If you have ever fantasized a fairy tale city, then it has to be Prague. Well for me, it is one of the most romantic cities in the world. You can endlessly wander on the cobbled streets and admire the architecture while sipping on hot wine and holding hands with your loved one. Think medieval buildings and alleys, a beautiful square, gothic structures, ancient chapels, old-fashioned bars, cobbled lanes and baroque architecture, that is Prague for you! This gothic wonder is a dream for any aimless wanderer. For me, this was love at first sight.
WHERE TO STAY:
Everytime I’m travelling I prefer staying in the city centre. In Prague, the two famous spots are the Old Town Square and New Town (Wenceslas Square), both are literally ten minutes away from each other. I stayed at The Prague Mariott Hotel, which was a five minute walk from the Old Town Square. From the interiors to the size of the room and the location, this hotel was just perfect. There were a few cafes right outside the hotel and the train station was close by too. You can choose to stay at the Wenceslas Square too, which is equally bustling and happening. Other famous hotels in the city are Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hilton (opposite Mariott) and the Four Seasons Prague.
The beauty of this place is to stop and enjoy each and every corner of the fairytale town. There are several ways to explore this charming city, you could either choose a walking tour, Segway, limo ride, vintage car or just relax and explore it yourself. For me, the best to way to explore this city was on a Segway. There are several tours that take you to all tourist attractions and have photo stops as well. Not only is it fun but also the quickest way to see the city if you have a time crunch. If you prefer longer halts then I would suggest you walk. I chose a Segway tour for 1.5hours that took us around museums, libraries and near the river, but apart from that I preferred walking to the castle and other attractions. Also you can hire a limo or a vintage car that drives around the city. I preferred the open Vintage car that took us around the castle and the Fred Ginger House. I highly recommend you try this, its so much fun and you also have the liberty to carry some drinks and nibbles in the car.
Here are a list of places that you must see:
-Prague Castle: I suggest walking up to the castle as you will come across quaint cafes and stunning twists and turns. Don’t forget to stop by the Starbucks to grab a hot chocolate. (The view from Starbucks is unreal, highly recommend stopping by)
-Charles Bridge: This stone Gothic Bridge that connects the Old Town to Mala Strana is a work of art. Adorned with statues on either side, this is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Prague. You might be surrounded by an army of tourists but don’t forget to enjoy the views of the Castle, the Vltava river and the amazing musicians who bring the place to life.
(P.s- The Bollywood blockbuster Rockstar was shot here)
-Lennon Wall: Once you cross the Charles bridge and reach Mala Strana, you can ask anybody for this location. It’s a wall with John Lennon inspired graffiti.
-The lock bridge: You will spot this little section as soon as you cross Charles bridge and go towards the Lennon Wall.
-Wandering in Lesser Town (mala strána)
-Old Town Square: Buzzing with activities and artists all day long, this is the heart of Prague. The ancient buildings and churches will take you back in time and showcase the dramatic history. There are plenty of cafes and talented artists to entertain, thus making it the perfect spot to spend hours gazing.
-Wenceslas Square: Luxurious shops, hotels, casinos, fancy restaurants, this square has it all.
-Astronomical Clock: You will be amazed looking at this medieval wonder. Love how every hour crowds gather beneath the Old Town Hall to watch the Astronomical Clock in action!
-Dancing House of Fred & Ginger: You can actually see a woman and man dancing together, holding their hands, with a skirt that sways to the music. Simply beautiful!
-Museums and Churches: In this city of churches and cathedrals, do pay a visit to St.Vitus Cathedral, which forms the heart of the Prague Castle and Church of Our Lady Before Týn, the famous Old Town landmark. Also don’t miss the Franz Kafka Museum
-Walk up to the viewing tower of Old Town Hall- I missed doing this but heard the city view from here is great.
-Watch the sunset view from the Petrin tower.
-Museum of Torture and the Chocolate museum- Not a big fan of these two and wouldn’t recommend wasting time here.
-You can also opt for a Haunted Prague tour- http://www.mcgeesghosttours.com I did not try this as I was short on time, but would love to the next time I’m there.
WHERE & WHAT TO EAT
Traditional Czech food is heavy on meat but the city also offers an array of international choices. Most of the restaurants serve dinner till 10.30 or 11.00pm but pubs are open till late. Here is a list of restaurants and traditional food items worth trying!
-Mustek: Love the swinging chairs in this restaurant. This place is in the lane opposite the Astronomical clock, close to Wenceslas Square.
