Earlier this year I spent the perfect weekend in Prague – a belated birthday present to myself as I have always wanted to visit Prague. By researching online before my trip, I ended up with a list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to see and do during my short stay in Prague. As always, my list was far too long for a mere two night stay, so some things had to be cut out for this trip or I just wouldn’t have had time to stop, let alone sleep. So here is my list of 5 must-do things for a short stay in Prague – you won’t be disappointed!
Visit the Old Town Square:
Any kind of visit to Prague, be it a city break, business trip, or stag weekend is incomplete without a visit to the old town square. The old town square with its stunning gothic architecture is in the heart of the city, and near or home to, many of Prague’s main attractions.
Two sides of the square are lined with cafés and restaurants, their tables extending far into the square, with a third side of the square filled with small food stalls or establishments, for those who prefer to try some of Prague’s traditional street food. On the edge of the old town square you will find the famous Astronomical Clock. It’s the third oldest astronomical clock in the world, installed in 1410. Every hour there is a clockwork show of figurines representing the apostles, and other moving sculptures including a skeleton, the figure of death. Absorb the square’s vibrant atmosphere, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the world go by while enjoying a drink or meal in one of the cafés or restaurants. OK, no doubt food here will be more pricier than somewhere down a back street five minutes away, but it really is worth it.
Walk across Charles Bridge:
The Charles Bridge (Karlův most) is the oldest crossing over the Vltava River, completed in 1402, after taking 45 years to build. It was an important connection from the old town to Prague Castle, as well as making Prague an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
During the day, the bridge comes to life with musicians, artists, magicians, and market traders selling their wares. At times the bridge can become heaving with people, so much so that you feel like a sardine, but if you go with the flow, or so to speak, you can interact with the entertainers and crowds and it becomes a very enjoyable experience, and you will soon forget the crowds. I would suggest walking from the old town, through the crowds on the bridge, and up to the castle. However if you prefer not to fight your way through the crowds during the day, you could cross the bridge at dawn. When I walked over early one morning, the bridge was eerily quiet, enveloped by a curtain of cool mist from the river, which draped itself over the sides of the bridge. Or if you are not an early bird you could wait until dusk, when the soft illuminations create a dramatic medieval feel, against a muted, but intricate cityscape.
Go for a River Cruise:
There are various companies along the banks of the river offering cruises along the Vltava River. These range from a short cruise, a couple of hours long with drinks available on board, to a full evening cruise with dinner and music. Prices range from about £12 for the short cruise, to £25-£30 for the lunch and dinner options. The river cruises are a lovely way to relax and see Prague at a chilled out pace, from a different angle, be it during the day or at night. There really are some spectacular views to be had, from the ancient gothic architecture in the old town, to the modern buildings further along the river, and even a Chinese inspired building. Make sure you don’t forget your camera!
Try some Local Beers and Local Food:
The Czech Replublic is known globally for its beer, and the Czech’s are the biggest beer-drinking nation in the world. Some of the more famous brands of beer from the Czech Republic are; Staropramen, Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Budvar, and Bernard. Many of their beers are light in colour however, more and more breweries are producing dark coloured beers. The average price for a 0.5l beer in central Prague is currently £1.20 and it gets cheaper the further out the city you venture.
I’d recommend visiting a brewery while in Prague, to see how the beer is made and, of course to enjoy sampling the goods! You can visit them independently, or as part of an organised tour. I would recommend visiting U Fleku Brewery which is one of the oldest in Prague.
Czech cuisine is very diverse, and roast duck and roast pork are among their favourites (and mine). They tend to serve both these with red or white cabbage, and bacon and potato dumplings. Most restaurants will serve these options as well as many more Czech favourites, such as beef broth with noodles which is also worth a try, and it is a very cheap dish.
Another must when in Prague is to sample some of their street food. Most vendors will serve Pražská klobása (Prague sausage) and Pražská šunka (Prague ham) – this is cured in brine then cooked and smoked, the Czechs recommend enjoying them with a beer, and I agree!
Cocktails at the Black Angels Bar:
The Black Angels bar can be found in the basement of the five star U Prince Hotel. The hotel is conveniently located on the edge of the old town square, the front of the hotel faces the Astronomical Clock, so it’s very easy to find. The bar its self is set in the Gothic-style, lower basement of the hotel, and is classically decorated in the style of a 1930s restaurant, brought to life every evening with beautiful live piano performances.
Their cocktail menu is second to none, without a doubt one of the biggest and most interesting that I have ever seen. Considering the level of detail and precision that goes in to making each and every drink, it’s no wonder this place has been voted Best Hotel Bar in Prague for the last two consecutive years, as well as finding itself in ‘The Spirits Business’ Top 10 World’s Best Bars 2013, and also ‘The Sunday Times’ Top 50 Bars in the World 2012. Have some patience though, the cocktails do take time to make, but they are definitely worth the wait. Reservations are advisable!
I hope I have inspired you to make a trip to this beautiful city. I can promise that you will never be bored as there is so much more to see and do in Prague. Bearing this in mind, I would definitely suggest more than two nights, if you can, so that you can fully appreciate the wonders of this stunning European destination.