Monday, July 15, 2019

Quick Guide to visiting Prague

Destination: Prague
Travel Companions: (1st time: Jennifer & Caline; 2nd time: Mom)
Duration: 3 days
Budget: 350$ pp (excluding flights)

 
I remember being in a fast food restaurant back home after one of those late nights, grabbing a man'ouche back in early 2000s, back when I was still someone who had never been on an airplane, I had only been to Syria for a US Visa run, and Jordan for a Girl Guides trip. That night, I caught this documentary about Prague on TV and I couldn't stop staring. I thought to myself that this was a gorgeous city, something I've never seen anything like before, and I immediately put a goal to myself, that I will visit it one day. And I did, twice!

Old Town Prague


Prague, an outdoor museum!

Prague is probably becoming one of the most popular European cities, and it is not only attracting Europeans but people from all over the world. One of the organized dinners I joined had people mostly from the US, Australia and Canada! In Prague, you will definitely feel surrounded by tourists. There is nothing discrete about that, and the experience will not be a local experience per se. But, it will still be an amazing visit because Prague itself is marvelous. The architecture, the history, the art will speak for itself. Prague is an outdoor museum!

Beautiful building entrances everywhere


I prepared this quick guide for you in terms of recommendations, things to do, places to visit, where to go for a bite and what to eat, get to know their local cuisine and types of drinks they produce, and most importantly what to watch out for.

1) Where to stay
2) Things to do
3) Places to visit
4) What to eat
5) What to drink

Classical music in front of a retail shop because why not!

 1) Where to stay

Both times I visited Prague, I stayed quite close to the old town as this way you'd only be 5-10 minutes walk away from the old town, and most importantly you're also far from the crowd and the noise.

Hotel or apartment?
And depending who I travel with, I book either a hotel or an apartment. If I'm by myself, I feel a hotel is more convenient. You get to store your luggage if you arrive early or want to leave late, free of charge, something that generally apartments don't offer. In an apartment, you won't get someone coming over to clean it on a daily basis unlike a hotel. But the advantage of being in an apartment is having a mini-kitchen, which can allow you to make your own coffee / breakfast, cook or heat your lunch / dinner etc.. and so far my parents have been fans of apartments more than hotels. The area I stayed in was: Soukenicka 23. What I like to do is open the maps on Booking.com and explore both hotels and apartments by making sure I stay close to the center, and find something affordable. It's a no-brainer that the closer the date, the more expensive the accommodation gets, so try to book as early as possible (you can always choose accommodation that offer Free Cancellation).

More amazing statues carrying building balconies in Prague
If you take a Charles Bridge Vlata River cruie, they can bring you all the way here. Quite a lovely view!

2) Things to do

Before I delve into what things I recommend for you to do. I recently used the app GetYourGuide.com to book most of my tours and activities, and I have to say, I was so pleased with their customer service. They immediately answer your WhatsApp, and they take the responsibility to contact the local vendor regarding your question or your ask. As well as the fact that their prices are super competitive and affordable. Anyway, things to do:

  • Folklore / Medieval Dinner. This is the one I went to and really enjoyed! Good food, great music and really fun show.
  • Boat Cruise under Charles Bridge
  • Dinner Boat Cruise. Some with a jazz option.
  • Art Galleries / Exhibitions (Franz Kafka, Dali...)
  • Ghost / Medieval Tour
  • Walking Tour. Here's a recap of the one I went on.
  • Pub Crawl 
  • Prague Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour
  • Bohemia and Saxon Park (Hiking / Kayaking). It's around two hours away. You can find different tours designed to visit different parts of the national park and some might require more fitness than others. On these trips you get to visit the Bastei bridge, go on a dinghy through the Kamenice Gorges and see the Pravcika gate. I couldn't join this one this time around, but I know friends who went there and loved the scenery and the beautiful nature. This is not a cheap tour, but worth it as you will get a driver, transport, guide, food, entrance ticket, kayak rental etc..

Astronomical Clock also known as a place where you see and hear so many people get disappointed when the clock hits :00

Vlata River
Kutna Hora Bone Church - Photo taken from www.swedishnomad.com

3) Places to visit

  • Prague Castle Tour
  • Old Town Square where you will find many attractions such as the Astronomical clock, Gothic church of our Lady Before Tyn, the Rudolfinum concert hall.
  • Prague's Astronomical Clock (if you're not joining a tour that will explain how it works, I recommend you read about it)
  • John Lennon Wall: It started since the 1980s right after Lennon was assassinated, when an artist drew Lennon on the wall; the original drawing is now long lost. But the wall keeps getting painted on over and over. It also represents a symbol of global ideals such as love and peace. The wall is owned by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which allowed the graffiti to continue on the wall, and is located at Velkopřevorské náměstí
  • Charles Bridge: Beautiful around sunset time, full of street vendors selling crafts and art work, as well as many painters, and street musicians. You will find 30 statues on that bridge!
  • Dancing House also known as Fred and Ginger (walk from near Charles Bridge to the Dancing House, specially around sunset time, you can get an amazing view of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle)
  • Franz Kafka - Otočná hlava (metalic moving head)
  • Kafka Memorial Statue
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Chocolate Museum for the chocolate lovers out there!
  • Kutná Hora (Bone Church): I sadly had to cancel it because I got sick, but I've heard it's totally worth the visit.
View of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle

Couldn't get a better photo in front of John Lennon wall because of how crowded it was.

Dancing House

 4) Where and what to eat & drink

  • Traditional Czeck food is a must try, that's easily doable if you do any of the Folklore dinners.
    • Vepřo knedlo zelo (roasted pork)
    • Sekaná pečeně (baked mincemeat)
    • Česnečka (garlic soup)
    • Guláš (goulash)
    • Rajská omáčka (Beef on tomato soup)
    • Moravský vrabec (Moravian sparrow)
  • Trdelnik: Even though it's not a Prague tradition, it somehow emerged in Downtown Prague and is now all over it. It's still good! Might as well try it. But prepare to be judged by locals.
  • Crème de la Crème Gelato / Ice Cream place: A must try!
  • Few restaurants in Saint Henry's Tower, which will give you a nice view of Prague.
  • Prague is known for its large variety of Vegan restaurants, so if you're vegan or any of your company is, then rest assured, you will still find a culinary experience.
Read more about this really fun Folklore Dinner we attended.
Crème de la crème Gelato - Prague

Drink carefully (don't drink and drive, and don't drink if you're underage)
  • Beer: Did you know they're the biggest consumers of Beer in the world? If you're a beer fan, you can try their Pilsner. 
  • Wine: Czech have plenty of wineries and produces wine mainly in Southern Moravia.
  • Slivovice: Traditional plum brandy. 
  • Bars to check out:
    • Hemingway Bar
    • Beer Story
Trdelnik: Again not exactly a Czech tradition, but still delicious!
Fanciest McDonald's I've ever seen! #Prague

5) What to look out for and avoid

  • Currency Exchange: Generally avoid exchanging at the airport you land in. And avoid Money Exchange shops that are in the city center and in popular areas, as most of these charge a high commission. If you walk out of the popular areas, you can find places that take 0 commission and they state that in large so you won't mistaken it.
  • VAT Refund / Detax: Don't forget to get a refund while you're leaving the EU. Note that you can only claim it if you shop for a minimum amount from the same place (you can't combine small purchases from different shops). Some places also immediately remove the VAT from your bill if you're paying with a credit card, you will still need to submit the form at the airport in less than 3 weeks. 
Art and amazing statues all over the city in Prague

Equally crazy fun people pretending to be statues in Prague


#FROMPRAGUEWITHFUNK

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