So admittedly, like many people my age, there’s still A LOT of the world I haven’t yet seen (student budgets are pretty hard to work with). That said, from what I have seen, there’s one place that really stands out to me and has earned itself a special place in my heart – Prague. It seems funny to say that as locations that earn that “special place” usually relate to your background, birthplace or a special event that took place there. But there’s just something about Prague – it’s special: the rich culture, the complicated history, the quaint restaurants and the grand monuments…I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Hopefully one day – if you haven’t already – you’ll be able to go and see for yourselves just how amazing it is. And if you have already been, sit back, read on and reminisce.
I travelled to Prague with my boyfriend a couple of days after New Year which was nice as something to look forward to when all of the festivities came to an end. We spent 3 nights and about 2 and a half days in Prague which was just enough time for us to see and do everything we had on our list. It was so cold but fresh too. To be honest that added to the experience; there was something cosy about wrapping up – hat, scarf, gloves and all – and strolling along.
On our first morning we set off from our hotel (The Jury’s Inn – which I would highly recommend to all) and strolled towards Old Town Square. We spent most of our time taking in our surroundings for the very first time, mesmerised at the likes of the colourful array of buildings that lined the cobbled streets (sensible footwear is also highly recommended). To paraphrase my boyfriend as he put it so well, Prague is a place where you can walk down the tight, windy pathways, turn a sharp corner and then suddenly there’s a historical landmark staring back at you. This happened when we stumbled upon Powder Tower by chance – our plan of action at the start of the day was simply to walk until we found something we wanted to have a look at and then there it was. I was placed under a ‘Google Map ban’ because it gets me so wound up so we resorted to old-fashioned signpost-following for the whole trip (even if they were all in Czech, we did pretty well!)
That day we grabbed some lunch on the Christmas markets. We were surprised they were still up around the city as here in Manchester they disappear days before Christmas Eve! There’s great restaurants all around though so no matter what time of year you visit you’d never be stuck for choice. Whilst at the Old Town Square Christmas markets we saw the Astronomical Clock which – on the hour when the clock does its thing – attracts a huge crowd. Legend has it that a ghost controls the operations of the clock and the city will be subject to bad luck if the clock is neglected. It really is a more special part to Prague than you’d initially expect! Following that, we decided to head up to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower for a birds-eye view of the city. It didn’t disappoint. Looking over at the square and Church of Our Lady before Tyn gave a view I hope I never forget (as pictured below).
From there, we headed for the opposite side of Prague that’s over Charles Bridge. We walked through the Jewish Quarter to get here, passing synagogues and memorials on our way which gave the city an entirely new and different feel to the part of Prague we were previously in. It was a lot darker and quieter, almost as though the history of that part was reflected in its mood. Eventually we reached a packed Charles Bridge lined with artists, souvenir stalls, and – of course – a tonne of tourists taking selfies! After we’d crossed, we stopped off at a café by the side of the canal called Café Marnice. It was so cosy – big thick cushions and patio heaters are appreciated after a long walk in the cold! The crepes made a wonderful snack and the view was lovely.
After our stop, we took a stroll through Malá Strana and towards John Lennon Wall. As a fan of The Beatles, it was great to see such a wonderful memorial that attracts such a big crowd. There are some strong messages on the wall, along with some great art, so you can definitely spend a long while admiring the work of all the people that have contributed to such a spectacular memorial.
After this and en route back to our hotel, we made a stop at the Museum of Communism. As a bit of a Politics geek I was in my element! It was a great place to learn about Prague’s deep history and I would highly recommend a visit if political history is your thing, or even if you just enjoy learning about the history of the place you’re in. We spent close to a couple of hours in there and we both definitely came away feeling educated!
That evening, we visited Vabene – an Italian restaurant just outside of Old Town Square in Tyn Courtyard. Here, I ate what I’d consider to be one of the best spaghetti bolognese I have ever had. My boyfriend said the same about his carbonara. I should also give a shoutout to The Dubliner here which is right near Vabene in the courtyard. We called in here for a drink (or four) after our meal as it was too early to head back but we didn’t want to walk too far after a busy day. I’m not usually a fan of English or Irish bars abroad but this one was different with great music, quirky decor and a cool atmosphere.
On our second day we started off in Old Town Square at the Christmas markets again where we grabbed some lunch. The plan for our second day was to spend the majority of our time on the opposite side of Prague to where we were staying over Charles Bridge as we hadn’t seen an awful lot of it on our first day. We planned to see the cathedral and the castle as well as other significant buildings in that area. These are up quite a steep hill but the huffing and puffing up the stairs was well worth it for the view at the top!
This area of Prague is home to Prague Castle, St. George’s Basilica, St. Vitus Cathedral and King Charles Palace and therefore a lot of Prague’s history too! These historical landmarks are obviously very precious to the city and its history given the airport-style security upon entering the area – it’s a highly safe environment. After these checks and following another short walk through a cobbled street, you reach the buildings.
After such an amazing first day in Prague, I didn’t think it could be beaten. However, our second day was probably both mine and my boyfriend’s favourite. The cathedral was the most gorgeous backdrop to the Christmas markets (as pictured below) and it was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen.
The whole area – with the castle, the palace and the basilica too – is just breathtaking. There’s plenty of opportunities to learn about the history behind the architecture – for instance we went inside the cathedral and it was just as impressive inside as it was outside.
After our dissent back down we treated ourselves and tried trndelnik (when in Prague, eh?) Ours were filled with fresh fruit and ice cream. Delicious!
That night, we found an absolute gem that goes by the name of U Budovce (don’t ask for pronunciation because I haven’t a clue!) It’s a pizza café situated in Tyn Courtyard and its menu features around 30 different pizzas alongside other great dishes and sandwiches. We ordered two pizzas between us to share – a tuna one and one with ham and white sauce – and it was absolute heaven! I absolutely love pizza and this place did not let me down.
We had such high expectations of Prague from what we had heard and seen on social media and it didn’t disappoint at all. The food, the people, the culture and the history gave us an amazing city break and the great value for money and cheap prices were the icing on the cake. It’s a truly stunning city with so much to offer. If you haven’t seen it for yourself yet, you must. A trip to this special city will have you missing it long after you return home.
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