A Weekend in Prague
Prague is the perfect European weekend getaway. A city that combines the best of Eastern and Western Europe, from its medieval but also modern and colourful architecture, fast and efficient transport, cheap drinks, food and rich history. The city is buzzing at any time of the day. Everywhere you look is wonderfully charming, with the main square surrounded by old baroque churches, cobblestone streets and castles.
Thirty years ago, Prague was an unknown destination, unattractive to tourists. Today the city welcomes digital nomads, families, stag dos, friends, couples and more.
1. Explore Prague and its history
Did you know the word robot comes from Czech Republic (in Czech, it means “Slave”)? Or that Czechs invented soft contact lenses, sugar cubes and the beer processing method? Did you know about the Velvet Divorce and the egg remains in the bridge?
If you want to explore the city properly, to learn about the history and little facts but are too lazy to research and read about it online, take a tour of Prague. The free Sandeman’s tour was fantastic. Following them through this city and twice through Amsterdam, I definitely recommend the experience.
It is an honest plan: for the “free” tour, you pay what you want at the end. Most people end up giving about 10–25 euros (seeing others taking out a 20 euro note of their pocket while you shamelessly take your fiver can make you feel guilty), which means it is isn’t really a free tour but nothing stops you from paying less if you didn’t enjoy it. In general, the guides are well-educated and fun and do deserve the money. There are many other tours in Prague with specific options available (castle tour, beer tour, boat tour etc).
The Sandeman tour takes about 3 hours and covers many of the city’s top attractions. Get ready to move those legs, as there is a lot of walking around and standing up to listen to stories. Hear about the old architecture, follow in the footsteps of Kafka and learn more about the time of oppression by the Nazis and Communists.
The tour covers most of the city:
- Old Town Square: this is the center of Prague, everything happens here.
- Astronomical Clock: this year is the 100th anniversary of the medieval clock so there was a lot of construction going on, which is why we unfortunately missed it.
- View of Charles Bridge: The tour only shows the iconic bridge with its stone statues from afar since it is very crowded and takes about 15 mins to cross during the day, so try doing it separately. It has been proven that egg yolks were mixed in the mortar and rumours say it is the reason why the bridge has survived all the floods up to now. You get the message: eat your protein!
- Church of Our Lady before Týn: The church is on the main place in the old town and you cannot miss it. Little fact: there is a male tower and a female tower and they slightly differentiate in size (I guess men’s issues with size are not new).
- View of Prague Castle: Again, the tour shows the castle from afar so try visiting in your own time, it is a must (see below in point 3).
- Rudolfinum — Czech Philharmonic
- Old New Synagogue & the Golem: The Synagogue was in fact built by Christians as Jewish people were not allowed to work at the time.
- Art Nouveau Municipal House
- St. Nicolas’ Church
- Old Jewish Quarter: The walk in the Jewish area is truly eye-opening. The whole area was knocked down in the 19th century and entirely rebuilt. It now resembles Paris with its luxurious streets. You can also see the Jewish cemetery, where graves were built on top of each other as Jewish people could not bury their dead outside of the ghetto.
- Wenceslas Square
- WWII — Prague Uprising
- Statue of Jan Hus
- Powder Tower
- Powder Tower
2. The John Lennon Wall
In a peaceful and charming area in Kampa, a neighborhood near the river, a large colourful wall stands in memory of the Beatles’ singer. In 1988, the population used it to express their anger against Communism. Today, this wall is a symbol of peace and love.
Take some time to wander around the area as there are nice little artisan shops and local food places.
3. Visit Prague Castle
Prague Castle or Hrad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest castle complex in the world with spires reaching the sky. The castle was built in the 9th century and is the official office of the President of Czech Republic. You can climb the stairs and get a superb view from the top. Or you can see the inside for free, which is well worth the visit.
4. Other things to see
Take a walk in Petrin Park, grab a coffee near the Kampa river after visiting the famous wall and getting your Insta-worthy pic. Watch a movie at an independent cinema (Kino aero, Kino Mat, Evald, Kino Atlas). Go around the Dancing House, stroll on Golden Lane for its cute small doors and tiny streets, and if you’re a fan, go see the silver sculpture of the head of Kafka.
5. Food Recommendations
If there is one thing that I wanted to taste in Prague it was the Trdelník, a wrapped dough grilled on a flame, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Now, some people will tell you to absolutely try it as you see it being sold everywhere from local shops to pop up stores but others will tell you that it became so popular that its original recipe is not the same anymore. Regardless, it is a good snack, and even better topped up with ice cream (try the charcoal flavour)!
Below is a list of food places that I was recommended:
- Marthy’s kitchen
- Cafefin (see picture below, classic hipster place, great food, no bookings)
- Coffee Corner bakery
- La bottega Linka
- Cafe Savoy
- Cacao Prague
- Den Noc
- Café Louvres (nice terrace but the food is basic)
- Eski (another hipster place)
- Las Adelitas- Beseda
- Agave Restaurant (great Mexican place, nice environment, tasty food and welcoming staff)
- Kafka snob food
- Home Kitchen
- Alebrijes Bar
- Bohemian Boards and Brews, to relax and play games
- La Boheme Cafe
- Good Food Coffee and Bakery (grab a Trdelnik there)
- Riverside bar
- Cocktail Artist Parlour
- T Anker Sun Terrace
- Hotel Julian
- Terasa U Prince (nice view of the Old Town and orange-topped roofs. Booking recommended, closes at 11:30pm)
6. Do’s and not do’s
A few guidelines from a local below:
- Don’t change money on the streets
- Get an Uber instead of a taxi. A ride from the airport to the city center will cost you about 10 euros instead of 30 euros.
- Take the tram or the train instead of taxis, they are very efficient and clean
- Don’t pick a taxi on the street, the rate goes at a different rate as normal ones
- Be careful of your belongings, although Prague is safe, there are lots of pickpockets and the streets are quite busy
- Be careful when crossing the streets, the local drivers are a bit dangerous
- Don’t book just any boat tour as some of them will take you around for 50 minutes and teach you nothing
I loved Prague and would love to come back and explore more, maybe in the winter where it is said the city is even more magical.