Only a few European cities retain their charm after World War II. Prague is, fortunately, one of them. And to every avid history buff and traveller alike, a trip to the Czech Republic‘s capital will surely steal your heart!
I’ve meaning been to come back here alongside a trip to the rest of Central Europe, especially getting a chance to return to Mikulov, and visit Budapest for the first time. Plus, a side trip to towns nearby Vienna too! If you’re planning a trip to Prague, or to make a road trip out of it — here’s a list of my favourite experiences in the city. As well as friendly tips and reminders for your visit to the Czech Republic:
#1. Eat Beef Gulash with dumplings at Lokal
I think it goes without saying, a trip to Prague isn’t completely without trying their specialty dish: Beef Gulash! Lokal was a restaurant highly recommended to me by our hotel’s concierge and trust me, I haven’t had beef gulash better than the one here. Honest!
#2. Drink beer
Even if you aren’t a big fan of beer, trying it out in the Czech Republic is a must. Really, really, really! For a price equivalent to only one euro, you get to try a litre of beer of your choice — malt, no malt, dark, light, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic.
#3. Buy trinkets and special recipes at the Havelske Trziste Market
Located on the way to Old Town, you’ll be surprised at the interesting finds in this market. Although, admittedly, some of them are at a tourist’s price, the stuff you’ll buy here will blow your mind. Read: I’m still sad at how the beer bread and the beef gulash’s spice I bought over here is all gone.
#4. Eating street food at the Old Town Square
Well into the night…Okay, maybe around 10pm or so, vendors put up shop in the middle of Old Town Square and sell street food like dumplings, and crepes.
#5. Find the best place to buy Trednik
A classic Czech pastry — which actually didn’t originate in the Czech Republic — called Trednik is fried bread lathered with sugar and almonds, topped with whipped cream, nutella, and fruits. It’s so good! The only thing is, you’ll have to look long and hard for the best ones here as some stalls sell take advantage of tourist areas and sell it for a higher price than usual.
#6. Watch the Astronomical Clock Tower’s noon show
…Which actually lasts for only about 10 minutes. Haha! But either way, this is a great place to see where the Czech’s get their humour from and why they love to mock their history.
#7. Join a free walking tour
I’m a big fan of exploring a new city and getting lost. But because Prague is one of the cities in Europe with the most complicated history, it would be amazing to see and hear everything for yourself by joining a free walking tour.
My personal recommendation: SANDEMAN’s tours
#8. Get freaked out (or intrigued) by the puppets
I remember getting lost looking for Lokal during my last day in the city, and ended up in a small alley that isn’t so far from the main square. I also remember looking through different boutiques before getting lost some more and finding a long alley full of puppet vendors. Apparently, stage props is also one of the Czech’s specialties and though some puppets look down right scary, some of them are beautiful too.
I bought my cousin a Harry Potter puppet from one of the stalls here and it’s so detailed. It actually sort of looks like Daniel Radcliffe.
#9. Hang out at one of their parks
You’ll find the centre of Prague to be very small but also beautiful. If you’re a fan of people watching and mockery, hang out by one of the city’s gardens, meet a local, and mock others together. One of my favourite experiences, actually.
#10. Believe it or not, I recommend swinging by one of their churches
And no, it isn’t because I’m recommending you to pray. Unless you want to. But anyway, people in the Czech Republic don’t pray. So much so, even an American high middle class worker, can afford to buy a church including the gardens surrounding it!
Plus, because they try their best to encourage people to go to church, they hosted a free pub crawl for all the Cathedrals in the city. Now that’s what I want you to experience.
Oh, and to mock other people some more.
#11. See Charles Bridge during sunrise or sunset
As one of the most popular bridges in the world, Charles Bridge is awfully flocked with tourists throughout the day. The best way to really enjoy strolling through it is during sunrise or sunset where you can watch the sun descend to the river and Moon River (see: video) playing in the background. But that’s just me.
#12. From Charles Bridge, stroll around Josefov
Given, if you happen to go to the bridge around sunrise, all the stores will be closed. But anyway, Josefov is the old Jewish Quarter which now has tons of antique shops, and great finds. Plus, a great number of good restaurants are also in this area.
