I’ve recently returned from the most delightful few days in Prague with my sister Helen, and I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. (I know – I STILL have Hong Kong to write about, and a good few other trips as well!). It was our first time visiting the Czech Republic, and I can safely say that it won’t be our last. As I always do with every trip I go on, I spent ages researching it before we went, and what follows is a summary of what we did – I’d recommend all of it!
1. Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock
This is the heart of the oldest part of Prague. It has a nice atmosphere, with lots of beautifully painted buildings to admire and, of course, the celebrated Astronomical Clock. The side streets off the square are worth exploring, too.
Mulled wine in the snow. It cost £1.35!
On the hour, the two blue windows open and there’s a little procession of figures inside. Then the golden cockerel crows.
2. Charles Bridge
Walking across this famous bridge was a bracing experience in freezing temperatures, but nonetheless an enjoyable one. There are various stalls selling paintings and photographs of Prague, and sculptures to admire at regular intervals. We paid 100CZK to go up the tower and the view was well worth it.
3. Letna Park
On the other side of the river, you’ll find a load of steps leading up the hillside to this park, the main part of which is dominated by a Metronome sculpture that replaces a gargantuan statue of Stalin, which was destroyed in 1962 when the personality cult surrounding Stalin was condemned by the Soviets. The main reason for making the ascent up all those steps, though, is to admire the incredible views.
4. Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
These two buildings dominate the skyline as seen from the Old Town side of the river.
The cathedral is within the Castle complex, so you can visit them at the same time. We didn’t pay to get into any of the Castle, and the cathedral is free to visit. There are some great views, as well as some nice gift shops for souvenirs.
5. Kampa Island and John Lennon wall
Kampa Island is accessed from Charles Bridge and it’s barely an island, but it’s got some quaint cobbled streets and good views of the Prague skyline looking towards the Old Town.
It’s noted for this wall, the graffiti-ing of which began in the 1980s as a celebration of John Lennon. Over the years people used it to express grievances about the Communist regime. Which, as you can imagine, caused some tension.
There are other kinds of interesting surprises on Kampa Island too…
6. Mucha exhibition
Alfons Mucha continues to be one of the most popular Czech artists, and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to see some of his work. This exhibition is right on the Old Town Square and well worth a look.
7. Museum of Communism
This museum is a must for learning about the country’s 20th century history. I still find it astonishing to think how recently a brutal regime could have been in power, and so geographically close to home.
8. Mozart trail
As a lifelong devotee of Mozart, I was keen to explore his links with Prague – a city whose people Mozart felt deeply appreciated his music. Unfortunately most of the buildings with Mozart connections aren’t accessible (his primary residence is now the British Embassy, for example), though the theatre where he conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni continues in use.
Continuing on the Mozart theme, a lovely thing to do when you’re in Prague is go to the National Marionette Theatre to watch a marionette performance. We saw Don Giovanni, and it was very entertaining!
9. U Fleku
Our Grandad visited this historic tavern when he used to travel to Prague on business, so we couldn’t leave Prague without following in his footsteps. It claims to have been founded in 1499.
10. Taste of Prague food tour
You know I’m a big fan of food tours – they’re such a great way to get to know a place – so of course we booked one for this trip too, with a company called Taste of Prague. We had such a wonderful time eating our way around Prague with a lovely guide and two delightful fellow travellers.
It was so wonderful that I’ll have to write about it in a post of its own! In the meantime, here’s Helen and me with our beers during the first stop on the tour, at a popular local place called Lokal. They’re meant to be that foamy!
- We flew with British Airways from London Heathrow, and it’s about an hour and a half’s flight.
- We rented an apartment through Airbnb (get £25 off your first booking here).
- Currency is the Czech koruna, though some places also accept Euros. I used Apple Pay in most places without a problem. 1CZK = about 35p.
- Alcohol really is cheaper than soft drinks. Beer costs about £1 and you can get a large glass of wine for about £1.80.
- January is a verrrry cheap time to go! It was about 2 degrees but the flurries of snow added to the magic of the place.