One of my favourite European cities.
I’ve visited Prague three times so far and the city continues to be one of my favourites, so I really can’t recommend it enough. The last time I visited was around Christmas 2017 and the difference in terms of mass tourism was quite noticeable compared to the first time I came in 2012. However, the capital of Czechia is still firmly holding on to its charm and the crowds did not feel horribly overwhelming in the centre, even during Christmas season, so it’s still definitely worth a visit, especially for the food .
Since I am from Slovenia, Prague is one of those foreign cities that feels very much like home, mostly because one of the great Slovenian architects, Jožef Plečnik, also worked extensively there. Somehow the shared architectural influence and similar church designs make strolling around the main square in Prague feel akin to doing the same around the main square in Ljubljana, which is both strange and awesome.
That said, Prague is a city with a lot to offer and best of all, it is walkable and cheap even by my Balkan standards. However, like all large cities, even Prague is becoming increasingly more expensive if you do not know where to go, so I’ve written down some of my money saving hacks and ideas for visiting Prague here.
There are several must-see tourist points, such as the Prague castle, its gardens and the famous Golden lane, which are all very nice, but have become severely overcrowded tourist points and are also the favourite fishing ponds of pickpockets. Unfortunately, Prague, much like Venice and Paris, has a pickpocket problem, so it’s best to be extra careful. To avoid the crowds it is worth visiting the popular spots early in the morning to have a good experience and if you want to have a truly unique experience, aim for seeing the sunrise on the Charles bridge. Just stay off the Vltava islands while it’s still dark (why? here).
The astronomical clock is another thing you can’t miss, as well as going into the Church of Our Lady before Týn (the beautiful black gothic church at the Old town square). If art is your thing, Prague has a wonderful Mucha museum, showcasing the works of Alphonse Mucha, one of my favourite art nouveau artists, and is also the home of Franz Kafka and literary hero Švejk the good soldier.
As a Slovenian, I must also recommend the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord made by Plečnik, which is a very architecturally interesting building and definitely worth a short metro detour ride to visit. The Dancing House is another architectural marvel in downtown Prague and for architectural daytrips, a train ticket to the ossuary and UNESCO sights in Kutna Hora is a great investment.
Apart from the main tourist sights, the LEGO museum, the Chocolate museum, the KGB museum, various islands on Vltava and the Jewish quarter are all well worth the visit. In the Jewish quarter there is an old Jewish synagogue and as legend has it, the golem of Prague sleeps somewhere underneath it. There is also the old Jewish cemetery, which is quite an amazing sight. In the old days, Jews were not allowed to expand their cemetery beyond the allotted area, causing them to build graves stacked on top of each other within the cemetery walls for decades, which created a crazy historical scenery.
Speaking of crazy, Prague has a museum of old sex toys, which is equal parts disturbing and funny, and they discovered an undergound alchemist’s lair in 2002 that you can now visit. If you have some extra time, the Prague zoo is also quite enjoyable and the Prague Municipal library recently built a giant unending book tower, so that one is a great sight for book lovers too.
Impressions of Prague
Now, let’s discuss the important stuff: the food. The Czech republic is one of the few places where you can eat like a royalty even on a low budget. I tend to use my time in Czechia to stuff myself with their various delicious meat roasts, fluffy dumplings with cranberry jam, meat-based soups, pastries and of course, all the beer. I’ve found some amazing restaurants with not just traditional, but also quite fancy meals at very reasonable prices, both in Prague and other, less popular towns, with the most famous one being the U Fleku pub.
On a side note, do avoid the salads, as they use a kind of sweet-vinegary dressing, which makes the salads taste more like pickles on a sugar rush than anything edible, at least in my opinion.
There is of course much more to Prague than tourism, like quirky cafes inside book stores, an alternative pub/event space run by Unijazz, amazing waffle places, charming peaceful cafes in the middle of the busy city centre and so on, but it takes a bit of effort to find them. I was lucky that my boyfriend did his Erasmus exchange in Prague and I got to experience a different side of the city when I visited him. He took me to a secret cafe at the top of an apartment building, which is so secret I can’t find it online, but there are other openly hidden places around Prague, both bars and cafes, such as the Hidden bar, the steampunk Cross Club and the Anonymous bar. Prague really has a lot to discover, so go for it!
Bonus: Christmas Prague 2017
Some photos by my friends.
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