GirlsGetaway.com has always said that Paris was the loveliest city in Europe… we may have been wrong.
Visions and clichés of Prague are dancing in my head, a city dipped in gold, baroque beauty, fairytale castles, golden city, bohemian rhapsody, and traveler’s dream comes true. How do I put down in words how absolutely lovely this city is without resorting to tired phrases used all too often in travel reviews? All I can say is that I’ve fallen madly, passionately in love in Prague. How do I love thee Prague? Let me count the ways.
You can spend hours here, drinking in the sights, the people and the architecture and then come back the next day and begin again. The atmosphere in the old town square is electric – buzzing with street entertainment, food and souvenir stalls, shops, galleries and museums. If you’re here over the lunch hour, ignore the restaurants that line the square, they’re all too expensive and the quality isn’t great, instead head over to one of the many food stalls and enjoy a souvlaki or sausage. Also be sure to find the food stall that offers Staroceske Trdlo – a thin roll of cinnamon and sugar yumminess.
Astronomical Clock – wander over to the clock tower a few minutes before the hour and wait. Where is it located you ask? Look for a humongous crowd of tourists, all with cameras, all pointed up. Oh, and be sure to bring your camera!
Prague Card – I bought my Prague Card at the tourist information center located in the Old Town Hall. The card is valid for 4 days and grants free entry to over 50 top attractions in the Prague area and discounted fees for many other events. I was only in Prague for three days but still felt that I received full value from the 790 Kc purchase price (about 34 euros).
Mucha Museum and the Salvador Dali Exhibit – a must for lovers of Art Nouveau and the surreal, this small treasure trove of art by Salvador Dali and Alfons Mucha is housed in the same building in the old town square.
Clocktower Bar Crawl – a great way to become very familiar with Czeck beer and find tons of new friends. GirlsGetaway.com highly recommends this event.
Charles Bridge – yes, it’s crawling with tourists and filled with stalls selling souvenirs that don’t really appeal but it is a sight to behold. Even the most jaded of us stop, stare and ignore the fact that our cameras are hot and overworked.
Prague Castle – known as the largest ancient castle in the world, you need an entire day to do this place justice. This is where my Prague card came in handy allowing free access to many buildings in this palace complex. I loved the equal opportunity royal guards at the gates to the castle. The Changing of the Guard takes place every hour and if you’re there at noon the ceremony includes a fanfare. St. Vitus Cathedral is spectacular and is homage to the amount of money the religious are willing to sacrifice for the cause. My favorite place here was Golden Lane, a gothic fairytale with its eensy-weensy houses and shops.
Nerudova Street – this steep historic street leading to Prague Castle is, in my opinion, the best street in Prague. Full of wonderful little shops, restaurants and many of the buildings are decorated with unique symbols instead of house numbers. Be sure to visit Obchod Vsim Moznym located near the walkway going up to the Castle. These three lovely little shops are full of beautiful marionettes and handcrafted gifts.
Where to Eat
Prague is so lovely that sometimes you forget about food, which is a good thing because fine dining is somewhat lacking in Prague, there are only so many pig knuckles and dumplings a girl can eat! Here are a couple of places that are worthy of a visit:
Cukrkavalimonada Cafe – the hot chocolate is only for true chocoholics, I dare you to finish it! Also try their strawberry crepes and lovely salads. A big plus – I didn’t see any dumplings on this menu.
Kampa Park – great service, stunning location, expensive.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the newly opened Sheraton Charles Square during my visit to Prague. The hotel is a few minutes from the Vltava River, a 15-minute walk to Charles Bridge, and around the corner from Wenceslas Square. Each morning after a very substantial breakfast, I would head out from the hotel to a lovely path along the river and stroll along the water, drinking in the golden glow of the city. I have to confess I didn’t spend a huge amount of time at the hotel, Prague was too alluring to keep me inside, but the time I spent there was bliss. Lovely staff – I must say a special hello to Karim, we had great longs chats about what to do and where to go in Prague.
My room was a sumptuous two level suite with a bedroom loft overlooking the living area/office on the first floor. The enormous bath in my room was a savior during my stay in Prague. After a long day of walking, cold, tired and with aching feet I would start to think longingly about my bath hours before I headed back to the hotel. I would finally tear myself away from Prague’s beauty and stumble to the hotel in the early evening, reviving myself with a soak in the tub and then I was off again for the evening festivities.
* Accommodations provided by Sheraton Hotels and transportation by Eurail.