-Gyros: In case you need a midnight meal, this Lebanese joint is a saviour.
-Trdelník: This Slovak rolled pastry is a must try. You will definitely see stalls selling this on the Old Town Square.
-Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square: This spot is buzzing with local cafes and restaurants.
-Tram café: An amazing café in a tram in the middle of two streets on Wenceslas Square.
-Cacao: A great café outside the Mariott, they serve amazing hot chocolates with rum and cream.
-The Rooftop of Hotel U Prince boasts amazing views of the Old Town Square and Prague Castle, just perfect for a romantic meal.
-Kampa Park: One of the most amazing fine dining restaurants by the Charles Bridge. The vibe is so romantic and the food is delicious.
-Other restaurants that are worth trying are Cestr (famous for beef), La Degustation(fine dining), Bellevue (fine dining), La Bottega di Finestra (Italian bistro) and Café Savoy (best breakfast and desserts). There are also tons of Beer Gardens and beer spas.
If you plan to party then I would suggest you spend the weekend here as the clubs will be more buzzing. This is also known as the land of beer, so expect loads of cheap beer! You could definitely try the following:
-Beer Museum: Dont forget to try their beer tray that serves 12 different types, including a chocolate beer. P.S- You can tip the staff prior for faster service or else you might have to wait for hours.
-Absintherie: A trip to Prague would be incomplete without trying this spot. They serve everything made of Absinthe, I mean everything you can think of, cocktails, drinks, shots, chocolates, coffee, ice creams etc. It’s a must try!
-Prague Pub Crawl: A guided pub tour where you get to hop clubs and see the city’s most happening spots.
-Karlovy Lazne Club: This five-storey club is the best place to party in the city.
-The other clubs that you could try are Roxy, Lucerna, Cross Club, Hemingway Bar or you could also opt for a Beer Crawl.
The main shopping area centres around Wenceslas Square whereas the Old town square has local boutiques selling leather, souvenirs and handicrafts. You will find several brands at the Palladium shopping mall near the Old Town Square. Do stop by the BLUE store which sells amazing crockery, the perfect souvenir to take back home. Also you could buy Absinthe from the Absintherie.
WHAT TO PACK:
I travelled in the month of October when the temperature was ranging from 12 to 18 degrees. If you’re headed around that time of the year you definitely need your boots (choose the ones that are comfortable for walking) or sneakers, Fur jackets or vests, thick scarves, turtle neck tops, stockings for dresses (too cold for bare legs), delicate accessories like pearls, a winter hat and most importantly a good camera. The place is too stunning and a DSLR would be ideal to capture this beauty (I broke mine right before the trip, hence the pictures aren’t that clear).
DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT
-A visit to the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.
-A drive in the Vintage car
-A visit to the swinging restaurant Mustek
-Trying the different beers at Prague Beer Museum and the absinthe at the Absintherie
-Eating the Trdelník and trying the hot wine served by local shops in the narrow lanes.
-A Segway Tour
-If you have an extra day then you could take a trip to Kutna Hora to see the Bone church or visit Cesky Krumlov.
-To avoid the crowd visit the main tourist spots as early as possible.
– You don’t need to speak a word of Czech to get around but if you do know it always helps.
-Public transportation in Prague is good and you can easily get a bus, tram, metro or taxi.
– Try and wake up early to catch the sunrise and sunset views over the Charles Bridge, so you have the city to yourself or else be prepared to battle the crowd.
FLY: Emirates has direct flights from Dubai – 6 hours approx
Day 1- Arrival + Lunch at Cacao (outside our hotel) + Explored the lanes of the Old Town and Wenceslas Square + Headed to the Absintherie at night + A local pub near the Charles Bridge
Day 2- Breakfast at a local restaurant on the main square + City Tour on a Segway + Lunch at the swinging restaurant Mustek + Local shopping at Wenceslas Square + Sunset on Charles Bridge + Prague Beer Museum at night + Explored other pubs in that lane + Dinner at the rooftop of Hotel U Prince hotel on the main square.
Day 3- Tried the Famous bread for breakfast + Astronomical Clock + Walked the Charles Bridge + John Lennon Wall + stopped for hot wine on the way + Prague Castle Tour + Lunch at Kampa Park + A ride in the Vintage Car + Dinner at a local restaurant on the main square.
Sky soaring palaces, a bridge with baroque structures overlooking the river, a city centre that comes live with talented artists- this surely is an architectural paradise. I can’t wait to go back again!
Click the gallery below to view pictures!