Back at the beginning of the year I shared this post on the Top 10 Places That I Want To Visit Before I’m 30, and I put Prague on the list. The history of the city and its old town attracted me to it- who doesn’t want to explore a place that’s been around since the 9th century? Plus I do hail from Easter Europe and for the big part, I felt like I wasn’t giving that section of the world the same amount of attention that I should have(seeing as its my roots and all). So I decided to put Prague on my bucket list, and boy did it not disappoint! I came back with a heart full of love for the Czech Republic and lots of beautiful photos and memories. As usual I wanted to share my photo diary and travel tips, and I hope this helps you make the decision to visit this gorgeous city and put Prague on your bucket list too!
As usual let’s first discuss logistics– the flight from Johannesburg to Prague will cost you around R9000 return or R5000 one way- I flew one way because from Prague I went to Moscow. There is sadly no direct flight to Prague so you will have to make a stopover somewhere. The Czech currency is called the Koruna and at the moment R1 will get you 1.7 Korunas. Don’t stress about going to Prague with Korunas- Euros are accepted pretty much anywhere from a coffee shop to the train station (they will however give you change back in Korunas). Booking a place to stay was easy through Booking.com and not too expensive (see further down). The local spoken language is Czech, and this is a travel tip for most of Eastern Europe- download a translator because the English language is not as commonly spoken as you would think. We didn’t struggle because every 3rd person in Prague spoke Russian, but if you hail from an English speaking country, rather be prepped with an audio guide and a phone translator in hand. Overall I think Prague is such a magnificent city that everyone should try and visit at least once in a lifetime! Lets get to some reasons why, shall we?
The Prague Castle is must see piece of architecture, that was build in the 9th century! How crazy is that? It is the official residence of the President of Czech Republic and it is the largest ancient castle in the world! The only thing is, of course it is packed with tourists, even when it’s cold outside and rainy. I don’t like crowds nor am I a queue person, so we admired the castle from the outside and enjoyed its spectacular views.
However, I still wanted to visited a castle because we were after all in the Czech Republic, and my mom suggested we visit the Melnik Castle, situated just 40 minutes outside of Prague(we took a train there that departs every 30 minutes).
The Melnik castle is on a much smaller scale, but I still loved visiting it as it had that little town charm. It used to be home for 23 Bohemian Queens, and I enjoyed exploring it and the little town where it’s situated.
If you love wine tasting than you can book a wine cellar tour, and you get an amazing view of the confluence of the 2 rivers- the Vltava and the Labe.
2. Old Town Square
It’s hard to describe the beauty of this place but I tried to capture its gorgeousness in these pictures. The Old Town Square was my favorite part about Prague- it’s a place filled with culture and history, it was humbling to walk on the streets that have been around since the Medieval times, and take in its beauty!
The Old Town is filled with memorable places such as the Astronomical Clock (see below), the Tower of the Town Hall and the Church of St. Nicolas. This is truly the heart of Prague and something that you can’t miss when you’re visiting it.
We happened to be visiting Prague over the Easter period, so the Easter decorations and the celebrations were out in full swing! The Easter markets formed on the square were amazing- anything from food to souvenirs to books.
There is a Czech tradition called the Pomlazka, which is a tradition of spanking or whipping and is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka for good luck, good health and happiness(very lightly of course). It was quite an interesting thing to learn but I’m glad I found out about this the day before, so when a group of boys were walking past and started smacking my mom and I with the whips(very lightly) we laughed and said “Thanks for the good wishes!”!
Old Town Square is also home to some of the best restaurants, hotels and views! On our second night, we stayed right in the heart of Prague at a place called the “Iron Gate Hotel”. It was as central as you could get, so we walked the Old Town itself back and forth a few times, and the place was still buzzing past 10pm when we went for dinner! When it comes to ridiculous views, make sure you visit the Hotel U Prince Rooftop Bar. It was a recommendation from a friend, and it didn’t disappoint- just look at this view! We sipped on our mulled wine while enjoying looking at nighttime Prague- what a dream!
A travel tip is that try and book your space at the Rooftop Bar beforehand as it gets quite packed very quickly(and there are plenty heaters there to keep you warm even on the coldest Prague day)
3. Trdelnik and Beer!
I love getting to know local food and eating as much of it as I can! It is one of the things I enjoy the most about travelling, and usually I try and research beforehand what the country’s food specialty is. Because my dad has been to Prague, he kept telling my mom and I that we must try a dish that involves homemade potato dumplings, sour croute and duck. We found it in a little tavern down by the Prague Castle, and of course I ordered beer to go with it! You can’t go to Czech Republic and not drink beer, the country is known for its massive beer production!
The portions in Czech Republic are HUGE so keep that it mind- I thought I was getting a piece of duck with one dumpling and a serving of sour croute, and when my dish arrived it was legit half a duck with 4 huge dumplings and 3 different versions of the sour croute! My mom ordered something similar so we were both left staring at our plates in disbelief! The next time we only ordered 1 portion to share. Also the traditional Czech Goulash Soup served in a rye bread bun, was everything!
And when time came for desserts, there was only one choice- Trdelnik!
