Prague. The city of a thousand spires. Of a thousand dreams. Bohemian paradise. The jewel in the crown of Central Europe.
To say that my adventures getting to Prague were a nightmare would be an understatement. After our flight departing from Rome switched airports without alerting us, we raced from Roma Fiumicino to Roma Ciampino via cab, praying to get there on time. It was 6:00, and our flight was to leave at 7:10. Things looked optimistic until we drove into a traffic jam that can best be described as one of Dante’s levels of hell. I had resigned myself to accepting that we wouldn’t make our flight and would have to catch one the next day – which was of course disappointing considering we only had a weekend holiday.
We arrived to the airport at 7:00. By some miracle, we raced through security with the help of a guard who, after rolling his eyes at us Americans, let us cut through line. We arrived to the gate by 7:05 and were, by some miracle, the last ones on the plane. I actually think I cried a little out of joy when I got to my seat. Of course, that joy only lasted until I had realized that I was seated in the middle of an obnoxiously drunk bachelor party – but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
Prague better be the best damn city in the world, I thought.
And? It did not disappoint. Prague was an absolute fairy tale. Walking around Old Town that first night – as the astronomical clock tower struck midnight and gothic spires glowed against the skyline – I felt as if I had stepped into the Grimm stories that I had read as a child.
Based on my wonderful two-day adventures in Prague, here are some of my my travel suggestions for the city of a thousand spires.
Where We Stayed
Airbnb – We stayed at the coziest and most reasonable Airbnb apartment in central Prague. The host was not only incredibly welcoming, but also incredibly helpful, pointing out everything on the map that we could possibly need – things to see, metro lines to get there, restaurants to try, etc. For a minimal extra fee they even arranged our transportation to and from the airport, which made our trip so much simpler. (While it doesn’t look as if the listing is available any longer, I strongly recommend Airbnb!)
What To Eat
Try the Local Cuisine! – You can’t go to Prague and not indulge in the traditional plates that many restaurants and roadside grills have to offer. Try goulash, or dumplings!
Cafe Savoy – Our wonderful Airbnb host warned us that this place had the best French Toast in all Prague, so naturally we had to check it out – and weren’t disappointed. But beyond that, the cafe dates back to the early twentieth century and maintains that decor and charm. Come to taste history, stay for the french toast?
Bake Shop – Best pastries in the world. Ask for an egg croissant. Realize that heaven is that egg croissant.
Try Local Sweets – Sweet tooth? Try trdelnik – a traditional Bohemian specialty consisting of grilled dough topped in a sugar and walnuts mix.
Seeing the Essentials
Old Town Square – Visit the iconic Astronomical Clock Tower, as well as St. Vitus Cathedral. This was my favorite spot in town. Even just people watching, or strolling the shops, or sitting at outdoor restaurants until the clock tower strikes midnight.
St. Charles Bridge – Most likely this is something you’ll cross more than once as part of your sightseeing ventures, but it is a historic sight to see in itself. Enjoy the street vendors and artists and take in the breathtaking view of the city.
Castle District – Wandering the grounds of the castle was like wandering through the pages of a fairytale. The climb up is completely worth the breathtaking views over the city. And away from the bustle of Old Town Square, the streets wind, paved with endearing shops and bakeries. This was my favorite area to just wander.
John Lennon Wall – Basically just a lot of graffiti, some Beatles lyrics, some hippies sitting on the curb with guitars singing said Beatles lyrics, and lots of photo ops (throws up a peace sign). Definitely good vibes all around.
Wencelas Square – Explore more of the New Town.
Rent Paddle Boats – A fun way to get away from the city, rest your feet, and see Prague from a new angle on the Vltava River.
Jewish Quarter – We spent an afternoon wandering the Jewish Quarter, visiting the Old Jewish Cemetery and multiple synagogues. The visit was beautiful and at times inspiring and harrowing and definitely worth the visit no matter your background. When I return to Prague some day, I look forward to a day trip to visit Terezin.
Beer Gardens – Drinking beer under strings of lights across the river, overlooking the city’s spires.
Karlovy Lazne – Prague is notoriously famous for it’s five-story club. We visited the first night and while it seemed perhaps a little overrated, I will say that the trip to the Ice Bar was worth it. It was a fun experience, and the smaller setting allowed us to meet a lot of other travellers! Tip: book ahead if you go. You won’t have to wait in the lines for the whole club once you get there, and after the Ice Bar you have access to the other five levels if you wish to stay.
Old Town District – Prague is famous for it’s nightlife (hey -that bachelor party wasn’t heading there just for the views) and there are lots of great nightclubs and bars to be found in Old Town, from Roxy to my favorite spot to grab a beer and enjoy live music at The Dubliner.
And most importantly…
Not all those who wander are lost. – To be honest, I think there’s a lot to be said for not over-detailing your itinerary. Go wander and see what you can find. This is my absolute favorite way to take in new cities. Use the river as your checkpoint and aimlessly stroll the streets from there. You’ll find wonderful little shops and cozy pubs hidden in the colorful facades of the buildings you pass. Shop windows filled with marionettes. Stumble across the Wallenstein Palace Gardens like we did by complete accident. Wander your way down to the riverside and hang out with some swans and wonder if you fell asleep last night and somehow woke up in a Disney movie.
In short? Prague was nothing short of a dream. Although at times a little touristy, the city of a thousand spires was the city I hadn’t expected to fall in love with but absolutely did. I can’t wait to return someday and find more to explore than my first two days there allowed.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Prague?