are a few parks on the small islands just beside the Charles Bridge. If you have an extra day or a break between sight seeing, I would recommend packing a lunch or some drinks and enjoying the serenity and greenery of these parks. There's even one or two sand patches or 'beaches' where you can read a book or take a break from your tour de sights of Prague.  

Another main attraction in this area of Prague is of course The Prague Castle. Take the stairs up to the castle, but before you make it to the top, stop at the oldest Czech winery called St. Wenceslas' Vineyard. There's a cafe in the vineyards where there are some benches overlooking the city. It is a perfect place for relaxing and taking in the spectacular views, especially if you skipped out on the views at Old Town Square. 

Now on to the castle. It's one of the largest castle complex's in the world and when you walk around it, it seems like it's never ending. Yes, all the buildings are connected. To tour the castle, entrance is 250-350czk depending on if you want a short visit or long visit, and with this ticket you gain access to the St. Vitus Cathedral, St George Basilica and the Golden Lane. Oh and some decent people watching. However, for some reason Segway tours have become really popular in Prague. It's almost as if Segway donated hundreds of these things to the city and now it's some crazy trend. Funny to watch nonetheless. 

And if you really want to catch a glimpse of the Dancing House, take the long way home and do so on the way back.

While sight seeing, don't forget to taste some of the bohemian cuisine the city has to offer. Pieces of ham roasting over a fire and trdelník (a rolled, grilled dough topped with walnuts and sugar) are plentiful, along with goulash and potato pancakes. Kozlovna Apropos is a good place to go for traditional Czech cuisine at a decent price. 

If you're not into these hearty winter foods, there is a good selection of health/vegan cafes. Rawcha (about 7 minutes from Old Town Square) serves amazing desserts and lunch items, plus everything is gluten-free, dairy-free and raw. However, don't go in the morning when the owner is there. He's a bit of a dick but the genuinely nice employees make up for it. 

GOING OUT IN PRAGUE

After a dance with the green fair at one of the many absinthe bars, there's an overload of bars and clubs to choose from in Prague. If you're not playing the metro stop game, here's a list of noteworthy bars/clubs:  

Al Capone's, Lokál, NoD - bar-esque. More chilled.

Bukowski's- in Prague 3, cheap, good cocktails. 

Deja Vu, Cross Club, Chapeau Rogue- music venues/clubs.