Tredlink is a kind of a spit cake, made from rolled up dough that gets grilled on a stick! It is then topped with sugar, and filled with a filling of your choice- cream, ice cream, nutella, whipped cream, jam- anything you desire! I tried it on my first day while walking past a random little shop and had it with Ice-cream- delish! The next day I got it at a street vendor in Old Town and topped it with Nutella- even more delish! I am still dreaming of the delicious Trdelnik and I would go back to Czech Republic just for it. The price is not bad- it starts at R30 for a plain Trdelnik and goes up to R60 for ones with ice-cream and other toppings.
4. The view from Mala Strana
I booked our first night stay and I wanted it to be central to the Charles Bridge and the Prague castle- little did I know that I booked our hotel right in the center of mala Strana- a quaint little town often referred to as The Lesser Town. It dates back to the 14th century and is filled with some fantastic churches, gardens, cute little shops and museums! But my favorite thing about staying at Mala Strana was that it was linked to the summit of Petrin Hill, which was located right outside our hotel.
It’s a funicular right up 300 or so meters, which reveals the whole beauty of Prague from the top. It is home to a gorgeous park where the locals like to hang out, a lookout tower, a rose garden and a cute little coffee shop will find you at the top of Petrin hill, but most of all, this is the view that will unfold before your eyes.
We got to the funicular station around 9:30 and got up to the hill within 10 minutes. We stayed there for about an hour, walking around and taking pics, and by the time that we got back down at around 11, the queue for the funicular was insane! So my suggestion is, get there early and breathe in the fresh air from the top of Petrin Hill- it’s an absolute must do!
5. Charles Bridge
One of the most talked about attractions in Prague is definitely this gorgeous bridge which crosses the Vltava River. Its gothic style build is simply gorgeous, and this piece of work has been around since the 14th century! Named after King Charles IV, this 623 meter long bridge connects the Old Town part of the city, it its New Town counterpart. The Old Town Bridge Tower is often considered to be one of the most amazing gothic styles building in world, and it is magnificent. Along the bridge you will find 30 different baroque style statues, each depicting various saints and patron saints.
Of course the bridge is insanely busy, and the only time you won’t find tourists on there is early in the morning (think 6am vibes). Even at night the Bridge is bursting with people, we walked through it for the first time at about 9pm and it was packed. This is a definite must-see when you’re in Prague but be prepared for crowds.
6. Its little streets
My love and obsession with Europe lies in its little cobblestone streets. There is nothing I love more than wondering from street to street in a European city, with each turn revealing a new side to it. I’m not going to lie, I prefer to visit Europe in the summer because of the weather.
Even though it was spring on Prague, it was freezing and rainy, so I did find myself feeling a little cold and miserable when walking around from time to time. But never fear! There are plenty of coffee shops on these little streets to keep you warm. I loved drinking mulled wine while we were there, so delicious and it kept me so warm!
Prague is such an old city that dates back to the middle ages, so its streets really tell a story. Take your time exploring Prague, we spend a full 2 days just walking around from sight to sight, taking it all in. The Red Bus Tour was helpful when it would start raining and we needed to hide out, but as soon as rain would pass we would pop back out onto the streets and just walk, walk, walk. How pretty are these streets?
7. The Astronomical Clock
Situated in the Old Town Square, this beautiful clock carries a strong and interesting history. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. The clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details, “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time, and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. How cool is that!?
We got to watch all of this in action, and even being surrounded by a crowd of tourists didn’t make it any less special. Luckily you have 24 chances in a day to catch this, so make sure you view the clock change time at least once during your visit!
8. The Dancing House
This is one of the latest additions to the city of Prague’s (it was only completed in 1996) but its fast becoming a favorite! This Neo style building is one of the most unusual you will ever see in your life. The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous, and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles. However now it is one of the most well-known buildings in the Prague sky-line! We decided to have a coffee and a dessert inside the hotel and marvel at the view of the city from up there.
The restaurant is called Ginger & Fred named after 2 dancers, seeing as the building itself resembles a pair of dancers, presents a delightful international menu complimented by magnificent views over Prague. We looked out in panoramic splendor over the river, to Charles Bridge, and to Prague Castle. The food selection was also interesting- I chose a mash-up of desserts, which my mom then pointed out looked like a selection of different drugs. Where else but in the Dancing House?
I really enjoyed our visit here and would receomd that if you are visiting Prague in the summertime, you also make a stop on their rooftop bar for some drinks.
9. It’s not expensive!
Having visited a lot of countries in Europe, a lot of them run on the euro. The current rand to the euro situation is not good, and Spain, Italy and France were all too pricey for my liking. As I mentioned Czech Republic has its own currency, called the Koruna, and it is about 1.7 to the rand. It also wasn’t ridiculously expensive- we could have a lovely meal for a glass of wine for R250, the Red Tour Bus cost me about R300 (for 24 hours) and a beer was as cheap as R15 in some places.
In terms of the accommodation, it also wasn’t terrible. I used Bookking.com for the first night and we stayed right in the center of the city, a 5 minute walk from Charles Bridge, in an apartment that cost about R1200 for 2 people. You could find something much cheaper that wasn’t as central, but R600 per person a night, right in the center of the city, really wasn’t a bad deal. Uber was as cheap as R35 to get around town and a new SIM card with a gig of data set me back R250. I found that Czech Republic didn’t break my bank, and that’s one of the reasons I would get back to it.
I hope you enjoyed this post about Prague and are booking your next holiday to it!:)