#13. Ride a boat around Vlatva River
If you’d like to see a different side of Prague, book a trip around the Vlatva River which will take you around the city centre and its neighborhoods. Plus, if you’re lucky, your tour guide will show you where to see the sun set best.
#14. Purchase locally-made shoes
So obviously, Prague isn’t well known for their shopping. However, I always like buying shoes from almost every place I visit and this city is no exception. I bought black shoes from a store called Kitten, after continuous rain and the demise of my VC booties.
Oh, and a forewarning: Prague shoes are made for walking in Prague. Yep. Because of their cobblestone streets (much, much worse than in Paris), women and men here love to wear something more comfortable. And so despite buying Mary Janes, they’re probably one of the most comfortable shoes I own.
#15. Introduce yourself to a local
You’d be surprised at how friendly people here are! Really. During my trip, I’ve met so many welcoming Czechs and ones who are so witty. Their humour is certainly unique — which I’m a fan of — and their tastes even more so. Meeting a local would bring an interesting conversation, for sure!
#16. If you can, buy original bohemian glass
So, if you’re not up for purchasing a great pair of shoes, bohemian glass would be your next best bet. Haha! But seriously, these glasses are Prague’s specialty and is wonderful to bring home to. As long as you pack it properly.
#17. And if you must, buy one of their funny hats
I kid you not. One of my favourite remembrances of my trip in Prague would be their hats. I met a local shop owner who introduced me to their fine selection of funny hats and beer-inspired ones that’s funny to bring home.
#18. Dance your way to the Prague Dancing House
If you’re up for a little entertainment, find yourself at the Prague Dancing House full of bliss and show tunes! Plus, it’s also a great way to acquaint yourself with the music surrounding the city.
#19. Listen to music at the Prague State Opera House
Or buy a CD there if you can. Prague comes next to Vienna as a destination for music lovers, as Mozart played here during his peak and many Czech singers plus songwriters have become famous all over Europe.
#20. Watch a broadway or musical show at the Prague National Theatre
What I found endearing during my stay in Prague, was how even our hotel concierge would recommend we watch a show! Really, like even our tour guide said a visit to the city isn’t complete without watching a local show. On some nights, almost all shows are in English while in others, not so much. Still, it would be a great opportunity for you to see one for yourself. And the best part is — you don’t even have to dress up for it!
#21. Watch the Guard’s show at the Prague Castle
If you can, try to make one guard crack a smile in the middle of it! They can’t possibly be that strict, can they?
#22. Meet the protester in front of the castle
If you’re interested in meeting someone famous in Prague, there’s one man who has been protesting in front of the castle every day for years now. I’m sorry I really can’t remember his name. But when you’re there, you’ll know (seriously, he’s the only man there).
He began his protest against the President’s corruption when he wasn’t granted his pension from his years of service. Added to the fact, his family received nothing from the corrupt government either. It’s interesting to see him and more when our tour guide, during the free walking tour, even said ‘hello’.
#23. Stroll through Golden Lane
Inside the castle are hobbit-sized homes that were once built for the Czech soldiers to protect the King. Present day, they are small shops with great souvenir finds and even better historical treasures which teaches you more about the Czechoslovakia history.
#24. Walk around the Castle’s gardens
Possibly one of the most scenic places in the city, is the castle which overlooks the richer side of Prague. If you haven’t noticed, many famous portraits of the city is actually taken from this rooftop, which also doubles as a beautiful garden where you can stroll around as much as you can. Or at least until closing time.
#25. Go see what’s beyond Prague
If anything, days spent in Prague are worth every penny. But it’s also worth noting that visiting small towns, chateaus and castles beyond the city will be one of the best experiences ever.
To prove my point, you can always take a day trip from Prague to Vienna while visiting neighbouring towns along the way. My favourite find is Mikulov. But there are other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Trebic and Kutna Hora as well.
Over to you:
Have you ever been to Prague?
If so, do you have anything to recommend to this list?
If not, did these experiences convince you in booking a ticket to Prague?